New Type of Apparitions

It may be said that since 1830, when Sister Catherine Labouré experienced an apparition in Paris, it has been spoken about a new type of apparition – Marian apparitions – which are not private any more but public due to their meaning for the faithful. These events were so appraised by one of the most outstanding specialists in catholic mystics of the 20th century, Cardinal Hans Urs Von Balthasar. And now, further and more extensive apparitions recur in Medjugorje, which are aimed at concluding this specific cycle of Marian apparitions with a worldwide mission.

This new series of apparitions with a universalistic mission is difficult to reconcile with the knowledge and assessment of private revelation from past centuries, even though criteria for considering the information on private revelations and prospective recognition of such apparitions are often in useful in certain cases.

Thus, it is evident that the series of events in which the Virgin Mary is purported to have supernaturally appeared exceed the area of so-called private revelations, for they are meant for the public.

The question occurs of why it is happening at a time when we have everything which is necessary for salvation in the Bible and traditional knowledge and moreover, the preceptorial office of the Church.

After experience with these apparitions, an explanation offers itself. Let us realise what the state of the Church and the faithful is like. Especially in Europe and Asia we can notice a tendency towards a decline in religious belief owing to the influence of practical materialism. In the late 20th century, a liberal orientation reached even the Cardinals’ Corps. Many priests and theologians began to propagate in practice liberal ideas which were in contradiction to theological teachings of the Church. This consisted of derogating the significance of prayer and emphasising the importance of social work, downplaying the significance of reconciliation and the veneration of Mary; as well, as interpreting the Eucharist in a protestant manner. Apart from the said facts, there were also the attitudes of some believers and even theologians towards morality, in particular in such questions as abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, etc.

The opinions of the preceptorial office of the Church are being derogated and even ridiculed in many places all over the world. In this situation, it seems that there is no force which would be able to restore the former reputation and dominance of the preceptorial office of the Church. That is probably why God prepared His new activity – Marian apparitions – to encourage people to enliven their faith.

In these phenomena, which are awakening millions of people, there is primarily a confirmation of the truth of the existing doctrine of the Church. Further, it is more important for practical religious life that through these Marian apparitions, people receive God’s exceptional graces and a desire and will to convert and live according to belief in God. In this context, these Marian apparitions are irreplaceable.

These new aspects of apparitions occurring since 1830 are very important, but have yet to be considered under the rigorous assessment criteria and theological research of past centuries, de facto since the origin of Christianity. Nevertheless, some knowledge from past centuries can be very useful for the assessment of contemporary apparitions. That is why we are going to begin with a brief recapitulation of the most important previous pieces of knowledge, and then we will focus on the new approach to these phenomena to show different comprehension of these phenomena. This will clarify the said subject and will show that it concerns not only one phenomenon but also miscellaneous and often considerably distinct types of such phenomena, so it is necessary to approach to them individually.

Earlier views on the subject from the theological perspective assess these phenomena as a whole. Thereby, on many occasions, such dramatic simplifications have led people into spiritual detriment caused by application of warranted fears of detrimental apparitions to all the apparitions, which gave rise to the tendency to dissociate oneself from these phenomena. The result of this was dissociation from the divine plan for extraordinary help to mankind in the hardest times.

The meaning of the word “apparition” used so far is the result of reflection and theorisation from many centuries. However, particularly in the last two centuries, the term “apparition” has been applied to phenomena transcending the previous meaning of this word, for instance, as was the case with the “apparitions” of Catherine Emmerich or the series of Marian apparitions from 1830 with a worldwide mission. The visions of Catherine Emmerich do not give any new religious truths, but they merely describe events which happened in the past or which will happen in the future. Marian apparitions are meant for the public, but they do not amend existing religious truths; they only remind us of their rightness, urge us to adhere to them and, primarily, provide us with strength, i.e. God’s grace to accomplish them.

Attempts to consider such phenomena in light of the previous classification as public and private apparitions can no longer be maintained because they lie beyond the existing definition and meaning of the word “apparition”. That is why there are insurmountable obstacles for efforts to use existing views and directives from previous centuries.

Therefore, it is useful and now possible to study the phenomenon of apparitions more profoundly and to assess it from various perspectives.


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