Our Lady of Champion, Wisconsin

As the National Eucharistic Congress highlights four churches working with sacred artists across the country, this northernmost commission represents a church that also participated as a stop on the Marian route of the pilgrimage.

From the north, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion unveils this captivating piece representing the only approved Marian Apparition site in the United States. Renowned for her talent and reverence, artist Gwyneth Thompson-Briggs embarked on capturing the essence of the 1859 Marian apparitions to Adele Brise as she states here:

“This painting highlights the Eucharistic element of Our Lady of Champion by uniting the three apparitions to Adele Brise into a single image. As in each apparition, the Queen of Heaven is depicted robed in dazzling white, standing between two trees—a maple and a hemlock—in the midst of an ancient forest in early October 1859. She appears to dissolve into a cloud of mist, as she did after the second apparition. As Adele noticed in the third apparition, a yellow sash surrounds Our Lady’s waist, a crown of stars surrounds her head, and her long wavy golden hair falls over her shoulders. Adele could hardly look at her face because of the bright light shining around her. In the painting, a sheer veil communicates this not-quite-blinding light. The right half of Adele’s face, clearly lit to the viewer, reveals what must have most distinguished her in the eyes of the world: the missing eye and scars from a childhood accident with lye. The left half of her face, with her eye fixed on the Queen of Heaven, is veiled in shadow from the viewer. Adele is dressed in workday clothes, as she was at the time of the first apparition, when she was on her way to the gristmill with a sack of wheat. The wheat also alludes to the second and third apparitions, when Adele was on her way to and from the reception of Holy Communion. As during the third apparition, she has fallen to her knees to receive her mission from the Queen of Heaven:

Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation . . . their catechism, how to sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments.

Our Lady’s raised right hand at once suggests the mission to gather the children of the country, and the blessing she seemed to impart before disappearing. Adele’s acceptance of this mission is symbolized by her embrace of the wheat, which becomes the interpretive key of the painting. Cultivated in the midst of the wilderness by the children of the country, the wheat is called like them to be transformed through the Cross and the Sacraments—with Adele’s cooperation—into a pure sacrifice to the Lord.”

Explore this site to discover how commissions like Our Lady of Champion inspire communities, deepen faith, and foster devotion. You have the opportunity to help commission new Sacred Art for your parish, school, or home. By honoring our traditions and inspiring future generations through the beauty of our faith, we illuminate hearts and minds with the eternal truths of the Eucharist and the loving presence of Our Lady.

Learn more about how local churches commission artists as seen at these sacred artworks at the National Eucharistic Congress: