Assumption Day is a reminder that Heaven is open to those who believe, and it should be a day to focus on how Christians relate to one another through love, patience, and forgiveness. According to Father Francois Harelimana, a lecturer at the Sanctuary of the Holy Mother Mary in Kibeho, this is what Catholics should consider on August 15, as the church celebrates Assumption Day. Assumption Day, annually marked on August 15, is a special day to Roman Catholics as they celebrate the ascension of the Virgin Mary into heaven. Every year, on this day, thousands of Catholics gather in Kibeho, a small town in Nyaruguru District. ALSO READ: Assumption Day: When the Blessed Virgin Mary saw us out in Kibeho It has become a tradition for Catholic Christians from distant and nearby countries to come together with their Rwandan counterparts to commemorate the day with a mass service at the sacred site of Kibeho, renowned for the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “From the Catholic perspective, the Assumption of Mary holds great significance in our beliefs. It is the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken up, body and soul, into heaven after she completed her earthly life. This event demonstrates the power of faith and the grace of God,” Harelimana says. According to beliefs, Holy Mary made an appearance at Kibeho on Assumption Day in 1982, displaying a disturbing demeanour. Witnesses of the visions reported unsettling scenes, such as rivers of blood and severed heads, which are considered to be a premonition of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. ALSO READ: Assumption Day rains could be put to good use Alphonsine Mumureke, Nathalie Mukamazimpaka, and Marie Claire Mukangango were the young visionaries who allegedly received various messages from the Kibeho apparitions. In a previous interview with The New Times, Mazimpaka said, “Assumption Day reminds us of Mary’s ascension to heaven and that we need to promote divine values following in the footsteps of Holy Mary, being faithful, shunning all evil and fighting injustice, and most importantly, promoting a selfless love.” In 2001, Pope Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church at the time, declared Kibeho a holy land and formally recognised the apparitions of Holy Mary. Since then, the site has welcomed Catholic Christians from all around the world. Every pilgrimage, many people return with innumerable accounts about how Mary appeared to them as well and answered their prayers and desires. “Assumption is closely connected to our understanding of faith and salvation. It affirms our faith in the resurrection and the promise of eternal life. Mary's assumption into heaven assures us that there is life after death and that God has prepared a place for us,” Harelimana says. He adds, “The Assumption emphasises the special role of Mary in Christianity. As the mother of Jesus, she played a significant part in the Incarnation, and her assumption reflects her unique status as the Mother of God. Catholics believe that Mary's Assumption is a reflection of her holiness and her unwavering faith in God.” The significance of the Assumption of Mary lies in its connection to our faith, the assurance of salvation, and the recognition of Mary’s pivotal role in Christianity as a model of faith and devotion, he noted. Other apparitions accepted by the Catholic Church occurred in Portugal, France, and Germany, in addition to Rwanda. Assumption Day will be celebrated with a religious pilgrimage to Kibeho and a live broadcast of the mass service on the Catholic Church-owned TV station Pacis TV and its YouTube site, as well as Radio Malia.