The Apparitions at Beauraing, Belgium
It was in Beauraing, in southern Belgium,that Our Lady appeared to a group of children between late November 1932 and January 1933.
On the evening of November 29, 1932, Fernande Voisin 15, Andree Degeimbre 14, and her sister Gilberte 9 were with Albert Voisin 11. They went to the local Convent School, where they were to meet albert's sister, Gilberte Voisin, who was staying on till 6.30 to continue her studies.
They entered the Convent grounds, going past a Lourdes Grotto which was in front of the railway embankment, that surrounded the school grounds.
Waiting for the doorbell to be answered,Albert looked out over the grotto, and suddenly cried out "Look! the Blessed Virgin , dressed in white, is walking above the bridge!"
The girls looked and could see the luminous figure of a Lady dressed in white, her feet in a small white cloud, walking in mid air.
The Sister who answered the doorbell, could see nothing, but when Gilberte Voisin reached the door and turned around, she too saw the vision.
Over the next few evenings the pattern that developed was that the children would go to the convent school, but not enter, and they would see the Blessed Virgin Mary by a Hawthorn tree near the grotto. They knelt in the street outside the convent gate and peered through the railings. They would simultaneously drop to their knees on the cobblestones with a force and a sound that would make onlookers shudder, and yet they showed no signs of injury. People were additionally surprised to hear the high-pitched voices of the children as they prayed.
They later told how they saw a beautiful Lady wearing a white gown, holding her hands together in prayer , and with rays of light surrounding her head.
In the apparition of December 2, Albert asked her if she was the Immaculate Conception. She merely smiled and nodded her head. She answered the question "What do you want?" with the simple request, "Always be good!"
Came December 8, the Feastday of the Immaculate Conception a crowd of some 15,000 people was present expecting a great miracle. But they only saw the children in ecstasy. Lighted matches placed beneath their joined hands produced no reactions; similarly pin pricks and strong lights shone into their eyes.
In the meantime, Father Lambert, who was the local priest, and Church Authorities generally wanted nothing to do with it. The local Bishop forbad his priests to go to the site.
The apparitions did not occur every night, although nightly the children would assemble at the site and pray the Rosary. If Mary did appear they would fall to their knees in unison. They were watched closely to make sure that they did not speak to each other. When the apparition was over they would be questioned separately to find out what they had seen or heard, and what they said was written down. Later comparing their stories their questioners were astonished to see that the details revealed by all of them matched up perfectly.
On December 28, Mary said to them "My last apparition will take place soon." On December 29, Fernande saw the Blessed Virgin Mary with a Heart of Gold surrounded by rays of light. On December 30, this vision was also seen by another two of the children. On this coccasion only Fernande heard Mary say "Pray, pray very much"
On the last day in 1932, all the children saw Mary's Golden Heart.
On January 1, 1933 Mary instructed Gilberte Voisin to "Pray always". The next day she told the children that the following day she would speak to them all separately. Came the evening of January 3, a vey large crowd estimated at between 30,000 and 35,000 people was present at the site as the childen began praying their Rosary.
After the second decade , four of the children cried out and dropped to their knees together, leaving Fernande, the eldest, in tears because she could see nothing.
Mary spoke to Gilberte Voisin, telling her what has been seen as the main promise of Beuraing "I will convert sinners" and then said "Goodbye"
To Andree she said "I am the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, Pray always" and then she disappeared from Andree's sight.
Fernande remained kneeling while the other four went inside for questioning. Suddenly she heard a loud noise like thunder, and this was also heard by many, but not all, in the crowd.
Then she saw a ball of fire on the Hawthorn tree, and this was also seen by many, but not all, of the crowd.
Mary appeared and spoke to Fernande, asking her if she loved her and her Son Jesus, to which Fernande answered "Yes!" In response to this declaration , Mary said, "Then sacrifice yourself for me". After this the Blessed Virgin Mary glowed with extra briiliance, and extending her arms, so that Fernande could see her Golden Heart, she said "Goodbye" and disappeared.
In 1935 the Bishop appointed a Committee of Inquiry, with the work continuing under his successor.
In February 1943, Bishop Charue authorised public devotions to Mary at Beauraing, but it was only in July 1949 following WWII, that the shrine was officially recognised and two important documents issued.
The first details two of the many cures that have taken place at Beauraing, declaring them to be miraculous.
The second was a letter to the clergy in which the Bishop wrote, "we are able in all serenity and prudence to affirm that the Queen of Heaven appeared to the children of Beauraing during the winter of 1932-1933, especially to show us in her maternal heart the anxious appeal for prayer and the promise of her powerful mediation for the conversion of sinners."