Marian Apparition in Wisconsin

mary, jesus, cross, marian, altar

mary, jesus, cross, marian, altar

I recently went on pilgrimage to the great state of Wisconsin, a state that I had never been to before. The purpose of my trip was to visit the Marian apparition site, the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, in Champion, Wisconsin, just east of Green Bay, situated in the middle of Belgian immigrant farm country. Most people have never heard of this Marian apparition Shrine, but in 2010, Bishop David L. Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay gave his approval to the 1859 apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a young farm girl named Adele Brise. (The local bishop, not the Vatican, has the authority to declare the authenticity of visions). It is being run by the wonderful Fathers of Mercy, one of the best Catholic religious orders of priests that there is. It is one of numerous approved Marian apparition sites in the world.

The History

Adele Brise was born in Belgium in 1831. She and her farm family moved to the Bay Settlement area near Green Bay, Wisconsin sometime in the early 1850’s. The US Bishops had already declared Mary to be the patroness of the US in 1846. In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which states that Mary was conceived without original sin. Just four years later, in 1858, at Lourdes, France, Mary appeared to St. Bernadette and declared that she was The Immaculate Conception.  A year later, in 1859, the twenty eight year old Adele was surprised to see Mary appear to her in the wooded area of her farm in Wisconsin. As usual, her appearance had a very definitive purpose. Mary asked her to pray for poor sinners, to teach the young children how to make the sign of the cross, and to teach them about the catechism and the sacraments.  Her exact statement is as follows:

“I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… 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.” 

Adele dedicated her life to doing just that. She traveled all over the area teaching and instructing young children in the catechism, many times at great cost to her health. Her income consisted of alms from the community. She even formed a Third Order Community (laity) of Franciscan Women to further Mary’s request.  Adele’s father Lambert built the first chapel on the site in 1859. In 1861, the year that the Civil War began, pilgrimages to the Shrine began. In 1869, St. Mary’s Boarding Acadamy opened at the Shrine.

Adele and her community worked tirelessly for the rest of their lives to fulfill Mary’s request. On July 5, 1896, Adele died. Her last words were 

“I rejoiced in what was said to me. We shall go into the house of the Lord.”

The Fire

One important milestone in the history of the Shrine is the great Peshtigo fire of 1871. It is the worst recorded fire ever in the United States, burning approximately 1.5 million acres. A huge storm system set the Wisconsin woods on fire near the Shrine on October 8, the same day as the great Chicago fire. Adele and her Franciscan sisters took shelter in the chapel. Other residents near the Shrine did the same, and they moved their livestock onto the grounds of the chapel. Adele and her sisters took the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and marched around the chapel praying.  As the wind-whipped, fire and smoke approached the Shrine perimeter, a rainstorm began and put out the fire, saving the chapel and the property. The only livestock to survive the fire were those that were brought onto the chapel grounds. The perimeter fence was charred but survived. It’s almost as if the devil wanted to destroy this holy ground. But thanks to the faithfulness of Adele and her community, his plan was foiled. Estimates are that around 2,000 people lost their lives in the fire.

The Bishop’s Investigation

As with all investigations of the veracity of Marian apparitions, there were two very important factors taken into account by Bishop Ricken.  The first was the resultant lifestyle of the seer.  Did Adele Brise change her life as a result of the vision of Mary? Yes, with great certainty. Adele went from being a simple farm girl to a tireless evangelist, often traveling through the woods to teach the catechism.  She would travel up to fifty miles away from the Shrine, going from home to home, offering to do the farm chores for the family if they would allow her to teach their children the catechism. Later, she formed a religious community of lay sisters and a school at the Shrine, and spent many hours teaching children their prayers and the catechism. There were times when Adele and her community did not know where their next meal was coming from, but without fail, when praying for relief from hunger, someone would always show up at their door with food.

The second factor taken into account deals with miracles. Did miracles happen at the Shrine after the 1859 apparition of Mary?  Yes! The fact that the Peshtigo fire stopped at the fence of the chapel property after burning so much land could be considered miraculous, for sure. But there are also people who have visited the Shrine who have been cured of severe illnesses.  Many people have left their crutches at the Shrine as proof that they could walk again.  Others have been cured of deafness, blindness, heart disease, and tuberculosis. The Church has not “officially” declared them to be miracles, like the sixty-six documented miracles at Lourdes. That takes a lot of investigation. But the people who have experienced healing as a result of visiting the Shrine all credit Our Lady of Good Help and her miraculous intercession with her Son.

Modern Day Shrine

Due to all of the pilgrims who started coming to visit the Shrine, a new and larger chapel was built in 1942.  It received the title that was over the door of the previous chapel (built in 1861) that read:

“Notre Dame de bon Secours, priez pour nous.” (Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us.) 

There are numerous events held throughout the year at the Shrine, but probably the biggest one is on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There is an outdoor Mass and a walk around the grounds afterwards. On October 8, an outdoor candlelit rosary procession is held in honor of the Shrine surviving the great Peshtigo Fire. There is all night Adoration, as well.

There are daily Masses at the beautiful Chapel, along with daily confessions. The oratory where Mary appeared is below the Chapel. Although the Chapel is handicapped accessible, at present there are only stairs to the Oratory. There is a great gift shop next to the chapel, and a soup and sandwich restaurant is next to the gift shop. My personal testimony is that everyone there is very friendly and helpful. The Fathers of Mercy are wonderful confessors as well.

Additional Information on the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

To learn more about this amazing place, visit their website here.

To light a votive candle at the Shrine, click here.

To view the USA Today article on the Shrine, click here.

To view the EWTN Live interview with Father Stryker and Bishop Ricken, click here.

To read the National Catholic Register article on the Shrine, click here.

To hear great sermons by the Fathers of Mercy, click here.

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14 thoughts on “Marian Apparition in Wisconsin”

  1. Is Christ of so little important to you Marians that Christ’s mother plays the pivotal role in your faith and Jesus just an afterthought?

    Jeremiah 7:18
    The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger.

    Matthew 12:46-50 (NIV)
    Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
    46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
    48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

    2 Corinthians 11:13-15(NIV) 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

    Galatians 1:8
    But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!

    Revelation 2:19-20Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
    19 I have known thy works, and love, and ministration, and faith, and thy
    endurance, and thy works — and the last [are] more than the first.

    20 `But I have against thee a few things: That thou dost suffer the woman
    Jezebel, who is calling herself a prophetess, to teach, and to lead
    astray, my servants to commit whoredom, and idol-sacrifices to eat;

    1. Begone satan! You are either evil or a complete idiot… everyone knows that you don’t disparage someone’s mother… let alone Jesus’ Mother. Get lost and don’t come back here until you learn some manners and respect!

    2. It is you that actually is disparaging Jesus’ mother by listening to this fallen angel who masquerades as Jesus’ mother. Things this fallen angel says is in the nature of pray to me and I’ll pray to Jesus for you, show me where in the Bible we are suppose to pray to Mary or the saints and not to Jesus directly.

      I wish all those that are poisoning the Catholic church with Saints Worship and Mary Worship are thrown out of the Catholic Christian church.

      John 14:13
      And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

      Acts 14:11-18New International Version (NIV)
      11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The
      priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls
      and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer
      sacrifices to them.

      14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

      Revelation 19:10
      At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me,
      “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers
      and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”

    3. Intercessory pray is needed especially for those that can not pray for themselves and have no relationship with God but as Christian we are told to pray in Jesus name and not in anyone else’s.

      John 14:13
      And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

    4. The Mother of God is important to us because she is the Mother of God – obviously she would be nothing without her Son.

      But when Jesus had not yet begun His ministry (indeed, when He Himself said it was not yet time for Him to do so), He nonetheless began it with His first miracle upon His mother’s request (John 2:1-11). When He was dying on the Cross, He took the time and agonizing effort to say only three things: statements in fulfillment of prophecy (e.g. refusing wine, crying out to God, etc.), speaking forgiveness to His tormentors and salvation to the repentant thief (also very relevant to His core ministry)… and making sure His mother would be taken care of by His beloved disciple (John 19:26-27).

      Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of the Law… so how can we possibly doubt that He fulfilled the Fourth Commandment (sometimes numbered as Fifth by Protestants) – “Honor thy father and mother”? Now, His true father was none other than God (though surely He showed lesser honor to Joseph as well, out of due gratitude for raising Him), but His true mother was Mary. If the Lord of All Creation gives honor to Mary, how can we do less?

      Now, to your specific Scripture arguments…

      Jeremiah 7:18 proves nothing at all. There are a great many titles properly used by Christians that have once been used by pagans (and believe me, atheists love to point that out, irrelevant as it may be). “Baal” means “Lord” – but all it means is that pagans used the title of “Lord” to refer to the wrong entity, not that “Lord” is a pagan title. Likewise, just because pagans once called one of their false god(esse)s “Queen of Heaven” doesn’t mean that the title itself is inherently pagan or that there can’t be a true Queen of Heaven. In fact, the status of Christ as the heir of David makes it almost mandatory that Mary be Queen – in the Davidic dynasty (and in most dynasties of the time), the Queen was not the woman married to the King (she was just a consort), but rather, the King’s mother (such as Bathsheba being considered Queen when Solomon reigned as King). So, Mary is Queen not by her own right, but because she is the mother of the King.

      I’m leaving Matthew for last, by the way.

      2 Cor 11:13-15 also proves nothing. It proves that an apparition could be a deception by diabolical forces – but not that any particular apparition is.

      Galatians 1:8 is quite relevant – it is, in fact, one way that the Church judges the authenticity of apparitions. It is firm Church teaching that no apparition can possibly be true if it contradicts the revealed Faith. But none of the Marian apparitions approved by the Church have done so. (I mean, sure, you can argue that because they affirm Catholic doctrines, you see them as preaching a false gospel – but that’s getting into a much larger argument, and one that has nothing specifically to do with Mary.)

      Revelation 2:20 is an even thinner reed than Jeremiah 7:18. There is nothing that would indicate that Jezebel is meant to indicate Mary. Especially given that even among most Revelation futurists (those who believe that Revelation refers mostly to events yet to come, as opposed to preterists, who believe that it mostly refers to the contemporary persecution under Nero and Herod), the letters to the seven churches are agreed to be referring to actual churches that were existing at that time – so there was some actual woman in the late First Century who was leading the Thayatirans astray.

      Lastly, Matthew 12:46-50. I agree that Jesus is downplaying the importance of blood ties in favor of spiritual ties. But that doesn’t change the other places in Scripture in which He shows special regard for His mother. You can’t cherry-pick Scripture.

      Besides, if you look at the writings of some of the earliest Christians (we’re talking First and Second Centuries, here), you can see that reverence for Mary (not worship – reverence) was a part of Christian tradition from the very beginning.

    1. The one I attended on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was indeed beautiful. The confession I had was great as well…

    2. I’m blessed to know all the the Fathers of Mercy very well. You can always trust them! They preach the TRUTH!

  2. Michael F. J. Lee

    My older brother’s healing, at age 5, from an inoperable brain tumor, was one of the many case files examined by the Mariologists who came in — per Bp. Ricken’s request to the Holy See.

    1. Michael F. J. Lee

      Hi Diane,
      I think about it every time we have any sort of family gathering. I look at my older brother and his wife, at their two sons, and at the 4 grandchildren. Then I think how that picture would not exist, had it not been for Our Lady’s intervention. Our family doctor at the time, not a Catholic, wrote a letter to then Bishop Stanislaus V. Bona, in which he said that if he (the doctor) had not been the same one to originally examine my brother, and to read the original diagnostic tests, he would have no reason to believe that this boy — presenting without any tumor or other abnormalities — was the same child. Then he used the important words, he wrote, “I do not find this to be medically explainable.”

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