God sent many graces to Belgium in the dark years leading up to World War II. Only 12 days after her last apparition at Beauraing, Our Lady visited Banneux, another Walloon village. Like Beauraing, Banneux was poor, socialist, and secularist. Like the Dégeimbre and Voisin children, 11-year-old Mariette Beco, the young girl chosen as Our Lady's instrument, came from a lapsed Catholic family. Mariette had ceased attending catechism classes and had never made her First Communion.
On the night of January 15, 1933, Mariette looked out the window for her younger brother, Julien, and saw a beautiful, luminous young lady beckoning to her. The figure was dressed in a long, white gown, with a deep blue sash and a white, transparent veil. Her right foot was visible, with a golden rose between the toes. On her right arm, the lady carried a Rosary with diamond-like beads and a golden chain and cross.
Mariette eagerly called her mother over to look, but Mrs. Beco saw only a mysterious light, and, fearing witchcraft, forbad her daughter to follow the figure outside. On the evening of the 18th, however, the beautiful lady re-appeared to Mariette, as she was leaving the garden, where she had been praying. Mariette knelt beside a nearby stream. "Put your hands in the water," the lady told her. Mariette obeyed and the lady continued: "This stream is reserved for me. Good evening, au revoir ('see you again')."
The next day, amidst terrible weather, Mariette prayed outside on her knees. The mysterious figure re-appeared and the little girl asked: "Who are you, my beautiful lady?" "I am the Virgin of the Poor," was the response (especially touching, in a poverty-stricken region!) Mariette persisted: "Yesterday, beautiful lady, you said: 'this stream is reserved for me,' why 'for me'?" She pointed at herself, thinking it was for her. Smiling, the Blessed Virgin replied: "this stream is reserved for all nations...to relieve the sick." Mariette thanked Our Lady, who added: "I will pray for you. Au revoir."
Mariette slept badly that night and had to rest for most of the next day. In the evening, she awoke and returned to the garden, and the Virgin appeared, yet again. "What do you wish, beautiful lady?" Mariette asked. Smiling, Our Lady replied: "I would like a little chapel." She then gave Mariette a blessing, and departed. For several weeks, no further apparitions occurred, but, every evening, Mariette prayed faithfully in the garden. On February 11, the Blessed Virgin returned and told her: "I come to relieve suffering" (1).
The visions were initially met with skepticism and disbelief, and, Mariette was accused of inventing fanciful tales to imitate Beauraing. The local priest urged her to ask the Virgin for a sign, to confirm the truth of the apparitions. At Our Lady's sixth visit, on February 15, Mariette told her: "Blessed Virgin, the chaplain told me to ask for a sign." Yet, Our Lady only answered: "Believe in me, I will believe in you." She entrusted Mariette with a secret and added: "Pray much. Au revoir."
At the last two apparitions, on February 20 and March 2, in striking contrast to her previous smiling demeanor, Our Lady was grave and sorrowful. "My dear child, pray much," she urged Mariette, and, finally: "I am the Mother of the Savior, Mother of God. Pray much." In parting, she blessed Mariette and bid her adieu ('until we meet in God').
In 1935, the Church began investigating the Banneux apparitions, and, by 1949, they had been officially approved by Rome. The cult of the Virgin of the Poor spread widely, both in Belgium and abroad, renewing people's faith. Today, pilgrims still flock to the shrine of Banneux and many cures have been attributed to its healing waters.
Here is a short video on the shrine:
(1) Mariette did not initially understand the meaning of the word "relieve" but she knew it must be something good, as the Blessed Virgin had smiled!