Mar 14, 2014 20:04 Facets of Faith for July 21, 2012 Facets of Faith for July 21, 2012 Associated Press file photoPilgrims circle around statue of the Virgin Mary on June 25 in front of the St. James Church in Medjugorje. Many believe that the Virgin Mary showed herself and conveyed messages of peace to six children in Medjugorje on June 25, 1981. Advocate story March 14, 2014 Comments Miraculous stories about visions of Jesus or Mary or objects that look like them emerge on a regular basis. Stories in July include: People are visiting Baton Rouge’s Broadmoor subdivision to see a “bleeding” statue of Mary. In Alabama at the beginning of July, a woman who was part of the Medjugorje visions reported new visions of Mary. People are flocking to New Jersey to see a tree with a spot that looks like Mary. Will people continue to have interest in these activities? Will they be dropped as hoaxes or misunderstandings? No one knows. In 2010, Religion News Services reported that the Roman Catholic Church had approved 12 Marian apparitions worldwide and was considering others, including some in the United States. The approved list includes Lourdes, France, and Fatima, Portugal. While not an approved pilgrimage, Medjugorje has been popular with many believers since its initial visions in the 1980s. Here’s a look at those three sites. Lourdes This French site is home of 18 reported appearances to 14-year old peasant Marie Bernardette Soubirous. These happened between Feb. 11 and July 16, 1858, with a spring welling up on Feb. 25. People began to visit, and many reporting being healed in the waters. In 1862, pilgrimages were authorized. Five million people visit the shrine annually, many seeking healing in the water. As of 1976, the church says that 63 miraculous healings had happened at Lourdes. Fatima At this site in Portugal, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children six times between May 13 and Oct. 13, 1917. The children said they saw a lady “brighter than the sun.” Large crowds gathered, but only the children could see her. Mary gave a series of instructions intended to bring peace into the world and indicated a sign would come in October. On Oct. 13, 70,000 people in Fatima said the sun “danced.” From 1928-1953, a basilica was built on the site. Four million people visit each year. Medjugorje Marija Pavlovic Lunetti was one of six youths in Medjugorje, in what was then Yugoslavia, who reported apparitions of Mary in 1981. The children reported seeing a beautiful woman carrying a child. The next day, some of the children returned and the woman prayed with them. On the third day, she identified herself as Mary. These children report that Mary continued to visit them no matter where they traveled. Lunetti reports that she saw Mary in Alabama earlier this month. While official pilgrimages aren’t sanctioned, thousands visit the site each year. Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/, The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions, The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion, http://www.sacred-destinations.com/ Send ideas and comments to Leila Pitchford-English, The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588 or by email to email@example.com.