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Some day soon, we hope to visit the shrine in Wisconsin that now has formal Church approval as an apparition site.

We speak of Robinsonville (now known as Champion) -- where Mary appeared to a devout Belgian immigrant in 1859. Many visit, some claiming miracles. In addition to a chapel, which was built in 1942 and has its altar situated directly above the site of apparitions, with a lifelike statue of the Madonna and Child, there is a crypt with another statue of Our Lady of Grace surrounded by candles and flowers. Outside is a cemetery where the seer, Sister Adèle Brisé, is buried.

At the far back of the grounds of the shrine, we are informed by correspondent Linda Clerkin, is a memorial to two priests, Father Emile Kapaun and Father Vincent Capodanno -- who are both currently under consideration for canonization. Two U.S. priests! Others are under consideration elsewhere in our country.

Father Kapaun [left], a chaplain who died during during the Korean War, was credited with saving hundreds of POWs during that conflict and recently made news when the Wichita Eagle recounted the 2006 case of a local girl who was brought back from the very cusp of death after her father began praying to the deceased war hero [the article is here].

Notes Wikipedia about Father Kapaun and his actions in the midst of war:

"He constantly ministered to the dead and dying while performing baptisms, hearing first Confessions, offering Holy Communion, and celebrating Mass from an improvised altar set up on the front end of an army jeep. He constantly would lose his Mass Kit, jeep, and trailer to enemy fire. He told how he was thoroughly convinced that the prayers of many others were what had saved him so many times up until his capture. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in September 1950 just before his capture in November 1950. Kapaun was captured in November 1950 and died in a POW camp on May 23, 1951. He was buried in a mass grave near the Yalu River. He was noted among his fellow POWs as one who would steal coffee and tea (and a pot to heat them in) from the Communist guards."

Furthermore, notes a website that features his cause:

"He gave last rites and final Holy Communion to thousands of the dying. Twice bullets came so close to blowing his brains out that they shattered the cigarette he had hanging out of his mouth.

"When things were a little less risky he would be seen carrying water and fresh fruit on his back into a camp of dehydrated soldiers, always doing whatever it took, whatever he could, to alleviate the suffering of others."

"No one would know, judging from Father Kapaun’s appearance, that here was a well-educated Catholic priest who could have opted for a far easier life in a comfortable parish rectory. In his soiled and ragged fatigues, with his scraggly beard and his queer woolen cap, made of the sleeve of an old GI sweater, pulled down over his ears, he looked like any other half-starved prisoner. But there was something in his voice and bearing that was different — a dignity, a composure, a serenity that radiated from him like a light. Wherever he stood was holy ground, and the spirit within him — a spirit of reverence and abiding faith — went out to the silent listening men and gave them hope and courage and a sense of peace."

Sounds saintly and heroic (this Independence Day) to us.

Meanwhile, Father Capodanno -- known as the "Grunt Padre" -- died in 1967 during the war in Vietnam helping fellow Marines in the Que Son Valley [see here].

Father Capodanno likewise went among the wounded and dying, administering Last Rites and taking care of his Marines.

Wounded once in the face and having his hand almost severed, he went to help a wounded corpsman only yards from an enemy machinegun when he was killed. Capodanno was born on February 13, 1929, in Staten Island, New York. After attending a year at Fordham University, young Vincent Capodanno entered the Maryknoll Missionary seminary in upstate New York. The Maryknolls were well known for sending American missionaries overseas -- especially to China and Korea. He went to Vietnam in 1966.

"The outdoor memorial at the shrine includes a large, pretty statue of the Blessed Mother, and American and POW flags," notes Linda. "At the base of the statue of Our Lady are the words 'Never Forget.' For our discernment: It's quite extraordinary, that these two American priests/soldiers are the ones memorialized at the first approved Marian apparition site in the U.S."

[To pray for a favor through Father Capodanno click here; for prayer to Father Kapaun click here]

[see also: Robinsonville shrine]

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