When most people think of Rwanda they think of the 1994 genocide in which close to 1 million people were killed in the span of only 91 days. Genocide survivor and best-selling author Immaculee Ilibagiza would like to change that. She wants people to know about Our Lady of Kibeho, the only Vatican-approved Marian apparition site on the continent of Africa. These apparitions, which in the eyes of the Church, are on the same level as places like Lourdes and Fatima, took place at a school for girls in a tiny village in Rwanda known as Kibeho.

This year the Feast of Our Lady of Kibeho, Nov. 28, marked the 30th anniversary of the first apparition as well as the 10th anniversary of the Catholic Church’s certification of those apparitions. Across the country groups gathered to commemorate this important feast day by reflecting on the Blessed Mother’s messages of love, repentance and forgiveness. They also took time to pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary which Mary taught to one of the visionaries with the intent that it would be shared with the whole world. Mary said, “I do not look at religion. All people are my children regardless of their beliefs. I am concerned with and turning to the whole world. Pray the rosary not as Catholics, but as my children.”

Many people have never heard of Our Lady of Kibeho, so Immaculee has devoted her life to spreading the word of the Blessed Mother. In addition to leading several pilgrimages to the site each year, she regularly holds retreats across the United States as well sharing information about Kibeho in her numerous speaking engagements. Many, including Immaculee, believe the genocide in Rwanda could have been avoided if people opened their hearts and listened to the teachings of the Blessed Mother. In fact during an apparition with one of the visionaries, Mary showed images foretelling the coming tragedy and begged her children to repent.

The messages of Kibeho are included in Immaculee’s book, “If Only We Had Listened,” and the complete account of the experiences of the visionaries is in her book, “Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa.”

The teachings of the Blessed Mother in Kibeho are just as important and relevant today as they were 30 years ago. Who knows what tragedies can be avoided in our future if we spread the word and listen to our Mother.

For more information about the Marian apparitions at Kibeho, visit www.immaculee.com.