The Apparitions at Banneux in 1933
On the evening of Sunday 15 January, 1933, at about seven o'clock, Mariette Beco was in the kitchen with her mother while waiting for her younger brother Julien to arrive home at their house in Banneux, a Belgian village fifty miles north-east of Beauraing. She looked out of the window into the dark night again, to see if he was coming, and was surprised to see a young lady out in the yard, seemingly made of light and smiling at her. Mariette noticed the oval light that surrounded her body; she was bent slightly forward and inclined to the left and was wearing a long white gown with a blue sash, as well as a transparent white veil on her head. Mariette could see a golden rose on her right foot and a rosary with a golden chain and cross hanging on her right arm, which was joined to the left in prayer.Mariette told her mother about this, but Mrs. Beco, who had initially joked that perhaps it might be the Blessed Virgin, became frightened on seeing a white light shaped like a person, with what looked like a sheet over its head, and closed the curtain. Mariette though took another look and still saw the Lady smiling at her, and taking courage she began to pray with the rosary beads she had only recently found on the road.
She recited several decades and saw the apparition's lips move in prayer, before the Lady beckoned her with her finger to come outside. As she moved towards the door though, her mother, alarmed by now, locked it, and by the time Mariette had returned to the window the Lady had gone.
Nothing happened the next evening, Monday 16th, but the local priest, Fr. Jamin, was surprised to see Mariette at Mass on the Tuesday morning for the first time in months. She also came to his catechism class, and impressed, he asked her to give her account of what had happened, which he noted down immediately afterwards.
He tried to catch her out by claiming she had seen the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, but Mariette insisted that the Lady she had seen was inclined forward and much more beautiful.
On Wednesday 18 January, Mariette left the house at seven o'clock in the evening, and knelt to say the rosary near the front gate as her father watched. Suddenly she raised her arms, because, as she was later to recount, she could see the Blessed Virgin descending towards her between two tall pine trees, a tiny figure growing larger and more luminous as she approached, stopping near her on a small greyish cloud about a foot from the ground.
She joined in Mariette's prayers but did not touch the rosary that hung from her arm. Mariette then rose and went out through the gate and onto the road. She later said that the Lady had again beckoned her with her finger and she had followed her out.
She fell to her knees with a thud on two occasions, before turning to the right and kneeling for a third time on the ditch, placing her hands into some water there. She said later that the Lady had told her to do this, and the bystanders heard her repeat aloud: "This stream is reserved for me," and "Good evening." As the apparition disappeared over the pines, growing ever smaller, Mariette came to herself and was then questioned about what she had seen.
Next evening, Thursday 19 January, Mariette again left the house at about seven and knelt down in the snow to pray. After a couple of decades of the rosary she again saw the Lady, stretched out her arms and said: "Oh, she is here!" before asking her who she was, to hear the reply: "I am the Virgin of the poor." She then took the same path to the spring by the ditch, again falling to her knees on a total of three occasions. Mary spoke to her: "This spring is reserved for all the nations - to relieve the sick." Finally Mariette repeated the last words of the Lady for this apparition, which only lasted about seven minutes: "I shall pray for you. Au Revoir."
Mariette continued on subsequent evenings to pray, on her own sometimes, often with her father too, but it was only after three weeks of disappointment that the Lady again appeared to her on 11 February, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Six people were present on this cold, moonlit, Saturday evening, and after reaching the spring, with similar genuflections as before, Mariette plunged her hand into the water and blessed herself, while appearing to listen intently to someone.
After a few minutes Mariette thanked her unseen visitor and tearfully made her way back to the house, indicating the Lady's words: "I come to relieve suffering." Afterwards she went to see Fr. Jamin and gave him a full account of what had happened.
There were no more apparitions until 15 February, when several ladies and Mariette's mother were with her in the garden. The rosary was recited and then Mariette again saw the beautiful Lady, reporting that the priest had asked her for a sign and then listening intently for several minutes before bursting into tears. She could only say that the Lady had said: "Believe in me, I will believe in you. Pray much. Au Revoir."
On Monday 20 February, Mariette again made her way to the spring, just over a hundred yards away, and was able to report Mary's words as being simply: "My dear child, pray much." The final apparition, the eighth, took place on 2 March 1933. In reply to Mary's words, "I am the Mother of the Saviour, Mother of God, Pray much," Mariette could only say, "Yes, yes." Mary then blessed Mariette as she had done during the fourth apparition and indicated that this was indeed the last apparition by saying "Adieu," instead of "Au Revoir," as before.
Banneux was investigated from 1935 until 1937 by an Episcopal commission, after which the evidence collected was submitted to Rome. Meanwhile growing numbers of pilgrims came to the shrine, and in May 1942 Bishop Kerkhofs of Liege approved the cult of the Virgin of the Poor. In 1947 the apparitions themselves received preliminary approval, with this becoming definite in 1949. Like the children at Beauraing, Mariette married and had a family, being, like them, content to remain in the background.
Sources: Maloy, in A Woman clothed with the Sun; Wuillaume, Banneux: a message for our time, Banneux, 1995.
Theotokos Catholic Books - Approved Apparitions - www.theotokos.org.uk