First Approved Marian Apparition in the United States

On Wednesday, December 8, 2010, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop David Ricken of the diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, officially approved Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Champion, Wisconsin. The three appearances by the Blessed Virgin Mary in October 1859 constitute the first approved Marian apparition anywhere in the United States.

According to the diocesan website for the diocese of Green Bay:

In October 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on three occasions to Adele Brise, a young Belgian immigrant. Brise stated that a lady dressed in dazzling white appeared to her and claimed to be the "Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners."

The Lady asked Brise to pray for sinners, as well as to gather the children and teach them what they should know for salvation. The Blessed Virgin followed the commands with these words of assurance to Adele Brise, "Go and fear nothing, I will help you."

The site of the apparitions has been a popular pilgrimage shrine, and no doubt will become even more so now. Five acres were consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, and Brise built a school near the site of the apparitions and a chapel on the very spote. A convent was later built on the grounds. In 1871, when a massive fire spread through the area, Brise organized a vigil to pray that the site of the apparitions might be spared.

All five acres emerged from the fire untouched.

On In All Things, the group blog of America magazine, Fr. James Martin, S.J., has some interesting reflections on the similarities between the apparitions at Champion and those at Lourdes, which are well worth reading. You can also find more information about the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at the shrine's website.

I have never visited the shrine, but I hope to this summer with my family. If you have visited it, please leave a comment and tell us about your pilgrimage.