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May 30, 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Marian Apparitions

Shelby Mayer

How familiar are you with the twenty-six Church-approved Marian Apparitions?

We’ve compiled information on all of the Marian apparitions within the Catholic Church to make this ultimate guide.  

Do you want to:

  • Understand what a Marian Apparition is?
  • Learn the process the Church uses to approve them?
  • Grow in your knowledge of the twenty-six Marian apparitions in the Catholic Church?
  • Learn the difference between “bishop-approved” and “Vatican-recognized” apparitions?
  • Successfully help others understand the importance of Marian Apparitions?

If so, you came to the right place!

Marian apparitions are known as appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary, coming down from heaven to earth. These appearances are often paired with some type of message Our Lady wants to communicate, and depending on the nature of her visit, can be anywhere from one short appearance to several over the course of years. There is always at least one witness to an apparition, and it is not uncommon for the witness to later become a saint or holy figure within the Church. 

As one of our authors points out, “These are moments when the Blessed Virgin Mary appears to us here on earth, letting us know that her prayers for us are being offered to God.” For an apparition to be worthy of belief and devotion within the Catholic Church, it must be approved by the bishop of the area where the apparition took place. This approval assures the presence of God and the forces of heaven within the appearance, and protects the community of the faithful from influences that may be contrary to the Faith. 

Over the course of Church history, there have been many reports and accusations of Marian apparitions. However, the twenty-six that have been approved as authentic and worthy of belief are spread all across the globe from Japan, to Wisconsin, to Egypt. 

The Church is very careful when it comes to approving and recognizing Marian apparitions. In fact, for the benefit of the bishops, Church officials, and the faithful, the Vatican released a set of guidelines to the public on approving apparitions and other revelations. Within the document, the Church lays out three steps in discerning the authenticity of an apparition:

1. Firstly, the question of whether the apparition and revelations given during the appearance is positive or negative is addressed.

Positive apparitions follow general criteria such as:

  • Holding great probability of factual content after thorough investigation
  • Showing honesty of moral values, docility to Church authority, and capacity of returning to a normal regimen of the Faith.

On the contrary, negative apparitions show the following:

  • Errors concerning the nature of the apparition
  • Errors concerning God, Mary, the saints, and/or Church teaching
  • Evidence of the apparition being directly aimed towards gaining some type of profit
  • The presence of grave immoral acts that were committed at the time of the apparition
  • Psychological complications regarding the witness of the apparition.

2. Secondly, if the apparition proves to be of a positive nature, the Church will go forward in allowing some type of public devotion to be celebrated.

3. Lastly, the authorities at hand decide what level of authenticity and supernatural character the apparition displays, keeping in mind the possible offspring of ideas that could come from it.

The document also notes that overall, the duty of approving apparitions first falls on the bishop of the diocese in which the apparition occurred. If the bishop has a hard time discerning the authenticity of the apparitions or revelations for any reason, the investigation can be passed up through Church authority. The Vatican can call for investigations to be had under its authority, however we usually only see this in cases of either urgency or strong contraried opinion. If the bishop approves an apparition, it is worthy of admiration and devotion and the site of the apparition is worthy of pilgrimage.

Having the Vatican recognize the existence of an apparition is an extra bonus to this, solidifying the presence of heavenly intervention. While the Vatican-acknowledged apparitions do tend to be more widely known and celebrated, their presence does not make bishop-approved apparitions any less significant or important. 

To see the entire statement released by the Vatican on approving apparitions and other revelations, visit this link.

Marian apparitions are another beautiful way Mary connects us to her Son, Jesus Christ. While on earth, the Virgin Mary’s ministry was completely dedicated to reflecting the love, joy, and peace that comes from following her son, and that ministry doesn’t stop now that she has been assumed into heaven. Many saints have spoken about our Blessed Mother’s ability to guide her children to her son, and Marian apparitions are one of the most intimate ways Mary helps us to find the Lord, meeting them both in heaven. 

Nicholas LaBanca talks about this in his article, 5 Messages from Marian Apparitions and Their Meaning, explaining, “Our Lady wants nothing more than to lead us to her son. This is why she is such a powerful intercessor. Let’s reflect on these words of Our Lady, and see how we can incorporate the request she makes in our own lives. Most importantly, let’s continue to pray for the conversion of souls and the entire world.” He goes on to say that “As she is the mother of the whole Church, we see over the course of history how she desires to communicate with her children, always at our Lord’s direction. As Christians, we should strongly consider these messages she has given to us.” Mary, as the caring mother she is, wants nothing more than to guide her children into the arms of the Father and into the safeguard of salvation, and she does this through her appearances to the Church militant on earth. 

As her faithful children, we must look to all Church-approved apparitions and revelations as direct calls from Our Lady to go deeper into the Faith, and use her advice to strengthen our relationship with not only her son, but with our brothers and sisters. 

When an apparition is recognized by the Vatican and the Holy See, it is only done so after the diocese’s bishop has investigated and approved the apparition. As explained above in the section on how bishops decide to approve certain apparitions, the responsibility of approving any apparition or revelation falls firstly on the diocese’s bishop, and is investigated using the criteria the Vatican published in 1974

When the Vatican recognizes an apparition, it does not mean that the apparition is more important than a simply bishop-approved apparition. Rather, it confirms that there was enough evidence to confirm the apparition’s merit, and was easily able to move to the higher Church officials. Regardless, the most well-known apparitions seem to be the ones that are recognized by the Vatican. 

1. Our Lady of Guadalupe

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

One of the most well-known apparitions among the faithful and the secular world, Our Lady of Guadalupe, occurred in the sixteenth century to a widower and now saint, St. Juan Diego. She met him on Mount Tepeyacac, instructing him to get the bishop to build a church upon that mountain. To do this, she instructed Juan Diego to go pick a batch of flowers that were nearby, carry them in his tilma (a type of outer garment or cloak typical to that time) and deliver them to the bishop. When Juan Diego got to the bishop and revealed the flowers, the bishop knew a miracle had taken place. Not only had Juan Diego delivered flowers that were out of season, but his cloak was imprinted with a beautiful image of what we know today as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The bishop agreed to build a church in honor of the apparition, and it has become a very popular place of pilgrimage for people across the world. 

2. Our Lady of La Salette

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Our Lady of La Salette appeared only once, unlike many other Marian apparitions. Taking place in nineteenth-century France, it occurred when two children, Maximin and Melanie, were tending to their sheep. They stumbled upon a woman sitting with her face in her hands, crying. She spoke to the children about her desire for the conversion of sinners, and how displeased her son was with the sins that are committed against him. Her message to the children was to keep the Sabbath day holy by refraining from work and calling them to respect the holy name of Jesus. Pope St. John Paul II reflected on Our Lady on her feast day, saying “LaSalette is a message of hope, for our hope is nourished by the intercession of her who is the Mother of mankind.” 

3. Our Lady of the Golden Heart

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Our Lady of Beauraing, also known as the Virgin of the Golden Heart, appeared thirty-three times to five children on a playground in the 1930s. She encouraged the children to “pray, pray, pray” for the conversion of sinners, and also desired a chapel to be built at the site, for people to go on pilgrimage. Our Lady spoke of herself as the Immaculate Conception, and on her thirty-third visit to the children, she revealed to them her golden heart. Her feast day is celebrated on the traditional date of the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

4. Our Lady of Knock

This apparition is particularly interesting for many reasons. Not only was Mary present, but two other saints as well. In 1879, fifteen people saw an altar with a cross hanging above it. Upon the altar was a Paschal Lamb, and next to the altar was St. John the Evangelist, St. Joseph, and Mary. The apparitions occurred for two hours and the saints did not speak a single word. The fifteen witnesses on sight stayed to pray the Rosary as the apparitions remained. There was even a storm during the apparition, however the area that held Mary, Joseph, St. John, and the altar stayed completely dry. 

5. Our Lady of Fatima

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Maybe the most well-known of all Marian Apparitions, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to three children, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, in early twentieth-century Portugal. Among many other messages, Our Lady identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary, urging the children to pray the Rosary frequently, for the conversion of sinners, and for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. Many have written about Our Lady of Fatima, and over seventy thousand people were witnesses to her at her last appearance, describing what they saw as the “Dancing of the Sun,” leading to many conversions.  

6. Our Lady of Lourdes

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Our Lady of Lourdes appeared eighteen times to St. Bernadette in a small grotto in France. She revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception and encouraged St. Bernadette to dedicate prayer and penance to the conversion of sinners. Over the course of the apparitions, Our Lady taught St. Bernadette a secret prayer that she recited until the day she died, “three wonderful secrets” that have never been revealed, and instructed her to bathe in and drink from the fountain on site. Since there was no fountain present, St. Bernadette dug into the gravel, revealing a pond. The stream has since then become a source of healing for many who visit the grotto.

7. Virgin of the Poor

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

In a garden behind Mariette Beco’s family home, Mary appeared eight times to Mariette, who was eleven at the time. She identified herself as the Virgin of the Poor and promised to intercede for the poor and suffering. The apparitions happened just fifty miles away from the apparition of Our Lady of Beauraing, leading many to think that Mariette was simply copying the accounts of Beauraing. However, Our Lady continued to appear to her, encouraging her to “pray very much” and to believe in her. The Little Chapel was built on the site shortly after the apparitions.

8. Our Lady of Happy Meetings

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Our Lady of Laus, also known as Our Lady of Happy Meetings, first appeared to Benoite when she was seventeen and continued to visit her throughout her life. Over the course of these appearances, Our Lady asked for a house to be built for priests, with the aim of drawing people into greater conversion, especially through the sacrament of penance. The site is heavily populated with tourists each year, attracting 120,000 people on pilgrimage annually. There have also been many healings on the site as well, especially through the instructions Our Lady gave to Benoite, placing oil from a lamp on wounds. 

9. Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine twice in the year 1830. The first time, Catherine was woken up by a “shining child” at her bed and told that Our Lady was waiting for her in the chapel. Catherine went to the chapel and observed at first that it was empty, but then, after hearing what she thought to be the rustling of silk, Mary appeared, and Catherine rushed to her side. The two talked for hours, Mary revealing to her that troubling times were ahead for France and that the Lord wants to bestow a great task unto her. Mary appeared several months later, urging Catherine to keep the apparitions a secret to all except her confessor, and commissioned her to have a medal made, now known as the Miraculous Medal. The medal has since then been made and distributed over a billion times all across the world. 

10. Our Lady of Hope

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

During the Franco-Prussian War, Mary appeared to four children on the playground of a convent school in Pontmain, France. The first child to see her was Eugene, and when he tried to point the attention of the adults around him in the direction of Our Lady, none reported seeing her. However, the other three children around him all reported seeing her, leading a nun nearby to guide everyone in prayer. Our Lady spoke no words to the children, but at her feet there was a banner that read, “But pray my children. God will hear you in a short time. My Son allows Himself to be moved by compassion.” On the same day, it is said that the Prussians halted their advance into France when the Prussian Commander reported that “invisible Madonna barring the way.” Just a few months later, a peace treaty was signed between France and Prussia, and the bishop declared that Mary had truly appeared to the four children.

11. Our Lady, Help of Christians

Our Lady, Help of Christians, proves true to her name, appearing to heal Magdalene Kade in 1866, along with healing close to a dozen others shortly after. Magdalene was bedridden due to many illnesses, and had a friend who would stay and watch over her. One night, around 4 AM, the Virgin Mary appeared to her, and Magdalene, hardly able to speak before seeing Our Lady, cried out in joy, “Look at that shine! Look at that beauty.” Her friends staying with her could not see anything, but Mary, clothed in white and wearing a golden crown, looked at Magdalene and said, “My daughter, now you are healed!” and disappeared. Magdalene was able to immediately jump up and was completely healed.

12. Our Lady of Gietrzwald

Our Lady’s message in Gietrzwald, Poland was very similar to that given at Fatima forty years after. Mary appeared to two girls, Justyna and Barbara, as they were preparing for their First Communion. The girls found her sitting on a throne holding the infant Jesus under a maple tree in front of the church. When the girls asked Our Lady who she was, she responded, “I am the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception!” and told the girls to recite the Rosary daily. The girls spoke to their parish priest, and as word spread, a movement of praying a daily Rosary spread as well, and the area remains a popular place of pilgrimage.

13. Our Lady of Lezajsk

A humble and faithful woodcutter named Thomas Michalek received two visits from the Virgin Mary in sixteenth-century Poland. The first came when he was in the forest, Mary first being seen as a bright light. Mary asked Thomas to go to the area’s priest and ask for a church to be built. However, Thomas was scared of what had happened and did nothing. Our Lady appeared to him again, asking him to take action. When Thomas went to the area’s priest he was not believed, and it wasn’t until after the death of the parish priest that a chapel was finally built on site.

14. Our Lady of Siluva

The apparition of Our Lady of Siluva led to the conversion of an entire town from Calvinism to the Catholic Faith. On a summer day in 1608, Mary appeared to four young children who were tending a flock of sheep on the outskirts of their village, Siluva. She was standing on a rock, holding a baby, and crying heavily. The town of Siluva had been turned over to the Calvinists in 1532, and gradually the whole village was conformed to Calvinist beliefs. However, the visits of Mary to the children were enough to turn the entire town back to the Catholic Faith, and abolish Calvinist rule in Siluva. 

15. Our Lady of Zion

The apparition of Our Lady of Zion has a strong connection to Our Lady of The Miraculous Medal, which took place just twelve years prior. Marie Alphonse, an anti-Catholic Jewish man, started wearing a Miraculous Medal to please his new friend, a baron of the Church. While waiting for the baron one day, he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin. He then converted to the Catholic Faith, joined the priesthood, and started a ministry for the conversion of Jews. 

16. Mother of the Word

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

One of the most recent Marian apparitions, Our Lady of Kibeho or “Mother of the Word” appeared to three children in the early 1980s. She continued to visit the children throughout the decade, and the name she identified herself with, Mother of the Word, is said to be synonymous with that of the title, “Mother of God.” One of the things Our Lady expressed to the children was that whenever she appears to a certain place or to a certain person, she is speaking not only to them, but to the whole world, and that the revelations of apparitions are to be applied to the entire community of the faithful. 

Resources consulted: The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry and The Miracle Hunter

Below are the remaining ten Marian apparitions that have yet to be recognized by the Vatican, but have been approved for devotion by the Catholic Church. Remember, just because these apparitions haven’t been recognized by the Holy See, doesn’t mean they’re any less important! Check them out; chances are you haven’t heard of at least half of these amazing appearances. 

1. Our Lady of Good Help

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Our Lady of Good Help’s appearances to Adele Brise in 1859 is the only officially approved Marian apparition in the United States. Mary appeared to Adele three times over the course of a year, in the farmlands of what is now Champion, Wisconsin. Our Lady identified herself as the “Queen of Heaven,” completing the Marian Mysteries that began one year prior by Our Lady of Lourdes, as Mary revealed herself then to be the “Immaculate Conception.” Additionally, Our Lady of Good Help encouraged Adele to dedicate her life to evangelization using the Catechism. The shrine of Our Lady of Good Help was just recently approved by Bishop Ricken in 2010, and is already a popular pilgrimage site for many Americans. 

Click here to see the news article on Our Lady of Good Help’s approval.

2. Our Lady of Good Success

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Our Lady of Good Success appeared to the now Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres in the late sixteenth century. Her words were very prophetic, and she warned Mother Mariana about a decline of faith in the twentieth century, especially among priests and other vocations. Other predictions that have proved true were the local events of Ecuador, as well as the Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of the Marian dogma, the Immaculate Conception. 

3. Our Lady of Eternal Aid

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Jeanne Courtel, who was born deaf and without the ability to properly speak, was tending to her family’s sheep when she received her first apparition of the Virgin Mary. Upon appearing to her, Mary healed Jeanne of her infirmities and continued to visit her fourteen times after that. In addition to Jeanne’s miraculous healing, further evidence of the apparitions was created when Mary showed Jeanne a hidden spot where an image of Our Lady of Eternal Aid was buried. The statue was left on the site, and immediately the bishop built a chapel there. The statue can now be seen at the chapel, and several other miracles have been reported due to the intercession of Our Lady of Eternal Aid. 

4. Madonna of Montagnaga

The Madonna of Montagnaga appeared to a simple shepherdess, Domenica Targa, in Italy during the eighteenth century. Upon being frightened while saying the Rosary with her cattle in a basin, Domenica cried out to Christ and Mary for help, and Mary appeared to her. She was wearing all white and held a rosary in her hand. Our Lady asked Domenica what she was doing, and when she responded that she was praying the Rosary, Our Lady praised her and asked her to travel to the Church of St. Anne on the solemnity of the Ascension, so that she may see her again. Domenica followed Mary’s instructions and was visited by Our Lady four other times in front of countless witnesses, urging them to pray for the conversion of sinners. 

5. Our Lady of Sorrows

The most well-recorded apparition of Our Lady of Sorrows came from two women in 1888 as they were going after a group of lost sheep. Fabiana and Serafina were traveling up a neighboring hill when they saw a bright light coming from within a cluster of rocks. After looking closer, they were astounded to find an image of Our Lady of Sorrows. They returned to their village crying, saying that she was a very beautiful woman, fair and young with ratted hair, bleeding out of wounds received from seven swords. As people began to pilgrimage to the site afterward, many reported seeing the Blessed Mother, sometimes as Our Lady of Sorrow, and sometimes as the Pieta. 

6. Our Lady of All Nations

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

Our Lady of All Nations appeared fifty-six times over the course of fourteen years to Ida Peederman, an industrial office worker in Amsterdam. Our Lady entrusted her with a large set of prophecies, as well as an image and prayer that we now know as the holy card of Our Lady of All Nations. The revelations Ida received from Our Lady included future events leading to declared Marian dogmas, especially the Immaculate Conception and Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. Mary also emphasized the importance of the Eucharist.

7. Reconciler of People and Nations

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

The apparitions of The Reconciler of People and Nations wasn’t too long ago, the last one occurring in 1990. Our Lady appeared thirty-one times to Maria Esperanza, calling herself The Reconciler of People and Nations, and warning of future war and suffering. On one occasion, as many as 108 people reported seeing the Blessed Mother, and many have visited the site, reporting several miracles and signs.

8. Our Lady of Akita

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

The apparitions of Our Lady of Atika is particularly interesting because, unlike the other apparitions, Sister Agnes heard the Blessed Virgin’s messages through a wooden statue and not a traditional appearance. Sister Agnes had already been experiencing signs of supernatural works before the apparitions, seeing a bright light emerging from the tabernacle at her convent, and receiving the stigmata in 1973. Much like the story of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Sister Agnes was led to the statue by what is believed to be her guardian angel, and on three different occasions, the statue spoke to her about praying for the reparation of sins, following her superiors, warning of great chastisement, and the second coming. Along with these messages, countless miracles have been attributed to Our Lady of Akita, such as the healing of Sister Agnes’s hearing, the sisters finding the statue bleeding from a wound in her hand, and the statue crying 101 times over the course of eight years. 

9. Our Lady of Cuapa

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

The apparition of Our Lady of Cuapa was witnessed in the late twentieth century by a Church sacristan and future priest named Bernardo Martinez. Bernardo’s first account of the supernatural appearance was from a statue of Our Lady in the church, which was glowing brightly. Shortly after, the Virgin Mary appeared to him directly, asking him to renew the First Saturday devotions and pray daily Rosaries with biblical citations. Frightened with fear of ridicule, Bernardo ignored the visit from Our Lady and avoided the site in which she appeared. However, Mary appeared to him again and asked him for help, filling his heart with a peace that took away his fear of judgment from others. Our Lady spoke to him about the future of Nicaragua, and when appearing for the last time, she was not seen by the fifty people accompanying Bernardo, due to their hardness of heart. This greatly saddened Our Lady, and she told Bernardo that she would not be appearing at the site anymore, but encouraged him to pray the Rosary, turn from violence, and make peace. 

10. Our Lady of the Rosary

Click here for Our Lady’s messages

What’s interesting about the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary is not only that they were given initially to a woman with no formal knowledge of the Bible or theology, but that the apparitions are considered to be ongoing even today. Numerous healings have been attributed to this visit from Our Lady, and Gladys, the woman whom Mary appeared to, received apparitions of Our Lady nearly daily for six years. There have been many discussions with the Holy See about the apparitions and their messages, but several bishops have found no reason to reject the apparitions, and the site has continued to produce positive fruits for the faithful. 

Resources consulted: The Miracle Hunter


We hope you found this guide helpful! We’re always looking for ways to improve your knowledge of Catholic tradition with Ascension and we’d love to hear from you!

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You May Also Like:

How to Pray Like Mary [Book]

Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother

Pocket Guide to the Rosary

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  • What about the Virgin of Revelation in Rome, 1940s?

    That was approved and swiftly. Then buried and not spoken of.

  • What a beautiful article. Thank you. I was raised Catholic and attended catholic schools and College so I thought I knew all about Marian Apparitions. I learned a lot more thanks this article.
    It would be great to have a book with all this information ( or permission to print) . What a great gift this would make to those converting to Catholicism.

  • this is wonderful to have an article about this! It’s been difficult for me trying to figure out this info on my own! thank you so much!

  • How does one go about tracking down which apparitions the church has and has not approved? I can’t find anything on the Vatican website. Must one simply delve into every apparition they see mentioned, and hope someone else has happened across the relevant document from the Vatican?

  • Thank you! I am excited to learn more about Marian apparitions, many I was unfamiliar with. However, what about Garabandal and Medjugorje?

    • Yes, what about Garabandal? This, like many sites, seems to focus on approved apparitions. There seems to be good evidence that Garabandal is the most important apparition of all time, and this is the reason that Catholic Church authorities have not approved it, and will not do so until the prophecies given there are fulfilled. Church approval does not change the importance of an apparition, correct?

    • She is listed under Vatican-Approved Marian Apparitions, #16, with the title Mother of the Word (which is another name for this one)

  • Hello and thank you for this lovely site. I do believe that Our Lady of Ocatlan has received a papal coronation.

  • The first seven messages of Medjugorje were ‘approved’ by the Vatican about 5 years ago, Fr. A second Papal envoy has been appointed and parishes may now sponsor their own pilgrimages!

  • This, like many sites, seems to focus on approved apparitions. No problem. But sites like the National Catholic Register and others advise, “stick to approved apparitions.” My church doesn’t advise me to do that. There is good evidence that the reported apparitions at Garabandal are the most important of all time. This is the reason that Catholic Church authorities have not approved it, and will not do so until the prophecies given there are fulfilled. Church approval does not change the importance of an apparition, correct?
    I would like to see instructions on how to respond to reported apparitions. I use and highly recommend Fr. Jose, M. Saiz’s five articles, Apariciones y revelaciones privades (Santander, July 1961).

  • Please repent and read the Word of God. I had read most of these accounts and they cause me sorrow for how lost Catholic Doctrines are. There is only 1 mediator between the Father and man. Some of these accounts are blatantly blasphemy. Only God is Holy, Only God receives worship. With much love for Catholics, I beg you to read the Word of God.

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