Pilgrimage Theme 2024

Together, under Mary’s mantle of tenderness.

Welcome home


I am writing these few lines in the warmth of my office. Outside, it’s bitterly cold, reminiscent of the winter of 1933. Yes, when the Virgin of the Poor appears in the Beco garden, the landscape is frozen under snow and ice.


As the cold weather approaches, our thoughts go to those who live in the streets and who do not have a roof over their head. “Additional places are needed in shelters. No one should sleep outside.” The initiative of many mayors must be welcomed. And I admire those who work in shelters and fight to get the homeless off the streets. How can we not think of the Advent campaign, where the ‘Vivre Ensemble” association raised our awareness of the right to housing?


On the evening of January 15, 1933, Mariette was looking out of the window. Outside, it is dark and cold. The big sister is waiting for her brother’s return. However, it is not Julien who arrives in the garden but a beautiful lady radiant in light. She does not knock on the door to enter the Beco house. With her hand gesture, she beckons Mariette to join her outside. And the child has only one desire: to respond to the call. She fears neither the darkness nor the cold. The welcome from the Beautiful Lady is so warm that she wants to stay in her presence as long as possible. When, after the 7th apparition, Mariette cries, when asked of her tears: “She left so soon!”


“I would like a small chapel.” This desire of the Virgin of the Poor was realized in record time. The Becos lived in a remote area and had no neighbors. From August 15, 1933, the Virgin of the Poor was their first neighbor. And the small chapel of the apparitions quickly becomes a very popular place in the diocese of Liège, a “prominent address”, because from now on, pilgrims know where and to whom to address their joys and their sorrows, or simply as is!


I once happened to greet a pilgrim whom I had not seen for some time by saying “Welcome home!” With a big smile, he replied: “That’s exactly what I felt when greeting the Virgin at the chapel of the apparitions: ‘I’m coming back home’.”


Cardinal Meisner was orphaned from his father. His mother had to work very hard to raise her three boys and sometimes came home late. When the eldest came home from apprenticeship, he found his two little brothers bent over school work. So, he often said: “Is there no one here yet?” The two young brothers were there, but the mother was missing. She was the soul of the home! It’s the same with Mary. She is indeed present seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day. She is the soul of Banneux, always accessible to her children. She takes pleasure in welcoming us, personally, as a family, in a group, sick or well, and from all nations.


“Virgin of the Poor, behold your children, you call us to come closer to you. You warm with your love our hearts so worthless, by means of your smile, so sweet, so true!”


To all, a happy year of pilgrimages!



Fr. Leo Palm