Some of the Catholic Church’s best-known reports of apparitions of Mary

Pope Francis in his popemobile leaves the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, in Fatima, Portugal.
Pope Francis exits in his popemobile after a Mass at which he canonized shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco Marto at Portugal’s Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima on the centenary of their 1917 visions of Mary.
(Paulo Novais / Associated Press)

The Vatican has revised how it evaluates purported supernatural events, such as reported visions of the Virgin Mary, in order to guard against hoaxes and account for news going viral.

Previous approved apparitions have turned sites where such events have been reported into major pilgrimage destinations, drawing millions of people each year.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico: An Indigenous man named Juan Diego reported several apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1531. For believers, the image of the Virgin that hangs in the basilica is a miracle itself, made when Diego carried flowers in his cloak after receiving one of the visions and, upon opening it, found that it displayed a detailed, colorful image of the Virgin.


Lourdes, France: July 16 marks the anniversary of purported visions of Mary in 1858 by a young girl, Bernadette Soubirous, and the discovery of allegedly healing spring waters in southern France near the Pyrenees.

Fatima, Portugal: Three shepherd children said the Virgin Mary appeared to them six times in 1917 and confided to them three secrets. They described an apocalyptic image of hell and foretold the end of World War I and start of World War II and the rise and fall of Soviet communism. Pope Francis in 2017 proclaimed Francisco and Jacinta Marto saints during a Mass marking the centenary of their visions.

Pope Francis on Saturday added two Portuguese shepherd children to the roster of Catholic saints, honoring young siblings who reported seeing visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago.

May 13, 2017

There are also disputed Marian apparitions.

Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina: In 1981, six children and teenagers said they saw apparitions of Mary on a hill in the village, and some of the original “seers” claim to receive continuous revelations. The Vatican has been studying the phenomenon for years, and officials have said a ruling is expected soon.

Our Lady of All Nations, Amsterdam: One of the most egregious cases of flip-flopping determinations by Catholic authorities about the supernatural nature of purported Marian apparitions involves this organization. In 2020, the current bishop, with the backing of the Vatican, reaffirmed the 1974 negative judgment from the Vatican about the supernaturality of “apparitions and revelations.”

Army of Mary, Quebec, Canada: After another flip-flopping by bishops, the Vatican in 2007 excommunicated the members of the Army of Mary after its founder claimed to have had Marian visions and declared herself the reincarnation of the mother of Christ.