Marian apparitions

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This photograph is claimed to show an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in , Egypt in 1968. It was allegedly witnessed by Christians, Muslims and President , as well as captured by newspaper photographers and Egyptian television. Investigations by among others the  and the police could find no explanation for the phenomenon. No device was found within a radius of fifteen miles capable of projecting the image, while the sheer number of photographs from independent sources suggests that no photographic manipulation was involved.
This photograph is claimed to show an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Zeitoun, Egypt in 1968. It was allegedly witnessed by Christians, Muslims and President Abdul Nasser, as well as captured by newspaper photographers and Egyptian television. Investigations by among others the Coptic Church and the police could find no explanation for the phenomenon. No device was found within a radius of fifteen miles capable of projecting the image, while the sheer number of photographs from independent sources suggests that no photographic manipulation was involved.

Marian apparitions are events in which the Virgin Mary is purported to have supernaturally appeared to one or more persons, typically but not always Christians, often Catholics. They are often given names based on the town in which they were reported, or on the soubriquet which was given to Mary on the occasion of the apparition, or on her reported clothing and hairstyle. They have been interpreted as psychological (pareidolia), and as religious phenomena, occasionally as theophanies. Apparitions sometimes recur at the same site over an extended period of time. Marian apparitions sometimes involve statues or images of Mary; of particular note are weeping statues, witnessed as producing tears.

Contents

List of Marian apparitions

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Pope_John_Paul_II_Coat_of_Arms.jpg
John Paul II's Coat of Arms contains the letter "M" to indicate his devotion to Mary

Papal Marian apparitions

It has been claimed that apparitions were experienced by a number of popes, including Pope Leo XIII in 1884, Pope Pius XII at various stages during his papacy, and Pope John Paul II in 1981, while he recovered from an assassination attempt which occurred on the anniversary of the Fatima apparition. John Paul II's particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was indicated in his coat of Arms (image, left), which contains a large letter "M" standing under the cross. He also visited many of the most famous alleged apparition sites, notably Fatima, Lourdes, and Knock, and according to some reports may have experienced another visitation on his last visit to Lourdes in 2003.

Possibly the best-known apparition sites are Lourdes and Fatima. Over sixty out of thousands of reported spontaneous healings at the Lourdes Spring have been classified as "inexplicable" by the physicians of the highly critical Lourdes Bureau. The so-called Three Secrets of Fatima received a great deal of attention in the press.

Not all claims of visitations are dealt with favourably by the Catholic Church. For example, the so-called apparitions of Our Lady, Jesus Christ and various saints at Bayside, New York were never condoned or sanctioned in any way, nor were those at Necedah, Wisconsin. The behaviour of the women who claimed these heavenly favours does not compare favourably with the quiet pragmatism of Bernadette Soubirous. Church authorities tend to use Bernadette as a model by which to judge all who purport to have visitations. When the Church does approve a visitation, Catholics are not required to believe in it: it is called "worthy of belief".

Conservative Catholics tend to use claims of Marian visitations to further their political agendas, particularly after the strenuous anti-Communist messages allegedly given by Mary at Fatima. Opponents of abortion rights have attached themselves to the so-called visitations of Medjugorje. Other conservative Catholics have joined with the Vatican in suspecting Medjugorje of being a hoax.

Criticism of Marian apparitions

The Holy See has officially confirmed the apparitions at Guadelupe, Lourdes and Fatima. However, the vast majority of Marian apparitions cannot be confirmed because usually it is only a few people that see her. The exception to this is Zeitoun, where thousands claimed to have seen her over a period of three years.

Marian apparations are criticized by many non-believers as the result of Christian (and particularly Catholic) superstition. This is particularly the case when apparitions occur in mundane locations, such as water-stained plaster;or when they turn out to have a conventional explanation, such as the occasion when an indistinct image of Mary on the side of a church which had attracted crowds of worshippers turned out to be a poster of Boxcar Willie that had been whitewashed over.

Further reading

See also

de:Marienerscheinung ja:聖母の出現

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