This article explores the prophetic and priestly, or sacramental, authority of visionary Adele Brise, a Belgian immigrant to Wisconsin who in 1859 received a vision of the Virgin Mary that became known as the apparition of Our Lady of Good Help. In this article, I show that when the prophetic dimension of Mary’s locution to Brise was fulfilled, Brise’s authority increased dramatically; moreover, when Brise subsequently was excommunicated for refusing to remain silent about the apparition, she preached to and said Mass for her followers. When, 150 years later, Church authorities approved the apparition as “worthy of belief,” they created an official interpretation of Brise’s obedience to Church authorities, but such obedience is not supported by archival or other contemporary accounts. The story of Adele Brise and the apparition of Our Lady of Good Help provides an important context for understanding the tension between clergy and laity within the context of Marian apparitions, and it illustrates the extent to which these apparitions can provide access to sacred authority for visionaries and their followers.

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