As we wrapped up our family vacation, we had one more stop to make on our trek home. We began our trip with some time at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and chose to end it with another encounter with the Blessed Mother. Throughout the last few years we have heard about the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, the site of the approved apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to young Adele Brise. Since we knew our destination of Sturgeon Bay would lead us back around Green Bay on the way home, it seemed like the optimal time to make the pilgrimage.
Taking the drive down the country road in between the vast fields, one may never know about the hidden treasure of solitude miles off the main highway. There among the corn fields and farms of the area, stand buildings where hundreds of pilgrims gather for events, a quiet chapel for prayer, coffee shop, gift shop and a vast area to walk the Stations of the Cross or pray the mysteries of the rosary. As we emerged from our van, the sound of a crowing chicken could be heard next door, prayerful pilgrims walked the grounds in quiet prayer and each footstep from the parking lot to an outdoor Our Lady of Fatima grotto, brought an awareness of every bird that sang and the rustle of the breeze.
On these grounds over 150 years ago, the Holy Mother appeared to the young Adele Brise and instructed her to teach the children in the faith. This is where Sister Adele began her work and inspired the efforts of generations of faithful Christians.
–Taken from the homepage of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help website
We walked into the chapel, stopping at the statue of Our Lady of Good Help to pray. I jotted down our prayer intentions and dropped them in the wooden box. This title of Mary may now become another favorite of mine as I was drawn to the golden light and beauty of her, but also “Good Help”, I certainly could use plenty of that every day.
Descending the stairs, we open the door to a low-lit underground room filled with votive candles and several pews. I wish I could have captured the feeling in that room. It’s likely the same as any other place of pilgrimage where your heart and soul are overwhelmed with what your human mind cannot express. Heavenly, is the best way to explain it I suppose. We lit our candles and each took time to go kneel at the feet of Our Blessed Mother, there at the same spot where she appeared to Adele 160 years ago. From that place, kneeling in humility and beholding the eyes of Mary in a statue, she felt so real and it was as if I could feel her motherly tenderness looking down on me as I laid my prayers and petitions before her. We stayed a short time, longing to linger in that place of perfect bliss.
Although our visit was kept short so we could head back on the road, the impression of calmness that overflowed on that property left a lasting impression. Their website calls it a “rural haven” and I would agree that being taken into the shelter of the fields, solitude and atmosphere of prayer is felt once your feet step on the ground. Much like the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, finding a treasure like this that God set apart with the purpose of drawing us closer to Him and His Mother, enlivens the soul and reawakens it as your eyes gaze heavenward.
I don’t know if the people of Wisconsin know the blessing of having such beautiful grounds of prayer and peace in their state, but based on the number of pilgrims at both Shrines we visited, they most certainly are not so hidden from the faithful seeking these places of tranquility away from the every day.