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The Catholic Defender: The Virgin Mary visits Beauraing, Belgium


The Virgin of Beauraing, also known as Our Lady of the Golden Heart, is the title of 32 Marian apparitions that took place in Beauraing, Belgium between November 1932 and January 1933. The children who saw the apparitions were between the ages of 9 and 15 and belonged to two families: the Voisins and the Degeimbres.


The children saw Mary dressed in white walking above them on a railway bridge. On December 21, Mary told the children, “I am the Immaculate Virgin,” with her heart golden and resplendent. 


The apparitions were approved by the Holy See and prepared the way for the Marian messages in Amsterdam. In 1949, Father Joseph Debergh founded the Pro Maria Committee to spread the story of Mary's 33 appearances in Beauraing through pamphlets, tours, and other forms of promotion. In 1958, Debergh and Don Sharkey were awarded the Marian Library Medal for their book Our Lady of Beauraing. 


Many pilgrims have flocked to Beauraing for several years after the apparitions, and many cures have been claimed. However, very few of the 33 apparitions resulted in messages passed on by the children. Some say that Beauraing was a continuation of Fatima, which occurred during World War I


During the last apparition on Jan. 3, 1933, Our Lady stated: “I will convert sinners. I am the Mother of God, the Queen of heaven.” She revealed her Golden Heart and asked one of the children to sacrifice for her.


In the village of Beauraing, Mary appeared thirty three times between November 29, 1932 and January 3, 1933 to the Degeimbre and Voisin children. The messages Mary spoke to the children were to encourage them to be good and to also pray often. Many have seen Beauraing as a continuation of Fatima for a few reasons.


On 2 February 1943, he published a decree authorizing public devotions to Our Lady of Beauraing. The final approbation for the Marian apparition was granted in 1949 with the permission of the Holy Office.


On Nov. 29, 1932, five children in the village of Beauraing, Belgium, had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary dressed all in white, walking above them on a railway bridge.


Fernande Voisin, 15, and her brother, Albert, 11, had been walking to meet their sister, Gilberte, 13, at the nearby Catholic boarding school where she was a day student. Their two friends, Andree and Gilberte Degeimbre, 14 and 9, joined them along the way. As Albert reached the door of the school to knock, the vision appeared, her knees moving underneath her robes but her feet seemingly obscured by clouds. Frightened, all of the children pounded on the door as hard as they could. When Sister Valeria opened the door, she was confused by the frantic children but dismissed their story as nonsense — though Gilberte Voisin also saw the vision when she arrived at the door after gathering her things.


Over the next five weeks, the children reported 32 more visits from the Blessed Mother, the final one occurring on Jan. 3, 1933. The children described the woman as wearing a long white dress with a white veil, a golden crown of light, and her hands together in prayer in front of her chest. During her appearance on Dec. 29, she opened her arms to display a golden heart.


In 1935, Bishop Thomas-Louis Heylan of the Belgian regional diocese of Namur formed a commission to investigate the apparitions. Eight years later, in 1943, his successor, Bishop André-Marie Charue, authorized public devotion to the title “Our Lady of Beauraing,” and the apparition received recognition as authentic in 1949. Every year on Nov. 29, Mary is celebrated under the title “Our Lady of Beauraing,” also known as the “Virgin with the Golden Heart.” 

The Marian Library has many items in the collections related to this popular Marian title, including circulating material found in the library catalog, as well as noncirculating material, such as statues, pamphlets, and archival collections. 

THE PRO MARIA COMMITTEE 


In 1949 in Lowell, Massachusetts, Father Joseph Debergh, O.M.I., founded the Pro Maria Committee to disseminate the story of Mary’s 33 appearances in Beauraing through pamphlets, tours and other forms of promotion. Debergh worked closely with the Marian Library and, along with Don Sharkey, was awarded the Marian Library Medal for their book Our Lady of Beauraing in 1958. Debergh was also responsible for translating and obtaining permission to publish documents from Bishop Charue in the Marian Library publication Marian Reprints. 


In the 1970s, the Pro Maria Committee donated to the Marian Library three binders of photographs, holy cards and other images that document the history and activities relating to the apparitions. The photographs include a mix of originals taken by committee members during pilgrimages to the shrine in the 1950s and ’60s and reproductions of photos taken around the time of the original apparitions in 1932-33. A selection of the images are digitized and available for download in eCommons, with a complete finding aid available for reference in the University Libraries’ archival database, ArchivesSpace. 


Another related collection, the Pro Maria Committee translations on Beauraing apparitions, includes several manuscripts in both French and English by Aurelien Pierroux, the first secretary of the Pro Maria Committee. These manuscripts include lecture notes from a tour across the United States; information on the “Beauraing” Way of the Cross; and an essay about Beauraing during World War II, among others.  


OUR LADY OF BEAURAING, IMMACULATE VIRGIN, carry to Jesus, your Son, all the intentions which we confide to you this day. (Here mention your intentions) Mother with the Golden Heart, mirror of the tenderness of the Father, look with love upon the men and women of our time and fill them with the joy of your presence. You who promised to convert sinners, help us discover the infinite mercy of our God. Awaken in us the grace of conversion so that all our life becomes the reflection of this mercy. Holy Mother of God, look down upon our miseries, console us in our sorrows, give strength to all those who are suffering. Queen of Heaven, crowned with light, help us grow in faith, hope and love, and we shall be able to give thanks without end. You brought Jesus into the world, may we by prayer, by sharing His Word and by the testimony of our life filled with love and joy make Him be born in all hearts. May every instant of our life be a YES to the question, which you are asking us today: Do you love my son? Do you love me? Then the reign of Jesus will come into the world. AMEN.

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