Holy Cross College is the proud proprietor of the painting “Our Lady of Kibeho and Saints” by artist Amber Knorr. This visual masterpiece adorns the Vincent Atrium. It celebrates and honors the importance of Black Catholics in the life and cultural heritage of the Church.
Background about Our Lady of Kibeho
In these Church-approved apparitions that began in 1981, the Virgin Mary appeared to young girls in Kibeho, Rwanda under the name “Nyina wa Jambo” that is, “Mother of the Word”.
In the visions, the Virgin Mary asked for penance and fasting for the conversion of sinners, and the frequent recitation of the Rosary. The girls also saw a prophetic vision of the Rwandan genocide that would occur thirteen years later.
In the painting, Our Lady holds a seven-decade Rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows with her title of Nyina wa Jambo in her halo. On her lap is the Christ Child with the words “And the Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14) in Latin in his halo. His hand is raised in blessing while he holds the written word of God that testifies to Him as the Savior of the World. Mary and Jesus are seated on a pillar with a verse from Psalm 85(84):11, “Mercy and truth have met. Justice and peace have kissed.”
Saint Charles Lwanga: A Ugandan convert to the Catholic faith, Charles Lwanga, and his companions were martyred for resisting King Mwanga II in 1886.
Saint Josephine Bakhita: Kidnapped and forced into slavery in Sudan when she was eight years old, Josephine gained her freedom in Italy twenty years later and died in 1947 as a religious sister.
Saint Martin de Porres: Born the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a freed African slave, this Peruvian man entered the Dominican Order as a lay brother working for the poor. He established and orphanage and a children’s hospital.
Father Augustus Tolton: A former slave, Augustus Tolton was ordained the first black Catholic priest in the United States in 1886. In 2019 he was declared “Venerable.”
Sister Thea Bowman: Depicted here as a novice of her Franciscan order, Thea Bowman served the African American Catholic community in the United States until her death in 1990. She is currently a “Servant of God.”
Mother Mary Lange: Born of Haitian descent, Mother Lange founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first Black religious congregation, in Baltimore. She is currently a “Servant of God.”