An American Apparition” tells the story of the only Vatican-approved apparition site in the United States, Our Lady of Good Help, near Green Bay, Wisconsin.
.- In 1859, a young Belgian woman saw a bright vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary appear between two trees in one of the most unlikely places in eastern Wisconsin.
This week, the Marian site has been designated a National Shrine, and is also known as the first Marian apparition site in the United States.
“I am overjoyed to now share with all of you today, that the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help has received the National designation as a National Shrine from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,” Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay stated during an Aug. 15 homily.
“I am deeply thankful for the faith, devotion and unwavering commitment to all those who have been stewards and caretakers of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help for the past several generations,” he continued.
Our Lady of Good Help Shrine is fewer than 20 miles from Green Bay in Champion. It commemorates the place where the young peasant woman Adele Brise saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin and was instructed to “gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”
The Virgin Mary told Brise to evangelize children through catechism and the sacraments, saying to “go and fear nothing.” By 1868, a chapel and a school were built on the apparition site.
After investigations were opened to confirm the validity of the site, Bishop Ricken approved the Marian apparition in 2010, making it the first in the United States. He also announced the grounds as a diocesan shrine, where thousands of pilgrims from over 90 countries have visited over the years.
“Today’s announcement is a testament and a honor to all those who have come before us. Their generous Christian spirit of warmth, hospitality, reverence and simplicity is alive in this holy place,” Bishop Ricken stated.
“Each of them simply follows the deep whispers of their own faith, and in doing so, preserve and advance the shrine.”
When the U.S. Bishops’ conference announced that it had approved Our Lady of Good Help as a national shrine Aug. 15, Bishop Ricken celebrated Mass at the shrine with more than 1,500 people in attendance. Other celebrants included Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, Bishop James Powers of Superior, and priests of the Green Bay diocese.
During the homily, Bishop Ricken explained the meaning of a national designation, saying national shrines must meet the specific requirements of the USCCB. There are more than 70 national shrines within the United States.
To be considered a national shrine, sites are required to “nourish the spiritual lives of their pilgrims” and be easily accessible to visitors. In addition, they must also have served as diocesan shrines, operating with the approval of the diocesan bishop and in accordance with Church teachings.
Bishop Ricken expressed his hopes for the future of the shrine, and was grateful for those who have showed support for the mission of Our Lady of Good Help over the years.
“It is my belief that this national designation will enhance the significance of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, and assist in the evangelization of all those pilgrims who visit this holy site,” Bishop Ricken stated.
“Praise the Lord for all the good works that are happening here at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. I thank all of you for joining me today.”