Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beauraing, 1932-1933

Yesterday, I linked to an article on the infamous Belgian child-murderer, Marc Dutroux, and his horrific career of kidnapping, rape and murder of young girls in the 1990's. Today I want to talk about God's grace to children....the apparitions of Our Lady of the Golden Heart to five children in Beauraing, Belgium, from 1932-1933.

The 1930's were a dark period. Communism, fascism and Nazism were on the rise in Europe, the Great Depression spread misery through many countries and humanity spiraled towards a new world holocaust. In Belgium, the tragic and untimely deaths of two beloved monarchs- King Albert I and Queen Astrid- brought further grief. Yet, the decade had begun with a message of grace and hope.

Beauraing was a farming village, home to around 2000 souls, near Namur. By 1932, the influence of the Marxist labor party had eroded the inhabitants' once vibrant Catholic faith, and the churches were almost empty. Even the five young visionaries- Andrée and Gilberte Dégeimbre, and Fernande, Gilberte and Albert Voisin, came from respected but not particularly devout families.
Yet, it was here that over 30 Marian apparitions occurred, between November 29, 1932, and January 3, 1933, rekindling people's religious fervor. At the convent of the sisters of Christian Doctrine, in a rose bush near a replica of the Lourdes grotto, the children saw a beautiful, luminous lady dressed in white, looking like an 18-year-old girl, with deep blue eyes. She wore a belt, her dress radiated a blue light and she carried a Rosary on her arm.

During the apparitions, the visionaries were struck to their knees by an unseen force, but suffered no harm. They prayed in high voices and appeared to be in total ecstasy. Doctors experimented by pricking, slapping and pinching them, and shining bright lights in their eyes, but the children made no response and were impervious to pain and injury.

Questioned by Albert Voisin, the beautiful lady indicated: "I am the Immaculate Virgin." She showed the children her shining, Golden and Immaculate Heart. Here are some of her simple, yet touching messages:
"Always be good."
"Pray, pray very much."
"Pray always"
"Goodbye." (to Gilberte Degeimbre)
"I will convert sinners. Goodbye." (to Gilberte Voisin)
"Goodbye." (to Albert Voisin)
"I am the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. Pray always, Goodbye." (to Andrée Degeimbre)
Our Lady requested that a chapel be built at the site of the apparitions and that Beauraing become a place of pilgrimage. She also entrusted each child with a secret, none of which have ever been revealed. At the last apparition, the Blessed Virgin asked 15-year-old Fernande, who was weeping at the thought of never seeing her again: "Do you love my Son? Do you love me?" Fernande replied, "yes," and Our Lady answered, "then sacrifice yourself for me." At this point, spectators reported, thunder crashed and a ball of fire appeared above Fernande. As the young girl attempted to ask, "what sacrifices shall I make?" Our Lady opened her arms in farewell, and bid her, one last time, adieu.

The visions were subjected to great skepticism and scrutiny (both ecclesiastical and secular). In 1935, the church began a formal investigation of the apparitions. In 1943, the local Bishop authorized public devotion to Our Lady of Beauraing. In 1949, the visions were officially approved by Rome. In obedience to Our Lady's request, a chapel was built at Beauraing and consecrated in 1954. Many cures and graces have been attributed to the intercession of the Virgin of the Golden Heart, and her cult, to this day, remains a focal point of Belgian Catholicism.


aarondavidson said...

Fascinating post-and followed soon after by the Apparitions to Mariette Beco at Banneux in 1933.

May said...

Yes, I'll be posting on Banneux soon.

aarondavidson said...

Thanks-look forward to reading that!