Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe and Champion all are part of a select group of places where the Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared.
In America, The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion covers the peace-filled holy ground deemed ‘worthy of belief’ by authority of the Catholic Church, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared.
Identifying herself as ‘The Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners,’ Mary appeared in October 1859 to a Belgian immigrant woman called Adele Brise, on the grounds of Champion Shrine, when the town was known as Robinsonville.
According to the direct accounts of those who worked with Adele throughout the years of her mission work, she was instructed, in a series of locutions by Our Lady, to ‘make a general confession, pray and offer communion for the conversion of sinners and to gather the children in the wild country and to teach them what they needed to know for their salvation.’ She further instructed Adele, to ‘teach the children their catechism, how to ‘make the sign of the cross’ and how to ‘approach the sacraments.’ Mary ended her apparition saying: ‘That is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.’
These locutions by Our Lady of Good Help became the foundation of a lifelong legacy of catechetical mission work by Brise with local families. She travelled on foot in a 50-mile radius around the present-day shrine to teach and instruct as she was told by Mary. Adele’s father later built a chapel on the apparition site where she also began her teaching work.
On 8 October 1871, twelve years to the date of Mary’s last appearance, a Midwestern drought caused two of the worst fires in America’s history – one in Chicago and the other in Peshtigo Wisconsin. The same drought caused an inferno that began raging through the rural area, threatening the chapel in the town of Robinsonville. Local families who had been involved with Adele Brise as part of her mission work in catechesis travelled during the fire to the chapel on the shrine’s grounds, many with babies, small children and farm animals, to pray the rosary.
On their knees and in procession all night long, as the areas near the shrine were reduced to ashes, those who gathered at the shrine prayed the rosary, asking Our Lady of Good Help for her intercession with her son Jesus to save them from the fire. Their prayers were answered and rain came and extinguished the fire just as it reached the chapel and shrine grounds.
In Champion Shrine history this event is marked what many believe to be one of the first graces granted through intercessory prayer with Our Lady of Good Help, to Jesus. This and other miraculous instances at Champion Shrine continue to be a harbinger of hope for thousands who travel on pilgrimage to pray for help and healing. To this day many descendants of those whose lives were spared during the 8 October 1871 fire come to celebrate the miracle of the fire on that day annually, praying the rosary all night long into the following day, the day shrine historians believe marks the anniversary of the last appearance of Mary at Champion in 1859.
In December 2010, after a period of prayerful discernment during which he reviewed years of research and investigation by expert Mariologists, The Most Rev. David L. Ricken, Bishop of Green Bay, determined it ‘worthy of belief’ that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Adele Brise.
On 15 August 2016 The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops declared Champion a ‘National Shrine,’ by formal decree distinguishing ‘The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help’ the first and only Catholic Shrine in America with a Church-approved Marian Apparition Site. This and other international media coverage of events that have occurred continue to draw thousands to Champion Shrine. For this reason, Champion Shrine grounds, which include its chapel and apparition oratory that mark the apparition site are open 365 days a year, from 7a.m. until 7p.m.
Large gatherings, outdoor masses, processions, Eucharistic healing services and religious events are held throughout the year to carry out the message of Our Lady of Good Help and to carry on the mission she inspired in Adele Brise.
All are welcome to experience the peace of Champion Shrine in the presence of Mary through intercessory prayer to her son, Jesus. For more information about worship opportunities and religious retreats and events at Champion Shrine visit http://www.