The day God was believed to take Virgin Mary’s body up into heaven is known as the Assumption of Mary. It is marked every year on August 15.
The Assumption of Mary was made an official dogma of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
From then, annually, millions of pilgrims gather in churches to pray and ask God for “physical resurrection.” In Rwanda, today, scores of pilgrims from across the world gathered in Nyaruguru district, Kibeho parish in Southern province, to celebrate Mary’s assumption.
In this place, forty years ago, Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared to three girls, event that would be confirmed by Pope John Paul II in 2003, which gave the Mother of Jesus, a new name of Our Lady of Kibeho.
According to Kabgayi Diocese Bishop Balthazar Ntivuguruzwa, assumption Day is particularly significant to Rwandans and is observed because it honours the blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
“On this special day, we celebrate the mystery by which God assumed the Virgin Mary, body and soul, into heaven in order to share the heavenly glory of Her Son,” says Bishop Ntivuguruzwa.
Since the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared on November 28, 1981, Kibeho has attracted pilgrims from all over the world.
Assumption Day, and the anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s apparition (November 28) dominate the calendar nowadays, drawing pilgrims to the shrine all year long.
“It was a special day in 1982 on 15, when virgin Mary appeared to three girls who had come for the assumption” Yesterday only over 30,000 people arrived,” Francisco Harerimana, Director of Kibeho pilgrims said.
He pointed out that believers come to learn about the Virgin Mary’s assumption into heavenly glory once her earthly mission was fulfilled.
One of the four Marian creeds recognised by the Catholic Church is the Assumption of Mary. On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII gave it a definition in his apostolic constitution, “Munificentissimus Deus.” According to this doctrine, which God revealed, the Immaculate Mother of God was carried off into the splendour of heaven after her earthly life came to an end.
The Immaculate Conception of Mary dogma, which held that Mary was conceived without original sin, served as the foundation for the statement, which was made in 1854.
“When you come here, you feel close to God. It is holy when you try to do what Mary did. We learn a lot when we come here. It is always good to live a righteous life,” Jane Uwamahoro said.
As thousands gather to finish praying, others go to fetch ‘holy water,’ which is said to be able to cure any illness.
The neck and arm rosaries are also sold at the location, at Rwf2000. Every year, several vendors line up with their goods at the location.
“We are supposed to walk according to God’s will, not our will. As a believer, I believe in another life after this. However, we must live a holy life through repenting our sins,” Jean Dukuzeyezu, a catholic believer said.