Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Comparative Religion

First Advisor

Dr. Brian C. Wilson

Second Advisor

Dr. Frank Gross

Third Advisor

Dr. Peter Schmitt

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


Marian apparitions have been reported from the earliest days of Christianity. While most people have heard of Lourdes, Fatima or Guadalupe, fewer realize that dozens of apparitions have occurred in the United States. I chose to explore three of these apparitions: Bayside (New York, 1970+), Conyers (Georgia, 1984+) and Belleville (Illinois, 1994+). While most sites worldwide share common characteristics and details, very few ever receive formal approval by the Roman Catholic Church.

Anthropologist Clifford Geertz in his article "Religion as a Cultural Symbol" explains that a symbol can function as a model of and as a model for reality. Furthermore, Michael Cuneo explores several trends in contemporary American Catholicism. Using Geertz and Cuneo as a foundation, I examine details at the three apparition sites and draw conclusions which illustrate both their connections to Non-American sites as well as their uniqueness.

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