Our Lady of Good Help–A Vision in Wisconsin
Many of you know that, on our travels, my family and I love to visit sites of historical significance, as well as shrines and locations of significance to our faith and culture. Most of the ones we have seen have been located in the western part of our beautiful country. However, we recently learned of a significant site right near our home in a small corner of northeastern Wisconsin. This is the location of the only site in these United States that the Vatican has sanctioned as an official appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
An investigation was begun by the Bishop David Ricken of the Green Bay Diocese in 2009 to review the historical information of the Marian apparitions at this location, as well as the life of Sister Adele, the Belgian immigrant to whom Mary appeared in 1859. One year earlier, the Virgin Mary appeared in Lourdes, France, to a young woman named Bernadette. On December 8, 2010, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Bishop gave official Church approval of the apparitions that occurred there, stating that they “…do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief by the Christian faithful.”
Having moved with her family from Belgium to the Green Bay area, Adele was known for her charming and inviting personality as well as her fervent piety and simple religious ways. As the story goes, at the age of 28, while on her way to the grist mill, Adele saw a lady all in white standing between two trees. She was frightened and stood very still and the vision slowly disappeared, leaving a white cloud.
The following Sunday, she was on her way to mass in the company of her sister and a neighbor then the lady in white again appeared between the same set of trees. After Mass, Adele related the matter to the priest who told her if it was a heavenly messenger, she would see it again and it meant her no harm. He suggested she ask who it was and what it desired of her.
As they returned to their homes, Adele again saw the beautiful woman, clothed in dazzling white with a yellow sash around her waist, wearing a crown of stars on her head. When asked who she was and what she wanted, the vision replied:
“I am the Queen of Heaven[…]Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation […] Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.”
She also warned,
“If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.”
Only Adele could see and hear the vision. Her father built a small wooden chapel near the site of the vision.
She subsequently embarked upon her mission to catechize the children and admonish sinners, walking door to door, often covering as much as 50 miles on foot. Eventually she was joined by several other young women and they opened St. Mary’s Boarding Academy, founded near the site of the apparitions. Later they also opened a convent at that location as well.
Twelve years later, in 1871, a great calamity struck the area. On the same day as the Great Chicago Fire, the Wisconsin town of Peshtigo was ravaged by fire as well. From Peshtigo, the fire headed to the nearby town of Champion. Sister Adele and her companions were determined not to abandon the Chapel and gathered the children, farmers and their families and fled to the Shrine for protection. Hours later, rain came in a downpour, extinguishing the fire. The entire Champion area was destroyed, except for the convent, the school, the Chapel and the five acres of land consecrated to the Virgin Mary. The only livestock to survive the fire were the cattle brought to the Chapel grounds by the farmers and their families who came to the Shrine seeking refuge. Though the Chapel well was only a few feet deep, it gave the cattle all the water they needed to survive the fire, while many deeper wells in the area went dry.
Coming Next: More Miracles Occur…
Read more about Wisconsin campgrounds and things to do in Wisconsin.
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