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Amazing similarities are emerging between apparitions of the Blessed Mother, links that may infer messages for the future.

Most directly involved are two that have been prominent in the news, "Our Lady of Good Help" Shrine in Wisconsin -- which won formal Church approbation as the first official American apparition last week -- and Kibeho or "Mother of the Word" in Rwanda, Africa, which was approved in 2001.

They are the most recent approbations and the most obvious link is their mysterious connection to apparitions that occurred during the 1930s in Belgium.

The Wisconsin apparition involved a seer, Adele Brisé, who was from Belgium -- while Kibeho's motherland of Rwanda was a protectorate of Belgium. Start with the fact that Rwanda is about the same size of Belgium! And that, like southern Belgium, French is often spoken at Kibeho (and was even used during some of the apparitions).

But the similarities are even more profound.

The Church-approved appearances of Mary in 1932 at Beauraing (southeast of Brussels) were in rural farm territory, as was the case with Wisconsin and Kibeho. In all three apparitions, the Blessed Mother came in attire that was blazing white. In Beauraing, her appearances were centered below the arched branch of a hawthorn tree; in Wisconsin, the Blessed Mother was described as "all in white standing between two trees, one a maple, the other a hemlock." In both Beauraing and Kibeho, Mary appeared without a sash or belt (though at Kibeho she also was pictured with a blue veil). The sightings in Beauraing were connected to a Catholic boarding school, as was also the case in Kibeho -- while in Wisconsin the message had to do with teaching Catholicism to the young. Meanwhile, the apparitions in Beauraing and Kibeho both occurred in late November (November 29, 1932 versus November 28, 1981).

The first phase of the apparition in Belgium [right] ended on December 8 -- the precise date on which the Wisconsin apparition was approved (last week) by the local bishop, David Ricken.

At both apparitions, Mary called herself "Queen of Heaven."

At both Beauraing and Kibeho, investigators tested the seers by lighting a match under their skin or pricking them with needles. In all three cases, chapels followed the initial apparitions. A clap of thunder was in witness at Beauraing -- as also a thunder-like noise was noted during the much longer apparitions at Kibeho (which involved seven well-known but five additional seers, only three of whom are approved by the Church). At both Beauraing and Kibeho -- as at other places -- secrets were given.

When Mary left Beauraing as well as Kibeho, it was upward into a "cloud."

Purity is a key message at Kibeho and indeed the approval in Wisconsin came on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception while the Belgium apparition bore similarities to Lourdes (as well as Fatima).

Meanwhile, striking too are the similarities between Kibeho and the apparition site of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Both are set on red earth and lush hilly countryside (indeed, "Medjugorje" means "between the hills"); both were poised on plots of land ideal to holding large crowds; both were in a territory of shepherds; both had about the same number of primary seers (seven versus six); both have the first spots of apparitions marked by simple statues, crosses, or altars; again, both had thunder associated with them; both have a statue holding a rosary near the church; both have Slavic influence (at Kibeho, left and right, from Polish missionaries; in Wisconsin, as seen with statues of Slavic saints); both are remote and difficult to get to (making the pilgrimage all the more valuable); both have some homes fashioned with the most rudimentary brick or mud (though Kibeho is far poorer); both have unique, striking bronze statues in proximity (at Medjugorje, a Corpus of the Risen Christ; at Kibeho, a two-ton statue of Divine Mercy); both have ravines and a steep climb populated by Stations of the Cross; both have large platforms for Mass outdoors; and like Medjugorje, in its earliest time, the church at Kibeho has no kneelers (Medjugorje's were eventually donated by a parish in the U.S.); both are known for miracles of the sun; both found themselves in the midst of horrible ethnic conflict, at around the same time; and both exude an almost tangible sense of tranquility -- which is also reported in Wisconsin.

Future events have been indicated at all three places.

At Beauraing, as at Medjugorje, Mary's feet were obscured by a cloud.

And in Belgium, there was a second apparition in a village called Banneux in 1933 (near Liege, the year after Beauraing) -- during which Mary came as "Virgin of the Poor" (descending from the tops of two pines, in dazzling white here also); one skeptic who saw Mary in Belgium was thrown to the ground, as the seers in Rwanda were known to fall to the ground. It was at a time when Marxists, Fascists, and anti-Catholics were increasingly hostile as many drifted from the faith but when the effects of oppression and a worldwide economic depression were softened -- in Beauraing and similar villages -- "by the fact that the people had farms and gardens to keep them in food and to keep them occupied," as one writer put it. Farms also surround Kibeho [left] and Champion, Wisconsin -- allowing for subsistence, even in times of shortage.

That last similarity, as far as the future, is perhaps the most pertinent.

[Next: what a living approved seer has to say about the future]

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

[see also: Stunning approval of apparition: will it turn tide?, Shrines rise at mysterious African apparition site, and The mail: similarities between Wisconsin and Belgium apparitions (for discernment)

[Announcing a retreat in Louisiana]

[Immaculée's Kibeho website]

[And: Blog: is it really the first? (yes), A history of Wisconsin apparition, and The seer]

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