At least, that's what folks in the Champion, Wisconsin, area have been saying for the last century-and-a-half. And the Bishop in Green Bay says it's okay.
Someone claiming to see Mary, or Jesus, in a slice of toast - or mayonnaise jar - or whatever - isn't all that uncommon.
I've got a pretty lively imagination myself, and could probably 'see' Elvis outside the window: provided I gave my brain a running start.
What happened in Wisconsin is not the American equivalent of someone seeing Queen Elizabeth II in a marmalade jar.
The Champion, Wisconsin, Marian apparition stands out because it's gotten approval of the Church. (December 8, 2010) Which is a first for the United States. (CNA)
Pilgrimage to Champion, Wisconsin: Count Me OutThere's a pilgrimage from the town I live in, Sauk Centre, Minnesota, going to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Champion, Wisconsin, this May. Father Todd Schneider, a parish priest from town, will be the spiritual director. The pilgrimage is co-sponsored by JeriCo Christian Journeys (jericochristianjourneys.com) in Mora, Minnesota, and Archangel Books & Gifts in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
I won't be going.
Even though Father Statz, our parish priest, mentioned it after Mass today.
Part of my reason for staying in town is economic. I'm sure that the cost, $260 per person, is reasonable for this sort of thing. That's still quite a lot of money for this household.
Besides, I am not convinced that a pilgrimage is necessary - or would be useful. For me.
But that's me. I recognize that quite a few folks make pilgrimages a part of their faith. I've made the point before, that lockstep conformity isn't what the Catholic Church is about. We're each supposed to bring something different to the Church. (August 26, 2010)
Definition Time - What's a Pilgrimage?Pilgrimage:
- a journey to a sacred place
Some Town in Wisconsin, and Mary, Queen of HeavenHere's part of what the Catholic News Agency said about the Champion, Wisconsin, apparition:
"With approval from Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, a chapel in the town of Champion is now the first approved Marian apparition site in the United States.The point of a pilgrimage isn't just dragging my body across the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and spending time in a town near Green Bay, Wisconsin. A pilgrimage is a way to express - physically - commitment to living a Christian life.
"On Dec. 8, 2010 -the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception- the bishop decreed with 'moral certainty' that the Virgin Mary had indeed appeared to a young Belgian immigrant woman, Adele Brise, on three occasions in October of 1859.
"Since 1861, the site of those apparitions has been home to a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary under her title 'Our Lady of Good Help.' Following a two-year investigation of the alleged apparitions, Bishop Ricken proclaimed them 'worthy of belief,' and confirmed his diocese's official recognition of the popular shrine.
"During each of those three apparitions, a lady in shining white clothes appeared to Adele. The third time, she identified herself as 'the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners.'..."
Not my idea: I lifted that from a document on the Holy See's website:
"Popular piety is characterized by a great variety and richness of bodily, gestural and symbolic expressions: kissing or touching images, places, relics and sacred objects; pilgrimages, processions; going bare-footed or on one's knees; kneeling and prostrating; wearing medals and badges... . These and similar expressions, handed down from father to son, are direct and simple ways of giving external expression to the heart and to one's commitment to live the Christian life. Without this interior aspect, symbolic gesture runs the risk of degenerating into empty customs or mere superstitions, in the worst cases."Okay: So pilgrimages are a long-standing tradition (small "t") in the Catholic Church, symbolic gestures "giving external expression ... to one's commitment to live the Christian life."
("Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. Principles and Guidelines," Vatican City (December 2001))
My hat's off to the folks who go: but I still think I'll be staying home during May. But I've been wrong before.
- "Wisconsin Apparitions Okay: Champion, Wisconsin: Not Necedah"
(December 8, 2010)
- "Unity, Diversity, and Being Catholic"
(August 26, 2010)
- "Mother Teresa of Calcutta's Sandals; Relics, and Minnesota"
(July 25, 2010)
- "Miracles, Mass, Bread and Wine"
(June 7, 2010)
- "Saints: That's so Medieval"
(February 14, 2010)
- "Wisconsin chapel approved as first US Marian apparition site"
Benjamin Mann, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (December 9, 2010)
- "Worthy of belief"
Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
- "Brief history of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion" (.pdf)
- "Basic information on apparitions at Champion" (.pdf)
- Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help
Serving the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
- "Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. Principles and Guidelines,"
15; Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Vatican City (December 2001)
- "Holy Land Pilgrimage Guidelines" (.pdf)
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Revised December 2008)
- "Tourist or Pilgrim?"
Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (2000)
- Catechism of the Catholic Church