Starting in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church instituted a strict vetting process for miracles like the 2,000 sightings of the Virgin Mary claimed since 40 CE. To be worthy of belief and church support, apparitions must be deemed miraculous, in line with church doctrine, and have had a positive impact.

Some of the world's major Marian apparitions are depicted on this map, with the exception of Europe. The corresponding map of European apparitions is not yet available.

Learn more about Mary, "the most powerful woman in the world," in the December 2015 issue of National Geographic magazine.