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Marian apparitions approved – but no, not at Medjugorje

Apparitions of Our Lady in Wisconsin bear all the hallmarks of authenticity

By on Thursday, 17 February 2011

An undated photograph of Adele Brise: when she was 28 she had visions of Mary near her home in Champion, Wisconsin (Photo: CNS)

An undated photograph of Adele Brise: when she was 28 she had visions of Mary near her home in Champion, Wisconsin (Photo: CNS)

Having now read 379 posts in response to my blog about Medjugorje (written on the approved Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes), I stand by what I wrote: the phenomenon is about obedience to the authority of the Church, vested in the local Ordinary, or disobedience to him. Many of the posts reaffirmed this and provided excellent documentation to support it. Thank you.

One post that echoed my own sense of scandal at the disrespect towards Our Lady that is manifested constantly at Medjugorje, stated: “How can the humble and transcendent Virgin Mary be an accomplice to such manipulations?” How indeed.

Then an item on page 13 in Catholic World Report for February caught my eye: “Bishop approves Marian apparitions.” No, this does not refer to the Bishop of Mostar or to the “Gospa” allegedly appearing at Medjugorje. It refers to Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay who has officially approved the Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin.

The bishop has stated: “I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 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.” Coincidentally, the statement was delivered on December 8 2010, Feast of the Immaculate Conception – the title by which the Lady in the grotto at Lourdes identified herself to Bernadette.

In case others, like me, have not heard of Adele Brise, this 28-year-old Belgian immigrant to Wisconsin was favoured by three apparitions of Our Lady who identified herself as the Queen of Heaven and told her: “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.” In 1861 a chapel was built on the site and in 1867, Adele, who had become a Third Order Franciscan, founded a school to educate children in the faith.

The shrine in Wisconsin is the first and only site in the United States of an approved apparition of the Virgin Mary. Three cheers for all that. It also bears all the traditional hallmarks of authenticity: the apparitions are few and for a strictly limited period; Our Lady gives a brief and succinct message; a cult is established and investigated by the local bishop; finally, the Ordinary makes a definitive pronouncement. This is how our blessed Mother operates; this is how the Church works. Three cheers for all that.

  • Jackie Parkes

    Oh Francis! You really are against Medjugorje! Well I’m awaiting the Roman Commission’s results..

  • Jackie Parkes

    Meant to say I will be obedient to the commissions findings..but of course Medjugorje will always be a good place of prayer & penance.

  • Jonny Davies

    What Jackie Parkes is really saying is: “I can’t bring myself to even consider that Medjugorje might be fake, so I’ll carry on believing in it privately even if all the evidence points to it being otherwise…”

    There’s no virtue in basing one’s spirituality on emotions.

  • Jackie Parkes

    Actually Jonny it is no problem to me if the apparitions are inauthentic. As for emotions..yes I am a very emotional person..thanks be to God! However re Medjugorje all I can say is that my ten children are great devotees of the message of prayer penance Holy Mass adoration sacrifice the Holy Rosary etc My parents, aunts uncles siblings cousins friends priests & many more all have benefited from pilgrimages to Medjugorje..I’ve often been to Lourdes too & follow the fatima messages with our 8th child & first son being born on May 13th & our tenth child being named Jacinta. It doesn’t upset me those who are against Medjugorje..Francis is still my friend! I wish people didn’t get so angry..don’t worry so much or get so emotional Jonny..Holy Church will make a pronouncement & then you can gloat about how right you were! You see I’m just so thankful for the blessings of a large Catholic family & extended family..ALL of whom practice their faith to a high degree. that’s what is most important..I’m sure you can say the same Jonny about your own family.

  • Paul

    The official approval of Medjugorje will probably not happen in any of our life times. However, it has very strong benefactors including Pope Benedict. I have visited there twice and have found the people sincere. It definitely feels authentic. I was struck with how reverent people were at Communion. Also impressed with the lines for Reconciliation. The political squabbling is too confusing for anyone but a historian to understand. I have witnessed a number of Apparitions and can say for certainty that there is no faking going on. The six visionaries are definitely in an altered state. I guess it comes down to either it comes from God or sat-n. I can’t fathom how it would be in the evil ones interest to have a place where vocations are inspired and the Holy Sacraments honored in such a pious way.

  • Spera Rose,OCDs

    Thank you so much for this post! Regarding apparitions we need to understand the difference between supernatural miracles, what God alone can do and preternatural miracles worked through the angelic spirits, good angels or bad? This is how apparitions need to be analyzed. On April 10, 1991 the Bishops of ex-Yugoslavia declared: “… On the basis of the investigations, so far it cannot be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.” This does not rule out preternatural phenomenon.

    Ann Catherine Emerich and Bl. Anna Marie Taggie as well as other mystics have had visions of the evil spirit who appeared to them as Jesus and Mary. If they had not been schooled with authentic visions of Our Lord and Our Lady they would have been deceived.

    I witnessed on a film documentary a few of the Medjugorje children who underwent electroencephalograms studies during an announced vision in the parish church of St. James. I understand that the studies showed that visionaries were neither asleep, dreaming, nor having seizures during their experience. They were seeing something, but, was it Divine in origin? Hww can we tell then? Now the visionaries and those around them need to be investigated for living the virtues. Are they humble and obedient to the magisterium ect. Virtues the devil cannot imitate! Look at the Fatima Children and their penitiential lives!

    Some of the fruits from the Medjugorje visionaries and of those who surrounded the visionaries have been less then exemplary and this needs to be nipped in the bud by the church before the whole phenomenon, which may well be motivated by an evil spirit who is pretending to be good ruins innocent souls!

    Other appariaitions like Garabandal whose visions have ended and also do not have official Church approval are not as dangerous and will prove or disprove themselves as God’s providence unfolds in time.

    I want to know why we are ignoring Fatima an approved apparition! The devil is keeping us so busy running to and fro between spurious apparitions. We are wasting precious time and failing to evangelize the greatest Marian apparition that has ever taken place along with the greatest public miracle of all time. The annihilation of some or many nations is a conditional prophecy that may still be fulfilled if we do not do as our Lady asks. Fatima is about the UNITY of the Church. How sad that we are not united in the majesterium as children of Mary. Fatima is about consecration to Mary who is leading us towards the greatest conflagration of Good over Evil. A battle that is yet to come. She is leading us towards the second coming of her son. As she was the conduit for his first coming she will also be the means by which He will return again. The falling of the Berlin Wall was a sign of what our Lady will do in the next battles that the Church will soon face if we are docile obedient children!

  • pilgrim

    Jonny, if all the evidence points to Medjugorje being fake, then why has the Church been so slow in its duty to inform the faithful that the claimed apparitions and messages are a danger to the faith? Thirty years on and still the Holy See has still to complete its commission study. That tells me that there is room in there somewhere for people choosing to believe – or even disbelieve. For emotion, read heart. And it is our hearts and minds as one that need to be kept open to any promptings of the Holy Spirit. And as Jesus says, he has not come for the virtuous but for sinners.

  • John Barry

    The apparitions to 17-year-old French girl Benoite Rencurel lasted from 1664 to 1718 (apparitions became known as Our Lady of Laus). It is only now that they have been officially recognised. Medjugorje is authentic.

  • Christina

    Very well said, Spera Rose. Thank you for an extremely measured and sensible post in the midst of the outpourings of uninformed enthusiasm that this subject usually prompts. And thank you especially for the reminder about Fatima. What a triumph for the Devil, and an unimaginable calamity for us, if we let Medjugorje distract us from Our Lady’s dire warnings here.

  • Diane Korzeniewski, OCDS

    Paul said: The six visionaries are definitely in an altered state. I guess it comes down to either it comes from God or sat-n.

    Given the video clip here, I think there may be something else to take into consideration.

    Here is further info on the above.

    Incidentally, the man who comes into the room to interpret for Vicka is the ex-priest, Ivica Vego.

  • Auricularis

    So according to Vicka, the Blessed Virgin was about to drop the Infant Jesus, hence why she blinked when someone made a gesture towards her face (despite the fact the visionaries claim they are completely disconnected from the world, when they see Our Lady)??!

    Can anyone take these people seriously? These poeple do no service to Our Lady but make a mockery of her!

  • Auricularis

    They were already recognised by the diocese in question on 18th September 1665 – the Vatican approval was only a ratification of what the diocese had already concluded! This is completely different to Medjugorje – which has already been declared to be “not of supernatural origin” by the ordinary.

  • Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS

    Dear Pilgrim,

    I would like to toss something out for consideration. I don’t think we should limit ourselves to only one possible explanation. Let’s examine some interesting things about the region.

    On June 25, 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared Independence.

    This did not come about overnight, but was gradually building, so undoubtedly the Yugoslav Bishop’s Conference needed to do something at the time.

    Two months prior, in April of 1991, that Commission on Medjugorje issued the Zadar Declaration. They had intended to take up discussion again the following year, but there was a full scale war going on in parts of the former Yugoslavia.

    The former Yugoslav Bishop’s Conference was dissolved. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the war went on until 1995.

    People need to stop and consider what was left in the wake of that war, which would have required the attention of the four bishops of that nation for the next 10 years or more: Countless orphans, people with devastating injuries such as lost limbs and head trauma, homeless people, people with post-traumatic shock from what they witnessed or participated in, low or no income, the list goes on.

    Each of the bishops currently in BiH today, have lived through the horrors of that war.

    I don’t think it is unreasonable at all to assume that Pope John Paull II, and the CDF, felt there were other priorities in the 10-15 years that followed, besides Medjugorje. I don’t think the Holy Father, nor the CDF, were going to act until the bishops of BiH were ready for action.

    With the passage of time, and with the former, much larger YBC dissolved, and only 4 bishops now on the BiH Bishop’s Conference, coupled with the fact that there are Medjugorje devotees on every continent, it only makes sense that the Holy See would agree to take it on at the request of those bishops.

    I’m very glad to see that Cardinal Puljic is there also representing the former YBC. As to Bishop Peric not being on the new Commission, I would not expect him to be. I don’t find it surprising that the Herzegovina Franciscans are not on the new Commission either. The 1991 criteria for discernment of apparitions (latest translation of Normae S. Congregationis found here), says that even when the case is taken on by the Holy See, “the Ordinary is always to be consulted and, if appropriate, also the Episcopal Conference”. The “Ordinary” is Bishop Peric.

    I hope this helps.

  • bps

    I dont know if the apparitions at Medjugorge will be approved or not what I do know is that I have had
    dealings with an organization (charity ) that build homes in Bosnia and promotes it. Its chairperson was one of the most unethical and dishonest woman I have ever had dealings with. If that is the type of people that Medjugorje attracts then it is not a good place.What is the saying practice what you preach !!!

  • Anonymous

    “Medjugorje is authentic” – are you a member of the Commission in Rome? Know something we don’t? Hotline to Heaven, perhaps . . . ?

  • Anonymous

    The Church HASN’T been slow in it’s duty. Bishop Zanic, then Bishop Peric, then the Bishops’ Conference were warning the faithful almost from the beginning about the lies and falsehoods – BUT NOBODY LISTENED.

  • Anonymous

    Please give proof that Pope Benedict is a ‘benefactor’ of Medjugorje.

  • Anonymous

    This doesn’t make sense – how can you say you will be obedient to the commissions’ findings, but then say that Medj will ALWAYS be a good place of prayer and penance. What if the commission pronounces against it and forbids any pilgrimages? Will it ALWAYS be a good place of prayer and penance then?

  • Ratbag

    I’m delighted that the United States has an approved Marian apparition. There are many places devoted to Our Lady there… after all, The Immaculate Conception is the patron of the USA. How timely that this approval comes when things are going downhill and where Catholics are embattled with several issues…

    What a total contrast this approval is to the ongoing saga of Medjugorje…

    A friend of the family – now sadly no longer with us – was a devout Catholic, loved Our Lady very much and was a frequent pilgrim to Lourdes. He went to Medjugorje because he heard so much about it (in his words, ‘earache’). I was curious to know how he got on. He was NOT impressed in the slightest. Well, if he wasn’t impressed, then there must be something wrong…

    I’ve heard two sides of the argument about Medjugorje – some who went there and saw the sun spinning and all sorts etc. etc. and had spiritual experiences… then, there are others who concur with Francis Phillips opinion.

    Having read about Marian apparitions over the years, unfortunately, Medjugorje provides more questions than answers for me but I’m not getting hung up about it.

    Whatever the Vatican decides, I’ll go along with their wisdom…

  • Helenspalding

    You made an excellent point, one that I have been pondering lately….I feel that we should all be concentrating on Fatima, which is considered to be the most significant Marian apparition. Pius XII regarded it highly and made a consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart, and apparently witnessed a re-enactment of the Miracle of the Sun from Castel Gandolfo, Paul VI visited Fatima, as did John Paul, three times I believe. John Paul said that Fatima “imposed an obligation on the Church”, by which he meant that all Catholics should be responding to Mary by saying the rosary every day, wearing the brown Scapular, performing the Reparation of the Five First Saturdays in atonement for the sins committed against Her Immaculate Heart, and praying and making reparation for sinners. Two popes have referred to Fatima as being Chapter 12:1 of Revelations, “And a great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, standing on the moon, with a crown of twelve stars around her head…”. Fatima is the most prophetic, urgent, dire Marian apparition, and it was followed up by the apparition at Akita, Japan–also approved by the Church, by Bishop Ito. Cardinal Ratzinger approved it while he was the head of the Congregation for the Faith, under John Paul II. I am completely stumped by Medjugorye…I will absolutely accept the ruling of the Church on it, but I myself am completely floored by the behavior–the lack of humility and obedience–of the seers themselves. For one thing, it really bothers me that they are making a living off of it. Apparently they all live quite well, in nice houses, and drive nice cars, while Medjugorye has become something of a real cottage industry. I mean, can you for one minute imagine St. Bernadette giving paid tours of Lourdes? Or Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia giving guided tours of the Cova da Iria? Also, I understand that one of the seers, a young man, was asked by the apparition to become a priest, and one the young women was asked to go into the convent, and neither one did….I’m scratching my head about that. Also, Mary supposedly said that God is not any religion, that people are the ones who have divided themselves by religion, and that all people are equal before God (I’m paraphrasing badly here, I’m afraid). But Mary would never deny the Church that She knows Her Son founded, the Holy Catholic Church….at Fatima, she said that if the Pope consecrated Russia to her Immaculate Heart, together with all the Catholic bishops in the world, on the day and in a public, solemn ceremony, Russia would be converted, and there would be peace…I do not believe a real apparition of Mary would ever say anything against the Church. It seems to me that you hit the nail on the head when you said that peole were running “to and fro between spurious apparitions”….it may be that Medjugorye may be a demonic distraction, to keep us all from focusing on, or thinking to much about, Fatima.

  • Rich

    Hi Pat,

    Just to let you know, I have heard that Bishop Peric also does not believe in Fatima. I have been to Medjugorje. I am only 29 years old. I feel I was “called” there. I have been somewhat involved with my faith every since I could remember, but I’ve never been so connected to OUR CHURCH since I’ve returned from Medjugorje. I now have a three week old baby, so I know I can’t go back right now, but I do return every day in my heart. I want to go back so badly because I had such a feeling of peace in my heart while I was there. I’ve heard they are now keeping track of the amount of communions distributed. I heard last August 313,000 were given, that’s approximately 10,000 a day! The lines for confession are incredible, the rosary is constant, and masses are at least four times a day, every day. Jesus said that we will know a tree by the fruit that it bears. How can Medjugorje be anything but good fruit. I now try to read the Bible every day, say the rosary AT LEAST once a day, fast at least once a week – this is all only since I’ve learned about and been to Medjugorje. Please give Medjugorje a chance. I’m sure we will all know for sure when Our Lady’s plan comes true, but how bittersweet it would be for people who could have gone there while she is still apeparing.

  • Anonymous


    The rumour about Bishop Peric not believing in Fatima and other approved Marian apparitions has been doing the rounds in pro-Medjugorje circles for years. No-one has ever been able to show me any proof to date. If you’ve got any, I’d love to see it – and I do mean PROOF, not some regurgitated gossip from a pro-Medj magazine. You could always ask him yourself if you know anyone who speaks his language. His e-mail address is:-

    Your statement “I do return every day (to Medjugorje) in my heart. I want to go back so badly because I had such a feeling of peace in my heart while I was there . . . ” suggests that your attachment to this phenomenon is emotional more than anything else. Whenever I’ve been to Fatima or Lourdes, I’ve enjoyed the pilgrimages, but I’ve never wanted to be in those places ‘so badly’. One of the points of making a pilgrimage is to seek spiritual help in order to return and live out our Faith in our everyday lives, not to return to whatever life God has called us to, and spend all the time hankering after being at this or that place, because we ‘felt good’ there.

    The fruits of Medjugorje are decidedly mixed. As always, you only mention the good things and fail to mention the disobedience to lawful authority and all the other many grave problems – too many to mention here, and frankly I’m bored of repeating them. Go to the other Catholic Herald thread about Medjugorje and study some of the links left there by myself or Diane Korzieniewski or EditorCT. Stand back and take a dispassionate look, study them all carefully and ask yourself if the Medj phenomenon is all unalloyed good fruit. If you’re being honest, the answer will be no.

    Your “I read the Bible every day, say the rosary AT LEAST once a day, fast at least once a week . . . etc” reminds me so much of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, and is so typical of many Medj supporters – “I do this, I do that, I do everything else . . . ” This smacks of spiritual pride. Our Lord taught us not to parade any good works we might do, lest we lose any merit for them.

    Many congratulations on your new baby. May the Holy Family support you in your new role as parents.

  • chris

    both JPll and ben 16th have stated before witnesses  their  private, personal approval of Med.  the bishops there have political issues with the  franciscans who run the church. that is where the disaproval really stems from, and why the vatican took the matter out the the predjudiced local bishops hands.  if you really respect the pope’s authority, understand he is positive towards the apparitions and wnt out of his way to see they finally got a fair hearing. 

  • Phil

    Hello Helen,

    I think you need to read a bit more about Medjugorje, from more than one source. I’m not saying I believe it, because I am undecided. However, it does seem to have been misrepresented. One thing is for sure: it’s not easy to dismiss.

    To my knowledge, the children asked “Mary” (whether it was the real one or not, I cannot say), how God viewed the different religions, and that her answer was that “all religions are similar before God”. They claim they went on to ask if Jesus was the only intermediary between God and humanity, and she replied in the affirmative.

    The children also said they asked Mary who was the holiest person in her village, and that she replied by naming a local woman, who happened to be a Muslim.

    Given that Muslims pray to the same God – the one honoured by Abraham – and that they also revere Mary as Maryam Umma Isa, I don’t find it beyond belief that a Muslim may be considered to be “holier”, i.e. closer to God in their spiritual life, than certain Catholics.

    Given that since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has said there may be other ways to God, then nothing that the children report “Mary” as having said contradicts Catholic theology.

    As I’ve said, I cannot know any more than anyone else whether the apparition the visionaries claim to have seen was the real Mary or not, but the fact that her replies managed to piss off both very liberal progressives and very conservative Catholics, makes me feel more inclined to think she was the real deal.

    If any of us Catholics feel certain we know what God thinks, or ought to think, then I reckon we’re being very arrogant, because who the hell do we think we are trying to second guess the divine?

    For one very interesting view on Medjugorje – by a guy who was a very intellgient atheist who thought Catholics were all a bit weird – try Randall Sulllivan’s “The Miracle Detective”. Whether you agree with it or not, it’s a great read.


  • john konnor

    bodies in heaven possess the aspect such that their form perfectly actualizes their potency …this means that in this way they are not subject to change(immutable)….from this we can continue…medjugorje and its visions can be refuted with some simple theology …and a bit of applied logic… try to set emotion aside for a scripture reveals…The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it? ……Aug. 2, 1981: That evening during the apparition, those present followed one another in order to touch “the veil, the head, the hand, the dress” of the apparition. “At the end the Virgin seemed dirty, full of stains.” (Bubalo, p.73-74)
    heresy-The soul is not defiled by inferior things, by their own power, as though they acted on the soul: on the contrary, the soul, by its own action, defiles itself, through cleaving to them inordinately, against the light of reason and of the Divine law.-thomas aquinas summa theologica….. since Mary is in heaven with a glorified body anything earthly could not defile her in any way… since she is glorified and impassable in heaven….. her nature is eternally configured it cannot be changed since she is one with God in heaven… anything attached to God cannot be altered in any way… God is immutable and so the things of heaven are since they are like him… this is also an apparition it is hard to believe that it has any temporal character namely that it is made of solid matter that can be touched….now it is “impossible” that the sins of humans can have any effect on the celestial body of Mary who is glorified and impassable in heaven…however the seers stated it was the people’s “sins” that sullied the Virgin’s veil… God will bring good out of bad… but the fallout from medjugorje will be tremendous after the vatican concurs with the local bishop that the visions are not from heaven….any good at this place stems from the sacraments of the church and any sincere prayer that has been made through people owing to their belief and faith in God …their only fault being invincible ignorance ortheir failure to properly research this place and placing some of their faith at the whims of either liars or seers who themselves are victims of some more veiled and sinister collusion….pray for me…as i will continue to pray for us all…God bless

  • Rogier

    There is no truth any of the reported apparitions. It is a form of mental illness.

  • William LaRue

    This whole scam needs to be squelched. For those who think that obedience to authentic authority is important, the Gospa has news for you; she cultivates disobedience like a farmer cultivates corn. For those who think that the Catholic Church is the way of salvation, the Gospa wants you to give it up for a world where all religions are equal before God (and I always thought He saw through Jim and Tammy Fae…). For those who are used to short lived events such as Lourdes, Fatima, Akita and the like, the Gospa has great news! She comes when the seers call! Anywhere in the world! And she chats; boy does she chat; over 40,000 episodes and counting. No mention so far about things like First Fridays, the Immaculate Conception, or why so much of the money dropped by the pilgrims is being diverted to ethnic cleansing, or why it is OK for local priests to impregnate nuns and girls. Nothing about the “seers” living in mansions. No, just good old “Y’all Come, now… See the amazin’ Whirling Sun… Watch Yer Rosary turn to Gold”

    It is appalling that the Church doesn’t shut this down. I guess money talks.

  • Sigroli

    A superb response.

  • They_Want_Us_Divided

    You are mistaken. JPII did NOT give approval. He did meet w/ the ‘seers’, but did NOT know (at the time) who they were. The seers have recanted much of what they claimed, and have shown obedience to the Church (as we ALL should, for God gave us the Church to lead us. If we follow ‘seers’ and men, we shall be fooled and out of communion w/ God; in Essenes, we follow man rather than God, when we do not remain obedient to His Church.).

    There are many false claims, & outright deceit that is coming out of the cult of Medjougorie (as well as Garanbadal). The Internet makes it easy for this to happen, as anyone can make all kinds of claims. Seek only official church statements, from the Vatican &/or the official Bishop/ diocese websites…

    There are so many wonderful & informing “Approved” apparitions, that we do not ‘need’, nor should we seek & be divided over, false ones… Be careful, always vigilant, & always obedient, so we aren’t led away….

  • sondra

    Pat21 Do u think the devil will cast doubt on authentic visions? Of course! THINK about it ! I’ve been there /I feel blessed!

  • annie

    Vicka relating the latest message with her back to the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance on the altar really says it all…….

  • annie

    Since 2000 the church has officially recognised marian apparitions in Rwanda, Nicaragua, America and Laus, France. Medjugorje? No sign that the chuch would or could recognise, so far no miracle that could pass the standards set by the Lourdes Medical Bureau. Just a bunch of now middle aged people, hotel owners mostly, who claim to have multiple secrets they can’t tell anyone. Who disobey their Bishop and therefore the church everytime they have an apparition in public, and collect donations in bags afterwards. lovely….