The Virgin Mary, calling herself the Virgin of the Poor, is reputed to have manifested eight times in 1933 to eleven year old Mariette Beco at Banneux in Belgium.  Mariette wanted to be a new St Bernadette by the looks of things.  But she was never that holy - she was rude and she divorced her husband and shacked up with a man.

The Lady looked exactly like the Virgin of Lourdes wearing white and a blue sash with a golden rose on her visible foot and carrying a rosary. Lourdes was a well-known apparition so this makes Banneux look suspicious. They are too alike for Banneux not to have been contrived. The child thought that people would be more likely to believe her lies if she saw the Lady of Lourdes.

The apparitions started after the child and her mother saw a strange shape in the garden. It looked like somebody wrapped up in a sheet to her mother though Mariette said that this time that it looked like the Blessed Virgin and could even see it smiling. The mother’s testimony shows that there was a natural explanation for the shape when it did not look like Mary and that the child only imagined that it was the Virgin smiling at her. Natural illusions happen all the time. Perhaps it was a joke played by some child who was pretending to be a ghost and who was afraid to say when stories of an apparition began to circulate. It was thought that light was caused by a lamp in the house.

Mariette said that she did not know what the word nations meant when the Virgin said that the spring was for all nations. But this is unlikely for a child who went to school. When she was able to remember the word she must have known for you cannot remember an unfamiliar word.

The expression on the child’s face during the vision, her willingness to endure rain and frost to have the vision and her standing by her story in the face of much persecution during the apparitions have all been claimed to mark the visions as true. But all faces look peaceful at times even in the midst of pain. The child would have known that the more physical discomfort she brought on herself the more likely people would believe her. And to admit or hint that the story was a fabrication would only draw worse persecution on her so she knew she had to be totally convincing.

When the Lady approves of the Church though it only says an apparition may have happened and puts a child through all that – the girl could have died of pneumonia – for something that only might have happened then how could she be the real Virgin Mary?

An unauthorised booklet, The Virgin of the Poor says that the spring the Lady blessed did not appear miraculously for similar springs were usual enough in the Ardennes and that one was already there. It is a popular myth among supporters of the apparition that the spring was a miracle and just came up out of nowhere.

The Lady told Mariette to tell the priest who wanted a sign, “Believe in me and I will believe in you”. The priest rightly noticed an error in this. The Blessed Virgin cannot believe in anybody for she can see all in God. Belief is evil where certainty is possible. This creature was not the blessed Mary but an illusion or a figment of the child’s imagination. What right had Mary to ask for belief in the vision when the bishop had not scrutinised the vision yet? It is up to the bishop if a vision might be believed.

The final vision saw the Virgin giving the child a secret. Secrets are proofs against authenticity and especially ones that are not to be told to anybody else at all like hers.

Twenty miracles related to Banneux which were accepted by the Church commission as proving the vision had taken place and naturally the Church pronounced the vision real and from God in 1949. The miracles did not involve amputated limbs being restored or anything like that. They were just cures of diseases which might never have existed in the first place. Thousands went to the place on pilgrimage so it was inevitable that non-existent miracles would have ensued. Medicine made more mistakes then and some pretty horrendous ones since. Not all the accepted miracles can be attributed solely to Banneux for the healed practised other devotions too.

Lourdes etc
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