An Immaculate Impression

The impact of Immaculée Ilibagiza’s speech and her presence on the Hill is impossible to measure


Immaculée Ilibagiza and Victoria Temple together by the Mary Statue by Loretto.

Liam Eifert, Editor-In-Chief

The alumni network and worldwide Cathedral family may very well extend toward the saints. Chair of the Board of Directors Victoria Temple ‘88 was able to contact Immaculée Ilibagiza through the Conway family who are close with her. 

Ms. Temple said she had been trying to get Immaculée to Cathedral for a few years ever since she first heard of her and read some of her books. She said, “The real impetus for bringing her was for the mothers, the Forever Irish Ladies Luncheon, which was a brunch this year. We’ve been talking about that luncheon, which is one of the only events that is just for Cathedral women, that we wanted to really make that an impactful lunch. I really want when the women leave that luncheon for them to feel like Cathedral has given them a gift in the sense of when they leave they should feel uplifted, happy and feel like we’ve given them a gift spiritually.”

After seeing “At the Ladies’ Luncheon, Temple said, “I think that we definitely did what we set out to do. Literally every person I talked to loved her speech. She spoke for probably an hour and a half, an hour and twenty minutes, I just loved her message. It was very similar to what she said to the students but more in depth since it was a longer speech. There’s just a lot of her reliance on prayer and her reliance on the rosary to get through those three months living in the bathroom under those horrific conditions and her message is one of forgiveness too and that’s really how she ended her speech.”

For the students who were not at the Ladies Irish Luncheon, Ms. Temple stressed, “Immaculée has an extremely strong devotion to Mary. I don’t know if that came out as much in the student presentation, well I already knew it because of some of the books I had read, but that did very much come out in the mother’s luncheon too.”

Ms. Temple had a special opportunity to be with Immaculée during her time here. She drove Immaculée from the airport and escorted her to Cathedral. Ms. Temple said, “We talked about when Mary appeared in Kibeho and I asked her about that and then when we got to Cathedral for the speech we had a few minutes before and so I took her to the statue of Mary that’s outside Loretto. I took her there and she said a prayer. She wanted to bring a flower so we started to walk away and then she just picked one of the blooming flowers of Mary and just laid it there. Anytime we saw a statue of Mary she would stop and pray at the statue of Mary. There’s also that little statue of Mary when we were leaving the WAC, there’s that little one by the door. She prayed in front of that Mary and gave that one a kiss. We also stopped in front of the chapel and she prayed there.”

Ms. Temple said she explained how in the Mary portrait in the Innovation Center, Mary’s “hands are reaching over the campus there. (Immaculée) loved it.”

Ms. Temple said she hoped that the gravity of Immaculée’s visit would not be lost on anyone. She said, “I do hope that the students really do understand what a special gift that was to have her here.” 

Temple emphasized, “I do believe that she’ll be a saint someday,” and further expounded on the value of having that sort of person on campus. She said, “I do believe that being in her presence is truly being in the presence of God, and she is an extremely devout person and her message is that if we pray the rosary every day, Mary will be working on our behalf to answer the prayers that we have to her.”