When Adele Brise received her first communion in Belgium, she decided to devote herself to Our Lady and educating children in the Catholic faith.
Her plan was thrown for a loop when she and her parents emigrated in the summer of 1853, creating a farm just outside Luxembourg, Wisconsin. The next six years Adele spent taking wheat to the mill and walking to Mass every Sunday; in 1859, a lady stopped her in the middle of the Wisconsin wilderness.
Donned in white, the silent lady appeared on Adele’s path through Robinsonville. The following week she appeared again, and Adele’s friends rightfully urged her to discuss the vision with the local priest. He suggested she ask questions, much like Bernadette had in Lourdes the year prior; what was the lady’s purpose?
Adele was prepared with a question when the lady appeared a few weeks later: “In the name of God, who are you and what do you want with me?”
The Queen of Heaven revealed herself and gave Adele her mission: “You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. …Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation. Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments.”
Mary remembered that first communion promise. She sent Adele forth with a promise of her own: “Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”
Adele ventured on foot up to fifty miles away to help local families with household chores in exchange for the privilege of educating their children. In the following years, the faithful she had inspired built a convent, a school, and a large wooden chapel to accommodate the pilgrims and growing faithful, with “Notre Dame de Bon Secours, Priez Pour Nous” – “Our Lady of Good Help, Pray for Us” inscribed over the door.
Twelve years after the final apparition, the Great Peshtigo Fire set northern Wisconsin ablaze. Smoke towered through the air for miles, fire damage and heat exhaustion setting in over the livestock and the villages. Villagers flocked to the wooden chapel with rosaries and hymns. They processed around the sanctuary with the chapel’s statue of Mary in spite of the heat and smoke. The blaze reached the fence of the shrine but was extinguished by a miraculous overnight rain.
160 years later, the apparitions were officially approved, spearheaded by Archbishop David L. Ricken. He wrote: “The effects of these endeavors by her and many others have lasted these many years with such major spiritual benefit to so many people. …I encourage the faithful to frequent this holy place as a place of solace and answered prayer.”
Let us remember that Mary is our good help each day, that with her guidance we may go forth and fear nothing. We have the perfect chance to reflect on her help in the Rosary, and you’re invited to join us at the Family Rosary Across America, nightly at 7 PM Central Time, to pray with and for the intentions of families nationwide.
Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!
Our Lady is celebrated under many names, from popular apparitions to small-town titles. Each reveal something different about the Blessed Mother to us – and affirms what we already know of her love and intercessory power! Deepen your devotion to Our Lady with Miracles, Mysteries, & Mary, a monthly collection of stories, Church teaching, reflections, and so much more – guaranteed to expand your knowledge of Our Blessed Mother. Sign up today to receive this Marian content, right to your inbox, and check out our archive page to catch up on our year of Our Lady!