Christians flock Kibeho to celebrate Assumption Day

Thousands of Catholic faithful from across the world yesterday flocked the grounds of Kibeho Mary Mother of the Word to celebrate the feast of Assumption Day, which marks the ascension to heaven of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.
The faithful carry their offerings on Assumption Day at Kibeho Mary Mother of the Word in Nyaruguru District yesterday. Thousands of Catholic faithful from across the world flocked Kib....
The faithful carry their offerings on Assumption Day at Kibeho Mary Mother of the Word in Nyaruguru District yesterday. Thousands of Catholic faithful from across the world flocked Kib....

Thousands of Catholic faithful from across the world yesterday flocked the grounds of Kibeho Mary Mother of the Word to celebrate the feast of Assumption Day, which marks the ascension to heaven of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.

Kibeho is in Nyaruguru district.


Church leaders estimated the crowd at between 15,000 and 20,000. The pilgrims came from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, DR Congo, the US, Poland and France, among others, officials said.

In his Assumption Mass message, Msgr Philippe Rukamba of Butare Diocese preached faith, respect and love among Christians and the world community as a whole.

The prelate, who was flanked by Msgrs Jean Damascene Bimenyimana of Cyangugu and Michel Santier, the bishop of Créteil in France, urged the faithful to emulate the Virgin Mary, whom he said experienced temptations and severe sufferings but remained faithful to God.

“Mary is our model of faith as she welcomed the project of God (to conceive Jesus Christ) and she was open to the will of God for herself and her son Christ,” Bishop Rukamba said, describing Mary as “a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ” and  “a model of hope, love,  faith, perseverance and forgiveness.”

“Mary suffered on the foot of the cross. Christians can learn to forgive others [as she did] and to persevere in their faith in the face of suffering,” Rukamba said.

He urged Christians to lead an exemplary life so they can pass on the good practices and morals to their children, calling upon the youth to respect parents.

Holy Land

It has become a habit for people from across the world to visit Kibeho on Assumption Day.

Many of the pilgrims trek long distances from different parts of the country, spending many days and nights before reaching the place, to pray at the ‘Holy Land’ of Kibeho in the rural Nyaruguru district.

Constantin Nizigiyimana, a Burundian who came from Kayanza province, walked about seven hours to get to Kibeho.

“We are here to thank God for what we have achieved and implore the Virgin Mary to help us address challenges that we do face in our lives,” the pilgrim said.

Jean Claude Nshimiyimana, from the remote Ruramba Sector of Nyaruguru District, said: “Every time I come here I leave with a feeling of blessings and protection from God. I have made it a pledge to visit this holy place at least once a year.”

It is believed that Virgin Mary appeared to some teenagers in the remote area of Kibeho in 1981.  That occurrence marked the rise of the then nondescript Kibeho to a spiritual hub on the global arena.

In 1982, those who saw the visions reported gruesome sights, including rivers of blood and decapitated heads, which are regarded as a foreshowing of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Roman Catholic Church officially recognised the apparitions in 2001 after scrutinising the results of two commissions; one led by doctors and another by theologians.

Since then, every year, thousands of pilgrims flock to the place that Virgin Mary chose to visit about 30 years ago and each of them have their reasons to do so, but for many, it is about prayer, thanking or imploring God, or to just visit the now famed ‘Holy Place’.

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