Will This Marian Apparition Visionary from Wisconsin Be Canonized?

The cause for Adele Brise’s canonization moves ahead

Adele Brise.
Adele Brise. (photo: Credit: National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion / National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion)

It was recently announced that America might have a new saint. Adele Brise, whose cause for canonization could be opened soon, was the recipient of three visions of Our Lady of Champion in 1859. Since Adele’s death in 1896, many Catholics have honored her as a faithful, courageous woman. Some American families already have children named “Adele” after this heroic visionary.

But before she is declared a saint, she will hold several other titles. The first is “Servant of God,” which will apply to her when the cause is officially opened. Not only is there a process for canonization, there’s also a process for the opening of a cause. That’s where things are for Adele.

Last year, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion found a postulator to guide the cause for Adele’s canonization. Several months ago, the postulator and shrine staff wrote a libellus to the Bishop of Green Bay officially requesting that a cause be opened. When Bishop David Ricken, who approved the apparitions of Our Lady of Champion in 2010, accepted this request, he began the process of opening the cause.

“Our Lady is moving everything along quickly,” said Don Warden, chief operations officer at the shrine, referring to an increase in activity at the shrine. On June 16, 2,000 people stopped there as part of the Northern Marian Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage.

After the libellus is accepted by the bishop, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith outlines three consultations that need to happen before the cause can officially get underway. The first was completed last Friday when Bishop Ricken held a canonical consultation with the USCCB. After his presentation on Adele’s virtues and the historical record of her life, the USCCB gave its collective support to continue the process toward opening the cause.

The next consultation is with the dicastery, which needs to issue a nihil obstat — an affirmation that there are no records in Vatican files and archives that would hinder the cause — for the process to advance. 

The final consultation is with the faithful. By official decree, Bishop Ricken will announce that he wants to open a cause and ask the faithful if they concur.

“If what he hears is a resounding “yes,” which we hope it will be, then he will issue a decree and open the cause with a special Mass,” said Warden. 

At this point, Adele can finally be called a “Servant of God.” A deeper investigation into Adele Brise’s life will begin, along with investigations into credible reported miracles due to her intercession.

Theoni Bell writes from Houston. She is the author of The Woman in the Trees, a novel about the first approved Marian apparition in the United States.