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It is an interesting question to ask: Because an apparition is judged to be authentic -- even by the Vatican -- does that authenticate all of those who claim visions associated with it?

The issue comes up because of Kibeho in Rwanda -- a powerfully anointed site that the bishop, in conjunction with Rome, formally, fully approved in 2001. Initially, there were three seers at Kibeho (which is located in mountainous forestland several hours west of the nation's capital). Soon, however, the seer count was seven; and then twelve; and in the end an estimated 170 who claimed to experience the Mother of the Word (as she called herself here) across this part of Africa.

Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro looked at the results of a commission and decided to stick with the original three (including Alphonsine Mumureke, top left, now a nun in Italy, and Anathalie Mukamazimpaka, below, to the right) in his approval -- similar to  Lourdes, France, where nearly fifty people (mainly youngsters) claimed to see Mary after the initial sighting by Bernadette Soubirous but where the bishop rejected all but Bernadette and a woman named Mary Courrech.

Elsewhere -- for example, during the 1930s in north-central Spain. 

Does that mean, however, that all the others were either the products of imagination or deception?

Might there be a "mix"?

In fact, Bishop Misago [bottom, right], has left open the possibility of approving more of the seers in the future. That would be interesting, although it also seems unlikely -- in that another declaration would have to be issued by the prefecture (although there are rumors that one may be considered). Meanwhile, with so many seers, there have been varying and even conflicting messages (especially pertaining to details of the erection of a basilica) as well as something else from which bishops shy away: apocalyptic predictions.

Put simply: the approved seers, though all told by the Blessed Mother that the world faces a very difficult, and even apocalyptic-like purification, were less likely to frame what is coming as the end of the world than some of the peripheral visionaries -- who have gone so far as to proclaim imminence of the Last Judgment and Second Coming of Jesus. This was especially true of two of the first seven: Emmanuel Segatashya, who died during the genocide, and Agnes Kamagaju -- who like Emmanuel claimed to have apparitions of Jesus in addition to Mary.

During a recent conversation at a Rwandan roadside near Butare, Agnes [left, the one rumored for the bishop's consideration] said her supernatural visitations continue (they halted for the three main ones -- another reason they may have been approved more readily). "The apparitions of Jesus are still there, and sometimes He is standing in front of the Blessed Mother," she asserted. "Jesus says we should love Our Lady. He wants us to be standing in prayer and strong in faith. The world is good but there are bad people in it and the bad is continuing to grow. He is coming because things are bad and we are lost. There are many signs and He says our eyes are not open."

According to author Immaculée Ilibagiza of New York -- who served as interpreter for Agnes, and who has written extensively about the apparitions -- a miracle of the moon and stars disappearing in the sky -- as sort of an apocalyptic preview, which we previously mentioned -- occurred during an apparition with Agnes on November 30, 1982. "The archives said that Agnes begged Jesus in tears to return the moon, and Jesus was not happy," says the author (who wrote Our Lady of Kibeho -- and now leads pilgrimages there). "The stars all disappeared at 8 p.m., and Jesus told the people to light up their earthly lamps, but those who were there said that they left around 11:30 p.m. still wondering if they could get back and find the way out; it was thick dark until next morning."

These are matters that are extremely difficult to comprehend, although at Kibeho sky and solar phenomena have been witnessed by thousands. Whatever her standing as a seer, there is little doubt that the miraculous was involved in Agnes' survival of the horrid genocide which engulfed this impoverished nation in 1994 -- and was foreseen during apparitions on August 19, 1982, by all the original seers. In fact, Agnes was in a church near the apparition site when 5,000 were slaughtered there and another 10,000 outside -- as tribal Hutus tossed in grenades and shot or beheaded those who fled. She said she was in front of the Blessed Sacrament when the slaughter began and herself caught fire as she rushed from the building. A priest inside had given out Communion and last absolution saying, "We are going to die. Let's all pray to go to Heaven," she told us.

Though most of her family was killed, Agnes -- disguised by a priest as a nun -- managed to escape (as she says Jesus had told her she would during an apparition in 1984, a decade before, when He showed her and the others this coming holocaust). On another occasion, says the seer, those who had killed her parents came looking for her but she was saved by nuns. Later, a bishop told her where to seek safety for the next three months. She also says she was given "secrets" during her apparitions and that the reason for secrets is that the Lord wants the intercession of seers but "doesn't want other people to live in fear."

"He says in the end He will show many signs and He is showing many signs already," said the Tutsi seer. "The time will come when the message will be listened to. Most of the secrets are from Jesus. He shares them as a friend would share secrets. He shows things to me when He wants prayer and fasting. They unite me with Him. Most of the secrets involve everyone in the world. Kibeho is something God is happy about because it is growing. He wants us to believe so much and have trust. Love is huge. It is above everything. He wants us to pray from our hearts. There are secrets that will be revealed to certain people prior to them happening. We need to wake up to God's Love. He has spoken about the end of the world but more than that about the end of each person's world."

It was in subsequent years that the number of visionaries proliferated -- both in that part of Rwanda, elsewhere in the country, and in situations that were not associated with Kibeho (including nations like Nigeria). At least two of these were highly dubious; one was connected to a bishop who would later be excommunicated and involved photos of "Jesus" with strange red eyes. Unapproved seers can be a slippery slope indeed.

But back to Kibeho:

The other key seer who claimed to encounter Jesus, Emmanuel Segastashya [right], who like Anges did not meet with Church approbation, forthrightly quoted the Lord as saying: "Do not be afraid but have faith! For the one who does good will come with Me to Heaven. It is the one who does evil who will be met by fire. Today this world is full of hatred, and you will know that the time of My return is near, that I am on My way, when you hear of and see the wars of religion. Know then that I come, for nothing will be able to stop these wars. Know, too, that it will not be easy to recognize Me. Tell all men that there is not much time left. I will return soon. Hurry to do good, for Satan will one day disappear from this world, and then you will never be tempted again. But hurry for there is little time left." That was in 1982 -- and for many in Rwanda, the "end" came the next decade.

[also: Announcing a prophetic retreat in Louisiana; and Spirit Daily pilgrimage to Medjugorje]

 [resources: Our Lady of Kibeho, A Visit From Heaven, The Last Secret, and The Final Hour]

[And: Messages of Our Lady of Sorrows and Immaculée's website]

[see also: Dramatic warning from approved seer in Rwanda, Incredible similarities between apparitions in U.S., Europe, Africa, Shrines rise at mysterious African apparition site, and Major theologian says apparitions are met with resistance in Church]

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