Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Good Hope... True Visions?

Francesca Zackey, a 17 year-old South African of Lebanese descent, has recently caused a stir in the region for reporting apparitions of our Blessed Lady.

It's no secret that when apparitions pop up, people come out of the woodwork -- whether for reasons of devotion, curiosity, or following the masses to continue the time-honored practice of hawking tchotckes. After one of the faithful suffered damaged eyesight whilst trying to experience Zackey's visions of Fatima-esque doings of the sun, however, the local authorities have gone into overdrive:
On Tuesday, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, the highest Catholic authority in the region, asked Zackey not to receive pilgrims, not to speak to the media and not to encourage people to look into the sun.

"Several priests spoke to the family to urge them to take time to themselves," spokesperson Father Chris Townsend said.

"We would consider it better if she (Francesca) took some time off to think about what has happened.

"We also asked her not to do any more media interviews and to please not ask people to look into the sun."

Zackey claims she has been experiencing spiritual sightings of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at her home since May 7. She also says that on May 23 the sun began spinning at sunsets, allowing believers to see Mary appear in it.

But, in light of the tragic accident of Amal Nassif, 37, who, at Zackey's behest, stared directly into the sun and damaged her eyesight, the Church is advising people to be extremely careful and to practise common sense.

The phenomenon of a spinning sun is not new - it was seen by thousands, and verified, when the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
(...and, allegedly, also by Pius XII, at the Vatican, both before and after the late pontiff promulgated the dogma of the Assumption in late 1950.)
Townsend said the Church's investigation into whether the 17-year-old's visions were genuine was due to start at the end of the week.

Three priests and a nun had been assigned to carry out the probe.

Speaking about the investigation, Townsend said: "It's a broad investigation which will look at what has been said, the consistency (of the claims) with religion, the family's life and the life of the young girl.

"We have to be careful not to be blown about by each and every wind that blows."...

The last Catholic investigation, which revolves around sightings of the Blessed Virgin in KwaZulu Natal in 1971, are still going on.