Before this divine event in 1985, the Malos home in Ikoyi was just like any other home in its vicinity – old weather-beaten colonial block of flats with spacious premises. But the news about the presence of the apparition of The Blessed Virgin Mary in the home of this Catholic family drew a chaotic crowd to the place.
The teeming crowd was uncontrollable. Many came in their cars, some in buses and some on foot. All came to satisfy their curiosity. Callers pulled off their shoes at the doorstep of the apartment, something akin to what Moses did before the Holy Mountain.
The expected moment soon came. Siaka Momoh who was on Vanguard’s stable then was engaging Mrs. Catherine Malo, the mistress of the house in an interview when shouts from the tumultuous crowd rended the air. The cause: A look in one direction, behold here was this glittering image with semblance of available portraits of the Virgin Mary. It multiplied into two and three and disappeared, some people confirmed they saw it too. In both cases, the image was viewed through glass louvers.
Believers and non-believers
Those who had viewed the apparition struggled to have another view. Some were almost maimed. A woman cried out in ecstasy: “Let the unbelievers come and see.” But there were some who had doubts that the apparition was truly that of The Queen Mother. One person asked why the apparition disappeared when the louvers were opened. For him, “it could be a photo-trick”. A gentleman, who, judging from his strenuous effort at controlling the crowd could pass for a relation or close friend of the Malo family, put up a spirited defence. Said he: “Why should the Malo family descend so low to do such a dirty thing? After all, the family is not charging any fees.”
For K.K. Yope, a star gazer, “An apparition is a psychic phenomenon which is subject to misinterpretations. The Catholic Church for example, witnessed such misinterpretations, particularly in the middle ages, and issued warnings in a bid to protect the faith of Christians who might be misled by experts of sensationalism.
“In the higher moments of my meditation, I have seen what may be described as ghosts, fairies, mermaids, shapeless and constantly changing shadows or bundles of light which all fall under the dictionary of the psychiatrist as hallucinations or images of a disturbed or malfunctioning brain. However, when an appearance or image or form or sensation is accessible to hundreds of people at a time, we would either agree that they are all suffering from similar brain disorder or that they are witnessed of a true pre-human happening.”
For Yope, The only apparition recorded by the Catholic Church – the longest Christian church in existence, which has defied the unbelieving argument of scientists, atheists, pseudo-spiritualists, is that of the Virgin Mary of Lourdes in France. Lourdes, he said, has become one of the biggest and most profitable pilgrimage tourist centres in Europe.
According to Yope, apparitions often carry so much excitement that most people see mainly what is in their mind and a partial form of what is actually there. “The Blessed Virgin Mary is not shy. Until she identifies herself as the mother of Jesus, it would be wrong to pretend that we know who or what is behind the Malo Apparition,” he argued.
The Clergy’s comment
When Mrs. Catherine Malo informed her parish priest Rev Father Adebayo of the Church of Assumption Falomo of the apparition, he advised her to continue to pray. According to Mrs. Malo, Father Adebayo said: “No one can tell what is happening. The apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary has been appearing all over the world. Our Lady has not talked to anybody in all these appearances The Vatican is still studying the matter. It would make a pronouncement on it as soon as it gets an explanation for it.”
For Father J.B. Schuyler, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Lagos and priest in charge of Unilag’s Catholic community then, “It has been happening all over the place; people making all sorts of claims. It even happened in Iju near Ikeja sometime ago. But no sooner these claims are made than the so called apparitions disappear and all is forgotten about them.”
Reverend Father Obisesan in an interview with an NTA correspondent then, said, “An apparition of the Virgin Mary should talk, that is, it should communicate with people. The Malo Apparition does not talk.”
Dr Bayo Ninolowo, a lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of Lagos had an explanation for the no-fee-gesture of the Malo family. Said he: “The family has a reward for the commotion it has succeeded in causing. The reward is self-satisfaction, psychological self-gratification. That it has succeeded in attracting everybody makes it psychologically gratified.”
This is true; after all, an unknown Malos became instant newsmakers.
Benson Omakor, a clinical psychologist, said people’s perception can be distorted; “They can be made to believe something that is not real is real, something similar to the Magician’s art. A magician can fool all the people at the same time.”
Professor J.O. Oyinloye, a professor of Physics at the University of Lagos in 1985, explained the basis for image formation as follows: “Before an image can be formed, there must be an object and this object must be illuminated. An image can be formed through a reflection process, an example is image formed through the use of a mirror. An image can also be formed through a refraction process – an image formed with water and lens. If multiple images are desired, multiple reflections can be obtained through use of more than one mirror and multiple refractions through use of a series of refracting objects.”
The Malo Apparition was seen through glass louvers. Was it possible that the Virgin Mary’s image was remotely projected and controlled from somewhere unknown to viewers? Professor Oyinloye said “I find the question difficult to answer”.