The Roman Catholic Church has officially validated a series of visitations of The Holy Virgin Mary in Champion, Wisconsin, making the small town the first location in America where such a miracle has been recognized by the Church.
Belgian immigrant Adele Brise claimed in 1859 she was “visited three times by Mary, who hovered between two trees in a bright light, clothed in dazzling white with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars above her flowing blond locks,” reports The New York Times. “As instructed, Ms. Brise devoted her life to teaching Catholic beliefs to children.”
Catholic researchers ended their two-year investigation into the appearances, finding no evidence of a fraud and a long history of related miracles, on December 8. A shrine located at Our Lady of Good Hope has been dedicated as the official location the visitations took place.
Although the Times notes the Church in Wisconsin is reeling from allegations of sexual abuse, Rev. Johann Roten, director of the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton called it “devious” to imply that the official recognition is an attempt to bail out the Church.
“Hopefully this will have a beneficial impact on the people, showing them that there are ways of living with faith that are very pure,” Rev. Roten said. “This is a gift to the believers.”