HrvatskiEnglishDeutsch
counterUkupno posjetitelja2643856
Friday15November2019
I Came Down from Heaven for Nothing
Friday, 08 July 2011 Written by Ksenija & Petar Zečević

I Came Down from Heaven for NothingAlready the first day of our stay in Rwanda, fra Ivica surprised us with a suggestion to immediately go to Kibeho, the place of Our Lady’s apparitions in the ‘80s, before the genocide. Here I have to mention two obvious similarities between Rwandans and Croats: Our Lady’s apparitions and war.

The apparitions in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina began in 1981, just like those in Kibeho, only five months earlier. The war lasted almost the same time-frame – the beginning of the ‘90s – and both were waged due to ethnic intolerance. The local Rwandan war ended with terrible carnage, and ours, thanks be to God, was of a much lesser intensity.

The apparitions in Kibeho, too, are very similar to those in Medjugorje, although there are also some differences. In Kibeho, the number of seers gradually increased – first one girl, then two, and then three – while in Medjugorje there were six of them from the very start. Regarding the duration of the apparitions and the number of messages, Kibeho is of less intensity than Medjugorje where seers even today experience apparitions on a daily basis. Kibeho could be placed in the same rank as Fatima, but I would say that Medjugorje exceeds all similar phenomena in history and is simply without precedent. But Kibeho, unlike Medjugorje, is officially recognized by the Church. Only the first three seers were recognized, although there were in fact many more of those who claimed to see Our Lady. Immaculee Ilibagiza, in her book, ‘Our Lady of Kibeho,’ mentions eight of them as the best known, most studied, and most esteemed in Rwanda. In both Medjugorje and Kibeho there was an ‘entire army’ of other seers, but they aren’t ever mentioned.

The main reason for the official recognition of Kibeho is the apparition of August 15th, 1982. There were over 20,000 people present in Kibeho on that day, because Our Lady promised to appear on that day. Many were expecting a joyous day, because it was the Feast of the Assumption. However, that day Our Lady didn’t allow any singing, which never happened before. The seers saw Our Lady crying and, after much insisting (on the side of the seers), she asked for the song I Came Down from Heaven for Nothing to be sung:

People are not grateful and
They don’t love me,
I came down from heaven for nothing,
I left all the nice things up there for nothing.
My heart is full of sorrow,
My child, you show me your love,
You love me and
Come closer to my heart.

After that, the seer started to cry because of the horrors she was seeing. One after the other came the images of destruction, torture, human rampage, and rivers of blood. In the end she saw a great valley filled with countless decomposing corpses, with no one to bury them.

All the seers saw the same vision on that day, and they retold it to the gathered crowd for hours. When these visions, twelve years later, really did happen, it became obvious that Our Lady had been present among us, so it was therefore not difficult for the Church to decide to recognize the apparitions, and in 2001 it did.

In the end, Our Lady asked the seer named Alphonsine to repeat these two verses seven times; The first one: A fire from the depths of the Earth will come and destroy everything on it... The second one: On that day, when you will take those that have served you, God, have mercy on us, we pray to you...

During our stay in Rwanda we visited this blessed place twice: immediately the second day upon our arrival, with fra Ivica, and on Sunday with a group of people from the Kivumu parish. During our first visit, the parish was quite empty, including the church, but a nun opened the souvenir shop for us, and we were able to buy a couple of things as remembrance of our having been there. We saw the area behind the church; today there is a statue of Our Lady where once stood the platform where the seers experienced the apparitions. There were many people on the platform on two occasions: first during the genocide and the second time during the retribution after the genocide.

On our second visit we travelled with the group by a rented minibus from the Kivumu parish. The group was led by sister Epiphanie from the Kivumu convent. It was very similar to Medjugorje pilgrimages, and this trip lasted three hours, all of them well used. In the bus, first we prayed the whole rosary: all four mysteries – joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious. The group prayed in Kinyarwanda, but we managed to accompany them in Croatian. During the entire trip many interesting traditional songs were sung, accompanied by rhythmic hand-clapping which we joined.

When we arrived in Kibeho, there were a lot more people than the first time, because it was Sunday and the mass was about to start. Numerous pilgrims from all of Rwanda came, even from Burundi and who knows what other parts. We entered the church, but soon they announced that the Mass was going to be held somewhere else, and we exited the church together with the other people. A large procession was formed which started to move in the direction of the valley below the church. Along the path that leads downwards, stations of the rosary were made, and in the bottom is a roofed altar, beside which there is a spring that, we were told, appeared after the apparitions stopped. The water from that spring is considered to be blessed, and people take it to their homes, just as we did.

The Mass began shortly. We carried a Bible with us, so we were able to understand the readings, and a nun briefly translated the homily for us. The Mass lasted as long as any solemn Mass would back home if it were’t for the whole series of speeches and greetings at the end, before the blessing. The leaders of prayer groups from different parishes and dioceses were presented, and the most useful speech was given by the parish priest who is Polish - about the apparitions and the origin of the spring. As far as we know, it seems that these speeches are the main reason why Masses in this part of Africa last so long.

The priests blessed us at the end of the Mass by passing among us and sprinkling us with the water. The water was dispersed with little brooms from buckets carried by helpers. The blessing is specific to Kibeho, and was practiced even during the apparitions - at that time by seers who, instead of a crowd of people, saw a great meadow full of all sorts of flowers – withering, and needing to be refreshed.

After Mass we went to the church where we met seer Nathalie, who lives in Kibeho and helps around the sanctuary. We shook hands with her, but she refused to be photographed. Then we drove to the next hill where there is a huge statue of Merciful Jesus, sent by Pope John Paul II from Poland to Africa; to Kibeho. Sister Nathalie explained to us that it is a custom to go there after Kibeho to give thanks for all received graces.

Without a rest or a lunch break (which we didn’t really miss) we started back to Kivumu, once again singing all the way. Thanks to Our Lady for this pilgrimage! Let us draw near to her heart as she asks us to, and let us pray for the whole world that her apparitions are not for nothing!

Translated by: Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

Photo Gallery

 
Father Vjeko Center

copyright © 2005-2019 vjeko-rwanda.info • All Rights Reserved • Web concept, development and maintenance by Edvard Skejić