Marian apparition fortold greatest U.S. fire disaster, provided solace and safety for faithful.

Our Lady of Good Help

The fire was so intense it sent cinders several miles over the waters of Green Bay and burned parts of the Door Peninsula.

A witness named Edward J. Hall of nearby Oconto recalled to a historical site: "Balls of fire were observed to fall like meteors in different parts of the town [Peshtigo], igniting whatever they came in contact with.

By this time the whole population was thoroughly aroused and alarmed, panic-stricken. A brilliant and fearful glare grew suddenly into sight. Man and women snatched their children and ran for the river.

"Inhaling the burning air, hundreds dropped within sight of the river while many fell within a few feet of the river. Those who reached the river throw water and wet cloths on their heads, and even kept under water as much as they could, and yet were burned to death."

Some of those who sought refuge in ponds or wells boiled to death.

Remarkably -- miraculously -- Adele, who was in the heart of it, escaped. Seeking refuge in the chapel, she and other farmers, nuns, and companions made the dash there as fire raged in every direction.

"Awe-stricken, they thronged the chapel ground," says the history. "Already, the chapel was filled with terror-stricken people, beseeching the Mother of God to spare them, many wailing aloud in their fright.

"Filled with confidence, they entered the chapel, reverently raised the statue of Mary, and kneeling, bore it in procession around their beloved sanctuary.

"When wind and fire exposed them to suffocation, they turned in another direction, and continued to hope and pray, saying the Rosary.

After hours of horror and suspense, Heaven sent relief by way of a downpour. The fire was extinguished. When they looked out the next morning, everything was destroyed. There was literally desolation for miles.

"But the convent, school, chapel, and the five acres of land consecrated to the Virgin Mary shone like an emerald isle in a sea of ashes," notes the pamphlet. "The raging fire licked the outside palings and left charred scars as mementos. Tongues of fire had reached the chapel fence, and threatened destruction to all within its confines -- but the fire had not entered the chapel ground."

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Shrine website

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