Our Lady of Kibeho: Marian Devotion, Reconciliation, and Social Change in Post-Genocide Rwanda

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This research investigates beliefs, practices, and identities of those who practice devotion to Our Lady of Kibeho, to understand her religious and political significance and her relevance for reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda. Apparitions of Our Lady occurred at Kibeho from 1981-89, and many believe that, along with her message of repentance, she predicted the Rwandan genocide. On the basis of previous exploratory ethnographic research, I hypothesize that her attraction as a devotional figure is a response to: 1) generational strains within upwardly mobile families benefitting from Rwanda’s economic development, and 2) anxieties about Hutu – Tutsi conflict that was exploited politically in the genocide and endures in post-genocide Rwanda. This project contributes to scholarship on Marian apparitions and devotions; religion and conflict and its implications for peacebuilding; and religion and the family. It reflects Kellogg’s goal of bridging disciplines, especially social sciences and theology, and Kellogg’s theme of integral human development.