Apparitions of Mary

Roman Catholic Christians are also attracted to the reported appearance of Mary, throughout history, but especially in the past century or more. One often hears of the appearance of Mary at Lourdes, France (in 1858), in Fatima, Portugal (in 1917), in Guadulupe, Mexico (in 1530), in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina (today).

It must first be recalled that the Catholic Church does not teach that these visits of Mary are a matter of either faith or morals for Catholics. These fall in the class of private devotion. The Church does permit these devotions when it is sure nothing said or believed about the visits of Mary is contrary to Divine Revelation--the Bible or the constant faith of the Church.

The Catholic Church also teaches that there is no new public revelation possible after the death of the Evangelist John. Any thing else approximating new messages would be private revelation only.

The Catholic Church applies the teaching of the Bible to her judgment of such private devotions.

1 Jn 4:1
Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Mt 7:17-18, 20
Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. ... So by their fruits you will know them.
Ja 3:12
Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can salt water yield fresh.

The tests of such apparitions of Mary have shown that nothing in her messages and consequent devotion contradicts the word of God and the constant teaching of the Church.

The fruit of the shrines of Mary speak for themselves: repentance, revival, healings, renewed faith, return to the church, Bible reading, fruits of the Spirit, etc. The Church has made and continues to follow the Biblical tests of the spirits and approves some such apparitions as of the Spirit.

It remains for all Christians of a renewed mind and of the Spirit of the Lord to follow the Biblical mandates of testing spirits and the fruit of the tree as the Catholic Church has done.

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By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.
Catholic Biblical Apologetics, © Copyright 1985-2004, Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Last Updated: July 16, 2004