October 9th marks the Feast of Our Lady of Good Help, the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the national shrine in Champion, Wisconsin after her miraculous protection of that land during great fires surrounding the area in the 19th century.
In October of 1859, a Belgian woman by the name of Adele Brise witnessed an apparition by Our Lady in Champion (then known as Robinsonville). Our Lady instructed Adele to begin doing mission work in the surrounding area by instructing the wildland children in the Faith. She was to teach them the Sign of the Cross, the Sacraments, and the Catechism.
Mary said, “That is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.” Adele started at the location of the present-day shrine and traveled outward in a 50-mile radius to families and children, teaching them the Catholic Faith. Adele also taught at the location of the present-day chapel that’s located at the shrine.
Then, in October of 1871, a rain drought caused a massive fire in the nearby town of Peshtigo. The drought eventually caused another fire to begin raging in the rural area surrounding Robinsonville. Fearing for their lives and their livelihoods, the families that Adele had been educating flocked to the shrine grounds with their children and their farm animals. They began to process around the shrine grounds, praying the Rosary to Our Lady of Good Help. They prayed through the night and miraculously, the rains returned and doused the fires. The fiery inferno had reduced everything around the shrine to ash, but Our Lady had preserved the chapel and shrine grounds.
Our Lady of Good Help is celebrated on October 9th because historians believe that is the day she appeared to Adele Brise. In December of 2010, after prayerful discernment, Bishop Ricken of Green Bay was able to determine that the apparitions of Our Lady of Good Help were “worthy of belief.” And in August of 2016, the USCCB declared the shrine at Champion a ‘National Shrine’ by formal decree. To this day, The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is the only Catholic shrine in America with a Church-approved Marian Apparition Site.
We can learn a lot from Adele Brise’s example. Firstly, we should be open to the will of God and listen to what He is asking of us. Secondly, we should be proactive in the apostolate of the world, even if it might require that we go above and beyond. And thirdly, our mother will always come to our aid if we ask her. When it feels like there are ‘fires’ raging all around us and we are close to ‘getting burned,’ go to Our Lady of Good Help to bail you out of those tough situations. We all know mothers are great at getting us out of impossible trouble.
“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.”
Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us.