"Major League" Apparitions

Q: In baseball, teams are considered to be major League or minor league. Applying that concept to apparitions, which ones would you consider to be "major league"?

A: Indeed, the systematic and comprehensive approach makes the Guide a very useful tool in studying apparitions. Of course, for a scientific research of the field the sources would have to be examined and evaluated. One of the special assets of Heintz's book is the importance and place given to the spiritual message. The distinction between major and minor league makes better sense than the purely statistical criteria. However, even in this regard, local importance tends to override sometimes international scope. For example, who has heard about Our Lady of Valankanni in this country? It is the most important Marian sanctuary in India, and attracts several million people every year. Thus, the major players need to be determined thanks to some clear-cut criteria. I would suggest the following:

1. Recognition of apparition and integration of the Church's pastoral activity. In spite of its attraction of millions of people over the years, I would not (yet) put Medjugorje in the category of major players. It needs the Church's recognition to survive the present and immediate future.

2. A long and active tradition such as we find in Guadalupe, Czestochova, Lourdes and Fatima. Some of these sanctuaries have been magnets of spiritual fervor for centuries. Duration and tradition are among the most important criteria to belong to the major league.

3. More difficult to determine but essential is the international character. Lourdes is known the world over; the same cannot be said of Altötting. Still, even Altötting is internationally known - in a more defined geographical area. Here the overall attraction and transformational capacity (from spiritual wellness to conversion and healing) play an important role, especially their role as national or ethnic symbol of unity.

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