In the last two centuries the Blessed Virgin has appeared to young and very young seers. We must acknowledge that Mary loves to entrust her messages for the church to young children and adolescents. But why?
After the "miraculous medal" of the young Parisian nun Catherine Laboure who was twenty four years old Mary appeared on September 19, 1846 to two shepherd children: Melanie Calvat , 14, and Maximin Giraud, of 11 years in the mountains of La Salette , in a pasture at 1,800 meters above sea level . At Lourdes , also in France, there were 18 apparitions of the Virgin Mary, from 11 February to 16 July 1858, to the young Bernadette Soubirous, a fourteen year old poor and illiterate girl.
But even in Italy, in Montefalco Umbria, something absolutely amazing occurred to coincide with the unification period: the appearances of a Beautiful Lady-the Blessed Virgin- in Autumn 1861 to five years old Righetto Cionchi.
But the "highlight" of the meetings of the Blessed Virgin Mary with children occurred with six appearances, from May 13th to October 1917, in Fatima. The children were Jacinta Marto 7 years old, his brother Francisco Marto of 9 years and their cousin Lucia dos Santos 10 years old. To them were revealed important secrets for the Church and for society itself.
The Blessed Virgin appeared in 1931 to children and hundreds of other people in Ezquioga in Spain. This is a small village in the Basque country. She gave messages concerning the civil war which followed, the end of the world and the anti Christ.
In 1932 the Virgin Mary appeared at Beaurang (Belgium), to five other children on thirty three occasions. On January 15, 1933 She appeared at Banneux (Liege) to Mariette Beco, an adolescent girl.In 1947, approval for the apparitions came from the Holy See.
But apparitions have also taken place in the territories newly Christianized, as in 1981 in Kibeho , Rwanda. Our Lady began began appearing to seven children. They are Alphonse, Anathalie, Marie Claire, Agnes, Stephanie and Vestine . The Virgin foretold that there would be terrible loss of life in Rwanda if people did not pray. Rwanda was later to suffer a genocide. Kibeho has been recognised as authentic.
On June 24, 1981 began the apparitions of Medjugorje. Young Mirjana Dragicevic and Ivanka Ivanković reported seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a village in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina. The following day another vision was reported, this time also by four other young people: Marija Pavlović, Jakov Colo, Vicka Ivanković, and Ivan Dragicevic. The apparitions are ongoing.
Medjugorje is the subject of a Commission of Enquiry to adjudicate on the authenticity of the apparitions. The huge influx of pilgrims to Medjugorje is impressive. However even more impressive are the wholesale conversions at Medjugorje.
But the question remains:Why does Our Lady appear to so many young people? This is a difficult question to answer. Perhaps it is because young people are not yet over influenced by cynicism. The words of Jesus come to mind: the mysteries of God are revealed to those whose hearts are small, while remaining hidden from the wise who do not have the humility (Mt 11.25, Lk 10.21)