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  Public revelation is what we have in Scripture and Tradition. It was completed, finished, when the last Apostle died. Testament was finished. So there is no more until Christ returns at the end. In this area, the Church has His promise of providential protection in teaching.


  The Church does not have providential protection in matters of private revelation (i.e. Apparitions of Our Lady). The Church has been very cautious to approve purported miraculous events. As established in the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the local Bishop (called Episcopal approval) is the first and main authority in the judgment of the authenticity of apparition claims. Vatican approval is not required for an apparition to be considered authentic. If a Marian apparition is recognized by the Bishop, it means that the message is not contrary to faith and morals and that Mary can be venerated in a special way at the site. Catholics are at liberty to decide how much personal spiritual emphasis to place on apparitions and the messages they deliver (approved or not approved).

  Reports of Marian apparitions and devotion to the Virgin Mary actually date back to the beginnings of Christianity and continue in our world today. Pilgrims can still travel to Zaragoza, Spain, and kiss the pillar that, according to pious tradition, was the one on which the Virgin Mary appeared to St. James in the year 40. Although she was still living at the time, it is considered the earliest known vision of the Mother of God.

  According to later accounts of the miracle, St. James was despairing and struggling to gain traction in preaching the gospel in Spain. Then one day near the Ebro River, the Virgin Mary bilocated to be with him, encouraging him while standing on a pillar of jasper. The common Spanish girl’s name Pilar is reminiscent of this early Marian miracle story.


  As history has marched on, there have been countless other claims of the Virgin Mary interceding on our behalf, only a scant few of which are ever investigated by an episcopal commission or officially approved by the local bishop. Even fewer have received any sort of Vatican recognition. On very rare occasions, Rome has cemented certain Marian apparitions in the pantheon of believable supernatural events by establishing a feast day in the General Roman Calendar, or arranging a papal visit (often accompanied by the bestowing of the treasured Golden Rose or a special prayer invoking that Marian title).

  There are 30 apparitions that are described in detail on this website; 3 from the 16th century, 3 from the 17th century, 1 from the 18th century, 11 from the 19th century, and 12 from the 20th century.

Commentary from Pope Benedict XVI

  In an interview at Fatima, Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) spoke about visions and apparitions: "To all curious people, I would say I am certain that the Virgin does not engage in sensationalism; she does not act in order to instigate fear. She does not present apocalyptic visions, but guides people to her Son. And this is what is essential."

  He continued, "The Madonna did not appear to children, to the small, to the simple, to those unknown in the world in order to create a sensation." Mary's purpose "is, through these simple ones, to call the world back to simplicity, that is, to the essentials: conversion, prayer, and the sacraments."

  According to Pope Benedict XVI in Verbum Domini, ” an apparition, or ‘private’ revelation, is judged by its orientation to Christ himself. If it leads us away from Him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, Who guides us more deeply into the Gospel and not away from it… Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals, it is licit to make it public, and the faithful are authorized to give it adhesion… A private revelation can have a prophetic character and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time. Consequently, it should not be treated lightly. It is a help which is offered but its use is not obligatory."

Commentary from Pope John Paul II

  "Veneration of Mary, when properly understood, can in no way take away from 'dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.' Mary in fact constantly points to her Divine Son and she is proposed to all believers as the model of faith which is put into practice". (John Paul II, The Coming Third Millennium, 43)


  His Holiness, Pope Urban VIII (1623-44) stated: “In cases which concern private revelations, it is better to believe than not to believe, for, if you believe, and it is proven true, you will be happy that you have believed, because Our Holy Mother asked it. If you believe, and it should be proven false, you will receive all blessings as if it had been true, because you believed it to be true.”

  "Blessed are they who believed and yet have not seen." (John 29:29)

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