Maredsous is a Benedictine monastery of monks founded in 1872 in Wallonie, the French section of Belgium. There is a college there and traditionally the abbey was a Center for Sacred Arts and Crafts producing vestments, murals, paintings, ceramics and wood carvings, one of which is in my very own Béguinage church done by an anonymous brother.
A lovely ride into the French Belgian countryside took me to the very spacious grounds of Maredsous. Besides the college, a cheese factory, brewery and very large cafeteria and store welcome retreatants and visitors. In the summer large groups can gather on the grounds.
For me there was a small miracle awaiting. Into the otherwise empty church came a young man, armed with tripod and camera, and a monk from Maredsous. The young man is a religion teacher whom I have known from his visits to the Béguinage over the years. Our visits have coincided and I was so happy to see him again in such an unlikely way and place. He was photographing Maredsous in preparation for a class for his students. A lively conversation ensued and I was even interviewed and photographed for a part in his mini documentary. A small miracle at Maredsous.
Later that day, I visited another small French Wallonian town, Beauraing, known for apparitions of the Virgin Mary and who knows how many miracles! In 1932-1933, Our Lady appeared to 5 young children over 30 times in a matter of months. There is a lovely Mary statue surrounded by flowers and a quiet area for private prayer. Mary asked for a church to be built for pilgrims to come and pray, and there is a church.
Belgium has another well known site of miraculous apparitions, Banneux. This site is in a sleepy town high in the Ardennes forest. The villagers vowed in 1914 to consecrate their village to Our Lady if it escaped the ravages of World War I. It did and they did! The village is now known as Banneux Notre Dame. I guess no wonder Our Lady appeared there in 1933 to another young girl, Mariette Beco, who only died in 2011. The message seems always to be, “Pray, Pray, Pray,” but also this time Our Lady said that a spring nearby would be a source for all nations. Interesting thought considering Brussels is the seat of NATO and the European Union. For those who have childlike belief, this is the stuff of miracles.