It is often difficult for an American Protestant to understand the veneration of Mary, much less the draw that surrounds her appearances to the faithful. Certainly, we could understand it within the context of goddess veneration/visionary experiences in general, but beyond a kind of academic analysis those of us with a more Rationalist upbringing find the thought not just foreign but alien.
And yet for millions of the faithful the appearance of Mary has a deep and profound meaning. Therefore the Catholic Church wants to act as a judge of claims of her appearance. They have extensive rules for such. I found it difficult to find consistent lists but the number of visions of Mary approved by Vatican since 1533is fairly small, nine seems to be the official number but some list more, while those approved by local bishops but not the Church as a whole adds about half a dozen to that number. Here is where we once again find the dichotomy between official doctrine and folk doctrine. The Catholic News Service says there have been about 1500 visions of Mary recorded. While some locals may make a big deal out of these, even the clergy remains skeptical.
The visions in question, those occurring in Medjugorje, Bosnia, are controversial for a couple of reasons. First, the local bishop has not approved them as authentic. A necessary first step in the process. Those who have seen claim that the visions have 10 secrets for the future of life on Earth. And there is the rub, most likely. No one want to officially endorse prophecy that might prove untrue, or subject to such open interpretation as to bring embarrassment. The Pope has even condemned those who have gone seeking Mary of Medjugorje for needing novelty to prop up their faith.
Regardless of how we might feel about the specifics of the case, I think it is important to occasionally consider how we experience the divine(the supernatural, the transcendent, or however you want to say it) in our lives. What value to we place on that? How does it shape us? How does it shape how we see others?