National Geographic devotes cover story to the Virgin Mary

National Geographic devotes cover story to the Virgin Mary

In a move bound to astonish and anger sceptics, the world-renowned magazine, founded in 1888, veered off the path of science to carry a December cover story about ‘miracles’ performed by ‘Mary, The Most Powerful Woman in the World’.

Penned by Catholic Maureen Orth, above – a special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine who has written about music icons, world leaders and Hollywood celebrities – the National Geographic feature tells of Orth’s “huge journey all over the world” to discover:

Mary’s universal appeal across diverse cultures.

Orth noted that what particularly stands out after a year of visiting Marian devotional sites in Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Mexico, Egypt and Rwanda is that Mary is:

The hope and solace of so many people including Muslims.

The Muslim appreciation of Mary, as a “holy woman of God,” she told Catholic News Service, “is a bridge that ought to be explored,” especially in this time of strife caused by religious extremism.


Orth said she learned a great deal from talking with “scholarly experts and reading mystics” who wrote about the life of Mary but whose observations didn’t make it into the article.

She came away with a “more personal relationship” with Mary than an intellectual one, saying she understood Mary more as a person after talking with so many who are devoted to her.

She also witnessed the deep faith of many who have traveled great distances to be where apparitions of Mary are said to have taken place such as Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, where six village children said they first saw Mary in 1981 and continue to see apparitions there. A Vatican doctrinal congregation is still studying these claims.

In the small village, Orth met four stage-4 cancer victims last November: Two have since died, one is under treatment and another shows no signs of the disease. All four spoke of spiritual conversions and inner peace, she said.

A 59-year-old hockey dad from Boston told Orth that in 2000 one of the Medjugorje visionaries prayed with him for a cure of the cancer that riddled his body, giving him only months left to live.

During the prayer, he felt a sensation of heat in his body. When he went back to Boston a week later, a CT scan at Massachusetts General Hospital revealed that his tumors were almost gone.

Since then, he’s been back to Medjugorje 13 times.

The editors at National Geographic wrote in the margin by Orth’s account of his story:

Why do miracles happen to some people and not others?

Orth, who doesn’t have an answer to that theological query, noted the challenge of explaining spiritual accounts in a scientific magazine.

One of Orth’s “most inspiring” stops for the story was the small village of Kibeho, Rwanda, described as the place where Mary appeared to three young girls in the 1980s and foretold the genocide that took place in that country in 1994.

In 2001, the Vatican verified the claims of the three girls. The girls, Orth writes

Said they spent countless hours in conversations with the Virgin, who called herself Nyina wa Jambo, Mother of the Word. Mary spoke to the girls so often that they called her Mama.

But even though Mary is said to have spoken of the love of Jesus and gave these girls motherly advice, she is also said to have shown them images of heaven, hell and purgatory along with horrific images of genocide that she warned could happen if Rwandans did not renew their hearts and dispel evil.

Orth said that the people she spoke with who said they saw apparitions “all seemed genuine”. She approached them as she would an investigative journalist. Their stories have been consistent throughout the years and they also have undergone extensive questioning from Vatican officials.

Orth pointed out that very little is known about Mary from the Bible, but as her story reveals, the lack of details about Mary has not stopped people from reaching out to her in prayer and devotion as a way to better understand and approach God.

The number of people who use her as their guide and their way to a higher meaning, that was impressive across the board.

39 responses to “National Geographic devotes cover story to the Virgin Mary”

  1. nullifidian says:

    Well it’s only taken three months for Murdoch/Fox to ruin NG.

  2. Stuart H. says:

    I’d have thought Santa Claus was more appropriate for a December issue.
    PS – weren’t Catholic nuns implicated in urging on some of those Rwandan massacres?

  3. L.Long says:

    “…The number of people who use her as their guide and their way to a higher meaning, …” A fictional character that LIED about how she got pregnant, married another man, and spoke lovingly of her son that was delusional and told her to piss off, and people are using her to inspire their lives?!?!?! “….that was impressive across the board….” Yes I really am impressed be their stupidity and lack of understanding.
    Oh! And now that she is dead these people are having a ‘personal relationship’ with her!!! How does that work? Exactly? All the women I had a ‘personal relationship’ with had their clothes off and we had fun. Mary has shown her abilities to be a slut (xtian definition – not mine) so we are half-way there.

  4. Broga says:

    The National Geographic used to be a magazine with fascinating articles and it campaigned for issues that appealed to me. I cancelled my subscription about six months ago. None too soon it seems now they have been reduced to peddling this hokum.

  5. CharlyO says:

    Standard paganism, that’s all.

  6. gedediah says:

    A bit ironic that the world’s most powerful woman is imaginary. What does that say about gender equality?

  7. barriejohn says:

    Stuart H: Well said! At least St Nicholas was a real person and may have carried out charitable acts. I have to say that I am also sick to the back teeth of the reverential BBC stuffing Sister Rita (“Attila the Nun” – how I laughed) down our throats morning noon and night, in the run-up to Christmas. I appreciate that there may be some who fall through the safety net of social security for one reason or another (though while in receipt of benefits myself I was a lot better off than I had been when trying, unsuccessfully, to support myself), but you get the distinct impression that these people actually want, or even need, people to be dependent upon them and in their debt. I caught a bit of Enjoying Everyday Life with the saintly Joyce Meyer on TBN this morning, and there they were parading all their good works in front of the cameras as well, carrying out social programmes in the US and overseas (please send your love offerings, of course), and “loving on” all those poor souls; yes, a guy actually used that phrase. Mother of God, if you exist, please preserve me from THAT fate!

  8. Broga says:

    PS: I don’t why I bother as the Virgin Mary thing is so obviously nonsense but:

    1. She was married but still a virgin. So was the marriage to Joseph unconsummated or did she think up a bizarre reason for an inconveniently early pregnancy?

    2. How did her impregnation occur? Was penetration required in some form?

    3, Was Joseph a cuckold? Did God and Mary have sex outside marriage?

    4. Was Jesus a bastard?

    So many questions. So few answers.

  9. Angela_K says:

    Good grief, a fictional character who was a bit of tart on the front of a science magazine. I could understand it if the magazine was going to pull apart the whole Mary/Jesus myth but they are too cowardly to do this. I bet the religious loons are crowing over this stunt by NG. This is an insult to scientists and the rational.

  10. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: I know a Christian who does “good works.” The phrase she uses when soliciting money is “those less fortunate than ourselves.” In fact, she isn’t all that “fortunate” herself but I think she needs someone she can look down on.

  11. AgentCormac says:

    National Geographic, for so long a fascinating source of information about science, history and nature, hijacked by nutters who cannot tell fact from blatant fiction, who think history is something that can be twisted to fit their world view, and who believe everything in the natural world was created in seven days by an invisible old man in the sky. A sad loss.

  12. Brummie says:

    National Religiographic.

  13. ZombieHunter says:

    national geographic was ruined long ago, at least the channel anyway, in the build up to 2012 they had nothing but documentaries about the mayan apocalypse, how’d that work out and then of course there are the 9/11 conspiracy documentaries they show every September.

    and don’t even get me started on the “history” channel and it’s constant screenings of ancient aliens.

  14. Laura Roberts says:

    I used to read NG on a regular basis. I stopped reluctantly when I returned to graduate school because I had no time, and issues kept piling up. Years later I completely missed the news that Murdoch got his greasy little fingers on it. It is indeed tragic. Sadly I think this fawning over one religious icon is but the tip of the iceberg.

    R.I.P., N.G.

  15. barriejohn says:

    I don’t really understand this NG article at all. Sensible people – including devout Catholics – have known for years that the so-called apparitions of Medjugorje were a complete hoax. The children concerned had been manipulated by a disgraced priest , who had undue influence over them, and – what a surprise – The Blessed Virgin appeared to say that he had been unjustly judged! How could anyone not see through that load of codswallop, whatever other claims people made?

  16. SallyinMI says:

    Murdoch has turned TLC, the History Channel, and now National Geographic into his own propaganda outlets (as if Fox wasn’t enough!) None of them have anything to do with science, facts, or learning any longer, more’s the pity. My husband was enchanted with History’s “Men Who Built America” (is that misogynous enough for you, to start with?) and I did a little research and discovered that it was mostly myth. Take a look at the lineup now, and it’s about a third Bible related, a third reality crap, and a third history according to Rupert. Did you know that NASA used to run The Learning Channel, before GOP budget cuts required they sell it Fox? Just another example of the GOP’s plan to dumb down the populace so they can take over the thoughts and minds of the nation.

  17. Barry Duke says:

    FYI Yesterday was Immaculate Conception Day in Spain, which pissed me off no end as all the shops were shut, as they were the previous day, Constitution Day.

    Here’s an explanation of IC for those you may not be aware of what precisely it is.

  18. Gerald says:

    What a disgrace. Subscription now cancelled. Please …someone who knows how … please start one of those web based petitions urging others to cancel subscriptions too. A once great publication reduced to pornographic trash.

  19. Brian Jordan says:

    Ms Orth is pushing it, roping Muslims into her adoring crowd. AFAIK the Koran is somewhat vague about which biblical Mary is which.

  20. Gerald says:

    Surely muslims would have stoned her to death for the crime of extra marital sex.

  21. Rob Andrews says:


    Yes the ancient Jews would have too. That’s why she had to lie as well as get out of town fast.

    CRISTIANITY: One women’s lie about having an affair that got way out of hand.

  22. Gerald says:

    And in respect for their greatest ever contributor, the Great Christopher Hitchens, Orth should be sacked by Vanity Fair.

  23. Gerald says:

    Must be true about the virgin mary because it’s in National Geographic.

  24. Broga says:

    ‘Barry: Immaculate Conception. Well that clears that up. Although tortuous doesn’t begin to describe the reasoning.

    Not a word, of course, by the author of the explanation about the evidence for any of this. How do they know these intimate details? They just make it up as they go along.

    If I have got this right then Joseph had sexual intercourse (alright, he shagged her) with Mary. However, God decided to remove any stain involved in the impregnation. This is weird and wonderful imagining.

  25. Newspaniard says:

    As happens many times, the comments on FT are far more entertaining than the actual article. Well said everyone. (Sorry if that sounded patronizing but I thought it worth mentioning).

  26. Vanity Unfair says:

    To Barry Duke:
    If I have got this right, what your link says is, “We don’t know what happened so we made something up” in a very long-winded way.

  27. Gerald says:

    Pity the NG is printed on such high quality glossy non absorbent paper because now I will have to burn all my old copies rather than use them as toilet paper.

  28. Lucy1 says:

    “But even though Mary is said to have spoken of the love of Jesus and gave these girls motherly advice, she is also said to have shown them images of heaven, hell and purgatory along with horrific images of genocide that she warned could happen if Rwandans did not renew their hearts and dispel evil.”

    In other words, it was all their own fault. Typical vile religion.

  29. AgentCormac says:

    Better burned – you don’t want paper cuts down there!

  30. AgentCormac says:

    Just to return to a previous FT thread entitled ‘Lying Christian boxer Tyson Fury infuriates thousands’, here’s a new article/interview that’s been posted on the BBC News website which aptly demonstrates that boxing damages your brain really, really badly.

  31. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: But it’s a double whammy for Tyson Fury. Not only has he suffered the consequences of the repetitive blows to his brain but the brain has also been damaged by his religious belief.

    Which has caused the more damage?

  32. AgentCormac says:

    I think we both know the answer to that one!

  33. Gerald says:

    Agent Cormac …. But I could ask the pope to kiss it better. Second thoughts … Better not to reveal ones bare arse to a roman catholic cleric.

  34. Cali Ron says:

    Murdoch has the reverse Midas touch-everything he touches turns to shit! I just wish that stupid old bastard would hurry up and die. Besides destroying TLC and Nat Geo his Faux News is a major reason for Trump’s success at politics. Tyson Fury has brain damage that at least partly explains his idiocy, but Murdoch has no excuse, he is just plain evil. Although I’m normally against capital punishment I’d have to reconsider where he’s concerned. His death would just do too much good to pass up.

  35. barriejohn says:

    Lucy: It’s on a par with the useless “facts” and advice that emanate from astrologers and clairvoyants. “Don’t let discouragements get you down”; “If you persevere your plans will come to fruition, but maybe not in the way that you envisaged”, and so on; and don’t forget that some of the so-called revelations are “secrets” which will only be made public in the future!

  36. Gerald says:

    The once prestigious NatGeo reduced to the level of Pamela Stevenson on the cover of Hello.

    I see from the NatGeo website that the pope made the front cover recently too.

    Murdoch bought a beautiful garden then pissed all over the flowers.

  37. Mark Palmer says:

    OK, Now I’m really getting pissed. This is taking it to a whole new level.

    I mean, what the hell is going on in the world when National Geographic steps way out their normal ideology, and instead of showing us the wonders the natural world, and taking us to exotic places. It prints a Bull S*** story like this!??
    Are new people in charge? Or, did the suddenly find god? What’s going on there?


  38. dennis says:

    just DAMN you Murdock.