This past Saturday we visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. With my mother-in-law in town for a visit this has become our new tradition when she is here.
It is a Catholic chapel set in the middle of cornfields in the heart of rural Wisconsin in a town named Champion. In 2010, it became recognized as the first Marian apparition sighting in the United States.
The apparition sightings actually occurred in 1859 by a 28 year Belgium immigrant woman named Adele Brise. On her third sighting of Mary, Adele actually heard her talking to her saying,” I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same.” Adele Brise was also given a mission to “gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”
Adele’s father built a chapel over the sight of where the apparition appeared and Adele dedicated the rest of her life to teaching children by building a school on the same grounds.
On October 8, 1871 the worst recorded fire in history occurred. ..The Peshtigo Fire. This fire threatened the chapel but Adele Brise refused to leave and instead begged the Virgin Mary for her protection. This fire ended up destroying 1,200,000 acres of land and caused the death of nearly 2,500 people but the chapel and the people in it were unharmed. It did reach the Chapel grounds but only singed the fence that surrounded it.
People have been traveling to this chapel and its surrounding grounds for over 100 years in the form of pilgrimages and in search of miracles. Many people have claimed to be cured here… leaving crutches, hearing aids and years of blindness behind.
I do not know if these things occurred. I was not there when these things happened.
I was there on Saturday. It was a beautiful day with stillness in the air and warm sunshine. My kids enjoyed seeing the water lilies and frogs resting on the lily pads in the pond. My kids went in the chapel and prayed with their Grandma. Iris, my 7 year old, asked God to make her brave. Bency, my 5 year old asked God for a new race track. We went to the apparition sight and Grandma lit a candle. We walked around the gorgeous grounds out back filled with statues and other artifacts. Iris thought the eyes blinked on one of the statues of Mary. I think it was her imagination. To my knowledge no “miracles” occurred this day. It was just a peaceful day full of serenity, joy and my kids learning about God from their Grandma and us all enjoying the day as a family.