About a dozen sites worldwide can boast that they have been validated by the Catholic Church as being sites where the Virgin Mary has appeared—and for the first time, that list includes a US location. A tiny chapel 17 miles northeast of Green Bay, Wisc., called Our Lady of Good Hope joins the likes of Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe and France's shrine at Lourdes, both of which draw millions each year. In 1859, a Belgian immigrant named Adele Brise said Mary—a dazzling white figure with cascading blond hair and a crown of stars, hovering between a pair of trees—appeared to her three times and instructed her to spend her life teaching Catholic beliefs to children.
A two-year investigation that concluded on Dec. 8 found no evidence of fraud or heresy, but did find a long history of shrine-related conversions, cures, and other indications of divine intervention, leading Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay to declare “with moral certainty” that Brise had encounters “of a supernatural character” that are “worthy of belief.” The Vatican, wary of fraud, gives local bishops the primary responsibility of evaluating apparitions, in part by using guidelines set by the Vatican in 1978. The New York Times notes one "striking sign of a divine presence:" During 1871's Great Peshtigo fire, which killed 1,200 and destroyed the surrounding lands, the shrine's grounds and the people gathered there were spared.