Traditionally, in the Roman Liturgical Calendar, September 19 was the day we honored the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title, Our Lady of La Salette. For today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I will briefly explain to you the story about the La Salette, the apparition witnessed by Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat, and the aftermath and approval of the devotion.
On Saturday, September 19, 1846, Maximin, eleven years old, and Melanie, fourteen years of age, were blessed to see a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the town of Corps close to Grenoble, in the southeast part of France. They saw Mary high up above the pasture, above La Salette, as they were tending to cattle and sheep for their employer.
They explained that they witnessed seeing a beautiful, tall, woman who was wearing a long, white, pearl covered sleeved dress, covered by a white shawl with a crown on her head adorned with roses. She wore white shoes that were decorated in roses of many different colors. Her arms were folded over her breast. Around her neck was a crucifix, which was large, and was covered with a small hammer and pincers. The figure of Christ on the crucifix shined very brightly. The entire image – the woman along with the very bright crucifix were covered in light. The children also said that the woman was seated on a stone and her head was in her hands.
Speaking with a melancholic voice and tears from her eyes, Our Lady explained to the children that she was sad because people were not repenting of their sins and that the arm of her son was becoming heavy. She did not know how long she could hold it up. She explained that she was praying hard for the people, even though they continued to blaspheme and worked on Sundays. She declared that punishments were coming in the form of famines and blights to the crops.
Our Lady secretly shared information with each of the two children, which were not to be shared with anyone, however, in-time, the secrets were shared with Pope Pius IX in 1851. The secret given to Maximin was eventually published in “Annales du Surnaturel” in 1888. The secret given to Melanie was shared (Our Lady said it could be) in 1858; the same year Our Lady appeared in Lourdes.
Before disappearing from the children’s sight, she asked them to spread her message. Once they returned home, accounts were written down. As often happens in cases like this, opposition and skepticism began to grow rapidly. And as often, the witnesses of such apparitions remain steadfast in their accounts – this case is no different. Both Maximin and Melanie maintained that their story was true, despite the opposition they faced in the form of bribes, teasing, threats, and nasty tricks. Every time they were asked to explain their accounts (often separately), the accounts came out exactly the same.
Bishop Bruillard also faced opposition, but after five years of intense investigation examining the facts, with two different commissions of inquiry, he approved devotion to Our Lady of Salette. On September 19, 1851, Bishop Bruillard declared that a miraculous event did occur and said,
“We declare that the apparition of the Blessed Virgin to two shepherds, on September 19, 1846, on a mountain in the Alps in the parish of La Salette, bears in itself all the marks of truth and that the faithful are justified in believing without question in its truth. And so, to mark our lively gratitude to God and the glorious Virgin Mary, we authorize the cult of Our Lady of La Salette.”
In 1852, a new religious order was founded by the Bishop, the Missionaries of La Salette. Melanie also started her own religious community and may have used the Rule given to her by Our Lady. A new basilica was being built to honor Our Lady of La Salette, as Bishop Bruillard laid the cornerstone. Pilgrims quickly began to descend upon the small town. Our Lady became known as “Reconcilatrix of sinners.” Many people developed a great devotion to Our Lady of La Salette, including three great saints – St. John Bosco, St. John Vianney, and St. Madeleine Sophie Barat.
Even though this apparition happened 170 years ago, the messages given to these two young children should ring loudly with us today. Our Lady said that materialism; atheism, spiritualism, and secularism would increase on a large scale. Many people, including those who whole-heartedly believed in Jesus Christ, would lose their faith. Blaspheming of the Sunday Sabbath would continue and people would place other things in front of that time with God. War and destruction would come and go, particularly in the beginning of 20th century.
Our Lady of La Salette, appearing only four days after Our Lady of Sorrows, truly is the Mother of Sorrow, because she is weeping for the sins of humanity.
Our Lady of La Salette…Pray for Us.
Fongemie, Pauly. “Our Lady of La Salette.” Our Lady of La Salette. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
“Lady of La Salette.” Lady of La Salette. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
“Secret of La Salette – Our Lady of La Salette (France).” ~Secret of La Salette -Our Lady of La Salette (France)~. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
“What Is the Story of Our Lady of La Salette? – Catholic Straight Answers.”Catholic Straight Answers. N.p., 22 May 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.