You know the Marian apparitions of Guadalupe and Lourdes, Fatima and the Miraculous Medal, but the Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared many other times and in many other places. Here are some approved apparitions you may not have heard of.
Our Lady of Laus
In May 1664, seventeen year old Benoite Rencurel saw a vision of St. Maurice near her home in Laus, France while she was tending sheep. He told her to move her flocks for fear of them being taken away and instructed her to a field where she would see the Blessed Virgin. Benoite first saw the Blessed Virgin on May 16 of that year in the place St. Maurice had said, and the Lady appeared with the Child but did not speak, though Benoite offered her some of her hard bread.
Over about 4 months, the Lady would come back every day and instruct Benoite in the faith and on August 29, finally revealed her name to be Mary. Mary instructed Benoite to go to Laus and find a chapel that would smell of sweet perfume. Benoite found the smell and the chapel of Notre Dame de Bon Recontre (the Annunciation) but it was in ruins. Our Lady told Benoite to have it reconstructed in honor of her Son and that many sinners would convert because of it, so Benoite had it done.
The heart of the message given to Benoite is for the conversion of souls by bringing them into full reconciliation with themselves, with others, and with God. Notable saints who have had a devotion to Our Lady of Laus are St. Eugene de Mazenod and St. Peter Julian Eymard. The apparition gained approval on May 5, 2008.
Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain
This is a really cool one! One January 17, 1871, at the height of the Franco-Prussian War, Our Lady appeared in the sky to four young children- brothers Eugene and Joseph Barbadette, Francois Richer, and Jeanne-Marie Lebosse- in the small town of Pontmain, which laid between the oncoming Prussian army and the city of Laval. Our Lady stayed with the children and gathered crowd for about three hours praying, singing, and clapping along with them.
That same night, the Prussian forces were just a few miles off, but miraculously stopped their advances! The next morning, the General of the Prussian forces is reported to have said, “We cannot go farther. Yonder, in the direction of Brittany, there is an invisible ‘Madonna’ barring the way.” A few days later, the Armistice was signed.
The apparition was given formal approval on February 2, 1872. Of the children visionaries, Joseph became a priest with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Eugene became a diocesan priest, Francois was Joseph’s housekeeper, and Jeanne-Marie became a nun.
Our Lady of Knock
On August 21, 1879, Our Lady, together with St. Joseph on her right and St. John the Evangelist preaching towards a depiction in the church of the Lamb of God on her right, appeared to a group of fifteen people in Knock, County Mayo, Ireland. The crowd stayed into the dark of night praying the rosary, but the figures were still visible like bright, white light. It had also begun to rain during the apparition, but the ground underneath where Our Lady, St. Joseph, and St. John stood remained dry, as did the three figures.
The apparition was given final approval in 1936 and both Pope St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta have visited the shrine.
Our Lady of Beauraing
On November 29, 1932, five children- Fernande, Gilberte, and Albert Voisin and Andree and Gilberte Degeimbre- in Beauraing, Belgium were walking home when they noticed a lady dressed in a long white dress near the railroad just passed their school. The lady said she was the Immaculate Conception and that she desired a chapel to be built there so that pilgrims could come, and implored the children to “pray, pray, pray”.
She appeared to them a total of 33 times, with the final apparition taking place on January 3, 1933. Final approval of the apparition was granted in 1949 and all five of the children grew up to be married and live quiet lives.
Our Lady of Banneux
Another apparition in Belgium, this one took place in 1933 and to a sole twelve-year-old girl, Mariette Beco. Mary revealed herself to Mariette as “Our Lady of the Poor” and appeared to her a total of twelve times.
One time, Our Lady asked Mariette to push her hands into the ground and draw forth a spring which would be for the healing and for all nations; the spring produces about 2000 gallons of water a day now and many miraculous healings have been reported because of it.
The apparition was given final approval in 1949 and Mariette decided to live a quiet life, eventually marrying. She died in 2011 at the age of 90 but in 2008, she gave a final word on her role in the apparitions: “I was no more than a postman who delivers the mail. Once this has been done, the postman is of no importance any more.”
Our Lady of Good Help of Green Bay
The Packers aren’t the only amazing thing about Wisconsin! In October 1859, Adele Brise, a 28 year old girl who had immigrated to Wisconsin from Belgium with her parents a few years earlier, reported seeing a woman in white standing between two trees; she prayed until the lady left and was implored to pray for the “poor soul” by her parents. The third time Adele saw the woman, the woman told her, “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same” and gave Adele the mission to “gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”
Adele spent the rest of her life teaching children, at first going house to house on foot before starting a small school. Eventually, some other women joined her in this work and formed a community according to the rule of the Third Order Franciscans, although Adele never took public vows as a nun.
On December 8, 2010, the apparition was given final approval, making it the first approved apparition in the United States, and on August 15, 2016, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops designated the shrine a national shrine and so it was renamed the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.