We recently met Immaculee Ilibagiza at a Same Sky event in New York City. Same Sky manufactures necklaces and bracelets — employing women in Rwanda who survived the 1994 genocide.
It was on April 6, 1994 that the president of Rwanda died in a plane crash, triggering a genocide that killed nearly one million people in three months.
Immaculee’s book, Our Lady of Kibeho, recounts the Blessed Mother’s apparitions to three Rwandan children from 1981-89 — in which she warns of a looming disaster for Rwanda.
In one particular apparition, occurring on August 15, 1982, she describes the suffering of one of the visionaries, Alphonsine, who saw Mary weeping for those who didn’t heed her messages.
Tears gushed from Alphonsine’s eyes as she trembled uncontrollably at the scenes unraveling before her. She summoned a hymn to her lips, trying to sing the images away, but she soon fell silent, as though frozen in fear. Mary was revealing even more dreadful images to her — for example, the girl was now staring at a growing pile of severed human heads, which were still gushing blood. The grotesque sight worsened still as Our Lady expanded Alphonsine’s vision until she beheld a panoramic view of a vast valley piled high with the remains of a million rotting, headless corpses, and not a single soul was left alive to bury the dead.
The images were a cautionary glimpse into the near future for more than 20,000 people gathered in Kibeho that day, who were warned again and again that the hatred they harbored in their hearts toward their neighbors would lead them to ruin.
Marie-Clare (another visionary) continually wailed at the images she was shown, and she begged Rwandans to heed Mary’s pleas and warnings before it’s too late: “Our Lady says, ‘Do not forget that God is more powerful than all the evil in the world…the world is on the edge of catastrophe. Cleanse your hearts through prayer. The only way is God. if you don’t take refuge in God, where will you go to hide when the fire has spread everywhere?'”
Unfortunately, not enough people prayed — too few cleansed their hearts of hatred.
In 2001, the Vatican recognized the apparitions of the three original visionaries from Kibeho — Alphonsine, Anathalie and Marie-Claire — to be authentic.
Today Immaculee is a tireless advocate for praying the rosary and the need for forgiveness.