Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Necedah, Wisconsin, USA (1949-1974)

Mary Ann Van Hoof was born on July 31, 1909, to Matthias Bieber and his wife, Elizabeth Gallman.  Her father, Matthias, was mean and anti-religious.  They were very poor; Mary Ann had to attend her herding and milking chores instead of school by the eighth grade.  Then she worked as a cook in a restaurant seven days a week.  She married, got pregnant, and then learned that her husband was already married!  After getting away from this physically abusive and deceptive man, she finally married Fred Van Hoof in 1934.  They had eight children, one of whom died as an infant. 

While praying on the winter night of November 12, 1949, Mary Ann, now age forty, heard a disturbance in the hall.  She saw a white light and a figure with a veil on its head.  She assumed it must be one of her kids.  She retreated to her bedroom and was surprised that this figure followed her.  It stopped about four feet from the bed and watched her, silently.  “It was sort of bluish and light-colored in the front.”  Mary Ann became terribly frightened.

picture #1: Mary Ann Van Hoof, visionary visited by Blessed Mary
picture #1: Mary Ann Van Hoof, visionary visited by Blessed Mary

The next supernatural event occurred on April 7, 1950, when Mary Ann saw the body of Jesus on the crucifix become “all aglow and twice its size.”  Then she heard a voice say,

“Yes, pray, my child.  Pray, pray, pray hard.  My child, your cross is heavy to bear, but the people all over the world are facing a heavier cross and sorrow with the enemy of God unless you pray.  Pray hard with all your heart.  I will return, outside, when the flowers bloom and the trees and grass are green.”

On Pentecost Sunday, May 28, 1950, Mary Ann reports:

“I saw a flash of light, sort of like when the sun reflects across the windshield.  Thinking a car drove up outside, I looked and saw a blue mist behind the four little ash trees out there, and something told me that this was the approach of a saint.  At that time I always called her a saint because I didn’t know who she really was.  I went out.  And as soon as I went out, this blue mist floated through the tips of the trees and then formed into Our Lady.  She lowered herself, smiling, with her arms extended.”

Blessed Mary positioned herself in the air about two feet off the ground.  She stood on a small cloud with bare feet and pink roses surrounding them.  She had a blue veil on and a blue robe with a few gold stars near the bottom.  She wore a cream-colored gown underneath with a golden cord around her neck.  On one end of the cord was a small globe of the earth; on the other end was a large tassel.  She had a large crucifix about four or five inches long and a large rosary in her hand.  The rosary beads were white.  On the crucifix Jesus lacks the crown of thorns and is nailed through his wrists not his hands.

Mary Ann describes more features of Our Lady: deep blue eyes, oval-shaped face, pointed chin, and golden-colored hair (from what she could see under the veil).  She says,

“Oh, she was so radiant and beautiful.  An artist couldn’t paint her to do her justice.  The Lady’s arms seem always extended as if she was going to embrace me as I walked toward her.  I’m pretty sure I hear her with the ears of my head.  I just hear.  It seems she blots out everything.  Like the family asked me a couple of times if I noticed a train going by, which I didn’t.”

On the next day, May 29, 1950, Blessed Mary returned and urged America with this:

“Wake up, America!  The enemy of God is creeping all over America!  All religions must work together against the enemy of God!  Pray!  Pray!  Pray for this.  You must pray and convert Russia!”

In her appearances on May 30, June 4, June 16, August 15, and October 7, Blessed Mary vowed to return on these same dates and Trinity Sunday every year for as long as Mary Ann lived.

picture #3: Messages and Drawings
picture #2: Messages and Drawings

With 1,425 people gathered at the Van Hoof home on June 16, 1950, the Blessed Virgin delivers her first major message, which, in no uncertain terms, criticized the clergy.

“To the priests of America, archbishops and bishops: There are too many of you whose desires in earthly goods and pleasures go before your duties.  Humble yourselves and be an example to your people.  Remember: you are workers of Christ here on earth.  You must put more effort to call your flock back into the fold.

For, if you will not hear me now, you, who are getting weak, will suffer terribly from violence and penance similar to the purged (Communist) countries.  As you all know, the atomic bomb with its destruction is in the hands of the enemy.

Tell this to your priests and all other priests all over America and all over the world.  There are too many priests who put luxuries and good times before their duties to God…

Priests and ministers must not war between themselves.  Jealousies and hatred between religions is just what the enemy is looking for.  Priests must be real shepherds, showing the way of Truth and the way of God’s law regardless of religion and color.”

Nine days later on June 25, 1950, the Korean War began.  Because of the embarrassing, critical tone of this message toward the religious, bishops were not eager to approve these apparitions and tried to deflect public attention elsewhere.  Efforts to discredit Mary Ann Van Hoof failed and thousands more took interest.  In fact, the Blessed Virgin even predicted that at least 100,000 people would attend the next promised apparition on August 15, 1950. 

picture #4: Actual site of original apparitions
picture #3: Actual site of original apparitions

More than 100,000 people attended the August 15 apparition event.  Local trains even added an extra stop by Mary Ann’s house because so many people were getting on and off there.  Visionary Mary Ann knelt at noon, and the Blessed Virgin appeared while thousands surrounded the place.  Here are excerpts from the Virgin’s lengthy message:

“All religions must go together against the enemy of God, for he is very strong right now.  Remember your Commandments, the Way of the Cross – for the Enemy of God is all over America.  You would be surprised if the sheep’s clothing were taken off and how they would spring up, all around you – even some that act like Christians – they have Satan in their hearts.

The priests cannot carry on alone – nor can the Catholics carry on alone.  That’s why all religions must work together, not in jealousy and hatred, but in love.  Love thy neighbor.  Profanity and blasphemy hurts Our Lord.

Bullets will only destroy and keep destroying … But all of you must remember my warnings of Fatima, Lipa, and La Salette.  I warned you then – I’m warning you again.  The beginning (of the destruction) is now in Korea; it will not end there unless we pray.  It’s only beginning (in Korea) – half of America is involved with the Enemy of God.”

Although four years prior to any public fears developing about Communism, Blessed Mary predicted many things that would be taking place soon.  After August 15, she told Mary Ann of how the devil was affecting every branch of government, the civil service, the news media, the armed services, the Pentagon, the priesthood, and even Protestant ministers.  Blessed Mary exposed the fact that 30,000 Communists were trained as priests to infiltrate the Catholic Church.  Our Lady also revealed how the drug culture would develop as well as abortions and “satanic” music and art (around 1968). 

Asking for all the religions to work together was viewed as outrageous and became yet another reason for the lack of ecclesiastical support for these apparitions.  However, the supernatural events continued and were well-observed. 

picture #5: Mary Ann in later years with her sunflower garden
picture #4: Mary Ann in later years with her sunflower garden

On a Friday in Lent in 1951, in the presence of numerous people and cameras, Mary Ann Van Hoof received the stigmata of the Crown of Thorns – which was visible and photographed between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.  The same stigmata reoccurred on a Friday in Lent in 1952 under similar conditions.  Examined by doctors, these “holy wounds” were “tangible surface and subcutaneous marks that caused considerable pain.”

Our Lady identified herself as Queen of the Holy Rosary, Mediatrix of Peace.  She also foretold of racial difficulties and Masonic conspiracies.  Miraculous cures conversions, and witnessed miracles occurred at or near the apparition site just outside the Van Hoof home all throughout these apparitions.  An extensive accounting of these miracles between 1950 and 1966 was listed in the Testimonials of Pilgrims, published by “For My God and My Country, Inc.”

Yet, an ecclesiastical “silence” was imposed on Mary Ann in 1974 by Bishop Frederick Freking of La Crosse, Wisconsin.  However, The Blessed Virgin reportedly told Mary Ann in 1975 to continue her work because “the term obedience was being used loosely by a church hierarchy that does not always follow the directives of the pope.”  But Mary Ann remained in hiding.

Veneration of the apparition at Necedah has been a passionate grassroots effort.  The shrines at Necedah consist of a complex of seven buildings donated by devoted workers’ money and labor.  The Shrine of the Queen of the Holy Rosary, Mediatrix of Peace, produces extensive amounts of literature.  Mary Ann Van Hoof died in 1984.

Our Lady of Good Help, Champion, Wisconsin, USA, 1859

“Our Lady of Good Help”

The Brice family emigrated from Belgium to the United States on July 23, 1855.  On August 7, 1855, Lambert and Marie Brice purchased 240 acres of land in the Red River, Wisconsin region to establish their family farm.  Daughter Adele would walk the 11 miles by herself to the nearest church every Sunday.

In early October of 1859, Adele Brice, age 28, was taking some wheat to a grist mill along a four-mile Indian pathway.  Just as Adele came to a clearing between a maple tree and a hemlock tree, she saw someone standing between the two trees.  As she approached, her heart filled with fright, and she froze as she looked at the woman.  The woman was all white with a yellow sash at her waist.  Around her head was a crown of twelve stars.  She was standing on a small cloud.  She had yellow hair, blue eyes, and was surrounded by a bright light.  Adele watched until the woman disappeared, and then she saw the cloud disappear as well.  When she arrived at the mill, the miller could tell that she was very upset.  She was also very nervous on her return trip home, but nobody was between the trees this time.  When she arrived home, she told her parents what had happened.  Her father suggested that it might be a poor soul that needed prayers, “so pray for her if you see her again.”

Adele Brice encounters a ghost-like, glowing lady in the woods in 1859.
Adele Brice encounters a ghost-like, glowing lady in the woods in 1859.

On October 9, 1859, Adele, her sister Isabelle (age 24), and their good friend, Mrs. Theresa Vander Niessen, were walking the eleven miles together to the Sunday Mass at the nearest church in Bay Settlement.  As the three women approached the spot where the two trees stood, Adele again saw the lady in white.  She got excited and told her sister what she was seeing.  Adele froze, staring at the woman, but the other two could see nothing.  But they could see that Adele was indeed staring at something, and they could see fear in her eyes.  Then the lady disappeared, and they all agreed to pray for the “poor soul.”  Adele confessed to the priest what she had seen, and he spoke to her about the matter, suggesting that she ask the lady who she is and what she wants.  Adele felt comforted and believed by Father Verhoeff.  On the way home the three women were joined by a man who was clearing the land for the Holy Cross Fathers.

When they came to the place with the two trees, Adele stopped because she saw the lady again.  She could clearly see that she was dressed in a white gown which fell to her feet in graceful folds.  There was a yellow sash around her waist.  Long wavy golden hair fell loosely over her shoulders.  On her head was a crown of twelve stars.  The bright light surrounding her made it difficult for Adele to look at her for very long.  Adele saw that the lady had a very sweet, gentle face.  Surprisingly, she felt no fear this time.  Instead, she was completely filled with joy and peace.  She walked closer and fell to her knees before her.

Promising to teach children about religion, Adele keeps her vow to the Virgin.
Promising to teach children about religion, Adele keeps her vow to the Virgin.

A:        “In God’s name, who are you, and what do you desire of me?

VM:     “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do       the same.” (She spoke in a soft, sweet voice – “the sound was heavenly.”) “You were at Holy Communion this morning.

A:        “Yes, dear lady.”

VM:     “You have done well, but I wish you to do more.  Pray for nine days.  Go and make a general confession and offer your Holy Communion for the conversion of sinners.  If they do not convert themselves and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.”

A horrible fire breaks out in 1871, enhanced by tornado-like winds.
A horrible fire breaks out in 1871, enhanced by tornado-like winds.

Meanwhile, the others could tell that Adele was seeing someone and talking with her. They kept asking her, “Who is she?  What is she saying?  Is she the poor soul from Belgium?  Who is it?”  Adele heard her friends and told them to kneel because “she said she was the Queen of Heaven.”  When Theresa complained about not being able to see her, Adele saw the Virgin Mary look kindly at Theresa and say,

VM:     “Blessed are they that believe and do not see. (then back to Adele:) What are you doing here in idleness, while your companions are working in the vineyard of My Son?

A:        (crying) “What more can I do, dear Lady?”

VM:     “Teach the children.

A:        “How can I teach them when I know so little, myself?

VM:     “I do not mean the science of the world.  Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the cross, and how to approach the sacraments, that they may know and love My Son; otherwise, the people here will lose their faith.”

A:        “With God’s grace, and the help of your intercession, I promise, dear Lady, to be faithful to what you bid me.”

VM:     “Go and fear nothing.  I will help you.”

Nobody can escape the horrible blaze as it heads toward "Mary's Five Acres."
Nobody can escape the horrible blaze as it heads toward “Mary’s Five Acres.”

With that said, the Blessed Mary raised her eyes and hands toward heaven and slowly rose upward.  She was surrounded by a light smoke-like incense.  She looked like she was asking for a blessing for all of those kneeling before her.  Adele, overwhelmed with emotion, collapsed to the ground in exhaustion.  The man brought a cloth, soaked from a nearby stream, to help revive her from unconsciousness.  Then the four walked home, and Adele told everyone about her encounter.  Because of her character, most people believed her words.  Her father had always believed her because she had always been a truthful girl.  To show his support for his daughter and his love for the Virgin Mary, he decided to honor the location of the apparitions with the building of a very small chapel (10 feet x 12 feet) on that very spot.  Father Verhoeff gave Adele a picture of Mary to hang there.

Adele offered to work hard for the busy pioneer families if they would let her teach their children the catechism and the rosary in spare moments.  She did so for seven years, bringing each child that was ready to Father Daems in Bay Settlement to test their knowledge before each one’s First Communion.  In 1861, the community built a larger chapel (24 feet x 24 feet) that could hold a hundred people – and often did.  Mrs. Isabella Boyer donated the five acres that contained the holy site.

Sister Adele Brice leads a night-long praying of the Rosary, pleading for heavenly help.
Sister Adele Brice leads a night-long praying of the Rosary, pleading for heavenly help.

When doubters began to give Adele a hard time, miracle healings began occurring in the chapel when Adele asked for divine assistance.  Blind visitors regained their sight, deaf people regained their hearing, the desperately sick were healed, and cripples would walk again, leaving their canes and crutches behind as evidence.  Word spread across the Midwest of these divine healings near Robinsonville (later called Champion).  Adele acquired a beautiful, hand-carved statue of Mary from Belgium, and there was a glorious procession from the boat to its final resting spot in the chapel.  However, some time later, the statue was severely damaged when it caught fire from candles placed too close to it.  But farmers and other settlers took up a collection to replace it with a new statue.

In 1864 Adele and the other religious women helping her became the Sisters of Good Health – and were accepted by the Bishop of Green Bay.  In 1867, Adele opened a school next to the chapel and a boarding school, the St. Mary’s Academy, in 1869.

Devastation is everywhere the next day (actual photo).
Devastation is everywhere the next day (actual photo).

On Sunday, October 8, 1871, a most deadly fire was created by a gale force wind that turned the prairies and forests of Wisconsin into a raging inferno.  Fire tornadoes ripped through the area causing death and destruction everywhere.  Flames jumped rivers, embers rained down, and small fires were whipped up into a giant fireball that destroyed homes, buildings, farms, factories, and entire towns.  It was described as “a wall of flame a mile high, five miles wide, traveling 90-100 m.p.h., hotter than a crematorium, turning sand into glass.”  The heat was so strong that it killed people before the fire ever got to them.  Approximately 2,500 people died, 12 towns destroyed, and 1.2 million acres devastated – the deadliest fire in American history.  The ground was burned to a depth of two feet deep in some places.  Hiding in brick homes or underground basements did not help.  Only those hiding in rivers had the best chance of survival.

Father Pernin of a local church made every effort to save the tabernacle from his church, but at the river his cart dumped, and it floated away as he watched helplessly.  Many people lined the river banks, but the only ones who survived were those who jumped in the water with Father Pernin.  Three days later, among the blackened terrain and black ashes of everything destroyed, a pristine white tabernacle was discovered sitting upright on a log in the river.  Its contents were unharmed from water or heat, and the people saw it as a miracle and a sign of hope.

Only Mary's five acres remains green and untouched by the disaster; all there lived,
Only Mary’s five acres remains green and untouched by the disaster; all there lived.

Sister Adele decided it was impossible to flee the fire, so the sisters, the school children, and frantic neighbors gathered in the chapel on the five-acre grounds and prayed to Mary for help.  Then Adele led a procession around the perimeter of the chapel grounds, carrying a statue of Mary.  The procession continued all night, praying the Rosary, all around the grounds.  Everyone believed a miracle had occurred:  the wind cooled, a heavy downpour drenched the fires, but this was long after the fires had stopped right at the fence line surrounding the five acres.  The outer side of the fence posts were charred while the inside was untouched.  Everything surrounding their five acres, including the lush green forest, farm buildings, and homes were blackened, obliterated, and gone.  Only the people and animals that had come to these grounds survived.  The five-acre grounds that had been dedicated to Mary were green and untouched – “a glorious sight.”  Exhausted from their fears and night-long processions of prayers, the people praised God and retired to sleep.  Twelve years ago, on this exact day, Mary had warned of a potential punishment.

he Bishop of Green Bay approves these apparitions in 2010.
he Bishop of Green Bay approves these apparitions in 2010.

Another miracle on the chapel grounds had to do with the chapel well.  The weather had been extremely dry all summer with the deepest of wells in the region barely containing any water left.  The chapel well was only a few feet deep, and yet it was always providing plenty of water.  All the neighbors, their surviving livestock which they had brought to the grounds, and everyone else living on Mary’s five acres had plenty of water from this shallow well.  There was no explanation or logic for this small well to serve so many for so long under the dry conditions.  People started taking some of the well water home as it was believed to have led to some healing miracles.

Many other miracles were documented.  A seventeen year-old boy developed pleurisy from double-pneumonia.  Despite his lungs becoming extremely weak, he said a novena at the chapel, and he was completely healed.  Another boy, Michael Fonde, age nine, fell from a barn and was crippled.  Four years later, a group of women prayed a novena with him at the chapel, and he walked out healed, leaving his crutches behind.  A little girl with bleeding sores, who had been treated by doctors for years, was completely healed after she and her Mom made the pilgrimage to this chapel.  Another small girl had become blind from a severe case of measles.  When her mother brought her to this chapel to pray, she was instantaneously healed.  And a deaf boy brought by his Mom to the chapel completely regained his hearing.

A statue of Mary gazes at pilgrims on the site; many healings occur.
A statue of Mary gazes at pilgrims on the site; many healings occur.

On December 8, 2010, a historic event took place in this Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help near Champion, Wisconsin.  Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay formally announced the approval of these apparitions:

“I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Catholic Church that the events, apparitions, and locutions given to Adele Brice in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief by the Christian faithful.”

This becomes the first approved Marian apparition in the United States of America.