In 1933, the Blessed Virgin visited two different cities in Belgium. She concluded her series of 33 apparitions in Beauraing, Belgium on January 3rd, an apparition received by 5 children. Two weeks later, on January 15, a little girl, as she peered out the kitchen window, saw a beautiful lady standing atop a cloud. Mariette Beco told her mother what she saw, who met the story with disbelief and joked that maybe it was the Blessed mother. As the 11-year-old girl continued to claim seeing the woman, her mother gave a laughable suggestion that it was a witch and gave the instruction to lock the doors of the house. The woman would return seven other times, on January 18, 19, 20, February 11, February 15, February 20, and March 2.
The story of Our Lady’s apparition in Banneux is one that still speaks to us today. And here’s how.
Fallen Away Catholics
The Beco family was not devout by any stretch of the imagination. Her father, a baptized Catholic, had not been to Church in years and had no use for religion. God was not a part of the household. The young Mariette had been enrolled in religious instruction for First Communion, but did so poorly that she dropped out of the classes. January 15th, the first day of the apparition, was a Sunday, and Mariette’s family did not attend Mass that day. Despite her living situation, Mary chooses this girl to receive a heavenly message.
In our world and church today, many families find themselves in similar situations as the Beco family. They don’t attend Mass or pray regularly yet they feel a need for their children to be catechized. The story of Mariette gives us hope, because God is still at work in their lives just as He was at work in Mariette’s. Like this young girl, maybe they just need a God moment to interrupt their life in order to change direction.
The Happiness of Mary
When Mariette described Our Lady to her mother, she said that she was smiling. This is the smile of our heavenly mother. Mary is filled with joy and happiness because of who she is and what God has done for her. She is able to see a family who needs help and still be able to smile.
Our culture is marked by sadness. Mary’s smile is something we can call to mind when we close our eyes and simply think of her smiling at us. And as we see her smile, hopefully it put a smile on our face.
Led by Mary
During the second apparition, Our Lady beckoned for Mariette to follow her. To the reluctance of her family, she did just that. Our Lady brought her near a spring of water, and said, “Put your hands in the water! This fountain is reserved for Me.” W
e can allow ourselves to be led by Mary. Every time we pray the rosary it is as if we allow Our Lady to take us by the hand and lead us through the pages of the gospel. We allow her to lead our lives through total consecration to Jesus through Mary. Just as Mary took the child Jesus by the hand, we can give her permission to lead us along the way of salvation, to Jesus her son.
The Virgin of the Poor
Mary reveals a name during her apparitions. To Mariette, she said, “I Am the Virgin of the Poor.” It’s a fitting title, because the Beco family was poor, and now Mary claimed prominence in the life of this family. Most biblical scholars agree that the Holy Family was poor, evidenced by the sacrifice they offered in the temple on the occasion of Jesus’ Presentation.
The name of Mary allows her to be the Virgin Mother of all of us because we are poor before God. Our poverty might be spiritual, emotional, or it could be material. If we acknowledge our poverty, then we know we have a great richness in a mother who loves us, and a savior who redeemed us.
Comfort and Healing
The spring of water that Mary brought Mariette was to bring comfort to the sick and to alleviate sufferings. These were Mary’s words. Similar to the apparitions in Lourdes, the water took on a special healing nature, and is bottled and brought home by pilgrims. Whether a person is healed by the water or not, the prayers offered, when used, bring comfort to the sick.
We all know someone who is sick and suffering. The apparition in Banneux offers us a reminder to pray for them often, entrusting them to the intercession of Mary, Health of the Sick.
Mary had a message for the local priest, who submitted a question to test the authenticity of the apparitions. The answer came back, “Believe in me and I will believe in you.” All of us have doubts. Sometimes it’s even about God’s love for us or the reality of heaven. For me, the stories of Mary’s apparitions have always renewed my belief that there is something more. When I want to doubt, my belief is strengthened.
Sometimes when we pray, we might approach it as something magical, and not giving much faith to it. We might do it just because we know we should. But when we truly pray with deep faith, Mary tells us, she will believe in us. The Virgin of the Poor asks us to leave behind our doubts.
Pray Very Much
Mary renewed the Beauraing message when she told the children there to pray, pray very much, pray always. Through Mariette, Mary asked many times to pray very much.
Many people approach prayer as something we do when we are in a bind and need heavenly assistance. The invitation to pray very much encourages us to change our perception of prayer, and to begin praying daily.
Pray the rosary. Read the scriptures. Pray from the heart. Don’t let a day go by when you don’t pray. In the words of St. Paul, pray without ceasing.
Journey with Mary
I’m willing to bet the message of Banneux is one which you did not know. Mary has appeared all throughout the world. Most famously in Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Fatima. But there are so many other apparitions, even one in Champion, Wisconsin. I’d like to invite you to get to know Mary’s messages by allowing Mary to lead you through the season of Lent. With Mary’s help you will examine your conscience, pray for others, try new methods of prayer, and ask God for healing.
If you’d like to listen to Mary’s words and begin to live her messages, then I invite you to join me on A Lenten Journey with Mary. Get your copy today.