Thousands of Catholic pilgrims who turned up at Kibeho Holy Land to celebrate Assumption Day have been urged to keep faith and love.
The call was made by clerics on Wednesday in Kibeho, Nyaruguru District.
Kibeho was declared a holy land by Pope John Paul II in 2001, following apparitions of the Virgin Mary there in the 1980s, according to Catholic Church officials.
The site hosts thousands of Catholic faithfuls who travel from all over the world every year on Assumption Day.
Pilgrims from all over the world took back water and soil from Kibeho believing that they can heal their spiritual and physical illnesses.
“The celebration of the ascension of Mary Mother to heaven should be a time for us to remember the role she played on Earth by begetting Jesus our Savior,” said Bishop Célestin Hakizimana of Cyangugu Diocese.
“It should also be an opportunity to reflect on how to spiritually change our character and commit to do well to all to make the world better as we forge our way to heaven ,” he told thousands of pilgrims.
He said that Mary appeared on earth but was not well received because people kept sinning and challenged believers to seek God’s grace through Mary.
Some of Christians who spoke to The New Times had come from the region and beyond having arrived days before.
Christine Kobusingye, from Kampala, Uganda, arrived at Kibeho on Monday and spent the past two days praying as she awaited the main event
“It is my second time here. The first time I felt blessed and I came back to get more blessings,” she said.
“Kibeho is a special place in Africa because it is where the Virgin Mary appeared in our times, we came here to celebrate her ascension but more specifically recognising her apparition on this land, it is really a good moment for reflection and revisiting our spiritual relationship with God”.
“We are celebrating the ascension of Holy Mother as we reflect on our relationship with Her and God in general. It is high time we remembered the love of God by giving us Mary who later beget Jesus before she ascended to mend our spiritual relationship with God,” said Thomas, 73, from Poland .
François Habitegeko, the Mayor of Nyaruguru District, said the celebrations of Assumption Day and other events at Kibeho help the business community generate income through hosting pilgrims of whom some come weeks ahead of the event.