Mary’s Message for Belgium: Beauraing and Banneux

With a heavy heart, I learned of the terrorist attacks in Brussels that occurred yesterday, March 22.  Belgium is a country that found a place in my heart after I visited that great nation in January 2015.  Among the reasons why I journeyed to Belgium is that lot of my research has focused on one particular Belgian woman named Adele Brise, who immigrated to the United States and then, in 1859, received three apparitions of the Queen of Heaven. I traced Adele’s footsteps in Belgium as I visited the places pertinent to her life, but I was also there to research an obscure devotion to Mary, as well as to better understand the Marian devotions of Belgium.

I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the two great Marian shrines of Belgium, Beauraing and Banneux, where Mary had appeared in 1932 and 1933 respectively. In Mary’s apparitions at these two places she appeared to children and delivered very simple messages. Yet, these were profound messages that are not merely for those living in 1930’s Belgium and Mary’s words can still inspire people today. Mary gave a message to Belgium and now—in this time of mourning—it is time to revisit those messages.

Our Lady of Beauraing

In the village of Beauraing, Mary appeared thirty three times between November 29, 1932 and January 3, 1933 to the Degeimbre and Voisin children.  The messages Mary spoke to the children were to encourage them to be good and to also pray often.

Many have seen Beauraing as a continuation of Fatima for a few reasons. First, Mary appeared in Fatima during the World War I and Beauraing occurred several years before World War II.  So it was that during The Second World War, Beauraing was a sanctuary of prayer that many flocked to during that bloody conflict.  Secondly, Mary revealed her heart to the children, as a golden heart. During Mary’s apparitions at Fatima in 1917, she requested that the children pray the rosary for peace in the world and she also emphasized devotion to her Immaculate heart.

The message of Beauraing rings loud today for the Belgian people in the midst of secularism and terrorism.  Mary wanted people to pray often and always.  Surely, in light of the recent attacks, there are reasons to pray: for those who died; for those who were injured; for law enforcement and emergency personnel; for those who carried out the attacks, and for peace in the world. Speaking to Fernand, one of the children, Mary asked her, “Do you love my son? Do you love me? Well then, sacrifice yourself for me.” A good challenge for us in our own prayer is to make sacrifices so that the will of God may reign in our world and then His peace can rule in all of us. We can sacrifice ourselves most especially by fasting. It is those times when we pray and make sacrifices that we may see the fulfillment of the promise of Our Lady of Beauraing, declared to Gilberte Voisin: “I [Mary] will convert sinners.”

Conversion is at the heart of every apparition of Mary and our society needs conversion. The very hearts of terrorists need conversion so they will not take innocent life. We also need conversion to turn to God and to be persistent in our prayer.

One of the descriptions given about Our Lady of Beauraing stated that she smiled often during her apparition.  Mary wants to smile on us, her children, when we strive to “be good” and to pray often.  I can only imagine that the smile of Mary has turned to sadness over the secularization of Belgium and the recent terrorist attacks. Let us then renew our prayerful efforts  so that Mary can smile, once more, over the conversion of sinners.

Our Lady of Banneux

Nearly a fortnight following the conclusion of Mary’s apparitions in Beauraing, an eleven year old girl name Mariette Beco received eight visits from Mary beginning on January 15 and ending on March 2, 1933.  Due to the closeness in time of Beco’s claims and the end of the Beauraing apparitions, many thought Beco was making the apparitions up.  But these doubts would soon subside.  Just as Beauraing was seen as a continuation of Fatima, Banneux could be seen as a renewal of the message of Lourdes.  Mary appeared in similar dress as she did at Lourdes, with a blue sash, and dedicated a spring of water to healing.  Unlike Lourdes, the spring of water already existed, and was not ‘miraculously’ discovered.

Mary told Mariette that the spring was set apart for her (Mary), for all the nations, and for the sick.  Again, similar to Beauraing, Mary makes a bold claim in Banneux where she said, “I come to relieve the sick” and “I come to relieve suffering.”  Further, Mary told Mariette, “Have faith in me…I shall trust you…pray earnestly.”

The message of Banneux can console us in wake of what has happened in Belgium. The Belgian people are suffering right now in many ways. They are suffering from their decisions to contradict morality and a loss of faith but, even more so, they are presently suffering in the midst of turmoil and death caused by the recent attacks.  But Mary has come to relieve that suffering.  And it seems that the key to such relief would be doing what she asked Mariette to do: to pray earnestly and with endurance.

Mary’s message in Banneux is one of healing.  She wants people to experience this healing in their hearts.  Violence and strife causes wounds, such as anger and hatred, to fester within but Mary wants us to experience a great healing of these afflictions.  She wants us to have faith that all of this will pass, and God’s healing and peace will reign in our time.

Praying for Conversion and Peace

Our society has turned away from God in many ways. We mock the laws of God and give license to sin.  Now is the time for us to turn ourselves back to God.  Over and over again, Mary asks her children for conversion. Yes, that means the conversion of those who perform such hateful acts as we witnessed in the new reports, but it also means our conversion.  There is an absence of peace in our world and in our hearts.  In these tumultuous times, it behooves us to listen to what Mary said back in 1932 and 1933 to six children. Even in Belgium, Mary’s words of motherly concern never grow old.

Pray for peace in the world.  Pray for the conversion of sinners.  Pray for healing.  The best way to do this, if you ask me, is to pray the rosary.  That’s what Mary asked in 1917 at Fatima and it seems to be a prayer which pleases God.

Mary, Mother of God, the Immaculate Virgin, Queen of Heaven, pray for our world.  Grant us, what we ask, the grace of conversion and healing.

Our Lady of Beauraing, Pray for Belgium. Pray for us.

Our Lady of Banneux, Pray for Belgium. Pray for us.

image: Madonna de Banneux by Dries Declercq / Wikimedia Commons

Fr. Edward Looney

By

Fr. Edward Looney was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin on June 6, 2015.  A member of the Mariological Society of America, Fr. Looney publishes regularly on Marian topics, including the approved 1859 Wisconsin apparition.  He is the author of the best-selling rosary devotional, A Rosary Litany and his latest book is A Heart Like Mary’s: 31 Daily Meditations published by Ave Maria Press.  You can also follow Fr. Edward on Twitter,Facebook,Instagram, or Soundcloud

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  • Jane Ellen Hautanen

    I enjoyed Belgium, too, even though it was mostly a throughway to the East or West. Prayers.

  • Adam Hovey

    Okay so I have a direct link not so much with Belgium, although two of my mother’s Brothers my uncles are adopted and I think they are both 100% Belgian and their families actually came from Belgium. I do however have a link with our lady of the Bannaeux. There is near Chattanooga Tennessee I went there with my sister it’s under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Knoxville a shrine to the virgin of the poor. Go there and check it out it needs some repairs so if you can help out with that please do

  • I know that the devotion to Banneux spread throughout the world. Next time I’m in Tennessee I’ll have to visit!

  • W K Simpson

    Thank you for Banneux write up. Once did a harrowing cycle trip across traffic ridden Belgium to Banneux and Beauraing. Prayer given to Marie Beco and said every evening at the shrine;
    Blessed Virgin of the Poor lead us to Jesus, the source of grace
    Blessed Virgin, save all the nations.
    Blessed Virgin of the Poor, alleviate suffering.
    Blessed Virgin of the Poor, relieve the sick.
    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 a lot.
    Blessed Virgin of the poor, bless us!
    Blessed Virgin of the poor, Mother of God, Mother of the Saviour, we thank you.

    Here in London, Peggy Palmer, RIP was a great devotee and did many vigils, and put a statue of Our Lady of Banneux in Walsingham village. Marie Hare continues to do pilgrimages to Banneux from London.

  • I can’t imagine cycling from Beauraing to Banneux. I drove it and that was enough for me!

    Thanks so much for sharing this litany! I do believe I have it on a prayer card in my Belgium travel box. Every night the rosary is prayed at 7pm in Banneux, and I’m assuming this prayer follows it.

  • Lynne O

    People have to know what sin is in order to denounce it and repent. Everyone seems to accept abortion, contraception, broken marriages, unmarried couples living together, homosexual relationships and marriage, etc. Priests either accept these practices or are unwilling to preach about them. Even the Pope has caused great confusion as to what is sinful and what isn’t. How do you get people to repent when they don’t see anything that is wrong?

  • Nicholas Jagneaux

    It is a plan of mine to make a walking pilgrimage from Beauraing to Banneux.

    My wife is from Barvaux sur Ourthe. I tried to make a walking pilgrimage from Barvaux to Beauraing one year. Because I had not done the appropriate strengthening exercices, my inexperienced legs gave out on my after lunch. I stopped to eat …. and then I just couldn’t walk any more. (To my shame) I had to call my wife to come pick me up and drive me the rest of the way.

    A couple of years later, on a return trip to Belgium, I did succeed in walking from Barvaux to Banneux. It was a GREAT pilgrimage.

    One day, I will do both, with a stopping point overnight in Barvaux, God willing. O.L. of Beauraing, pray for us. O.L. of Banneux, pray for us.

  • kirk

    Lynne- I agree with your opening line – “people have to know what is sin in order to denounce it and repent.” But, in some respects I have to ask why you include, ‘broken marriages’. I know – there is a sinful mindset among some that one can jump from one marriage to another and never a thought for the propriety of it. But, the majority of broken marriages are out of great suffering that simply cannot be fixed. To read that phrase among the things one must denounce and repent of, when the abuse suffered by one part or the other is really difficult to swallow. And to suggest that priests accept these, and are unwilling to preach about them, well I’m sure they hear the sad stories of these suffering individuals all the time – and do their best to help them find healing. It’s so easy to hang those scarlet letters when you’re on the winning side.

  • Proteios

    think about the causes. are the reasons for broken marriages caused by sin. Selfishness, addictions, or other more subtle features that manifest themselves in anger or violence to a spouse. It all tracks back to sin. I have a friend who seeks to separate his divorce from the more obvious sins like abortion, etc. simply because it impacts him and he doesn’t want to see it that way. But the unifying theme, I would probably stand with the other commenter. At the root of all these bad outcomes is sin that is not identified and addressed.
    It all makes me think of the beatitude:
    “blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted”
    As Pope Benedict 16th says – the mourning is for the culture that calls evil things good, and condones sin. Not just for that, but for all the misery it causes. The broken marriage is the symptom, not the cause. Sin is the cause. We mourn for those who suffer due to sin.
    Finally, considering the above beatitude, no Christian should hang any letters regardless of what ‘side’ they are on, any more than one affected should ignore the cause tracks to sin. We all mourn together. That’s the point.

  • Anon in truth

    Just recently, my daughter informed us she has separated from her husband of 16 years. They have four children, whom he is trying to turn against one another & their mom. He is a multiple felon who has been violent physically with my daughter & one of their children. She is not seeking a divorce, but for him to change, to convert. At this moment he cannot come within 1000 feet of her because a judge has fear for our daughter’s life. Their children are confused & don’t know who to believe. Their very souls are in danger, yet he seems not to understand or care about this. Our daughter says she too, is not without fault, but is repentant (which he is not) & is working with priests & counselors to better herself. No one is without sin, as we all know. I wonder & search my own soul to see where I may have gone wrong to perhaps contribute to a problem with her when she was a youngster. So no one can point a finger. My prayer is for their safety, daughters & the children’s as their dad may have access to guns which the law prevents him from owning, but his sister has. He isn’t making good decisions, but my daughter trusts Our Lord for her safety & the safety of the children. She prays constantly with the children who will listen & pray with her. So, who is to blame, is divorce so easy to call a sin? Not in this family, especially as we have just lost a beloved grandmother & greatgrandmother. My desire is not to point fingers when children are involved & not to label divorce a sin when those involved try to do right. I want to keep my heart open for God to Change me too, so my attitude toward their father doesn’t destroy my relationship with my dear grandchildren. I want to love him as Our Lord desires me to, as Jesus also loved Judas, when he knew well Judas would betray Him. Who is to say when a marriage might NEED to end for the safety of all their family? I pray for enlightenment for myself, my daughter, her husband and their innocent children. I pray no one will judge whether they are in sin, or are longing for answers from God.

  • Andrew Rabel

    Mariette Beco is an interesting case study in approved apparitions. Because she later married and divorced, and apparently lived with a handicapped gentleman in an irregular relationship later on. Even at the time of the apparitions, she did not have much of a repuation for piety. But she never repudiated the story, and in her last public statement about the events of Banneux before her death, she referred to herself as a postman. She had been asked to deliver a message.

  • Guest.too

    Let me get this straight. Are you saying that if a woman initiates a divorce in order to protect herself and her children, that she also sins by seeking a remedy? Perhaps I misunderstood you so I will assume you did not mean that. I am sure that in every marriage, there are sins on both sides, every day sins. But to separate for protection (or for multiple infidelities) – that’s a whole ‘nother subject.

  • Guest.too

    I see my self in your suffering. It took a number of years and many tears, but I did get through it, my children grew up fine. Just keep praying.

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