The Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday designated a Wisconsin spot where an apparition of the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared three times to a Belgian-born nun in 1859 as the only one of its kind in the United States.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion, just east of Green Bay near Lake Michigan, has long been a popular destination for the faithful. But it was only in the last two years that the Diocese of Green Bay undertook the official process to earn the distinction that now puts it in company with renowned holy apparition sites including Lourdes, France; Guadalupe, Mexico; and Fatima, Portugal.
Green Bay Bishop David Ricken approved the sightings as legitimate apparitions after a two-year study by a commission he appointed. Ricken announced the distinction at a special Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the shrine, where he read from a decree that stated the apparitions witnessed by Sister Adele Brise in 1859 “do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”
Brise was 28 at the time of the visions, and had immigrated to Wisconsin from Belgium with her family about four years earlier. Brise would recount 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,” according to information provided by the Green Bay diocese. The apparition asked Brise to do the same, and to gather children and teach them what they should know for salvation.
After receiving the apparitions, Brise established a Catholic school and a community of Franciscan women.
Such sites of confirmed apparition earn that designation only by a Catholic bishop’s decree. A spokesman for the Green Bay Diocese said there are only 11 other such sites worldwide, none in the United States.
(Source: Associated Press)