On August 15 annually, Catholics from all over the world celebrate the Assumption Day, remembering what they believe to be the ascension to heaven of the Holy Virgin Mary, mother to Jesus Christ.
The Assumption Day gains an even bigger momentum at Kibeho pilgrimage site in Nyaruguru district, Southern Rwanda, where the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared to three then school girls at a Kibeho-based high school between 1981 and 1982. They are Alphonsine Mumureke, Nathalie Mukamazimpaka and Marie Claire Mukangango.
After a scrutiny spanning nearly two decades, the Catholic Church of Rwanda termed the Kibeho apparitions as “authentic” in 2001.
Kibeho has since grown into a pilgrimage site. According to church leaders at Kibeho, at least 100,000 pilgrims have been making their way to Kibeho on a yearly basis since 2011, from different parts of the world. And business has slowly but steadily followed suit as result of new infrastructures like hotels and electricity to cater for pilgrims.
The photo essay below, gives a snapshot into 2013’s Assumption Day at Kibeho.
A crowd of Catholic faithful gather in Kibeho Parish ground for the mass of the Assumption Day. “Be careful. There you’re standing is a holy place”, reads a notice on the flyer, written in the local Kinyarwanda language.
Some Catholic faithful chose to present their offerings, not in terms of money, but in their crops. Here, a group of women come forward with baskets full of their offerings like beans, among others.
From the young to the old, Catholic faithful keenly say their prayers during the mass on the Assumption Day.
This billboard in the Kibeho trade center guides pilgrims towards the Kibeho pilgrimage site, about half a mile away.