Apparitions and Catholic Devotionality

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Nora MACHADO DES JOHANSSON, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, ISCTE-IUL ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal
Apparitions of virgins, saints, and angels have been important sources of devotion, such as pilgrimages and other forms of mobilization among Catholics since the Middle Ages. Even if this phenomenon is relatively marginal in the overall picture of global Catholicism, it occurs even today and attracts and motivates a significant number of followers ( the latest now in 2010, 2015, even if not officially approved). These events have a polysemic character, social, religious, political, national, even mediumistic– allowing for religious devotions that do not have to be limited or confined to established beliefs or church canons and rituals.

Typically, the lack of scriptural or theological foundation (like the scarce presence of the Virgin in the testaments) that could be considered problematic from some perspective, it is not. It becomes an advantage and beyond the point, since the focus in many of these mobilizations is ritual performance and intense experiences rather than sharing of beliefs beyond the particular saint or virgin (i.e. beliefs concerning sacraments, particular sins etc.)

The article will explain the power of these apparitions among some groups of Catholics and the ways in which normal Catholics may and do become mobilized as well.