Our Lady of the Poor
Our Lady of the Poor or Virgin of the Poor
“I am the Virgin of the Poor…Believe in Me, I will believe in you!”
Eight apparitions to the young girl Mariette Beco January 15 – March 2, 1933, Belgium.
Approved by the Holy See on August 22, 1949
Twelve days after Our Lady of Beauraing the Lady with the Golden Heart said “Goodbye” to five children in Beauraing, Belgium, she made her presence felt again in Banneux, Belgium, some fifty miles to the northeast, to Mariette Beco, known as Our Lady of Banneux.
Belgium is a small country in northern Europe between France and Germany. Banneux Notre-Dame is a poor farm village built around its church. It doesn’t appear on maps. It is dependent on the people of Louveigne and is 25 km from Liege, the capital of the province. The town if ound in a small plateau in the Belgian Ardennes at an altitude of 325 m. It is surrounded by beautiful valleys of Ambleve, Vesdre, and Hoëgne. On the highway between Louveigne and Pepinster, a kilometer from the church, the small Beco house can be found on the left with a small garden in the front. The area is humid and swampy, which is why it is called “La Fagne”, which means ‘mud’. On the other side of the highway, the great Eifel forests begin.
The Beco Family
Ten miles from Liege, in the plateau hamlet of Banneux. The family was not a pious one. The 15th of January was a Sunday and 11-year-old Mariette, the eldest of the siblings, missed Mass (it seems this was an ordinary occurrence in this family). The Beco family was poor (by Belgian standards) and their 4-room house would later be the cramped quarters for a family of eleven. Mariette Beco was the oldest, born on March 25, 1921 (the feast of the Annuncation coincided that year with Good Friday). At 11 years old, the eldest of seven children, she was not intelligent, yet she was not stupid. She did very badly in Catechism Class. She had stopped going for First Holy Communion instructions.She was a product of her environment, which was, in a word, hopeless. Her father was an unemployed wiremaker. He had no use for God or the Church. He was born a Catholic, but that was a long time ago. He hadn’t been near a church for years. Julian Beco couldn’t care less that his eldest daughter had given up her religious training. His attitude infected the household. There was nothing in the house of a religious nature. His wife, Louise, followed his lead. God had no place in their home.She wasn’t very devout before her experience with Our Lady. Nevertheless, she had a small image of Our Lady on her nightstand, she kept a rosary she had found, and occasionally prayed it before going to sleep.
The First Apparition – Sunday, January 15, 1933
Our Lady invited the girl, with a gesture of her hand, to come close to Her
The winter of 1933 had turned extremely bitter. The eerie sounds of the wind wailing through the trees, bending the branches in a contest of strength, created a deafening din inside the house. Drafts blew through the open cracks under the doors and in the window frames. The flames in the fireplace flickered wildly, as they battled the cold winds blowing down the chimney. It was dark, around 7 in the evening, on this freezing night. Mariette sat by the front window of her house, looking into the black of night for some sign of her brother Julien, who was late returning home. As she opened the curtain to look out, she saw a Lady standing in their front yard, surrounded by a bright light. The Lady was short, about five feet tall, and exceptionally beautiful. Our Lady of Banneux was not dressed like any of the ladies from the village. She wore a long white gown with a blue sash. One of her feet could be seen. She was barefoot, with just a gold rose in between her toes. In this kind of weather, she should be freezing. Mariette noticed that she stood just above the ground, sort of on a cloud. She didn’t seem to be cold at all.
Now Mariette had a very logical mind, even at age 11. The scene she saw before her eyes didn’t make sense. It was probably the reflection of the oil lamp. She took the oil lamp from the table, and put it in another room. Then she went back to the window and looked out. The Lady was still there. She resorted to the next natural course of action – she called her mother. Mariette explained what she was looking at. Louise Beco responded in a natural way also. “Rubbish”, she said.
Mariette was persistent . She described Our Lady of Banneux. Her mother replied jokingly, “Perhaps it’s the Blessed Virgin.”
The child insisted her mother come over to the window and see for herself. Feeling very foolish, Louise went over to the window and looked out. She saw a white shape, but she couldn’t make out any figures.
“It’s a witch.” she said, and let the curtain fall, blocking the image from Mariette’s eyes. The child opened the curtain again.
“She’s beautiful, Mama. She’s smiling at me.” The mother ignored her eldest daughter.
The child noticed that the Our Lady of Banneux had a Rosary, hanging from the blue sash. The cross was the same color of gold as the rose between her toes. Mariette went to a drawer, and rummaged through, looking for a Rosary she had found outside on the road. When she found it, she began to pray. The Lady’s lips moved, but she didn’t say anything that Mariette could hear. After a few decades, the Lady raised her hand, and motioned with her finger for Mariette to come outside. The young girl asked permission to leave the house.
“Lock the door.” Her mother replied.
By the time Mariette returned to the window, the Lady had disappeared. She kept going back to the window to see if the beautiful Lady had returned, but she had not. Pretty soon, her brother Julien came home. She told him what had happened while she was waiting for him at the window. His reaction was similar to that of his mother’s, only a little more vocal.
His comments ranged from “You’re a fool” to “You’re crazy”.
The Next Day, School and a Renewed Ardor for Catechism Classes
Monday, January 16, Mariette told a girl friend at school what had happened. The girl told her she had to tell the priest. Mariette was afraid, but with the encouragement of her friend, the two of them went to the priest’s office. Mariette backed out at the last minute, and ran off. The friend told the priest, Fr. Louis Jamin, what Mariette had said. The priest was sure Mariette was influenced by the recent reported apparitions in Beauraing, and paid no attention to it. He cautioned the friend, however, not to tell anyone about Mariette’s reported apparition.
For the next two days, Monday and Tuesday, the Our Lady of Banneux did not return. However, that one visit had a deep effect on Mariette’s spirituality. She returned to her Catechism class on Wednesday, embracing the material with a renewed enthusiasm. She knew her lesson perfectly. This amazed Fr. Jamin, because Mariette had always been the worst student in the class. After class, Father asked her why she had run away on Monday without telling him what she had seen. By this time, the child had reflected on what had happened. She was not frightened anymore. She spoke very calmly, telling the priest exactly what she had seen. He, for his part, did not treat her as a child, or belittle what she claimed. He only told her to pray to Our Lady for guidance.
The Second Apparition – Wednesday, January 18, 1933:
“Put your hands in the water. This fountain is reserved for Me. Goodnight. Good bye.”
On January 18, 1933, at 7:00 pm, Mariette left her house in a hurry and ran around the yard, as if pushed by some compelling inner force. Then she fell to her knees and seeemed to enter a state of silent prayer. Her father, Julien, ran after her and found his daughter on her knees, a highly unusual pose in their family.
As at the first time, Mariette saw a “bright ball” fast increasing in size, passing between the pine trees and growing, to finally change into a “woman’s silhouette.” The Virgin was now facing Mariette, just a little more than a yard away, fully clothed with light. Her feet didn’t touch the ground, but rested on a sort of “luminous cloud” ressembling the many representations of Our Lady of the Poor and matching the testimonies of the main Marian apparitions since the beginning of the 19th century.
Mariette wondered how a human being can have precise features and forms, and a solid-looking body, change appearance in such a short time, and go against all the laws of our humanity?
Suddenly, the apparition made a “sign” to Mariette and stepped back to give her time to follow. Julien Beco was worried for his daughter whose behavior was so out of character. He called a neighbor, Michel Charleseche, for assistance and the man came with his 12 year-old son. But none of them saw anything of what Mariette was seeing.
Then she said loudly and with a clear voice: “She is calling me!” The girl rose and ran in the direction of the main road, very fast, as if carried by the wind. Suddenly, Mariette stopped in her tracks and fell to her knees twice, near a spring. She heard outside herself: “Put your hands in the water! This fountain is reserved for Me. Goodnight. Good bye.” The Virgin disappeared a few seconds later, respecting the visual laws of perspective: her silhouette became a ball of light easily avoiding the natural obstacles, then fading away in the horizon.
Around 10:00 pm, Father Jamin went to the Beco’s house. He was surprised by Julien’s account of the story and his declaration to convert, make a general confession and go to Mass!
Third Apparition: Thursday, January 19, 1933:
“I am the Virgin of the Poor”
“This fountain is reserved for all nations to bring comfort to the sick. I will pray for you. Goodbye.”
The next day (January 19, 1933) around the same time, the Virgin appeared again to Mariette, who was surrounded by 17 people. The girl continued to be the only one to ‘see.’ She asked her identity to the Lady, who replied: “I am the Virgin of the Poor.” They then went to the spring together. Mary declared: “This spring is reserved for all the nations, to bring comfort to the sick,” whereas the day before, the apparition had told Mariette that the spring was for her alone.
Just before leaving, she said: “I will pray for you; good bye.” The ball of light, seeming to ‘enclose’ the Virgin, rose over the tree tops and disappeared in the night.
Fourth Apparition: Friday, January 20, 1933:
“I would like a small chapel.”
The next day (January 20) around 6:45 pm, the fourth apparition took place. This one had thirteen witnesses, including Father Jamin and the first two journalists. During this apparition, the Virgin made a request: “I would like a small chapel.” Our Lady imposed her hands on Mariette and traced the sign of the cross over her head. At the end, Mariette lost consciousness.
However, during the following days until February 11, the apparitions stopped. Some made fun of Mariette, calling her “Saint Bernadette.” Despite the intense cold, Mariette continued praying, In these days, only she truly believed that the Virgin of the Poor would return whatever the cost. She would see her again.
Fifth Apparition: Saturday, February 11, 1933
“I come to alleviate sufferings.”
On February 11 (anniversary of the apparitions in Lourdes) at 7:00 pm, when she girl reached the fifth decade of the second set of mysteries, Mary appeared, in all her splendor. Like the other times, Mariette ran with incredible speed to the spring after the Lady, dropped to her knees and dipped the tip of her rosary in the water. “I come to alleviate sufferings,” Mary said to her interiorly. The following day, Mariette received First Communion from Fr. Jamin.
Sixth Apparition: Wednesday, February 15, 1933
“Believe in me and I will believe in you. Pray very much. Goodbye.”
On February 15, the Virgin of the Poor appeared to her for the sixth time. This time Mariette had a question, submitted by Father Jamin, to test the authenticity of the apparitions. The concise, evangelical answer came, leaving no ambiguity: “Believe in me and I will believe in you. Pray very much. Goodbye.” Mariette cried, face against the ground. The Virgin had just confided to her a secret.
Seventh Apparition: Monday, February 20, 1933
“My dear child, pray, pray very much.”
The next apparition came on February 20. At the end of the sorrowful mysteries, Mariette, in deep ecstacy, dropped to her knees heavily, her arms forming a cross. A message accompanied the visual apparition: “My dear child, pray, pray very much.” That night, the vision lasted 7 whole minutes.
Eighth Apparition: Thursday, March 2, 1933
“I am the Mother of the Savior, the Mother of God. Pray very much.”
On March 2, 1933, came the eighth and last apparition. There were only 5 witnesses on that day. At the beginning of the first rosary, it stopped raining — the sky cleared and the stars shone. Suddenly Mariette grew quiet and extended her arms. Our Lady looked more beautiful than ever before in her visits, but she did not smile. Her face was very serious. Perhaps she, too, was sad because this would be her last apparation to Mariette. The Virgin announced: “I am the Mother of the Savior, the Mother of God. Pray very much.” Then she imposed her hands on Mariette’s head and blessed her with the sign of the cross. She said, “Adieu – till we meet in God.” And Mariette understood this would be her final appearance to her. Heartbroken, the child bowed to the earth in heart-rending sobs.
Fruits, Conversions, and Miracles
After the first apparition, the girl converted. Her father, who had been a powerful force of apathy and rebellion against the Church, experienced a change of heart. Not even in Lourdes, Fatima or Beauraing did such conversions happen so quickly. The parents of Bernadette Soubirous and Lucia dos Santos did not accept the apparitions until long after they had ended. Nevertheless, here in Banneux, the power of Our Lady was felt and obeyed immediately. The priest, Father Jamin, remained hesitant for some time, before publically admitting his belief in the apparition. His position was difficult. The girl of his parish was declaring a heavenly visitation just after another had been declared in the same country in the same month. He knew that comparisons would arise. He also know that the eyes of Belgium, and possibly of all of Europe would be fixed on him and his behavior. A great factor in his acceptance of the apparitions had to have been the immediate fruits that arose. Almost immediately, miraculous cures occurred. The great number of miracles that occurred were overwhelming that it took the local Church by surprise. During some time, it seemed that the apparitions in Beauraing and Banneux were competing for recognition.
On March 19, 1935, a first investigation committee was put in place, headed by Msgr Leroux, director of the diocesan major seminary. Seventy three people testified under oath. On February 18, 1937, the commission’s work was finished. The whole file (428 pages and 21 documents annex) was transmitted by the diocese of Liege to the archbishop of Brussels-Mechlin, then to Rome.
The war evidently slowed down the process. On January 2, 1942, the Holy See authorized the bishop of Liege, Msgr Louis-Joseph Kerkhofs, to make a definitive judgment: the public cult of Our Lady of Banneux was authorized by the prelate on March 19, 1942.
From June 19, 1942 to February 15, 1944, it took 20 meeting sessions for the members of the new committee to make a pronouncement on the personality of Mariette Beco and on the supernatural origin of the apparitions. Some evoked the “hysterical disposition” of the seer. Other talked about a deception or illusion. According to them Mariette imagined that she saw the Virgin Mary after having read a flier about Lourdes (conserved in the library of the patronage in Banneux). The committee hesitated: “The events of Banneux appear to be neither certain nor even probable” !
But the facts were there, certain and undisputable. In 1945, Msgr Kerkhofs, with the help of Father Rene Rutten (1878-1948) ordered a third and last investigation committee. This time, the conclusions were positive and the supernatural origin officially recognized by the bishop of Liege, on August 22, 1949, sixteen years after the events. On August 14, 1956, Msgr E. Forni, the Apostolic Nuncio to Brussels, solemnly crowned the statue of the Virgin of the Poor.
PRAYER TO THE VIRGIN OF THE POOR
O virgin of the Poor, May you ever be blessed ! And blessed be He who deigned to send you to us. What you have been and are to us now, you will always be to those who, like us, and better then us, offer their faith and their prayer. You will be all for us, as you revealed yourself at Banneux : Mediatrix of all graces, the Mother of theSaviour, Mother of God. A compassionate and powerfull Mother who loves the poor and all Peaople, who alleviates suffering, who saves individuals and all humanity, Queen and Mother of all Nations, who came to lead all those who allow themselves to be guided by you, to Jesus the true and only Source of eternal life.Amen.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor, lead us to Jesus, Source of grace. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, save all Nations. Blessed Virgin of the Poor,relieve the Sick. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, alleviate suffering. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, pray for each one of us. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, we believe in you. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, believe in us. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, we will pray hard. Blessed Virgin of the Poor, bless us (+) Blessed Virgin of the Poor, Mother of the Saviour Mother of God, we thank You.
Mary Virgin of the Poor, You lead us to Jesus, source of grace, and you come to alleviate our suffering.
We implore you with confidence: Help us to folow your Son with generosity, and to belong to Him unreservedly.
Help us to welcome the Holy Spirit Who guides and sanctifies us. Obtain us the grace to look like Jesus everyday more, so that our life will glorify the Father and contribute to the salvation of all.
B. John Paul II and Our Lady of the Poor
To theMost Reverend Albert Houssiau
Bishop of Liège
1. Fifty years ago, on 22 August 1949, Bishop Louis-Joseph Kerkhofs, your predecessor in the see of Liège, definitively recognized the reality of the apparitions of Our Lady of the Poor in Banneux. Moved to recall the Eucharist which I myself, during my Apostolic Visit to Belgium in May 1985, had the joy of celebrating in this shrine which has an important outreach, I gladly join in the prayer of the pilgrims who go there to seek comfort and strength from Our Lady of Banneux, invoked by the name of Our Lady of the Poor, Health of the Sick. With the whole Church, I thank the Lord for the outstanding mission carried out by the Mother of the Saviour and for the example of faith she offers the entire Christian people, called, like her, to follow Christ, every day repeating her “yes”, her fiat.
2. In 1933, a few years before the Second World War, Mary appeared in Banneux as a messenger of peace. In a certain way she was summoning the leaders of society to become the artisans of peace and educators of peoples, inviting each person to care for his brothers and sisters, the lowliest, the most despised and the suffering, who are all beloved by God. Today it is still up to us to pray that “Mary, Mediatrix of grace, ever watchful and concerned for all her children, [may] obtain for all humanity the precious gift of harmony and peace” (Message on the 50th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe, 8 May 1995, n. 16).
3. In contemplating the Virgin Mary, the faithful discover the marvels God worked in his humble handmaid, and in her, Mother of the Church and Queen of Heaven, see the prefiguration of what humanity is called to be through the grace of salvation which was obtained for us through the Saviour’s Death and Resurrection.
The faithful who enrol in Mary’s school take a path of prayer that guarantees a Christian life; with her they discover the mercy of the Father who stoops down to all human beings, especially the poor, the little and the suffering. Therefore we can tirelessly repeat with Mary her canticle of thanksgiving: “He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1: 48).
4. Every pilgrimage a Christian makes is an important moment in his spiritual life. It helps him discover the power of prayer which unifies the being and is the source of the witness each person is called to bear, and of his mission. With Mary we become humble children in the Lord’s hands, asking forgiveness for our faults and thereby rediscovering the joy of being God’s children who know they are infinitely loved and so have a deep desire to be converted.
Whoever you are, as St Bernard said, “when you are assaulted by the winds of temptation, when you see the pitfalls of misfortune, look at the Star, call upon Mary”. “If, troubled by the burden of sin and ashamed at the blemishes on your conscience, you begin to feel overcome by sadness and the temptation to despair, think of Mary. In peril, anguish and doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name be for ever on your lips and in your heart. And to obtain her intercession, never cease to follow her example”. Be certain that “in following her, you will not stray and in calling upon her, you will not despair” (Second homily on the Gospel passage: “The Angel Gabriel was sent”). Then, on returning to their daily lives, the faithful receive the grace of renewed trust. They are made more attentive to God’s word and the responsibility they receive through their Baptism. They also recognize more readily God’s signs on their path.
5. The apparitions of Banneux invite Christians to question themselves about the mystery of suffering, which finds its meaning in the mystery of the Cross of the Lord. When he faces suffering which, in human terms, is inexplicable, the believer turns spontaneously to God who alone can help him to bear it and endure it, sustaining his hope of salvation and eternal beatitude. In a very special way, God is tenderly and lovingly present to every person afflicted by illness, for he is moved by the experiences of his people, the people he loves, to whom he wants to bring relief and comfort. “Then the Lord said, “I have seen the affliction of my people … and have heard their cry…. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them … and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land'” (Ex 3: 7-8). As I explained in the Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, every person who offers his suffering contributes mysteriously to raising the world to God, and shares especially in the work of our redemption (cf. n. 19). He is thus joined particularly to Christ our Saviour.
6. I also commend to God those whose mission it is to care for their brethren, to help them and to accompany them with compassion in their physical and moral trials, as well as the members of the pastoral care teams in the hospitals and clinics and everyone who visits the sick and the elderly.
Following the example of the Good Samaritan, they are, as it were, the loving hand of the Lord outstretched to those who are suffering in body and soul; they show them that no trial whatsoever can take away their dignity as children of God (cf. ibid., nn. 28-30). May they tirelessly continue their mission, thus reminding the world that every human life, from its origin to its natural end, is precious in God’s eyes!
7. As I entrust you to the intercession of Our Lady of Banneux and the saints of your land, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, as well as to the faithful who travel to the shrine of Banneux in the spirit of the Great Jubilee and to the priests and faithful of your Diocese and of all the Dioceses of Belgium.
From the Vatican, 31 July 1999.
Mariette dies in December of 2011
In the morning of Friday 2nd December, Mariette Beco, to whom the Virgin Mary appeared eight times from the 15th of January to the 2nd of March 1933, died, aged 90, in an old people’s home at Banneux. The news of her death was soon spread among pilgrims, arousing a vivid emotion
THE EIGHT APPARITIONS OF BANNEUX N.D. – (Belgium)
15th January to 2nd March 1993
Banneux Notre-Dame, a tiny hamlet in the rural district of Louveigne, Belgium, is situated high up in the Ardenes on a plateau some 1,000 feet above sea level. It is flanked by the beautiful valleys of the Amvieve, Vesdre and Hoegne and lies fifteen miles distant from the important industrial town of Liege which is both the capital city of the province as well as the center of the diocese. The Village of Banneux encircles the church. There are some small industries scattered round about. However the region taken on the whole is poor. A little less than a mile from the church, on the left of the road from Louveigne to Pepinster, stands a simple working-class home in which the Beco family live. This marshy place is known as “The Swamp.” On the opposite side of the road stretch the great pinewoods which cover the whole of this eastern region of Belgium and which meet the Eifel forests. In front of the house there is a small garden plot containing a few cabbage stumps. In 1933, the family is made up of father, mother, and seven children, four more will follow later. Mariette, the oldest of them, was born on Friday 25th March 1921, Feast of the Annunciation and which that year happened to be Good Friday, the day when the Cross is given solemn veneration. But there is no Cross in the Beco’s home…In this rather rough place there is very little room for religion. They have broken off practicing their religious faith and Mariette is no exception to the indifference shown by the rest to the family.
FIRST APPARITION. On Sunday, 15th January 1933, snow and ice have covered the Swamp. The wind whistles harshly. It is 7 o’clock in the evening. Mariette, leaning on her elbows, is at the kitchen window that looks on to the garden with the road and pinewood beyond. She wathces awaiting the return of her brother Julien who had left that morning with some friends of about his own age. At the same time she keeps an eye on the youngest baby lying fast asleep in the cot. Suddenly, just a few yards from her, in the little garden, she sees a shining figure of a lady standing motionless bent slightly to the left. “Oh! Mama,” she cries out. “There’s a beautiful lady in the garden! … I think it’s the Blessed Virgin. She’s smiling at me. She’s so beautiful!” Mariette takes out a rosary she had found before on the way to Tancremont and says it as she gazes enraptured at the vision. The lady now beckons her. Marriete grasps the meaning of the invitation and leaving the window, wants to go out. Her mother fears it might be some kind of ghost, forbid this, lock the door and remove the key. Mariette returns to the window but the beautiful Lady has vanished.
SECOND APPARITION. Three days later, on Wednesday 18thJanuary, at about 7 o’clock in the evening, Mariette overcoming her usual fear of the dark, leaves the house. She kneels on the pathway which leads from the front door to the gate. She prays quietly and looks at the spot where on the previous Sunday, the shining lady had appeared, raised slightly from the ground. All of sudden, she stretches out her arms- the Virgin appears to her above the woods, quite a tiny figure in the distant sky. As she draws nearer, she increases in size, and passing between the crests of two tall firs, comes to rest above the frozen ground, a few steps away from the child. A sort of grayish cloud separates her from the ground.
Mariette prays quietly, rosary in hand, looking upwards. She gazes upon the smiling Lady whose lips move as if in prayer. This silent prayer lasts about twenty minutes. The Lady beckons and moves backwards. Marietta follows, leaves the enclosure and steps out into the road. She suddenly stops, falls on her knees and remains in this posture a while reciting “Hail Mary’s” then she rises and continues on her way. A little further on, she drops to her knees a second time. The she stand up obeying the signs of the Virgin who has resumed her gliding again. Quite abruptly she turns at right-angles towards a spring which trickles down the bank at the road-side. She knees at the side of the ditch whilst the Virgin places herself at the top of the bank. The virgin says to her: “Push your hands into the water.” Without a moment’s hesitation, the child obeys: the rosary slipping from her hands as she unclasps them and bathes conscientiously. The Virgin speaks again, “This spring is reserved for me.” She then takes her leave saying: “Goodnight. Au revoir” and rises up above the fir trees close by the spring, keeping her face turned towards the child. She seems to grow smaller as she withdraws into the distance.
THIRD APPARITION. At 7 o’clock in the evening of Thursday 19thJanuary, Mariette accompanied by her father, leaves home with her head covered with an old overcoat to protect her against the cold. A few steps on her way, she falls upon her knees even though the ground is covered with snow, and prays quietly. Shortly after, she stretches out her arms and cries out. “Oh! Here she is.” A moment of silence, then she asks. “Who are you beautiful Lady?” The Lady replies: I am the VIRGIN OF THE POOR.” The Virgin thereupon leads the child to the spring. Mariette walks calmly going down on her knees at the two sports where she had halted the previous evening. At the spring she kneels, her gaze fixed upon the top of the bank where the Virgin is standing. Once more Mariette puts a question. “Beautiful Lady, you said last night: “this spring is reserved for me.” Why “for me”?” and she points to herself, laying her hands on her breast. The Lady’s smile turns to a gentle laugh. She explains that the spring, reserved for herself, is “For all nations … for the sick.” Mariette repeats these words in a firm, clear voice and adds, “Thank you, thank you.” The Virgin quietly continues: “I will pray for you (personally). Au revoir.” She departs as on the evening before becoming smaller and smaller high above the fir trees.
FOURTH APPARITION. Fiday 20th January, Mariette is unwell but this does not stop her from going out at about 7 o’clock in the evening. Kneeling in the garden she says her rosary. Two minutes later she cries out” “Here she is.” After a while, she asks in a clear voice, “What do you want, beautiful Lady?” The virgin replies” “I would like a little chapel.” Then she unclasps her hands and spreads them horizontally without moving them from her breast. With her right hand she makes a sign of the cross to bless the child and then disappears. At this, Mariette faints. Her distraught father helped by a neighbor carries her home. She soon regains consciousness and falls peacefully asleep.
From the 21st January to the 11th February each evening at 7 o’clock, Mariette comes to pray in her usual place. Often it is bitterly cold, but Mariette persists. In these uneventful days, she alone truly believes in the Virgin of the Poor whom she wants to see again. See her again she does.
FIFTH APPARITION. On Saturday 11th February, Mariette is kneeling once again in the garden. A few people are present. At the end of the second rosary sorrowful mysteries) Mariette gets up in a hurry and makes her way to the garden gate. She proceeds towards the spring, kneeling at the same places as before. Coming in front of the bank she knees, leans forwards, plunges her hands into the water and then crosses herself with the cross of her rosary beads. The Virgin confides to her: “I comes to alleviate suffering, au revoir.” Then she leaves in her usual way.
SIXTH APPARITION. The Virgin does not return until Wednesday 15th February. This evening she presents herself once again to the enraptured gaze of the child who addresses her: “Blessed Virgin, the Chaplain told me to ask you for a sign.” The Virgin replies: “Believe in me, I will believe in you.” Then she entrusts the child with a secret. When about to leave, she adds: “Pray hard. Aux revoir.”
SEVENTH APPARITION. On Monday 20th February it snows, it is very cold. At the end of the second rosary, Mariette suddenly stretches out her arms and her prayer gets more rapid. The beautiful Lady has come become customary, leads the child to the spring. Mariette kneels in the same places and prays at each stop. At the spring, the Virgin smiling as usual, tells her: “My dear child, pray hard.” After this she ceases to smiles and before leaving says in a serious voice: “Au revoir.”
EIGHT APPARITION. Thursday 2nd March, the rain pours down in torrents. At the beginning of the third rosary, quite suddenly the rain stops, the sky grows clear, the stars sparkle. All of a sudden the child falls silent, stretches our her arms. The virgin appears to her for the eight and last time. She looks grave and does not smile. She says: I am the MOTHER OF THE SAVIOUR, MOTHER OF GOD.” Then with a certain look of sadness in her face, the Virgin gives her final advice. “Pray hard. Adieu.” In the course of these eight apparitions, the Blessed Virgin wishes to remind us of her special role in the mystery of salvation. It is she who conducts us to Jesus the Source of grace, arousing in us those dispositions of faith and prayer which are indispensable if we are to be united to HIM.
OFFICIAL RECOGNITION OF THE APPARITIONS
Twice, first in 1942 and then in 1947, we have officially recognized, though with certain reservation, the reality of the Apparitions at Banneux. Today, after further two years of prayer and careful investigation, we believe in conscience, that we can and must recognize without reservation this reality, that is, the reality of the Eight Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to Mariette Beco, which took place on the 15th, 18th 19th and 20thJanuary, the 11th, 15th and 20th February and the 2nd March, 1933. (Pastoral letter of Mgr. L.J. Kerkhofs, Bishop of Liege, 22nd August, 1949)
REFLECTIONS ON THE APPARITIONS
The apparitions at Banneux N.D. and the message of the Virgin Mary, seem to us to fit in, in a most extraordinary manner, both with the Gospel and with the life of the Church today.
The choice of a child from a very poor family, the location-the tiny unknown village of Banneux, above all the title given us by Our Lady herself “I am the Virgin of the Poor,” reveal this poverty, this simplicity, presented in such an astonishing way in the Gospels, and desired so ardently in the Church today, which loves to call herself “TheChurch of the Poor” and which always, in some part of the word, is in fact truly poor.
The insistence on frequent prayer (the thrice repeated “PRAY HARD”) repeats the recommendation of Jesus-Christ as emphasized above all in the Gospel of St. Luke. The church at the moment is questioning us on our prayer. Researches on the subject are being carried our in many dioceses. Our Lady’s simple request “I would like a little chapel” is a concrete expression of her stressing the value of deep prayer.
The Message is an invitation to universal love. “The spring is reserved for all nations.” In this post-conciliar Church, the spirituality of Banneux finds an echo of a fraternity extending to all nations to which the good news of salvation should be announced.
“This spring is reserved for all nations to relieve the sick.” “I come to alleviate suffering.” The sick and the suffering are the constant companions of Jesus in the Gospel. In all ages the Church has instituted works to come to their aid. Today, when other needs pre-occupy her, the church is called upon to examine in depth her mission with regard to them in the context of the mystery of Christ our Savior, of whom she is the messenger.
“Believe in me, I will believe in you” reechoes the words of Our Savior: “Abide in me and I will abide in you.” (John 15:4)
Meditating upon the words of Mary, we must give our attention to the invitation repeated four times, when she led the child to the spring and says to her: “Push your hands into the water; this spring is reserved for me.” Is not this gesture an allusion to the “Living water,” symbol of Jesus Christ, such as He disclosed to the Samaritan woman: “The water, which I will give you, will become a spring of water welling up into eternal life. (John 14:1), Paul VI (21/11/64) said: “The Virgin, who has given Christ, the source of grace, will know how to give to the Church a new force for the realization of her mission and for the salvation of the world.” Let us reflect upon the words which the Virgin said in a more serious voice” “I am the Mother of the Savior,Mother of God.” In this not the signature of the whole Message of the Virgin of the Poor? (Mgr. Kerkhofs – Notre-Dame de Banneux). We would not want to forget the loving words of the Virgin addressed to the child: “I will pray for you (personally) — goodnight – au revoir … adieu (goodbye)” – The Virgin also confided a secret to her.
Finally, the Virgin blessed the child on two different occasions. We can see in this gesture of Our Lady a sending forth on mission: go and proclaim to the whole world what I have confided to you.
The Story of Our Lady of the Poor of Baneux, Belgium