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

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.

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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.

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