The Apparitions at Banneux, Belgium
It was 1933, January 15, at about 7.00 pm that Mariette Beco was in the kitchen of their home in the Belgian village of Banneux, with her mother, awaiting the return of her younger brother Julien . She looked out of the kitchen window into the dark night to see if there was any sign of him, and was surprised to see a young lady out in their yard, smiling at her. She was seemingly made of light, and was wearing a long white dress with a bright blue sash at the waist. Mariette could see a golden rose on her foot, and a pair of rosary beads with a golden chain and crucifix, looped over her right arm, and her hands were held together in a praying fashion.
Mariette told her mother about this, and her mother at first joked that it might be the Blessed Virgin Mary. When she looked out into the yard and saw a white light in the shape of a young lady with a sheet over her head, she became frightened and told Mariette to get away from the window, and closed the curtains. Mariette had another look out through the window, and saw the lady still smiling at her. Taking into her hands the pair of Rosary Beads that she had found recently on the road, she began to pray the rosary. She prayed several decades and saw the Lady's lips moving in unison with her own.
The figure beckoned to Mariette to come outside and Mariette made for the door. But her mother got there first, and forbidding her to go out, she locked the door. Mariette went back to the window but saw that the figure had disappeared.
Nothing happened the next evening, Monday 16th. but the local priest Fr. Jamin was surprised to see Mariette at Mass on the Tuesday, the first time in months, and she also went to his Catechism lessons.
This impressed him and he asked her why, and then she told him all about the events of last Sunday, which he recorded immediately.
The following day Mariette knelt in the snow on the frozen ground where she had seen the figure and began to pray the Rosary. A figure appeared in the distant sky, and came closer to her until it was only a few feet away, on a greyish cloud about a foot above the ground. The Lady led Mariette to a spring, and then spoke for the first time, saying "Plunge your hands into the water. This spring is reserved for me." Then, promising to return, she disappeared.
On Thursday 19th. the Lady appeared to Mariette for the third time. Mariette asked her who she was and she replied, "I am the Virgin of the Poor". Then the Lady again led Mariette to the spring and said, "This is reserved for all nations - for the sick"
During the fourth apparition, which happened after a disappointing three weeks, during which time Mariette, often accompanied by her father, prayed the Rosary in the snow in the backyard , commencing at 7.00pm, six people were present. It was February 11, the Feastday of our Lady of Lourdes.
On reaching the spring she plunged her hands into the icy water and blessed herself, while appearing to be listening intently to an unseen visitor. A few minutes later, after thanking her invisible visitor, she burst into tears, and making her way back to her home, she revealed what our Lady had said to her - "I come to relieve suffering". After that she went back to Fr Jamin and told him all that had happened.
The next apparition was four days later, on February 15, when several ladies including her mother were present in the garden. The Rosary was prayed, and Mariette again saw the beautiful Lady. She told her that Fr Jamin had asked for a sign. She then listened intently for a few minutes, before again bursting into tears.
She later said the Our Lady had said "Believe in me, and I will believe in you, Au revoir"
On Monday, February 20, Mariette again went to the spring which was just over one hundred yards away. She was later to report Our Lady's simple words "My dear child, pray much"
The final apparition, the eighth, took place on March 3, 1933. Mary said, "I am the Mother of the Saviour, Mother of God, pray much"
She then indicated that that was to be the last apparition by saying "Adieu" in place of the customary "Au revoir".
The happenings at Banneux were investigated from 1935 to 1937, the findings then being submitted to Rome. In May 1942, Bishop Kerkhofs of Liege approved the cult of the Virgin of the Poor. In 1947 the apparitions themselves were given premiminary approval, and in 1949 the approval became definite.