In the early 1980s, Our Lady of Kibeho appeared to three schoolgirls in Rwanda and gave one of the girls, Marie Claire, a special mission: to revive and spread the Seven Sorrows Rosary.
“With the recitation of the Seven Sorrows Rosary, the hardest of hearts shall change, if you pray it for yourself or for others,” Our Lady of Kibeho promised Marie Claire.
After reading about this apparition in Immaculée Ilibagiza’s book Our Lady of Kibeho several years ago, I was inspired to learn to pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary. But despite my good intentions, I kept putting it off. I’m a creature of habit, and it often takes me a long time to add a new devotion to my regular prayers. Months went by, then years. Still, it remained in the back of my mind, until finally, one February, I decided to make it my Lenten resolution to pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary every day.
What I didn’t know then was that the timing of my resolution was a gift from heaven.
Very soon after I began praying the Seven Sorrows Rosary, my world was torn apart by devastating family circumstances. As the darkness descended around me, I clung to that Rosary for dear life. The Seven Sorrows Rosary changed from a Lenten resolution into a life preserver. While my own heart was being pierced, I felt Our Lady of Sorrows walking beside me, and I came to know her maternal love in an entirely new way.
Our Lady’s heightened presence in my life through this devotion was a solace in my suffering. It was also the unexpected answer to a deep yearning I had felt for long years before this: a yearning to know Mary better.
Although I grew up in a loving Catholic family, I had never felt like I truly knew the Blessed Mother. At least, not in the way I’d heard other Catholics talk about knowing her. In my childhood, I learned a lot about Jesus and the Bible, but I don’t recall praying the Rosary or talking much about Mary. As a young adult, I had a great awakening of my faith, and my love for the Church increased by leaps and bounds—yet as other spiritual truths became clearer, one thing remained foggy: I still didn’t feel like I fully knew Mary. I wanted to know her better. I longed to know her the way others did. But somehow, she seemed distant, and I didn’t know how to close that gap.
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