Catholic Church to probe 'Virgin vision' girl

The 17-year-old Benoni girl who has attracted thousands of visitors after claiming to have had visions of the Virgin Mary is to be investigated by the Catholic Church.

Father Barney McAleer on Tuesday confirmed that the church would investigate the claims of Francesca Zackey, but said this would be done in the same manner that other revelations of this kind were handled by the church.

"This kind of thing can take years," he said.

According to McAleer, the Catholic church "is used to these sorts of things, they happen all around the world".

He referred to the claims made by Zackey as the experience of a private revelation or message, which could be described as a manifestation similar to those reported by other religions.

"But the church is cautious. We do not encourage or discourage what is happening," he said, referring to reports that thousands had flocked to visit Zackey at her home, where a front room had been converted into a prayer room where she receives visitors.