Popular Devotion to the Virgin. The Marian Phenomena at Melleray, Republic of Ireland / Dévotion populaire à la Vierge. Le phénomène marial de Melleray en République d Irlande - article ; n°1 ; vol.67, pg 125-144
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Popular Devotion to the Virgin. The Marian Phenomena at Melleray, Republic of Ireland / Dévotion populaire à la Vierge. Le phénomène marial de Melleray en République d'Irlande - article ; n°1 ; vol.67, pg 125-144

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Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1989 - Volume 67 - Numéro 1 - Pages 125-144
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Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



Publié par
Publié le 01 janvier 1989
Nombre de lectures 18
Langue Français
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo


Sandra L. Zimbars-Swartz
Popular Devotion to the Virgin. The Marian Phenomena at
Melleray, Republic of Ireland / Dévotion populaire à la Vierge. Le
phénomène marial de Melleray en République d'Irlande
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 67/1, 1989. pp. 125-144.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Zimbars-Swartz Sandra L. Popular Devotion to the Virgin. The Marian Phenomena at Melleray, Republic of Ireland / Dévotion
populaire à la Vierge. Le phénomène marial de Melleray en République d'Irlande. In: Archives des sciences sociales des
religions. N. 67/1, 1989. pp. 125-144.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1989.1373
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/assr_0335-5985_1989_num_67_1_1373Arch Sc soc des Rel. 1989 67/1 janvier-mars) 125-144
Le récit de apparition de la Vierge Marie Melleray en août 1985
comporte des messages de réforme morale destinés au grand public
Les événements survenus la grotte de Notre Dame de Boola et les
messages ainsi transmis suggèrent il conviendrait de situer
Melleray parmi les apparitions apocalyptiques publiques survenues
la fin du XIXe et au cours du XXe siècle Des facteurs externes tels
qu une pluviométrie particulièrement élevée en Irlande pendant été
85 une menace de récoltes ruinées un déclin du tourisme les
prochains accords avec Irlande du Nord et une perte notable de
autorité de glise dans le domaine de la morale individuelle ont
sans doute contribué la montée de ferveur religieuse occasionnée
par apparition et par le phénomène des rumeurs répandues travers
les régions méridionales et occidentales au sujet de sculptures mou
vantes Or la thèse avancée se résume ce qui suit la clé de énigme
qui explique pourquoi le peuple est réconforté dans idée de la
présence présumée de Marie dans une grotte irlandaise réside dans les
messages rapportés de Melleray Les messages apparitions anté
rieures sont répétés et modifiés représentant ainsi des points de
repère permettant aux croyants de saisir la portée religieuse des
événements survenus la grotte et notamment le rôle qui revient
Irlande empêcher une catastrophe imminente car les Irlandais
seraient les messagers de Marie Aux yeux äes croyants Irlande revêt
ainsi une identité religieuse positive et de ce fait elle devient un haut
lieu de religiosité apocalyptique
Belief in apparitions has been part of Christianity since its inception An
apparition may be understood as the appearance within the physical environment
to one or more individuals of person whom they would not expect to be within
their immediate perceptual range Apparitions arc generally distinguished from
internal visions or locutions which arc experienced as part of mystical state and
which arc sometimes described as being perceived by the eye The
possibility of apparitions in Christianity is suggested first of all by the so-called
resurrection appearances of Jesus But Jesus is by no means the only figure
reported to have appeared thus to Christian believers During the Middle Ages
devotees of particular saint often reported that the saint had appeared to them
Most popular of all the saints was the Virgin Mary and reports other appearances
to her faithful abounded Common too were reports that statues of the Virgin
moved or came alive and interacted with human beings While the Reformation
brought about the demise of these phenomena in those areas most subject to its
influence they have continued within Roman Catholicism and other parts of the
Christian tradition
Reports of apparitions and of statues which move or come alive have not
ceased with the advent of the so-called modern world Bernard Billet reports that
between 1928 and 1973 more than two hundred reported appearances of the
Virgin Mary came to the attention of Roman Catholic authorities In 1985
accounts of such phenomena began to come from the Republic of Ireland In
February ofthat year reports that statues the majority of which were of the
Virgin Mary were moving changing color being transformed into the image of
Jesus or saint or pope or had come alive and given messages to the people of
God By September over thirty statues had been reported moving
The purpose of this article is to describe and analyze the events associated
with one of those sites Our Lady of Boola near the Cistercian monastery of
Mount Melleray particularly as they have been understood by the believers
themselves and to provide preliminary assessment of the Marian apocalyptic
thought in the context of which they have been incorporated into coherent
religious worldview The events are here examined as constituting religious
phenomenon with social dimension which William Christian whose studies
have focused more on the social dimension has called the public apocalyptic
apparition In such apparitions Mary appears to one or several seers and
delivers messages intended to effect spiritual and moral reformation in the public
at large In the late-XIXth and XXth centuries the public character of such
apparitions became particularly evident as large crowds gathered around the
person or persons who were seeing the apparition and reporting the messages
Christian has compared these events to missions and revivals with the Virgin as
the missionary and the visionary merely the medium for conveying her presence
One purpose of these events is to revive flagging faith on social scale and ith
ga properly emphasizes here the importance of the public ritual In times
of social crises he argues believers have recourse to phenomena which apppeal
to the emotions and buttress traditional ideologies But while external factors
such as social crises may very well underlie and precipitate ritual response it is
the content of the ritual which constitutes the religious meaning and in the case of
the public apocalyptic apparition the messages themselves are the focal points of
this religious meaning Messages of previous apparitions are repeated and
modified as the contemporary event unfolds becoming points of reference for the
believers for understanding and establishing the meaning of the contemporary
The initial 1985 reports of moving statues in Ireland concern not the Virgin
but statues dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus On February 14 seven-year-old
Elizabeth Flynn saw two statues move in small church in Asdee Co Kerry The
statue of the Sacred Heart first beckoned to her she said and then the statue of the
Virgin Mary moved its eyes Accompanying Elizabeth were her sister Mary 12
years old and her brother Connue years old After the apparition these three
ran from the church and summoned about thirty other children who also
claimed to see the statues move As news of the event spread the small church in
Asdee became the focus of such religious interest that by the 11.00 Mass on
Sunday February 17 the three-hundred seat church was packed and an overflow
crowd was outside By late evening the church had to be closed pews piled
around the statues in order to protect them from the hundreds of pilgrims waiting
for another instance of movement This event was followed by another report in
mid-March from Ballydesmond in Co Cork Here the claim was made again by
children that statue of the Sacred Heart had moved in the Church of St Patrick
The parents dismissed this claim on the basis of over-active imagina
tions At this time Msgr Dermot Sullivan issued statement that the moving
statues of Asdee would not be accepted as miracle by the Roman Catholic
Church until all other possible explanations had been throughly and meticulously
checked out In the meantime he said the Church would do nothing to encourage
people to visit Asdee or Ballydesmond on pilgrimage
In mid-July two women claimed to see the statue of the Immaculate Concep
tion move at the Lourdes-style grotto near Ballinspittle Co Cork This grotto and
dozens of others like it were established in the Marian year of 1954 the centenary
celebration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception The statue of the Virgin
Mary which is illumined at night by lighted halo is situated near the top of
hill while at the bottom is statue of kneeling St Bernadette gazing upwards
The two women had stopped by the roadside grotto on Monday night July 15 had
seen the statue move and had reported their experience to neighbors Hundreds
of people gathered at the grotto and many reported that they had seen the statue
move backwards and forwards left and right and open its hands and that they
had seen the face of Mary transformed into that of Jesus or Padre Pio Reports that
some senior gardai policemen and reporters both presumed to be sceptical
about such events had seen the movement gave credence to the notion that
significant were unfolding at the grotto Media coverage of the events

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