Kibeho, Rwanda: Our Lady of Sorrows Church
The genocide in Rwanda:
In the 20th Century mankind has witnessed more bloodshed and inhumanity than perhaps at any other time in history. Certainly this is true in Rwanda, where over 800,000 people died in the years 1994-1995.
During the period in which Belgium ruled this colony, they favored the minority Tutsis, and gave them a range of advantages over the majority Hutus. This created the basis for a lot of resentment once the country gained independence in 1962, but did not reach its peak until 1994, when war broke out between the rival Tutsi and Hutu tribes, and many atrocities were committed by both sides.
One of the worst atrocities of the war occured right here in Kibeho. As the rebel army, dominated by Tutsis, gained victory and many Hutus fled to a refugee camp in Kibeho.
And at this camp, in front of U.N. observers, as many as 30,000 people were massacred in 1994. While some of those in the camp were certainly guilty of genocide themselves, many others were simply caught up in the war.
About the warning given:
All of this had been foretold in an event that received little attention at the time. In 1981, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a group of teenagers with terrifying messages. For many who read them they seemed to be too far over the top to be believed. The children reported that there would be “rivers of blood”, and headless bodies as well as other gruesome details that seemed unbelievable at the time. On August 15, 1982, Blessed Mother gave the children a frightening message, saying “The world’s not very good and killing will happen in this country.”
Sadly, the visions were just a preview of what was to come some 13 years later.
The local Bishop approved these apparitions of Our Lady as worthy of belief in 2001.
At this time, many of those who had read the prophecies, remembered the chilling phrase “headless corpses floating down the river”. Few imagined how true this would be. Among those killed was one of the visionaries who had received the message.
Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica now stands on the site of the massacre.
Photos courtesy Kibeho Shrine.
Traveling to the Shrine in Kibeho:
Despite the tragic history, Rwanda is one of the worlds’ safest countries now. Ease of access by air and a reputation for hospitality has given the country new recognition as a tourist destination.
The shrine is popular with many pilgrim groups, but is not easily reached for independent travelers. The nearest major airport is in Kigali, the country’s capital, with international connections via many airlines. A new airport (shown on the map in red) will replace the Kigali Airport in late 2018.
Address: B.P. 341 Butare / Rwanda, Central Africa
GPS coordinates: 2° 38′ 10.5468” S, 29° 32′ 48.3396” E
Tel: + 250 78 830 73 76, + 250 78 855 91 92 + 250 78 884 09 59
Click here for the official website of the Sanctuary