Statue of lady standing (Lady of Brussels), protodynastic, 2nd dynasty (around 2650 BCE), Saqqara (?), Limestone. Made with RealityCapture.
This exceptional woman statue, often described in literature as the Lady of Brussels, is one of the oldest testimonies of private stone sculpture in Egypt. The archaic treatment of the forms, among others the absence of the neck, makes it possible to date it from the end of the 2nd dynasty. The lady wears a heavy, finely woven wig and is dressed in a long, low-cut dress that reveals the shapes of her body. Although the origin of the statue is not known, it is probably a funerary statue from a necropolis of the capital, perhaps Saqqara. It is surprising that this woman of the elite is presented alone and not alongside her husband.
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Duchess of Richmonds Ball
On 15th June 1815, a ball took place in a coach house adjoining the Duke and Duchess of Richmond’s temporary home in Brussels. Known as the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball, it was to become one of the most famous parties in history.
Napoleon had escaped from exile on Elba and was now restored to power in France. The British and their Prussian allies had been gathering their forces ready for action ever since. The Duke of Richmond was in command of a reserve force in Brussels, tasked with protecting the city should Napoleon and the French Army invade.
The Duchess of Richmond asked the Duke of Wellington, in charge of the British forces, whether she might hold a ball despite the fluid situation. The Duke replied, “Duchess, you may give your ball with the greatest safety, without fear of interruption.” The Duchess decided on Thursday 15th June as the date for the ball.
However early on the 15th June, Napoleon and his forces crossed the border from France into Belgium.
In the afternoon, the Duke of Wellington received news that Napoleon was on the move and put the army on alert. It may seem odd that such a grand ball, with the Duke of Wellington as one of the guests of honour, was not cancelled at such a perilous time. However Wellington wanted to give the French spies and sympathisers in Brussels the impression that for the British and their Prussian allies, all was as usual.
Princes, ambassadors, members of the aristocracy, generals and officers of the Duke of Wellington’s army had all been invited to the ball. The evening was warm, the coach house decorated with swags of silver and gold, and soon the cream of Brussels society began to arrive. The Duchess had arranged for Gordon Highlanders to entertain her guests with sword dances and reels, and the ball was a glittering affair.
The main topic of conversation amongst the crowd was the rumour that the French were advancing. When Wellington arrived late to the ball, this seemed to confirm it.
17-year-old Lady Georgiana Lennox was dancing as the Duke arrived she immediately went up to him and asked if what she had heard was true. Wellington confirmed that indeed the army was to march early the following morning.
Just before supper, a dispatch arrived for the 23-year-old Prince of Orange, commander of the Dutch-Belgian army, with the news that their Prussian allies had been engaged by Napoleon’s army which had advanced across the Sambre River at Charleroi.
Wellington was now convinced that the attack on Charleroi was Napoleon’s main advance and ordered the Prince and the Duke of Brunswick to return to the field immediately, although he himself stayed on for supper, apparently at ease with the company and fairly relaxed.
A further report from the Prince of Orange left the Duke shocked at the speed of Napoleon’s advance. Immediately after supper, Wellington retired to his host’s study to discuss the situation with his officers. Napoleon had attacked from the east rather than from the west as the Duke had anticipated. Fearing his troops would not be able to stop Napoleon’s advance at Quatre Bras, Wellington identified the small village of Waterloo as the place where he would make a stand.
The ball was beginning to unravel. Officers and men were leaving mothers, wives and girlfriends cried, embraced and waved their menfolk off to fight. Some didn’t even take the time to change and went off to battle in their knee-breeches and dancing pumps.
The Battle of Quatre Bras took place the following day, 16th June. During that night and the next day Wellington’s forces at Quatre Bras withdrew to just south of Waterloo, where they were joined by the Prussians. On Sunday 18th June, one of the most important battles in British history was fought: Waterloo.
The Duchess of Richmond’s event, as a ball, was a disaster. Although the evening had begun with dancing, music and romance, it had quickly changed into a night of tearful goodbyes. Over the next few days and before victory was finally achieved at the Battle of Waterloo, eleven of the Duchess of Richmond’s guests would be dead, including Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton, the Duke of Brunswick, Lord Hay, Sir Alexander Gordon and Sir William Ponsonby.
The ball has been immortalised in paintings, on screen and in literature, including Thackery’s Vanity Fair, Sir Walter Scott‘s Paul’s Letters to his Kinsfolk, Georgette Heyer’s An Infamous Army and Bernard Cornwell’s Waterloo, part of the Sharpe series.
‘There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium’s capital had gathered then
Her Beauty and her Chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o’er fair women and brave men
A thousand hearts beat happily and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell
But hush! Hark! A deep sound strikes like a rising knell!…
…Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne’er might be repeated who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star
While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering, with white lips—‘The foe! They come! they come!’’
The Eve of Waterloo from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by Lord Byron
Before Waterloo: what happened at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball?
The Duchess of Richmond's soirée on 15 June 1815 might have been lost to time – had it not fallen just days before the climactic battle of Waterloo. Felicity Day explores that fateful night – featured in Julian Fellowes's drama Belgravia…
This competition is now closed
Published: March 16, 2020 at 6:05 am
If it wasn’t for the chaos caused by an uninvited and most unwelcome guest, the Duchess of Richmond’s ball on 15 June 1815 would have been just another high society party in history. But since it was held in Brussels on the very day that Napoleon’s troops stormed into what is present-day Belgium, it became the stuff of legend, forever remembered as the glamorous prologue to the horrors of the battlefield at Waterloo.
There’s no doubt that the highly romanticised fictional accounts of writers like Lord Byron and William Thackeray played their part in that. But just how much did they embellish the events of that fateful evening?
Well for a start, the duchess – Charlotte Lennox – never intended her ball as a farewell for departing soldiers it was just one of many parties and picnics entertaining genteel British expatriates and army officers alike that summer. Lady Conyngham had held a similar gathering the previous evening, and the Duke of Wellington had one planned for the 21st. It was by accident rather than design that the duchess’s party found its way into the history books.
The story really begins more than a year earlier in March 1814, when Napoleon’s troops in Paris surrendered to Britain’s allies. The self-proclaimed emperor was forced to abdicate, and was swiftly exiled to Elba. With that, more than 20 years of recurrent war in Europe were over, and the long-awaited peace brought swathes of the British fashionable elite to the continent.
Brussels was a particular tourist hotspot. It was partly because British regiments remained in the city. Families and friends of army officers came over to join them, jumping at the chance to holiday abroad again. But Brussels also owed its popularity to affordability. It was the perfect retreat for aristocrats feeling the pinch – not too far from home, cheaper than war-weary Britain and, being a garrison town, it had a lively social scene, with its own pleasure park, horse-racing, hunting and cricket. Like many of their friends, the Richmonds came over “on an Economical Plan”.
When Napoleon made his unexpected escape from Elba in February 1815, the shockwaves rippled through their merry community. Very quickly Brussels was at the centre of military operations again: by early April, the Duke of Wellington had arrived to take command of a combined Anglo-Dutch force, and joining him were ever-increasing numbers of officers and troops. Yet, surprisingly, few civilians chose to leave. One military wife commented (with just a touch of disapproval) that they seemed to consider the army’s arrival as the commencement of a series of entertainments.
And certainly, as spring turned to summer, there seemed to be no immediate threat to their safety. Expectations were all for an Allied invasion of France, sometime towards the beginning of July. So by day, the assembled officers drilled and inspected the troops, keeping a close eye on Bonaparte’s movements. And by night, the social round continued – all with the encouragement of their leader.
“Tho’ I have given some pretty good reasons for supposing that hostilities will soon commence, yet no one wd suppose it judging by the Duke of Wn,” wrote Spencer Madan, tutor to the Richmonds’ younger sons, on 13 June. “He … gives a ball every week, attends every party and partakes of every amusement.” There was certainly a determination to Wellington’s nonchalance it suited him to let Napoleon’s spies report that the Allies were relaxed about the battles to come.
But as the city began to buzz with rumours that Napoleon’s forces were close to the border, the Duchess of Richmond grew uneasy about the ball she had planned. The Iron Duke reassured her unequivocally. “Duchess,” he said, “you may give your ball with the greatest safety without fear of interruption.”
Privately, however, he had concerns. The call to battle was not as unexpected as the fictional accounts might have us believe – for either Wellington or his forces. By 5pm on the 15 June, some five hours before the Richmonds’ first guests arrived, the Duke knew that Napoleon had invaded. His troops were put on standby for a rapid move. His officers, however, were permitted to attend the ball. It was too late to stop it without causing widespread panic.
Yet as they changed into their dress uniforms, the unmistakable sound of cannon fire could be heard in the distance the officers knew an engagement was imminent. And as they went off to sip champagne and waltz with the ladies, more news was coming in. Their Prussian allies had been engaged in intense fighting with the French. In fact, the town of Charleroi, to the south of Brussels, had been in French hands since noon. Wellington ordered his troops to assemble, ready to march out in the early hours. He came to the ballroom sometime around midnight, not to socialise, but as a last act of reassurance for his civilian friends.
The sight that greeted him was not quite as glamorous as paintings of the event suggest, with their gilded interiors and sea of scarlet uniforms. Being one of the last families to arrive in Brussels, the Richmonds had been forced to rent a house on the Rue de la Blanchisserie, an unfashionable street so-named because it was home to a laundry business. Built by a coachbuilder, their property came complete with two cavernous wings that had once served as showrooms for his various carriages. One of these, papered with a simple rose trellis pattern, was their makeshift ballroom – not the grand Hôtel de Ville, as Byron and other battlefield tourists were led to believe.
Fewer than half of their guests were military men. The Duchess invited 238 people in all, but only 103 of them were uniformed officers. They were easily outnumbered by a combination of British, and Dutch aristocrats, diplomats and relations of the Richmonds. And a number of military invitees actually stayed away, either by choice – favouring preparation over partying – or because the rapidly developing operational situation detained them. Newlywed Colonel Sir William de Lancey was one. Wrenched from his honeymoon to act as Wellington’s deputy quartermaster-general, he was entirely occupied by logistical preparations that night.
What’s no exaggeration, however, is the speed with which the party soon broke up. The arrival of a mud-splattered messenger, just as supper was ending, put an abrupt end to the drinking and dancing: he brought news that the French were advancing towards Brussels.
A mass exodus of officers followed: in all conscience, they could delay joining their regiments no longer. “I became aware of a great preponderance of ladies in the room,” recalled Lady Jane Lennox, the Duchess’s daughter. “The gallant uniforms had sensibly diminished.” As the shocked civilians processed the news, the strains of the waltz gave way to the sounds of an army on the move: artillery wagons rolling, drums and bugles sounding, and cavalry horses clattering over the cobbles. Lady Jane’s dance partners went flying through the night on horseback. Some really would go dancing into battle, having had no time to change out of their finery.
Belgravia: an invitation to the ball
The most recent Waterloo-era programme to hit TV screens is ITV’s six-part drama Belgravia. The brainchild of Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, the period drama – due to start in early Spring – is set amongst the upper echelons of 19th-century London society. The story begins on 15 June 1815, as British society – including the Trenchard family – attend the Duchess of Richmond’s ball on the eve of the battle of Quatre Bras, an event that presaged a dramatic chain of events…
The Duchess of Richmond was apparently rendered hysterical – blocking the exit and pleading with her guests to “wait one little hour more”. But there are few reports of the kind of heartbreaking lovers’ partings the Victorians imagined when another of the Duchess’s daughters, Lady Georgiana Lennox, bid farewell to her friend, the young Lord Hay, she was provoked by his obvious excitement. Probably the most sorrowful of all the goodbyes actually took place away from the ballroom. Colonel de Lancey and his new bride Magdalene watched the troops marching out of the city together as the Sun came up, before he charged her to retreat to Antwerp.
Wellington slipped away from the ball without a farewell – though not before making a request of the Duke of Richmond. He wanted a map. It was while the two men pored over it together that Wellington is said to have confessed: “Napoleon has humbugged me, by God, he has gained 24 hours march on me.” Asked how he intended to react, Wellington replied that he had ordered the army to concentrate at Quatre Bras, a crossroads 25 miles outside Brussels.
“We shall not stop him there, and, if so, I must fight him here” – pointing, as he spoke, to the village of Waterloo. And in that moment, the conversation of the two Dukes bridged the gulf between the brilliant ballroom of the past few hours and the bloody battlefield yet to come.
What happened at the battle of Quatre Bras?
The fighting at Quatre Bras the following day was intense but inconclusive. So close was the battlefield to Brussels that some officers rode back after the initial skirmish to eat and sleep. Covered in dirt, they had little good news for the anxious civilians, who were left unsure whether to make a hasty retreat. But 17 June did not bring a French attack as many feared. Pouring into the streets instead were the dead and injured Allied soldiers. After months of frivolous partying, Brussels’ British community was put to work tending the wounded as the city became an open-air hospital.
As Wellington had predicted, Quatre Bras was the precursor to the fierce battle that followed at Waterloo on the 18th. Despite suffering 23,000 casualties (killed or wounded), the Allies emerged victorious. Napoleon abdicated again on the 22nd and was exiled once more, this time to St Helena.
Within a matter of weeks, the Duchess’s ball began to be shrouded in myth. One correspondent described it as “a sort of farewell ball”, another lamented “all the young men who appeared there shot dead a few days after”. In fact, only 11 of the Duchess’s nearly 100 military guests died on the battlefield. The excitable Lord Hay was one of them. One more died later of his wounds, and another 35 were injured. Colonel de Lancey was also mortally wounded after being struck by a ricocheting cannon ball, his wife made a widow just three months after their marriage.
LISTEN: Melvyn Bragg discusses Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington in an episode of In Our Time.
Felicity Day is a freelance writer specialising in the history of the Georgian era.
Duchess of Richmond’s Ball History
The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball was held in Brussels on 15 June 1815, the night before the Battle of Quatre Bras. The Duchess’s husband, Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond, was in command of a reserve force in Brussels, which was protecting that city in case Napoleon Bonaparte invaded. In Wellington: The Years of the Sword, Elizabeth Longford described it as ‘the most famous ball in history’. The ball was certainly a brilliant affair, at which ‘with the exception of three generals’, every officer high in Wellington’s army was there to be seen.
At the time of the Ball, no accurate record was kept of where the ballroom was. In a letter to The Times, which was published on 25 August 1888, Sir William Fraser reported that he had discovered the likely room. It was not part of the principal property that the Duke of Richmond had rented on the rue des Cendres, but was a coach house that backed onto the property and had an address in the next street, rue de la Blanchisserie. The room had dimensions of 36m long, 17m broad and about 4m high (the low ceiling being a case where reality impinged on one meaning of Lord Byron’s artistic allusion to ‘that high hall’).
|‘The original ball- room, situated on the ground floor of the Richmonds’ rented house in the rue de la Blanchissserie, had been transformed into a glittering palace with rose-trellised wallpaper, rich tent-like draperies and hangings in the royal colours of crimson, gold and black … Morale-building, duty, convenience – they all played their part in getting Wellington at the ball.’ (Longford)|
|Patronesse of honour, the Duchess of Kent attends the 1995 version of the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball held in the Salle de Tissage next to the Cinquantenaire Museums in Brussels. The Duchess speaks to the UK Ambassador, John Gray, and his wife, Anthoula|
|HRH the Duchess of Kent meets members of the Lions Club of Brussels Heraldic, Mel Andrews and Terry Davidson, at the 1995 Duchess of Richmond’s Ball.|
|An earlier version of the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball held in the British Ambassador’s residence on 15 June 1965 with Prince Albert and Princess Paola (later King and Queen) of Belgium.|
Extracts from : Wellington: The Years of the Sword , Elizabeth Longford, 1969
The most famous ball in history was the climax of Wellington’s psychological warfare which always involved ‘pleasure as usual’. The question of holding it or not had first come up in May.
‘Duke,’ said the Duchess of Richmond one day, ‘I do not wish to pry into your secrets … I wish to give a ball, and all I ask is, may I give my ball? If you say, “Duchess, don’t give your ball”, it is quite sufficient, I ask no reason.’
‘Duchess, you may give your ball with the greatest safety, without fear of interruption.’ At that date, indeed, the Duke had intended to give a ball himself on 21 June, the second anniversary of the battle of Vitoria. Operations were not expected to begin before 1 July …
That very afternoon [the day of the ball] there had been a close run thing, though a small one, at Quatre Bras. Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimer with 4,000 infantry and eight guns had occupied on his own initiative the empty crossroads at Quatre Bras and had easily driven off 1,700 French skirmishers unsupported by artillery … Neither Ney nor Wellington knew anything of the crisis which had come and gone. Ney, only just recalled by Napoleon to his post from having been rusticated in the country, was still getting his bearings. All Wellington knew was that the Prince of Orange, who was now dancing at the ball, had reported all quiet on the Nivelles-Namur chaussée earlier in the day.
A convenient camouflage and ready-made rendezvous
It has often been asked why Wellington did not cancel the ball at 3 p.m. instead of going to hear the fiddlers while Rome burned … Apart from Wellington’s extreme sensitivity to the chances of a stab in the back, his place was in Brussels. Having at last redirected his whole army towards Quatre Bras, nothing more remained for him to do that night. He was personally to lead out the reserve in the morning. Orders had still to be distributed among officers in Brussels and personal interviews held. Why not under the convenient camouflage and at the ready-made rendezvous of a ball? This was to be Wellington’s explanation to his friends during later post-mortems of Waterloo …
Morale-building, duty, convenience – they all played their part in getting Wellington at the ball. Why not admit that the Irish devil in him wanted to go? He would go and see ‘those fellows’ damned …
The ball-room, situated on the ground floor of the Richmonds’ rented house in the rue de la Blanchissserie, had been transformed into a glittering palace with rose-trellised wallpaper, rich tent-like draperies and hangings in the royal colours of crimson, gold and black, and pillars wreathed in ribbons, leaves and flowers. Byron’s ‘lamps’ were the most magnificent chandeliers and the list of chivalry, if not beauty, was headed by H.R.H. the Prince of Orange, G.C.B. All the ambassadors, generals and aristocrats and dashing young officers were present …
Like a hive someone had kicked
Wellington arrived ‘rather late’ at the entrance, where streams of light poured through the open windows into the warm streets and over the thronged carriages. In the ball-room, those officers whose regiments were at any distance were already beginning to slip away quietly. The seventeen-year-old Lady Georgiana Lennox was dancing … She immediately broke off and went up to Wellington to ask whether the rumours were true …
‘Yes they are, we are off tomorrow.’ As this terrible news (Georgiana’s words) rapidly circulated, the ball-room was like a hive someone had kicked: an excited buzz arose from all the tables and elegantly draped embrasures.
… Lady Dalrymple-Hamilton, who sat for some time beside Wellington on a sofa, was struck by his preoccupied and anxious expression beneath the assumed gaiety. ‘Frequently, in the middle of a sentence he stopped abruptly and called to some officer, giving him directions, in particular to the Duke of Brunswick and Prince of Orange who both left the ball before supper’ [she later recalled to Sir Herbert Maxwell]. But even the lady on the sofa did not suspect the degree of drama with which the Prince of Orange’s departure was attended.
A lesser man would have fled
Shortly before supper … a dispatch was brought in … from Quatre Bras for the Prince of Orange. The message, dated about 10 p.m. that night, announced the repulse of Prussian forces from Fleurus on the road north-east of Charleroi, and less than eight miles as the crow flies from Quatre Bras. As soon as Wellington had read this enlightening but grim piece of news he recommended the prince to miss supper and return straight to his headquarters in the field.
… Wellington kept up an animated and smiling conversation for twenty minutes more, when a lesser man would have fled.
… At last, the necessary interval was up and Wellington turned casually towards the Duke of Richmond.
‘I think it is time for me to go to bed likewise …’ The party rose and moved into the hall.
Wellington: The Years of the Sword
The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball
Dancing into Battle: A Social History of The Battle of Waterloo
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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.
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
Her husband is Heiko von der Leyen, a medicine professor and the CEO of a medical engineering company.
Together they have seven children, born between 1987 and 1999.
The family are Lutheran members of the Evangelical Church of Germany.
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Beauraing, Belgium: The Virgin of the Golden Heart
Beauraing is a small village only three miles from the French border. Our Lady appeared to five children ranging in age from 9 to 15: Fernande, Gilberte, Albert, Andrew, and Gilbert in 33 apparitions beginning on November 29, 1932, until the final one on January 3, 1933. She asked for prayer and sacrifice and promised to bring people to conversion. On December 4, 1932, Our Lady identified herself to the children, saying: ‘I am the Immaculate Virgin.’
She is known as the “Virgin of the Golden Heart” because the children saw a golden heart in the center of her chest. She requested that a chapel be built here and that she desired pilgrims to come to this site, and also asked the children to “pray, pray, pray”. On January 3, 1933, she said to Andrew, ‘I am the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. Pray always!’
In the final vision, the Lady reportedly asked one of the children called Fernande: “Do you love My Son?” and she replied “Yes”. She then asked her “Do you love Me?” and she again answered “Yes”. The Lady then stated: “Then sacrifice yourself for me.” and bid them farewell before the child could reply.
On February 10, 2015 the last of the visionaries, Gilberte Degeimbre, passed away at the age of 91.
The Crown and the True History of Princess Margaret's Doomed Romance
The Crown, Netflix’s new series about the life of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, is anything but subtle. Indeed, the show is rumored to have cost more than $100 million to produce &mdash which would be a record for the streaming service &mdash and not a penny appears to have been spared in the production design.
However, viewers many notice that often major historical occurrences are hinted at, rather than made explicit.
A prime example of this is the burgeoning relationship between the Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret (portrayed by Vanessa Kirby), and Peter Townsend (Ben Miles). Townsend, who was more than a decade older than Margaret, was a hero of the Battle of Britain and an equerry to her father, King George VI. He was also a married man with two children. But, while their relationship started off subtly in real life too, it was soon unavoidable public knowledge.
The pair shocked gossips at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, the year after Townsend had obtained a divorce, when Margaret was seen brushing a piece of dust from his jacket.
“It was understandable that the gossips had overlooked slim, personable Group Captain Peter Wooldridge Townsend, even though his picture had been appearing in the papers alongside Margaret for years,” a contemporaneous TIME article read. “The gossip columnists who had long sought to probe the secrets of the princess‘ heart simply forgot the Holmesian precept that the most easily overlooked clue is often the most obvious one.”
The prospect that Margaret might wed a divorced man led to public uproar&mdashwhich only intensified with the news that the Townsend had suddenly been sent off to Belgium, away from Margaret, by the Queen’s private secretary. “British tongues were wagging over the announcement that R.A.F. Group Captain Peter Townsend… had been transferred from the royal household to the post of air attaché in Brussels,” TIME reported in 1953. “British newshens clucked and asked if that was why the Princess looked so sad and wan in her latest pictures from Africa.”
When Townsend returned to London two years later, Margaret was 25 and no longer required her sister’s permission to marry. But she soon was informed by Parliament that marriage to Townsend would require that she surrender her royal income, renounce her claim to the throne and leave England for at least five years. She decided to give him up, issuing a famous statement: “Mindful of the Church’s teaching that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before any others.”
After she died in 2002, TIME remarked that she “rebounded smartly” from the ordeal, going on to collect “a circle of posh friends &mdash including the actor Peter Sellers, with whom she spent long evenings around the piano with a cigarette holder and cocktail shaker &mdash and made a second home on the Caribbean island of Mustique. A 1960 marriage to photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, later Lord Snowdon, ended in divorce in 1978. But before it did, she carried on a five-year caprice with landscape gardener Roddy Llewellyn, who was 17 years younger.”
She was also described as “the first Diana, always struggling to play by her own rules,” in her obituary.
“Margaret‘s place in history was assured,” the article continued. “No doubt she was a woman made miserable by the confines of royalty. She also made merry within them.”
Lady of Brussels - History
When it comes to Mary’s many titles, a lot of them use the adjective good or refer to her help. Each title of Mary is unique, and has its own history. None of the devotions are the same. To distinguish these titles of Mary, I’d like to offer brief snippets of the historical origin of each title, thereby making clear the history of Our Lady of Good Help, as set apart from the other various “Good” and “helping” titles of Mary.
Our Lady of Good Health- A title associated with a Marian apparition to a young boy in the 16 th or 17h century in Velankanni, India. Beyond the apparition, perhaps people called upon Mary with this title asking her to intercede in times of sickness.
Our Lady of Good Hope – The 19 th century apparitions of Mary in Pontmain, France are known as Our Lady of Hope, but not Good Hope. A devotion to Mary exists under the title “Nuestra Senora Esperanza” and is oftentimes modified with the word “buena” translating to Our Lady of Good Hope. The Spanish devotion centers around the Virgin Mary and the Advent season, in which the Christian people are given hope by the birth of the savior. As mentioned earlier, also the name of a parish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, I did not have time to contact the parish to ask about their parish’s namesake.
Our Lady of Good Counsel – The image of Our Lady of Good Counsel is often associated with some book covers of St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. The image of Mary miraculously appeared in a Genazzano church in 1467.
Our Lady of Good Success – A title of Mary rooted in two different cultures. The first dates to the 1400s in Belgium where a statue from Scotland (formerly called Our Lady of Aberdeen) quickly became known as Our Lady of Good Success, winning the conversion of Calvinists to Catholicism. A second emergence of Our Lady of Good Success arises out of Ecuador in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s following apparitions of Mary received by a Conceptionist nun named Mother Mariana. People devoted to Our Lady of Good Success, like Matthew Arnold, have suggested remarkable similarities between the words Mary spoke then and our culture today.
Our Lady, Help of Christians– The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is not the only National Shrine in the Wisconsin dedicated to a helping title of Mary. The Carmelite friars at Holy Hill serve the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians in Hubertus, Wisconsin. Historically this title of Mary was promoted by St. John Bosco and the Salesian order. The title dates back as far as St. John Chrysostom, and spread during the time in which Our Lady’s assistance was invoked by Christians during war. St. John Bosco constructed a basilica in Turin to Mary under this title.
Our Lady (or Mother) of Perpetual Help – This title of Mary is associated with one of the most popular icons of Mary, in which two angels hover around Mary and the Christ-child with the instruments of the passion. The icon hung in various churches over the years and today the Redemptorist order promotes this devotion and has custody of the Church in which it is enshrined. The image has been venerated by countless pilgrims and has also received the attention of many popes throughout history.
Our Lady of Prompt Succor – A title of Mary associated with the Ursuline order and venerated by Catholics in New Orleans. Today her intercession is invoked against storms.
Who is Our Lady of Good Help?
Sanctuaries to Notre Dame de Bon Secours can be traced as early as the eleventh century by oral tradition, or to the 13th century in the historical record. The popularization of this title arises out of Mary’s assistance to those who call upon her, especially in 1477 when the Duke of Lorraine, Rene II, defeated Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, during the Battle of Nancy. In Nancy, France, this victory prompted the building of a chapel to Our Lady of Good Help.
Devotion to Our Lady of Good Help exists principally in France and Belgium, but made its way to North America, to Canada and the United States. In France, there are at least four basilicas, six churches, and seven chapels dedicated to this tile of Mary. Within the devotional cult to Bon Secours, we find the origination of the pilgrimage church, accompanied by the prayers and hymns pilgrims recited and sung. And each devotional center possesses a statue of Mary, niched away in a quiet place of prayer for the pilgrims who seek Mary’s intercession. Presumably, from France, the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Good Help in Montreal, founded by St. Marguerite Bourgeoys in 1657, takes its inspiration.
The Belgian people also honor Mary under this title. In Belgium, the principal site of devotion dates to 1637 with a basilica constructed on the location of “Mary between two oak trees” in Peruwelz. Adele Brise, the Wisconsin visionary, born in the province of Brabant (Dion le Val), in Belgium, lived approximately 100 kilometers from Peruwelz. There are, at least, two other churches to Bon Secours in Belgium, Zetrund-Lumay (22 km) and Brussels (39 km). In the Church of St. Steven, in Ohain, 20 kilometers from Dion le Val, the faithful venerate a statue of Bon Secours from the 1700s. We know from the chapel’s commemorating the apparitions received by Brise, that she herself had a devotion to Mary under this title. Around Dion Le Val, the Belgian people erected roadside chapels to house a statue of the Madonna. Passersby would stop and pray briefly in front of the image. Wherever they went, on the street corners or in the fields, they would find the Bon Secours, and offer an Ave.
The cult of Our Lady of Good Help originating in Europe, called upon Mary for help during the time of Revolution, war, plague, pestilence, and in the organic development of the cult, took on a unique maritime devotion. The devotion to Our Lady of Good Help existed long before the 1859 apparitions received by Brise, in which, Mary does not reveal herself as the Lady of Good Help, but instead as the Queen of Heaven. The only semblance of help, spoken of by the Queen of Heaven, were her parting words, “go, and fear nothing, I will help you.” Adele relied on the intercession of Mary throughout her years of service in the Lord’s vineyard. This help came through answered prayers when food or money was needed and just happened to show up. Locals received helped on the night of October 8, 1871, when a fire threatened the area of the chapel, and people flocked there seeking Mary’s help. The property was spared and lives were saved, all this being realized on the morning of the 12th anniversary of Mary’s apparition. To this day, pilgrims receive help from Mary as they seek her intercession for miracles in their lives.
Each title of Mary with reference to its modifier good, or the help Mary provides, has a unique history, and each devotion is different. All these titles of Mary might leave her devotees confused, especially when you talk about Perpetual Help, Good Hope, Good Health, and Good Help, among others. As we celebrate another anniversary since Mary spoke to Adele Brise in 1859, I hope you will consider making a pilgrimage to this special place in Wisconsin and the only place of its kind in the United States, where Mary still offers her good help to those who seek her intercession. But when you enter it into your phone app or GPS, make sure you head to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, otherwise you might get lost, and need to call upon her help to find her shrine.
image: By Jazmin Million from North America (Slice of life.) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Now its onwards to the sprawling Cinquantenaire Park and to greet a lucky statue of man’s best friend. The story goes that rubbing the paws of Le Chien will bring good fortune, and the excessive petting this pooch has experienced clearly shows on his smooth bronze legs.
At this point you can lie down on the stretched-out lawns of the Cinquantenaire for a well-deserved rest, or ride on to see the last of Tom Frantzen’s extraordinary sculptures in neighborhood Tervuren. Not one to shy away from a politically tinged message – just think of his gas-masked Angel of Purification in Ghent, raging against mankind’s insidious pollution – The Congo I Presume was the Brusselaar‘s contribution to the Royal Museum for Central Africa (currently closed for renovations) and a reminder of the nation’s colonizing past. Then again, his merry posse of animal musicians (the Banundu Water Jazz Band)brings an unexpected levity to the Palais des Colonies.