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Our Lady of Banneux

Beco Family Home.jpg

The Beco family home outside of Banneux

Short & Long Versions

This apparition story is presented in two ways: 

  • Summarized version

  • Full story that reveals what occurred in Banneux, Belgium. This is lengthy and may be easier to read on a computer screen.


"Our Lady of Banneux," also known as the Virgin of the Poor, is a Marian apparition that took place in a small Belgium village of 300 people. The apparitions in Banneux, near Liege, occurred to 11-year-old Mariette Beco. The first apparition occurred on the evening of January 15, 1933, when Mariette was at home with her siblings. While looking out an upstairs window, she saw a lady of extraordinary beauty standing in their garden. 

Over the next several weeks, the Virgin Mary appeared to Mariette a total of eight times, conveying messages of prayer, repentance, and compassion. During these apparitions, the Virgin identified herself as the "Virgin of the Poor" and requested the construction of a small chapel in her honor.

One of the notable features of these apparitions was the simplicity and humility of the messages. The Virgin emphasized the importance of prayer, especially the recitation of the Rosary, and urged people to come to the chapel in Banneux to seek solace and pray for the sick.

The Virgin directed Mariette to a nearby spring, saying: “This spring is reserved for all Nations… to relieve the sick.” Subsequently, the spring became a focal point for pilgrims seeking physical and spiritual healing. Many claimed to have experienced miraculous recoveries and conversions after drinking or using this water.

The local bishop, recognizing the potential significance of these apparitions, initiated an official investigation. In 1949, the apparitions at Banneux were declared authentic by the Catholic Church, and the chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Poor became a pilgrimage site.

The messages of Our Lady of Banneux stress the themes of compassion and care for the suffering. The Virgin's choice of the title "Virgin of the Poor" underscores her concern for those in need, both materially and spiritually. The apparitions at Banneux highlight Mary's role as a compassionate intercessor and a source of hope for the afflicted.

In 1978, Pope John Paul II visited Banneux and expressed his reverence for the Virgin of the Poor. The site continues to attract pilgrims and visitors, and the messages of prayer, repentance, and compassion conveyed by Our Lady of Banneux remain relevant and impactful in the hearts of believers. The Feast of Our Lady of Banneux is celebrated annually on January 15, commemorating the anniversary of the first apparition to Mariette Beco.

The footpath from the Beco garden to the spring is the only path in the world where people can follow in the steps of the Mother of God. 



Mariette Beco was born on March 25, 1921, the feast of the Annunciation. She was the eldest of a family of seven children and spent much of her time helping her mother with the other children. The family experienced difficult living conditions and lived in a modest isolated brick house that her father had built, set back from the road away from the village of Banneux.

Sunday, January 15, 1933

Mariette, age 11, was looking out the upstairs window of her home in the evening twilight when she saw something shimmering in her family's garden. As she looked closer, the glowing light revealed a beautiful woman wearing a flowing white gown and veil, blue sash around her waist, while holding a rosary in her right hand. The woman was smiling and looking directly at Mariette.


The girl called her mother with excitement telling her to come look. Her mother was busy and ignored her calls. But Mariette kept yelling for her to see this strange sight. Her mother finally came to the window. For a second, she thought she saw something bright, but certainly nothing looked like a woman. Mariette pleaded to go outside to investigate herself. Her mother refused. It was very cold outside and getting dark.  


That night, the rest of the family heard Mariette's story. None of them believed her. The next day at school, Mariette told her best friend, Josephine, about the beautiful woman, and again, was met with laughter. Mariette began to cry. She was telling the truth and nobody believed her. Josephine felt bad for laughing and said after school they should go tell the village Catholic priest, Father Louis Jamin. 

When the two girls arrived to see the priest, Mariette became unsure and ran home. Josephine stayed and told Mariette's story. 


Wednesday, January 18

Just before 7 p.m., Mariette felt driven to go outside her house. Her father, Julien, joined her. Instantly, Mariette sank to her knees and began praying with the rosary she had found on a road. She saw a bright light in the sky and a woman descending toward her.


Mariette left the garden and entered the road where the Lady called her. She was joined by her father and two neighbors. 

On the way to Mary, Mariette fell on her knees twice. A third time, she knelt near the ditch, in front of a puddle of water from the spring. The Lady spoke to her, "Plunge your hand into the water. This stream is reserved for me." Mariette did it and repeated what the Lady said to her. 

Thursday, January 19

The weather was very bad. Mariette was on her knees in the family garden accompanied by 11 people who witnessed her actions. The Lady appeared to her. Mariette asked, “Who are you, beautiful lady?”  Mary replied, “I am the Virgin of the Poor.” The Virgin led the child to the same icy spring near her house.


Mariette questioned her again, “Beautiful Lady, you told me yesterday: this spring is reserved for me. Why for me?” With a smile, the Virgin answered, “This spring is reserved for all Nations… to relieve the sick.” The Virgin continued, “I will pray for you. Goodbye.” Mariette later admitted that she did not understand the meaning of "nations" and "relieve."

Friday, January 20

Mariette stayed in her bed all day. She did not sleep well. She woke up at 6:45 p.m., got dressed and went outside to the garden. This time more than 20 people came to witness.


When the Virgin appeared again, Mariette exclaimed, “Oh, here she is. What do you desire, my beautiful Lady?” The Virgin answered her with a smile, “I would like a little chapel.” With her right hand, the Virgin blessed the child with the sign of the cross and then vanished.

The Virgin paused her visits for three weeks. Mariette, however, remained faithful and prayed at 7 p.m. in the garden every day.

Saturday, February 11

On that day exactly 75 years earlier, the Virgin Mary had appeared for the first time to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France. During this apparition, the Virgin led Mariette to the stream.

Upon arrival at the spring, the child knelt twice, dipping her hands in the water and making a sign of the cross. She got up and ran towards the house and cried. She did not understand what the Virgin told her: “I come to relieve suffering.” Again, she did not understand the word “relieve.” But she knew it was something good because the Virgin smiled at her.

Wednesday, February 15

The Virgin appeared to her for the sixth time. Mariette passed on Father Jamin’s request to Mary, she said, “Blessed Virgin, the priest told me to ask you for a sign.” The Virgin answered, “Believe in me, I will believe in you.”


It was during this apparition that the Lady gave Mariette a message that the girl was not to share with anyone, even her parents. Mariette never revealed the secret. 

Monday, February 20

Mariette was kneeling again on the snow despite the cold. Suddenly, she prayed louder and faster. She left the garden, knelt twice on the road and then at the spring where she prayed and cried because Mary went away too fast. As usual, the Virgin was smiling to her and said, “My dear child, pray very much.” After that, She stopped smiling and said again in a more serious voice before leaving her, “Goodbye.”

Thursday, March 2

It had been raining since mid-afternoon and was still raining when Mariette went out at 7 p.m. Five women were present. The girl was on the third decade of her rosary when the downpour suddenly stopped. Mariette extended her arms, stood up, took a step and knelt again.


The last message was "I am the Mother of the Savior, Mother of God. Pray a lot." Before leaving her, the Virgin blessed the girl, laid Her hands on Mariette, saying, “Goodbye.”   



Despite the many witnesses, many people in Banneux did not believe Mariette and thought she was making it all up. Like other apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the visionary seems to be an unlikely person to be chosen for such an honor. Despite this, there were those who believed her and they immediately got to work building a small chapel as the Lady had requested. It was completed just seven months later. 

Visitors flocked to the chapel and sought healing from the spring. Many healing miracles took place, which not only led to more visitors, but to strengthening the faith of believers. Many people, including Mariette's father, were converted to Catholicism upon witnessing or hearing accounts of the apparition and the miracles that followed.

Since then, the site of the apparitions attracts half a million visitors each year. The spring of healing water is still accessible, and visitors come to collect the water in bottles and take it home with them. More than 50 miraculous cures have been documented at the spring.

The message of Our Lady of Banneux is one of compassion and hope, particularly for those who are poor and suffering. The apparitions occurred during a time of economic hardship in Europe, and the Virgin Mary's identification as the "Virgin of the Poor" was seen as a message of solidarity with those who were struggling.

Church Approval
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 on March 19, 1942, Bishop Mgr. Louis-Joseph Kerkhofs of Liege approved the cult of the Virgin of the Poor. In 1947, the apparitions themselves received preliminary approval, with this becoming definite on August 22, 1949.


"Two times, first in 1942 and then in 1947, we have officially recognized the reality of the apparitions of Banneux. Today after two new years of prayer and observation, we believe in conscience to be able and to be required to recognize without reserve this reality, namely, the reality of the eight apparitions of the Holy Virgin to Mariette Beco." (Dessain. Notre Dame de Banneux, Paris, 1967, p. 207)


The Feast of Our Lady of Banneux is observed on January 15, the date of the first apparition.


In the years after the apparitions, Mariette grew exhausted by the constant interviews and examinations by the church, public officials and others. "If I'd known all that was to happen, I wouldn't have said a word to anyone. I'd have build a little chapel myself in the garden," she said.


Mariette's health also began to decline after the apparitions, and she suffered from various illnesses for the rest of her life. However, she remained devoted to her faith and continued to pray and attend Mass regularly.

In 1935, she worked as Nurse Assistant at the Sainte-Rosalie Clinic in Liège. Sister Lutgarde, who was a superior of the clinic, became her great confidante and benefited from a spectacular cure by way of the Virgin of the Poor. The story of this healing can be found in the book Pièces à Conviction.


During World War II, Mariette risked her life in the resistance. She was part of the “Constance” network: behind Tancrémont’s chapel, she recovered German airmen and soldiers who had escaped from Germany and drove them to her parents’ house; she hid them in an attic with an entrance hidden by a wardrobe. After the war, Mariette received the ‘diploma of honor’, but she refused the award that was proposed to her.

Mariette married Mathieu Hoeberigs on December 26, 1942. She was 21 years old. Beco’s parents did not approve Mariette’s choice. The young couple settled on rue de l’Esplanade in Banneux and they opened a restaurant there. They had two children: Jean-Marie and Myriam. A third child, Lutgarde, only lived for a few hours. During this third birth, Mariette suffered a hemorrhage that put her life at risk. 

In 1947, Mariette joined the Third Order of Franciscans, and she later became a lay Carmelite.

A revealing fact is known from a document written by Father Jamin in 1957: unknown visitors offered Mariette a large sum of money to leave Banneux and to deny in writing the Virgin of the Poor’s apparitions. She vigorously scolded them and chased them away. They then tried to do the same to her husband who was about to agree with the proposal. Mariette intervened and stopped it.

After the separation between the Hoeberigs, Mariette opened a chips shop on Rue Neuve in Pepinster. In 1972, she settled in a hamlet of Theux, not far from the chapel of Tancrémont. She lived with her partner, Raymond, who supported her for eight years. He later became an invalid and Mariette cared for him. He died in 1989.

During the papal visit of 1985, she agreed to meet John Paul II in a sacristy, far from prying eyes of the public. Then for the public visit of the pope, she hid in the area reserved for physically handicapped people. 


In 2008, asked for a statement on the 75th anniversary of the apparitions, Beco explained why she would say nothing, “I was no more than a postman who delivers the mail. Once this has been done, the postman is of no importance, anymore.” She always discouraged those who wanted to hear her secrets as she declared, “I’ve said what I had to say. I haven’t had a word to add, nor subtract.”


She lived to be 90 years old passing away in 2011.

Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
lead us to Jesus, the Source of Grace.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
save all nations.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
Fountain of Grace, sanctify us.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
relieve the suffering.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
relieve the sick.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
pray for each one of us.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
we believe in thee.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
believe in us.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
we shall pray very much.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
bless us.
Blessed Virgin of the Poor,
Mother of the Savior,
Mother of God,
we thank thee.

LETTER OF JOHN PAUL II TO THE BISHOP OF LIÈGE ON THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE RECOGNITION OF THE APPARITIONS OF OUR LADY AT BANNEUX To the Most Reverend Albert Houssiau Bishop of Liège 1. Fifty years ago, on 22 August 1949, Bishop Louis-Joseph Kerkhofs, your predecessor in the see of Liège, definitively recognized the reality of the apparitions of Our Lady of the Poor in Banneux. Moved to recall the Eucharist which I myself, during my Apostolic Visit to Belgium in May 1985, had the joy of celebrating in this shrine which has an important outreach, I gladly join in the prayer of the pilgrims who go there to seek comfort and strength from Our Lady of Banneux, invoked by the name of Our Lady of the Poor, Health of the Sick. With the whole Church, I thank the Lord for the outstanding mission carried out by the Mother of the Saviour and for the example of faith she offers the entire Christian people, called, like her, to follow Christ, every day repeating her "yes", her fiat. 2. In 1933, a few years before the Second World War, Mary appeared in Banneux as a messenger of peace. In a certain way she was summoning the leaders of society to become the artisans of peace and educators of peoples, inviting each person to care for his brothers and sisters, the lowliest, the most despised and the suffering, who are all beloved by God. Today it is still up to us to pray that "Mary, Mediatrix of grace, ever watchful and concerned for all her children, [may] obtain for all humanity the precious gift of harmony and peace" (Message on the 50th Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe, 8 May 1995, n. 16). 3. In contemplating the Virgin Mary, the faithful discover the marvels God worked in his humble handmaid, and in her, Mother of the Church and Queen of Heaven, see the prefiguration of what humanity is called to be through the grace of salvation which was obtained for us through the Saviour's Death and Resurrection. The faithful who enrol in Mary's school take a path of prayer that guarantees a Christian life; with her they discover the mercy of the Father who stoops down to all human beings, especially the poor, the little and the suffering. Therefore we can tirelessly repeat with Mary her canticle of thanksgiving: "He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (Lk 1: 48). 4. Every pilgrimage a Christian makes is an important moment in his spiritual life. It helps him discover the power of prayer which unifies the being and is the source of the witness each person is called to bear, and of his mission. With Mary we become humble children in the Lord's hands, asking forgiveness for our faults and thereby rediscovering the joy of being God's children who know they are infinitely loved and so have a deep desire to be converted. Whoever you are, as St Bernard said, "when you are assaulted by the winds of temptation, when you see the pitfalls of misfortune, look at the Star, call upon Mary". "If, troubled by the burden of sin and ashamed at the blemishes on your conscience, you begin to feel overcome by sadness and the temptation to despair, think of Mary. In peril, anguish and doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name be for ever on your lips and in your heart. And to obtain her intercession, never cease to follow her example". Be certain that "in following her, you will not stray and in calling upon her, you will not despair" (Second homily on the Gospel passage: "The Angel Gabriel was sent"). Then, on returning to their daily lives, the faithful receive the grace of renewed trust. They are made more attentive to God's word and the responsibility they receive through their Baptism. They also recognize more readily God's signs on their path. 5. The apparitions of Banneux invite Christians to question themselves about the mystery of suffering, which finds its meaning in the mystery of the Cross of the Lord. When he faces suffering which, in human terms, is inexplicable, the believer turns spontaneously to God who alone can help him to bear it and endure it, sustaining his hope of salvation and eternal beatitude. In a very special way, God is tenderly and lovingly present to every person afflicted by illness, for he is moved by the experiences of his people, the people he loves, to whom he wants to bring relief and comfort. "Then the Lord said, "I have seen the affliction of my people ... and have heard their cry.... I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them ... and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land'" (Ex 3: 7-8). As I explained in the Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, every person who offers his suffering contributes mysteriously to raising the world to God, and shares especially in the work of our redemption (cf. n. 19). He is thus joined particularly to Christ our Saviour. 6. I also commend to God those whose mission it is to care for their brethren, to help them and to accompany them with compassion in their physical and moral trials, as well as the members of the pastoral care teams in the hospitals and clinics and everyone who visits the sick and the elderly. Following the example of the Good Samaritan, they are, as it were, the loving hand of the Lord outstretched to those who are suffering in body and soul; they show them that no trial whatsoever can take away their dignity as children of God (cf. ibid., nn. 28-30). May they tirelessly continue their mission, thus reminding the world that every human life, from its origin to its natural end, is precious in God's eyes! 7. As I entrust you to the intercession of Our Lady of Banneux and the saints of your land, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, as well as to the faithful who travel to the shrine of Banneux in the spirit of the Great Jubilee and to the priests and faithful of your Diocese and of all the Dioceses of Belgium. From the Vatican, 31 July 1999.

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