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Mary Comes to Rwanda

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Mary Comes to Rwanda

The Mother of the Word visits a small village.
Immaculee Ilibagiza
Immaculee Ilibagiza More by this author
Aug 15, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Three weeks after my friend Jeanette and I quit climbing the mountain to pray for the Virgin Mary to appear, my father arrived home from work and proclaimed in a loud voice that there had been a miracle in Rwanda.

“A miracle? What is it, Dad? What happened?” I shouted, running to his side. “Tell me, tell me!”

“Don’t you know that patience is a great virtue?” Dad asked me with a chuckle. “Anything worth having is worth waiting for, Immaculée, even miracles. So first we’ll have our dinner as a family, and then I’ll share my news with you, your mother, and your brothers during Igitaramo.”

Igitaramo, an ancient and revered Rwandan custom for untold centuries, is a simple custom of homespun elegance. After finishing the evening meal, families gather around a large communal fire and sing songs commemorating our ancestors. Dancers in colorful dress entertain the villagers, and the most eloquent speakers relay news from other villages or tell old stories steeped in tribal legend. It’s also a chance to gossip, settle disputes, tell jokes, and arrange marriages. Igitaramo has survived European colonization and remains a big part of Rwandan culture. (In fact, at this point Radio Rwanda broadcast a version of Igitaramo, which was filled with stories and songs, every night after 9 p.m.)

Our family didn’t have a television or even a telephone, so our spare time was usually spent together. Dad particularly loved debating things during Igitaramo, so when he said that’s when we’d discuss the miracle, I knew it was something he wanted us to look at closely.

As we were finishing dinner, he began telling us about how he’d visited Father Clement that day in our neighboring parish. Father Clement was the most revered priest in the region, as well as being a deeply pious, very well-educated, and wise man. He was also a good family friend—while he was especially close to my father, my brothers and I loved him so much that we called him Grandpa.

“A priest in Kibeho let Clement know about a 16-year-old girl named Alphonsine Mumureke, who says the Virgin Mary appeared to her at least five times in the past two weeks,” Dad told us. “The girl claims that the Blessed Mother wants to be known in Rwanda as the ‘Mother of the Word,’ and that God Almighty sent her here with messages from heaven for the entire world to hear.”

“Oh, I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!” I screamed, jumping up and dancing around the table. “She’s real and she did come to see us!” Tears rolled down my face, and I was elated and heartbroken all at once. I was thankful that the Blessed Mother had come to Rwanda, but I was also kicking myself for abandoning my trips up the mountain: We should have planted the flowers three weeks ago! Why didn’t I keep praying? Mary should have appeared to Jeanette and me…clearly there’s been a terrible mistake!

My disappointment was short-lived, though, because I realized that my prayers had actually been answered. Mary loved me enough to come to Rwanda! What did it matter if she’d missed Mataba and landed in a different village? Rwanda was a small country—I could just go to Kibeho, wherever that was, and see her there!

About Author
Immaculee Ilibagiza
Immaculée Ilibagiza was born in Rwanda and studied electronic and mechanical engineering at the National University. She lost most of her family during the 1994 genocide. Four years later, she emigrated to the United States and began working at th Continue reading