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a supernatural appearance of a person or thing, especially a ghost; a specter or phantom; wraith: a ghostly apparition at midnight.

anything that appears , especially something remarkable or startling: the surprising apparition of cowboys in New York City.

an act of appearing ; manifestation.

Astronomy . the appearance or time when a comet, especially a periodic one, is visible: the 1986 apparition of Halley's comet.

Origin of apparition

Synonym study for apparition, other words for apparition, other words from apparition.

  • ap·pa·ri·tion·al, adjective
  • non·ap·pa·ri·tion·al, adjective

Words Nearby apparition

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use apparition in a sentence

My van, Gizmo, shook violently as I traversed the sixteen-mile washboard road up to Mowich Lake, Rainier hovering like an apparition on the horizon.

The superb list of guest stars includes Bowen Yang, Vanessa Williams, John Slattery and Fey herself, appearing, incredibly, as an apparition of Dolly Parton.

Petrie repeatedly refers to Elefantin as an apparition , a revenant, an illusion.

Rogue waves are sea ghosts, terrifying apparitions that arise without warning.

During our drive home from dinner, an apparition of a yellow deer appears to me, seeming to float in the air over the Cullinan’s massive bonnet.

And then Further is gone, back on the road, like a time-traveling relic from another era or an apparition of Jerry Garcia.

Mukamazimpaka also last reported seeing an apparition in 1989.

It will be far more consequential than the weird apparition of the gun–crazed rocker Ted Nugent at the State of the Union.

And the president has to be himself too, not the sudden apparition of an inauthentic pol.

His challenge to use this week to cast the race as between two flesh-and-blood men, not the apparition of 2008.

Terrified with this apparition , he consulted several friends, who advised him to take the advice.

This apparition lasted some eight minutes, and as soon as it disappeared another came of the same form, direction and appearance.

The lions stopped also, being evidently taken by surprise at the sudden and unexpected apparition of a man!

Yet, the harder I stared the clearer appeared the amazing and monstrous apparition .

Humanity shut its eyes in view of the hideous apparition of wan and haggard beggary and crime.

British Dictionary definitions for apparition

/ ( ˌæpəˈrɪʃən ) /

an appearance, esp of a ghost or ghostlike figure

the figure so appearing; phantom; spectre

the act of appearing or being visible

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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Definition of apparition noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • Apparitions of a woman in white robes have been reported.

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Apparition in british english, examples of 'apparition' in a sentence apparition, related word partners apparition, trends of apparition.

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Expert explains Church’s criteria for confirming Marian apparitions


Rome, Italy, May 8, 2008 / 13:33 pm

Salvatore M. Perrella, an expert in dogma and Mariology from the Mariunum Pontifical School in Rome, explained this week the criteria used by the Church to determine the legitimacy of Marian apparitions. His explanation comes in the wake of the Church’s approval of the apparitions of Our Lady of Laus in France.

In an article for L’Osservatore Romano, Perrella cited Jesuit Father Giandomenico Mucci to explain the difference between a vision and an apparition.  The first is of a spiritual nature, while the second is of a physical one.  That is, the seer has a real and sensible experience of the one in the apparition.   After explaining the Church’s process for verifying Marian apparitions was discussed at the Lateran Council and the Council of Trent, Perrella explained that currently “discernment about the veracity” of alleged apparitions “falls to the diocesan bishop or archbishop—and in recent times to the episcopal conference in question—and to the Pope.”

He also pointed out that the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith drafted an internal and secret document on February 25, 1978, after four years of study, signed by the prefect Cardinal Franjo Seper to be used by the competent authorities” in evaluating supernatural occurrences.

Perrella went on to point out that the CDF instructed that for an investigation to proceed, “precise information” should be gathered about the various aspects of the alleged apparitions such as testimonies of conversions, theological analysis of the message of the apparitions, a medical and psychological review of the seer or visionary, including his or her educational level, an examination of their spiritual life, their level of communion with the Church, miraculous healings and occurrences, and other factors.

After a detailed examination of the numerous events related to apparitions, Perrella said, the Church “has approved a total of 11 apparitions out of 295 that have been studied—including now the 12th, which are those of Our Lady of Laus, approved on May 4, 2008.”

“Once verified and authenticated by Church authorities, the extraordinary manifestations may be freely embraced, as faith is reserved only to the public Revelation of God which ended with the death of the last Apostle,” he said.

In any case, Perrella stressed, the apparitions approved by the Church only manifest the evangelical mission of Mary throughout the history of the Church, which has been to point the way to the Father’s house through faith in the Lord Jesus.

Such revelations, while they help to increase faith, “do not add to the Revelation given to the Church in Sacred Scripture, but rather they help to make it current during a specific period in history,” he said.

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a period of time during which something is in liquid

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Apparitions and Appearances

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The term "appearance" has been used in different apparitions within a wide range of contexts and experiences. And its use has been different with respect to Marian apparitions and visions of Jesus Christ.

In some apparitions such as Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima an actual vision is reported, fully resembling that of a person being present. In some of these reports the viewers (at times children) do not initially report that they saw the Virgin Mary, but that they saw "a Lady" (often but not always dressed in white) and had a conversation with her. In these cases the viewers report experiences that resemble the visual and verbal interaction with a person present at the site of the apparition. In most cases, there are no clear indications as to the auditory nature of the experience, i.e. whether the viewers heard the voices via airwaves or an "interior" or subjective sense of communication. Yet, the 1973 messages of Our Lady of Akita, which were approved at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1988 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) are due to Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa who had been totally deaf before 1973 (and remained deaf until 1982 when she was cured during Sunday Mass as foretold in her messages), suggesting means of communication other than airwaves.

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In some apparitions just an image is reported, often with no verbal interaction, and no conversation. An example is the reported apparitions at Our Lady of Assiut in which many people reported a bright image atop a building, accompanied by photographs of the image. The photographs at times suggest the silhouette of a statue of the Virgin Mary but the images are usually subject to varying interpretations, and critics suggest that they may just be due to various visual effects of unknown origin. However, such image-like appearances are hardly ever reported for visions of Jesus and Mary. In most cases these involve some form of reported communication.

And apparitions should be distinguished from interior locutions in which no visual contact is claimed. In some cases of reported interior locutions such as those of Father Stefano Gobbi a large amount of text is produced, but no visual contact is claimed. Interior locutions usually do not include an auditory component, but consist of inner voices. Interior locutions are generally not classified as apparitions. Physical contact is hardly ever reported as part of Marian apparitions, unlike in cases of interaction with Jesus Christ. In rare cases a physical artifact is reported in apparitions. A well known example is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe which is reported to have been miraculously imprinted on the cloak of Saint Juan Diego.

Catholic belief

According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, the era of public revelation ended with the death of the last living Apostle. A Marian apparition, if deemed genuine by Church authority, is treated as private revelation that may emphasize some facet of the received public revelation for a specific purpose, but it can never add anything new to the deposit of faith. The Church will confirm an apparition as worthy of belief, but belief is never required by divine faith. The Holy See has officially confirmed the apparitions at Guadalupe, Saint-Etienne-le-Laus, Paris (Rue du Bac, Miraculous Medal), La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima, Portugal, Pontmain, Beauraing, and Banneux.

As a historical pattern, Vatican approval of apparitions seems to have followed general acceptance of a vision by well over a century in most cases. According to Father Salvatore M. Perrella of the Marianum Pontifical Institute in Rome, of the 295 reported apparitions studied by the Holy See through the centuries only 12 have been approved, the latest being the May 2008 approval of the 17th- and 18th-century apparitions of Our Lady of Laus.

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Other apparitions continue to be approved at the local level, e.g. the December, 2010 local approval of the 19th-century apparitions of Our Lady of Good Help, the first recognized apparition in the United States.

An authentic apparition is believed not to be a subjective experience, but a real and objective intervention of divine power. The purpose of such apparitions is to recall and emphasize some aspect of the Christian message. The church states that cures and other miraculous events are not the purpose of Marian apparitions, but exist primarily to validate and draw attention to the message. Apparitions of Mary are held to be evidence of her continuing active presence in the life of the church, through which she "cares for the brethren of her son who still journey on earth".

Not all claims of visitations are dealt with favourably by the Roman Catholic Church. For example, claimed apparitions of Our Lady, under the title of "Our Lady of the Roses, Mary, Help of Mother's", Jesus Christ and various saints at Bayside, New York have not been condoned or sanctioned in any way, nor those at the Necedah Shrine in Necedah, Wisconsin. The behavior of Ms Veronica Lueken and Mary Ann Van Hoof, who claimed these heavenly favors, was deemed not to compare favorably with the "quiet pragmatism" of St. Bernadette Soubirous - Church authorities are said to use Bernadette as a model by which to judge all who purport to have visitations. Indeed, both women seriously criticized the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, allegedly even harshly, and Mrs. Van Hoof is said to have subsequently left Roman Catholicism for an independent local Old Catholic Church.

Possibly the best-known apparition sites are Lourdes and Fatima Over sixty spontaneous healings, out of thousands reported at the Lourdes Spring, have been classified as "inexplicable" by the physicians of the Lourdes Bureau, a medical centre set up by the Church in association with local medical institutes to assess possible miracles. The Three Secrets of Fatima received a great deal of attention in the Catholic and secular press.

Apparitions and statues

Marian apparitions are sometimes reported along with weeping statuesof the Virgin Mary. However, to date only one single example of acombined weeping statue and apparition (namely Our Lady of Akita) has been approved by the Vatican and the rest have usually been dismissed as hoaxes.

Discerning Apparitions and Private Revelation

An Apparition is an appearance. In that sense, there have been reports of apparitions since the earliest history of the Church. I have always found St. Matthews account of the crucifixion to be one of the most fascinating. After the Lord Jesus surrenders Himself in Love for our redemption we read this account:

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"But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, "Truly, this was the Son of God!"" (Matt. 27: 50 -54)

"Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia," gives us some helpful distinctions concerning the language used when discussing purported heavenly appearances, private revelations and the messages associated with them. Here is a summary:

Apparition : The name given to various kinds of supernatural visions of heavenly beings and is frequently applied to the visions associated with Mary.

Private revelation : This comes from a vision and communication from Mary or other heavenly beings. "Revelation" is the body of truths found in the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition of the Church. "Private revelations" are not dogmas of faith and are open for selective acceptance and devotion of the faithful.

Messages : Often in an apparition, a message is given to the seer (the person who beholds the vision). It may be a warning about the need for prayer and penance to avert a coming war or disaster. After apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, Our Lady of Fatima told Sister Lucia de Santos that a pope would be shot. This prophecy was verified on May 13, 1981, when Pope John Paul II was shot in Rome.

Messages may also include a request that a church be built to honor Mary at the apparition site with the promise of blessing to all who come to pray there. For example, the basilicas in Lourdes, France, and Guadalupe, Mexico, were built in response to Mary's request and are visited by millions of pilgrims annually.

How Do we Discern Apparitions and Private Revelations?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church sets the standard by which the faithful should approach any claimed Apparition, private revelation or message associated with them:

"The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

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"Throughout the ages, there have been so-called "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

"Christian faith cannot accept "revelations" that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such "revelations." (CCC #65-67)

Norms and Process for Judging Private Revelations

The following material is from the University of Dayton in Ohio which houses the International Marian Institute and the largest Marian library in the world. They have done a thorough job in offering assistance to the faithful on whether Apparitions are reliable and how we can approach them with the mind of the Church:

During the past several years, the number of reported apparitions has been greatly increasing. While concentrating on Marian apparitions, our purpose here is to view all popular piety in the context of the total picture of Catholic faith, devotion, and discipleship. Our approach is to strike a happy medium between vain credulity and sterile skepticism. Perhaps we could label our position as one of critical or moderate realism.

Authentic Visions

Visionaries or seers behold an object not naturally visible to other persons. An authentic supernatural vision or apparition is different from illusions or hallucinations that result from pathological conditions or even diabolical intervention. An authentic vision is a charism -- gratia gratis data -- given to an individual or group for the spiritual good of others and/or for the Church as a whole.

The Church's Voice

On February 25, 1978, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued "Norms of the Congregation for Proceeding in Judging Alleged Apparitions and Revelations." Pope Paul VI had approved these norms the preceding day.

Although this document uses the term supernaturalitas, we believe that what is meant is something supernatural in the mode in which it has occurred rather than supernatural in its essence or substance.

The Bishop's Role

When an allegedly supernatural event has occurred, it is the responsibility of the local bishop to conduct an investigation, usually through a committee of experts.

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Theologically and canonically, the bishop is entrusted with the role of "oversight" of the diocese. This role of "oversight" is based on the bishop's responsibility both for public worship and for the religious teaching which occurs in the diocese.

Norms for Discernment

1) The first norm for evaluating miraculous events is that there be moral certainty, or at least great probability, that something miraculous has occurred. The commission may interview the visionaries, call other witnesses, visit the site of the events.

2) The second norm deals with the personal qualities of the subjects who claim to have had the apparition; they must be mentally sound, honest, sincere, of upright conduct, obedient to ecclesiastical authorities, able to return to the normal practices of the faith (such as participation in communal worship, reception of the sacraments).

3) A third category deals with the content of the revelation or message: it must be theologically acceptable and morally sound and free of error.

4) The fourth positive criterion is that the apparition must result in positive spiritual assets which endure (prayer, conversion, increase of charity).

These four criteria may also be restated in a negative way. There must be no doubt that what is occurring is truly exceptional and beyond human explanation. There must be no doctrinal error attributed to God or to the Blessed Virgin Mary or some other saint. The third negative criterion is that there must be no hint of financial advantage to anyone connected with the apparitions, nor must any of the visionaries be accused of serious moral improprieties at the time when the visions were being received, nor may there be evidence of mental illness or psychopathic tendencies.

At the end of the investigative process, the committee may submit to the bishop(s) one of the following verdicts or conjectural judgements: constat de supernaturalitate (the event shows all the signs of being an authentic or a truly miraculous intervention from heaven); constat de non supernaturalitate (the alleged apparition is clearly not miraculous or there are not sufficient signs manifesting it to be so); non constat de supernaturalitate (it is not evident whether or not the alleged apparition is authentic).

The Bishop's decision regarding alleged apparitions usually does not attempt to interpret or give the spiritual significance of the events, nor to interpret the messages or identify the heavenly persons who may have appeared.

Public Worship

All such investigations are conducted by the bishop to determine whether public worship should continue to be held in those places. It could happen that the investigative committee could conclude that at this time it is able neither to make a clearly positive nor a clearly negative judgment. If the matter is still being investigated, the bishop could permit public worship, while at the same time continuing to be vigilant that the devotions do not wander into deviant directions.

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Our Responsibility

As the bishops are entrusted with these responsibilities stemming from the nature of their office, so there are fundamental responsibilities on the part of the members of the diocese. First, they are to obey their bishops when the latter act as Christ's representatives (canon 212), that is, when they teach formally or establish binding discipline as pastors of a particular church. This obedience owed to the bishops in their capacity as leaders of particular churches is intended to promote the common good. Canon 753 also speaks of the "religious assent" owed to the bishops' teaching authority, which means a special quality of respect and gratitude, along with critical awareness and good will. Hence, there should be intelligent obedience to ecclesiastical authority in the matter of alleged apparitions.


A new era opened in the canonical regulations dealing with apparitions occurred in 1969. In that year, Pope Paul VI deleted certain canons of the Code of Canon Law (1917). These canons had specifically forbidden the publication of all books or pamphlets about new apparitions, revelations, visions, prophecies, and miracles, or which introduce new devotions, even though justified as private. Such prohibitions are not part of the Code of Canon Law (1983). So the many reports of Marian apparitions may in part be due to the new freedom to discuss freely and to report such occurrences to the media, without first submitting them to ecclesiastical approbation.

The Foundations of Our Faith

Our faith cannot rest on private revelations and apparitions. Even with properly approved apparitions, we must maintain a proper perspective -- viewing them as an assistance to nourish our faith in the central dogmas of the Incarnation, the Trinity and the Eucharist. In their 1973 pastoral letter, Behold Your Mother: Woman of Faith, the American bishops called authenticated appearances of Mary "providential happenings [which] serve as reminders of basic Christian themes: such as prayer, penance, and the necessity of the sacraments." (# 100).

This text is based on "Discerning the Miraculous: Norms for Judging Apparitions and Private Revelations" by Frederick Jelly, O.P. (1993); and "Canonical Considerations regarding Alleged Apparitions" by Fr. Michael Smith Foster, JCD (1995). It was abridged, combined and rearranged by Fr. Johann G. Roten, S.M.

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And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. (The Gospel of Luke 2:34-37) Read More

The Meaning of Mary

The Meaning of Mary Image

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." "At the announcement that she would give birth to "the Son of the Most High" without... Read More

The Prayer of Mary

The Prayer of Mary Image

Mary's Prayer teaches us to stay afloat in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows. Mary's way is to become an ark within, where the same God who became incarnate within her... Read More

The Song of Mary

The Song of Mary Image

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you... Read More

The Titles of Mary

The Titles of Mary Image

From the earliest theological reflections in Christian history we find the defense of the most important of the titles of Mary, "Theotokos" in Greek. It is translated God-bearer... Read More

Mission of Mary

Mary and the eucharist.

Mary and the Eucharist Image

In a beautiful apostolic exhortation entitled the Sacrament of Love, issued in 1997, Pope Benedict XVI wrote these words under a section entitled The Eucharist and the Virgin Mary... Read More

Mary & the New Evangelization

Mary & the New Evangelization Image

Throughout his pontificate, Blessed John Paul II called for this "New Evangelization." Pope Benedict XVI made this a central pillar of his pontificate. He erected a Pontifical Council... Read More

The Path of Mary

The Path of Mary Image

Before they were called Christians (Acts 11:26), at Antioch, they were referred to as "the Way". A Rabbi named Saul spoke of persecuting "the way" (Acts 22:4) before he was profoundly converted... Read More

The Marian Moment

The Marian Moment Image

Over the last two decades a recovery of the significance of the life and witness of Mary has occurred among many Christians, even those who descend from the communities of... Read More

Mary's Mission

Mary's Mission Image

"Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother... When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son." Read More

Marian Prayer and Piety

Marian Prayer and Piety Image

Marian prayer and piety developed very early in the history of the undivided Christian Church of the first millennium. It has been kept alive in a myriad of piety practices in the both the Catholic... Read More

Message of Mary

What does she say.

What Does She Say? Image

The message of Mary is the message of the Gospel, to repent and believe the Good news. The message of Mary is conversion to Her Son by saying "yes" to God's invitation. That is the path to true... Read More

Marian Prayer and Devotion

Marian Prayer and Devotion Image

The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs the faithful on just how Mary prayed. Mary still prays. She has a special role in the plan of salvation and is a model for all Christians... Read More

Marian Consecration

Marian Consecration Image

To consecrate means to dedicate. It is used in reference to worship and means to be set aside or set apart for God. It is also a word which speaks to the very core of the Christian... Read More

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Devotion of mary, sorrowful mysteries of the rosary.

Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary Image

When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them... Read More

Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary

Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary Image

My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; Because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid; For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed... Read More

Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary

Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary Image

But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered... Read More

Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary

Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary Image

While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory... Read More

What happens at Epiphany?

What happens at Epiphany?

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  • Apparitions, Basic Information
  • All About Mary

Basics on Apparitions

– Father Johann G. Roten, S.M. Apparitions are a widespread Marian phenomenon. Wholeheartedly hailed and embraced by some, apparitions are out-rightly rejected by others. Emotions and irrational behavior play an important role in both instances. A cautious and balanced approach would seem necessary and appropriate.

We propose the following guidelines in dealing with apparitions.


Receptiveness and caution Be cautious believing in apparitions, in general and by principle. - This means: A critical assessment of particular events is needed - We should gratefully recognize God’s freedom to speak and manifest Himself as He pleases, how and when He pleases.

We should never forget that Christianity is based on - Epiphany (manifestation of God): the partial and visual disclosure of the Trinity in Jesus Christ, the Spirit and the Church - God’s own initiative: Apparitions can be an expression of God’s free and loving decision to make Himself visible to us in a mediated way, as for example in Mary .

Freedom to believe and spiritual riches We do not have to believe in apparitions. They do not have a binding character, not even those recognized by the Church. Why is that so?

- Apparitions are not a part of God’s self-revelation to the whole people of God as we find it in Jesus Christ or in Sacred Scripture. - Apparitions are private revelations: a personal message, received and communicated in a personal way.

Apparitions recognized by the Church, especially, offer support and encouragement for our spiritual life. We need all the friends (of God) we can get: Why not take advantage of the spiritual capital contained in messages, signs, and examples of prayer and personal conversion?


Let us examine the common characteristics of a known and recognized apparition, that of Guadalupe (Mexico) which took place from December 9-12, 1531. Guadalupe is considered the first apparition of modern times. It is also one of the first Marian apparitions which occasioned the foundation of a sanctuary of permanent influence, national and worldwide.

Read the following short description of the event and note the italicized expressions.

On Saturday, December 9, 1531, according the the received tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a recently converted Indian, on the hill of Tepeyac, where the Indians venerated the goddess Tonantzin. Mary spoke the Nahatl language (as she later spoke the Patois dialect of Bernadette); she sent Juan Diego to ask the bishop of Mexico to erect a sanctuary at the foot of this hill. The Indian went to Topetlac, the colonizing city where the bishop and the government of the Conquistadores were located. Juan de Zumarraga, the founder of the diocese, a Franciscan, named but not yet consecrated, avoided the request of the little man whom even the servants disdained. However, after the fourth apparition, on December 15, the Virgin gave signs. After the cure of the uncle of the visionary, she sent the Indian to carry to the bishop a bouquet of flowers from this barren site of Tepeyac. He carried them in his tilma (a mantle woven from the fibers of maguey) and placed them before the prelate. At this point, according to the tradition, there appeared in the interior of the mantle the image of the Virgin miraculously produced, the same that is venerated today in the sanctuary.

The following aspects are important:

The historical context - Time of Spanish colonization (opposition: Indians-Spaniards; church part of colonizing power) - Hill of Tepeyac (formerly devoted to goddess Tonantzin)

The apparition (Mary) identifies - Virgin Mary calls herself as mother of the true God from whom all life comes - Speaks Nahatle (local dialect) - Gives a message - Gives signs - Reproduction of the Virgin’s image on the tilma

The seer/visionary - Recently converted Indian (fifty - seven years old) - Little man, whom the servants disdain - Confrontation with Spanish authority (Church) - Carries a message and tangible proof

The message - Reference to the true God: God of Life - To erect a sanctuary at the foot of this hill

The signs - Cure of the uncle of the visionary - Roses from the barren site of Tepeyac - Tilma bears the image of Mary

The number of apparitions December 9-12, 1531 (five apparitions)

The reactions - Initial opposition, subsequent controversy, and finally recognition - Foundation of sanctuary of permanent influence

General characteristics - Importance of the historical and sociological context:

There often exists a certain correlation between Marian apparitions and specific historical situations (1870, 1917, 1932-33) or special human needs (material and/or religious).

The "apparition" (meaning Mary) is perceived in categories of beauty (light, ethereal qualities, splendor), difficult to describe. Little by little the typical image of a given apparition is developed by painters–thanks to the description of the visionaries.

Frequently, Mary gives a description or self-definition of herself: - Guadalupe: Mother of the true God from whom all life comes. - Lourdes: Immaculate Conception - La Salette: Our Lady of Sorrows - Fatima: Our Lady of the Rosary


Mary is the "ultimate facilitator" in the service of the one mediator. This is illustrated in her apparition to Gregory the Wonderworker (270/275) as reported by Gregory of Nyssa (PG 10, 984-988). Mary is teacher of the Church: she expounds the mystery of faith.

The visionaries of the so-called classical apparitions (1830-1933) are mostly young and poor: - Miraculous Medal: Catherine Labouré, 24 - La Salette: Maximin Giraud, 11 and Mélanie Calvet, 15 - Lourdes: Bernadette Soubirious, 14 - Pontmain: Joseph Barbedette, 10, Eugène Barbedette, 12, Françoise Richer, 11 and Jeanne-Marie Lebossé, 9

The profile of visionaries in more recent apparitions is more diversified. Varying from case to case, the visionaries are children, adolescents and adults, men and women, single and married. It is a scriptural fact that God speaks with preference to the little and poor, meaning those who readily accept his word and do not oppose it. A visionary is not infallible. His/her perception may be limited or partially erroneous.

In general, messages have a dual function:

- The permanent function: The permanent function is to reawaken faith and to bring about a return to God, to prayer and to fasting. It is a return to the introductory chapters of the gospel, to the preaching of John the Baptist for conversion and the baptism of repentance.These messages are repetitive. There are those who have criticized their banality; but this is normal–they have an educational function and education always requires repetition.

- The prophetic impact: Other messages are marked in varying degrees by their prophetic impact. In 1531 Our Lady of Guadalupe reminded the conquering Spaniards that in the eyes of God an Indian is equal to a Spaniard and can take messages from heaven to the bishop. Rue du Bac reminded a desolate world of the closeness of heaven; it was a world which the French Revolution had dechristianized. There are new aspects in today’s messages. The prophetic impact of the messages associated with recent apparitions is new when compared to Rue du Bac, La Salette, Lourdes, etc. They underline evangelization (most explicitly at Cuapa, Kibeho, and Damascus) and ecumenism (Zeitoun, Egypt) and remind us of the

Frequently, apparitions are accompanied by signs: - the rose miracle of Guadalupe - the wellspring at Lourdes - the miracle of the sun in Fatima Signs are not an integral part of the apparition, and thus not indispensable. They are not included in the potential recognition of an apparition. Concerning the miracle of the sun at Fatima: No observatory knew anything about it, and the canonical judgement of the bishop was silent on this point. Signs, however, have a corroborating function. Healings and/or extraordinary natural phenomena help to overcome skepticism and hesitation. Signs should not obstruct the understanding of the deeper meaning of apparitions.

The number of apparitions within the same event (for example, Lourdes) can vary greatly, ranging from a single apparition at the Rue du bac (1830) to daily apparitions for fourteen years in Medjugorje. Some examples: - Pontmain, 1 - Fatima, 6 - Beauraing, 33 - Banneux, 8

The reactions to an alleged apparitions must be assessed on two levels; - The level of devotional expression: the reaction of the faithful, their curiosity and piety, makes an apparition known. It is very often the spontaneous occasion for devotional expression (prayer, conversion, healing), and may lead to an official recognition of this devotional expression. - The recognition of the event is much slower to come and lies in the hands of the ecclesiastical authority.


Two phases: - recognition of devotional expression, habitually at the site of the apparitions - recognition of the event (with alleged supernatural character) Careful and negative wording taking into account the following methodology: - Absence of elements opposing or contradicting faith and/or morals - Absence of elements which could prevent the publication of events and the authorization of a public cult - Determining whether there are sufficient arguments of natural/rational order (as for any other historical event), so that the possibility/probability of a supernatural causality (meaning supernatural intervention or manifestation) can be reasonably assumed and accepted in faith. Important distinctions: - Approval of devotion does not include the recognition of the apparition as such. - Even in its approval of the apparition, the Church does not intend to give an infallible guarantee as to the supernatural origin of the apparition.


- Sufficiency of information (for example, Grouchero, Ukraine) - Orthodoxy (conformity with faith and morals) - Transparency (do apparitions lead us to God, Jesus Christ, the gospel, to the service of God and humanity, and to the promotion of faith?) - Serious reasons for believing in the presence of the hand of God manifested by cures, conversions and other miracles - Expert opinion (various disciplines, especially doctors and psychiatrists) - Do these apparitions bear good fruit? - Is the Church authority favorable or unfavorable?


Apparitions are neither the classical ways to God’s self-communication nor even remotely the most important ones. Any sacrament of the Church is an infinitely safer conductor of the supernatural than apparitions.Nonetheless, apparitions remind us that Christianity is a religious tradition based on mediation always. God is not immediately present, but He gives himself to be shared. He entrusts Himself or His message to Mary, who in turn entrusts this same message to the visionary who passes it on to a multitude of people, mostly pilgrims. These again share the message with others.This is the very anatomy of revelation, not just the ephemeral strategy of an apparition.The following conclusions can be drawn:

Through apparitions God challenges us immediately, in a direct and head-on way, not through a book passed down through the centuries or in and through liturgical routine.God remains the visible and invisible God, entrusting Himself to Mary and the visionaries.His message is thus confided to fragile carriers:Its communication is based on receiving, assimilating, passing onIt is and remains a gift to the community of His believers and friends.

Incarnation and eschatology, meaning that we live in the presence of the eternal but with both our feet on the ground, looks and sounds like "mission impossible." Again, apparitions can help to achieve a living synthesis between the incarnational and the eschatological dimensions of our life. Visionaries are such living syntheses. Not so much by virtue of their personal spiritual merits, but because they are embodying – simultaneously this child or housewife or factory worker and this privileged human being touched visibly by an extraordinary grace of God.That is the reason why–where incarnation and eschatology come together–apparitions can and should teach us a deeper understanding of mystery, that is to say the intimate relation between the visible and the invisible, the natural and the supernatural, God’s presence and transcendence; especially and essentially mystery means the experience of his ever greater love for us.

All About Mary includes a variety of content, much of which reflects the expertise, interpretations and opinions of the individual authors and not necessarily of the Marian Library or the University of Dayton. Please share feedback or suggestions with [email protected] .

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Definition of total

 (Entry 1 of 4)

Definition of total  (Entry 2 of 4)

Definition of total  (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

Definition of total  (Entry 4 of 4)

  • blooming [ chiefly British ]
  • bodacious [ Southern & Midland ]
  • categorical
  • categoric
  • out-and-out
  • straight-out
  • thoroughgoing
  • unadulterated
  • unconditional
  • unmitigated
  • unqualified
  • add up (to)
  • amount (to)
  • count (up to)
  • sum (to or into)

whole , entire , total , all mean including everything or everyone without exception.

whole implies that nothing has been omitted, ignored, abated, or taken away.

entire may suggest a state of completeness or perfection to which nothing can be added.

total implies that everything has been counted, weighed, measured, or considered.

all may equal whole , entire , or total .

Examples of total in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'total.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin totalis , from Latin totus whole, entire

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

1557, in the meaning defined at sense 1

1716, in the meaning defined at sense 1

1601, in the meaning defined above

Phrases Containing total

  • come as a (complete / total) surprise
  • total recall
  • the sum total
  • grand total
  • total depravity
  • total eclipse

Dictionary Entries Near total

total abstinence

Cite this Entry

“Total.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/total. Accessed 10 Jan. 2024.

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    something you believe, imagine, or dream you see, esp. the form of a person; ghost (Definition of apparition from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press) Examples of apparition apparition

  2. APPARITION Definition & Usage Examples

    noun a supernatural appearance of a person or thing, especially a ghost; a specter or phantom; wraith: a ghostly apparition at midnight. anything that appears, especially something remarkable or startling: the surprising apparition of cowboys in New York City. an act of appearing; manifestation.

  3. APPARITION definition and meaning

    1. an appearance, esp of a ghost or ghostlike figure 2. the figure so appearing; phantom; spectre 3. the act of appearing or being visible Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers Word origin C15: from Late Latin appāritiō, from Latin: attendance, from appārēre to appear Word Frequency apparition in American English

  4. Apparitional Definition & Meaning

    noun ap· pa· ri· tion ˌa-pə-ˈri-shən Synonyms of apparition 1 a : an unusual or unexpected sight : phenomenon strange apparitions in the sky b : a ghostly figure reported seeing ghostly apparitions in the old house 2 : the act of becoming visible : appearance the apparition of sunlight through the window apparitional ˌa-pə-ˈri-sh (ə-)nəl adjective

  5. Apparition

    noun a ghostly appearing figure "we were unprepared for the apparition that confronted us" synonyms: fantasm, phantasm, phantasma, phantom, specter, spectre see more noun the appearance of a ghostlike figure "I was recalled to the present by the apparition of a frightening specter" synonyms: visitation see more noun

  6. apparition noun

    /ˌæpəˈrɪʃn/ /ˌæpəˈrɪʃn/ a ghost or a ghost-like image of a person who is dead Apparitions of a woman in white robes have been reported. Word Origin Definitions on the go Look up any word in the dictionary offline, anytime, anywhere with the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary app. See apparition in the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

  7. APPARITION definition in American English

    1. a supernatural appearance of a person or thing, esp. a ghost; a specter or phantom; wraith a ghostly apparition at midnight 2. anything that appears, esp. something remarkable or startling the surprising apparition of cowboys in New York City 3. an act of appearing; manifestation

  8. Apparition

    Define apparition. apparition synonyms, apparition pronunciation, apparition translation, English dictionary definition of apparition. n. 1. A ghostly figure; a specter. 2. A sudden or unusual sight: " indoor-outdoor reversals and juxtapositions call forth a Magritte apparition beneath a...

  9. apparition

    apparition meaning, definition, what is apparition: something that you imagine you can see, ...: Learn more. English. ... • The apparition ran silently across the lobby and disappeared through a window. • Johnnie stood at the tideline, a virginal apparition begging him to come out.

  10. Apparition

    Apparitions. An apparition, from Latin apparere (to appear), is in its literal sense merely an appearance — a sense perception of any kind, but as used in psychical research and parapsychology the word denotes an abnormal or paranormal appearance or perception, which cannot be explained by any mundane objective cause. Taken in this sense the word covers all visionary appearances ...

  11. Apparition Definition & Meaning

    Apparition definition: A ghostly figure; a specter. Origin of Apparition Middle English apparicioun from Old French apparition from Late Latin appāritiō appāritiōn-an appearance from Latin appāritus past participle of appārēre to appear appear. From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition From French apparition, from Latin apparitio, from appareo.

  12. Apparition

    Apparitional experience, an anomalous, quasi-perceptual experience. A vision, something seen in a dream, trance, or religious ecstasy. Ghost, the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living. Doppelgänger, the ghostly double of a living person.

  13. Apparition Definition & Meaning

    [count] formal : a ghost or spirit of a dead person People say there are ghostly apparitions [= ghosts, phantoms] in this house. a strange apparition APPARITION meaning: a ghost or spirit of a dead person

  14. Expert explains Church's criteria for confirming Marian apparitions

    After a detailed examination of the numerous events related to apparitions, Perrella said, the Church "has approved a total of 11 apparitions out of 295 that have been studied—including now ...

  15. apparition

    apparition definition: a ghost. Learn more. A person or experience that teaches you a lesson improves your future behaviour by making you experience the bad effects of your actions.

  16. APPARITION Synonyms: 51 Similar Words

    Synonyms for APPARITION: ghost, spirit, phantom, spectre, specter, materialization, poltergeist, wraith, phantasm, vision

  17. Apparitions and Appearances

    The term "apparition" refers to an appearance of a holy figure, usually the Virgin Mary, to a faithful person. Apparitions are considered private revelations. ... While concentrating on Marian apparitions, our purpose here is to view all popular piety in the context of the total picture of Catholic faith, devotion, and discipleship. ...

  18. Apparitions, Basic Information : University of Dayton, Ohio

    Apparitions are neither the classical ways to God's self-communication nor even remotely the most important ones. Any sacrament of the Church is an infinitely safer conductor of the supernatural than apparitions.Nonetheless, apparitions remind us that Christianity is a religious tradition based on mediation always.

  19. List of Marian apparitions

    t e Marian apparitions are reported supernatural appearances by Mary, the mother of Jesus.

  20. Apparition definitions

    synonym: appearance. noun. The thing appearing; a visible object; a form. noun. An unexpected, wonderful, or preternatural appearance; especially something such as a ghost or phantom. noun. The first appearance of a star or other luminary after having been invisible or obscured; opposed to occultation (astronomy) noun.

  21. Total Definition & Meaning

    total: [adjective] comprising or constituting a whole : entire.