Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world will today converge at Kibeho to mark the ascension to heaven of the Virgin Mary. The day is celebrated by Roman Catholics as Assumption Day.
Kibeho is an important place for Catholics as it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to some teenagers in the remote area in 1981.
Three female teenagers witnessed apparitions in the following years and Mary left a massage of repentance, and encouraged Rwandans to love each other.
Speaking to The New Times on Tuesday Bishop Célestin Hakizimana, of Gikongoro Diocese, said all is set to receive the pilgrims as the catholic church and government officials worked together with security organs to ensure that the event is incident free.
“We started receiving pilgrims since last week and we have hundreds already at Kibeho,” said Hakizimana. He added that pilgrims are from the region and beyond.
Between 30,000 and 50,000 are expected at the event according to the Bishop.
Bishop Hakizimana said that the day is very important since 1982 when Holy Mary appeared on Assumption Day in a gruesome mood. Those who saw the visions alleged seeing gruesome sights, including rivers of blood and decapitated heads, which is regarded as a forewarning of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“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 to make the world better,” he said
Pope Paul II, the then head of the Roman Catholic Church, officially recognised the apparitions of Holy Mary in 2001, declaring Kibeho a holy land.