Business is booming at Wisconsin apparition site

Perhaps unsurprisingly, America’s first approved Marian apparition shrine is generating a lot of interest — and seeing a lot more visitors these days.

From the Green Bay Press-Gazette:

People came in unprecedented numbers this week to Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, the first approved Marian apparition site in the United States.

Since the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay announced Dec. 8 that Our Lady of Good Help had been officially sanctioned as a place where the Virgin Mary appeared in the 19th century, the shrine has received constant phone calls, e-mail messages and visitors, said Karen Tipps, gift shop manager at the site.

“I would say we’re 50 times busier than a normal December,” Tipps said Wednesday. “The cars have just been steady all day long. There really isn’t a break.”

The popularity of the shrine, located about 16 miles northeast of Green Bay, continues as it prepares for its “first Saturday” devotions on New Year’s Day, which coincides with the Feast of the Mother of God. Tipps said she has been getting inquiries about Saturday’s devotion and Mass in recent days, in addition to requests for information on pilgrimages.

The Rev. John Doerfler, shrine rector and chancellor of the Green Bay diocese, said recently that people have been making pilgrimages to Our Lady of Good Help since the beginning. A chapel was built on the site in 1861, two years after Adele Brice, a young Belgian woman, said the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her there. Until recently, most visitors to the shrine have been local.

“What I see happening since the announcement,” Doerfler said, “is the level of interest has increased. How much it will increase will depend upon God’s providence and the work of the Holy Spirit.”

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