APPARITION OF THE VIRGIN MARY in BEAURAING, BELGIUM
November 29, 1932 – January 3, 1933
15 years after the apparitions of Fatima, Our Lady appeared to five children in Beauraing, Belgium. These apparitions, along with those in the nearby city of Banneaux, prepared the way for the Marian messages in Amsterdam.
The apparitions of Our Lady in Beauraing and Banneaux took place within a period of six weeks, and both were approved by the Holy See. Amsterdam also has the approval of its bishop. On December 21, Our Lady made herself known to the children, saying: “I am the Immaculate Virgin.” Our Lady appeared with her heart golden and resplendent.
On January 3, Our Lady said to Andree Degeimbre, one of the visionaries:
"I am the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. Pray always, Goodbye!"
Finally, she told Fernande:
-“Do you love my Son?”
-“Yes!,” the girl exclaimed.
-“Do you love me?”
- “Oh, yes!”
“Then sacrifice yourself for me.”
The First World War had ended and the entire world was going through the Great Depression. No one would have imagined then that another war, worse than the first, would soon come. The apparitions are a mark upon history, showing that Our Mother is never far from those who suffer, that she wants to prepare us so that we will be able to conquer all adversities and reach heaven.
Beauraing was and continues to be a humble village in southeast Belgium, four miles from the French border. During the time of the apparitions of Our Lady, the population numbered around 2,000. They also suffered from the effects of the Great Depression, but they emerged from this period for the better, being simple people close to the land.
From the 29th of November until January 3 of 1933, Our Lady appeared almost every day to these five children. Sometimes, she came multiple times in the same day; thus, the total number of apparitions was 33.
The content of her message was very brief, two or three words, but strong. Some tried to add to it, but the children kept the message in its original state.
The visionaries and their families
The Degeimbre family: Mrs. Germaine Degeimbre, a strong, kind, and practical woman, knew how to provide for her daughters, alone after her husband passed away. She is the mother of two of the visionaries. The oldest daughter, Jeanne, age 17, never saw Our Lady. Moved by envy, she greatly attacked her sisters to the point of calumny and harboring disdain for the apparitions in her heart. The parents, as well as the oldest two daughters, were born in Beauraing, but the family had moved to Voneche where the father had gotten a job taking care of a farm. They lived there for 13 years. When the father died, the family returned to their native town. They had only been back in Beauraing for two years when the apparitions took place.
The Voison family: Hector and Marie Loose Voisin were the parents of the other three visionaries. Hector, employed by the railroad, opened a little shop with his wife on the main street of the town to increase his poor income; later, he had to close the shop due to the apparitions.
The Voisins were very involved in the Socialist party and had abandoned the practice of the Catholic faith; however, the apparitions led them to find their faith again. On the evening of November 29 1932, Fernande Voisin, age 15, and Andree Degeimbre, age 14, and her sister Gilberte, 9, were with Albert Voisin, 11. They made their way to the local convent school to meet Albert's sister, Gilberte, who was staying to study. While waiting for the front door bell to be answered, Albert looked towards the embankment over the grotto and cried out: "Look! The Blessed Virgin, dressed in white, is walking above the bridge!" The girls paid no attention to him. But then Fernande turned around, partly because of the way Albert’s voice sounded, and partly because of the expression on his face. She looked up and froze in her tracks. The other girls,
meanwhile, were still facing the door. “It’s only the light of an automobile, silly” they said. Albert insisted and made them turn around. As they looked up, they all went into shock. There she was, above the bridge. They all saw the greatly illuminated figure of a woman in white, wearing a long flowing gown. She seemed as though she were walking on a cloud. They were able to distinguish that she was bending her knees, walking on air. They didn’t know what to do. The girls began pounding on the door. They yelled and cried at the same time. Sister Valeria answered the door, and they said, “Look, sister, the Virgin is walking above the bridge - She’s all dressed in white - We’re afraid.” The good nun tried to see what they were talking about. She looked in the direction to which they pointed, but she couldn’t make anything out. She thought perhaps they were referring to the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Grotto. She turned on a light so they could see better. “It’s only a branch in the wind.” she said. “Statues don’t walk.” The children insisted the Blessed Mother was walking above the bridge. The sister strained her eyes, but could see nothing. About this time, Gilberte V. walked out the door, and immediately saw the vision, exclaiming: “Oh, Look!” The children were in a state of panic. They wanted to get home.
The sister did not believe them but, she related the story to the other sisters at dinner that night. She met with strange looks, and a curt comment from Sister Theophile. “Oh sister”, she said, “How can you tell such a story? You sound as childish as those children.”
Meanwhile, the children ran home towards the Degeimbre house. They passed a man on the street. From their expressions, he thought there was a fire somewhere. “What’s happened?” he asked. Without skipping a beat, one of them yelled, “We saw something in white.” When they arrived at the Degeimbre house, Germaine was still sitting at the table with her two friends, Raymond Gobert and Jules Defesche. She knew immediately that something was wrong with them. Their faces were flushed, and they were completely out of breath. All spoke excitedly at the same time: “I think we saw the Blessed Virgin!”; “I think it was the statue that moved!”;“The Blessed Virgin was walking!”
The response was one of annoyance and disbelief. The older Degeimbre daughter, Jeanne, lashed out angrily at her sisters. “You two see the virgin? Now if I had seen her, that would be different. But you two! You’re not good enough.” Germaine gave them a brisk dismissal, sending her two girls off to bed. Then she turned to the three Voison children, saying, “Now listen to me, you children. Don’t tell any of this foolishness to your parents.” However, they told their parents everything.
Our Lady continued appearing to the children, but for the first three days, she said absolutely nothing to them. The local people, the skeptics, and their parents asked them, “What did she say?” Their response was, “Nothing.”
Then, on Friday, December 2, in response to questions the people had prodded them to ask Our Lady, she replied to the question, “Are you the Immaculate Virgin?”, She nodded her head and opened her arms. “What do you want of us?”, she spoke for the first time. “ALWAYS BE GOOD.” They answered her, “Yes. We will always be good.” The response from the unbelievers when they heard this message was, “That’s it?”
The next day, Saturday, December 3, they repeated their questions. TO the question, “Are you really the Immaculate Virgin?”, she nodded her head in assent. To the question, “What do you want of us?”, her response was, “Is it true that you will always be good?” Their response, in unison, was, “Yes! We will always be good.”
The children encountered great opposition from all sides, including from the village priest. No one was helping them discern these events, but rather, they were being mocked or accused of being liars. To the outsiders, what had happened was not enough. Throughout the apparitions, there was not enough sensationalism. Even a priest, asked to comment about Our Lady’s first message, commented that it was too trite a statement to have been made by the Mother of God. Where were the miracles? Where were the signs? What was she saying that was momentous? “BE GOOD ALWAYS.” What was that? A battle began that November of 1932. People that you would expect to come to the aid of the children became their greatest enemies. The hate and accusations that they faced was almost immediate and strong. They trusted in Our Lady alone. The majority of the time, she would just look at the children and smile. She followed them as they recited the rosary, but didn’t join in. If she said nothing, that meant there was nothing to report, and the children could go home.
In spite of everything, suddenly, the Church had more participants at Mass than before. The mothers of the visionaries, Germaine Degeimbre and Marie Louise Voison, had asked for a Mass to be said to Our Lady, so that if what their children were experiencing was not from the Lord, Mary would put an end to it. The day chosen for the Mass was December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. That day, Marie Louise Voison received the Eucharist for the first time in ten years. Her husband followed her soon thereafter.
To make matters worse, a series of hysterical people claimed to have apparitions of their own in different places on December 8 while the children were waiting for Our Lady to come. The devil wanted to distract, divide, and conquer. The children were put under enormous pressure due to the never-ending flow of questions by everybody from doctors to goernment officals to ecclesiastical authorities. However, the children defended the reports they gave, from the very first day. The parents of the visionaries also suffered. The Voison’s little shop became the target of curiosity seekers, preventing customers from coming in. Business fell drastically, and they had to close the shop. Hector became the laughing stock of the Socialist Party Club. But through these sufferings, Hector received the grace of conversion; he received the sacraments and became a staunch supporter of the apparitions and the children.
The reports of the children matched almost perfectly. Each time Our Lady appeared, they all fell to their knees as if they had been pushed down by a strong force. Some people commented that the noise made from their knees hitting the ground made enough pressure to break the kneecaps of other people. Yet the children never felt pain from it. Each night, prior to Our Lady’s appearance, the children prayed the Rosary in a natural voice. However, once she arrived, their voices became much higher, and they prayed faster.
On Wednesday, December 28, Our Lady told the children that she would stop coming to them very soon. This made the visionaries very sad. On December 29, as Mary was giving her farewell to the children, she opened her arms to expose a brilliant gold heart. This was the first time she had done this. Because of this, she is called THE LADY WITH THE GOLDEN HEART, referring to her Immaculate Heart. On December 30, she showed her golden heart to the children again, and said to them, “PRAY! PRAY VERY MUCH!”
On December 31, she revealed her golden heart once more to them. On January 1, 1933, she told them, “PRAY ALWAYS.” She also told them that she would not see them again after the 3rd of January.
On two separate occasions, Our Lady spoke only to one of the visionaries, Fernande Voison. She was afraid that people didn’t believe her when Mary spoke to her alone, and she felt the resentment of her fellow visionaries because of this. Fernande made it obvious to everyone that she didn’t like when Our Lady spoke to her alone. When Our Lady would appear, the tradition had become that when Our Lady moved her lips to speak, the children would stop praying so that they could hear her. During the apparition of January 1, when Mary began to move her lips to speak, Fernande was afraid that she would speak to her alone, so she continued praying and lowered her eyes so that she could not hear what Our Lady wanted to say. Two days later, she would be extremely sorry she had done this.
A great crowd assembled on January 3 for the final apparition, making it difficult for the children to get to their places for the apparition. They began to pray, and after a short while, all fell to their knees except Fernande. She looked around in amazement, then slowly went down on her knees for a few seconds. She got up and said, “I can’t see her.” For the others, Our Lady was more beautiful than they had ever seen her.
-She spoke first to Gilberte D: "This is between you and me, and I ask you not to speak of it to anyone." Mary then gave her a secret and said, "Goodbye.”
-Next, she spoke to the other Gilberte: "I will convert sinners."She then gave the child a secret and said, "Goodbye."
-She then spoke to Albert. She told him a secret and said, "Goodbye.”
-Finally, she spoke to Andree: "I am the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. Pray always." Then she said "Goodbye" and disappeared.
During this time, Fernande prayed with all her might. She shut her eyes hard, prayed, and then opened them. She could see nothing. She looked at the expressions on the faces of the other children. She knew Our Lady was speaking to them. There were tears in their eyes. Fernande was in a state of panic. At the end of the apparition, the other children began to rise. The crowd started to disperse. Fernande stayed on her knees. She looked around, bewildered. Someone suggested they said another Rosary, and perhaps Our Lady would return. The children went down on their knees again and prayed the Rosary, but Our Lady did not return. The children got up and walked towards the grotto to pray. Fernande cried out, “I want to see her!” She remained alone, praying on her knees, while the remaining crowd headed towards the grotto to pray.
We can imagine what Fernande was saying: "Please, please come back to me. Don’t leave me this way. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not letting you speak the other day. I love you. You promised me a secret. It can’t end this way. I need you. Please! Please!” Suddenly, a crack of thunder shot through the evening sky, followed by a ball of fire, which landed on the hawthorn tree. Everyone could see it. Fernande broke into a great smile. She was there! Our Lady looked upon Fernande, who could only cry for joy. She waited a moment, then spoke to her:
-“Do you love my Son?”
-“Yes!,” the girl exclaimed.
-“Do you love me?”
- “Oh, yes!”
- “Then sacrifice yourself for me.”
These brief sentences are the principal message of Beauraing. Our Lady waited until the very end, when everything seemed over, speaking these words to a girl who had waited for her, asking forgiveness for having offended her. Fernande wanted Our Lady to stay. She had many questions to ask her. But Our Lady opened her arms, shone more brilliantly than ever, and exposed her Golden Heart. She looked at Fernande lovingly and said, “Goodbye.” Fernande collapsed in tears; her entire body was shaking from uncontrolled sobbing.
The five visionaries got married. A few years after the apparitions ended, World War II broke out. Hitler invaded Belgium. The Shrine of Our Lady of Beauraing became a light of Christian hope for the people of Belgium. In those difficult times, the faithful remembered what Our Lady had taught them about the love of Jesus and Our Lady’s petition for sacrifice. The apparitions have been approved by the Holy See. Every year, more than 200,000 people visit the Shrine. The message of Our Lady was not for the visionaries alone, but for all of her children. Meditate on it. Live it. Respond to the cry of Our Mother.
Article - "Death of Beauraing Visionary Renews Message of Apparition"
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