This article examines recent decisions made by the local Catholic Church and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome regarding the alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary to a Carmelite novice in the town of Lipa, the Philippines. Officially declared to have excluded any supernatural intervention in 1951, the stories of the apparitions and accompanying miracles circulated anew in the public sphere in recent decades, sparking a revival in devotion to this particular Mary that was tolerated to varying degrees by Lipa’s archbishops. In September 2015, after a six-year investigation, the presiding archbishop issued a decree that declared the apparitions of Mary “supernatural in character” and “worthy of belief.” This brought swift action from the CDF, which nullified his decree, upholding the original negative decision on the case. Drawing from official Church communiqués and decrees circulated over the past year, as well as previous fieldwork and archival research, I discuss what the final intervention of the CDF reveals about intra-hierarchical dynamics and the limits of bishopric authority vis-à-vis global Church authority in the discernment of apparitions.

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