IMPORTANT NOTES CONCERNING THE APPARITION OF OUR LADY OF LA SALETTE:
The shepherd children Maximino and Melanie saw our Blessed Mother Mary and received urgent messages for all humanity. The Virgin Mary mentioned specifically the need to renounce to two grave and very common sins:
2. Not honoring Sundays as days set aside for the Lord to rest and to attend Holy Mass.
She asked the children to pray, to sacrifice and to propagate the messages.
The Blessed Mother cried with her head in her hands, because men were ignoring the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Several religious congregations, inspired by the apparitions of La Salette, were founded. Among them are the Missionaries and the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette, dedicated to promoting the message of reconciliation.
La Salette is one of the approved apparitions of the XX century.
JOHN PAUL II ON THE APPARITIONS OF LA SALETTE:
“In this place, Mary, the loving Mother appeared manifesting her pain for the moral evil caused by humanity. Her tears help us to understand the seriousness of sin and the rejection of God, and at the same time it is a manifestation of the passionate fidelity that her Son has for each person, even though His redemptive love is marked by the wounds of treason and abandonment by men.”
HISTORY OF LA SALETTE
This great event occurred on top of the mountainous area of southeastern France, near the village of La Salette. Two children, Maximino Giraud (11 years old) and Melanie Mathieu (15 years old), were caring for the sheep. Melanie had been doing this type of work since she was nine years old, but for Maximinio it was all new. His father had asked him to do it as an act of generosity toward a farmer whose worker was ill.
Here is a narration of the day before the apparitions, according to the visionary Melanie:
“On September 18th, 1846, on the eve of the apparition of Our Lady, I was alone as usual caring for my master’s cattle. Around 11:00 am in the morning I saw a boy coming towards me. A first I was afraid; I thought everyone knew I avoided all types of company. The boy got nearer and said to me: ‘Hey girl, I want to go with you, I’m from Corps.’ To these words, I reacted with my natural meanness and said, ‘I want to be alone.’ But he followed me and said, ‘My master sent me here to you to help with the cattle. I come from Corps.’ I was annoyed and departed from him, letting him know that I didn’t want anyone around me. After a certain distance, I sat down on the grass. Usually, while alone, I would talk to the flowers of the field or to the Good God.
“After a moment, Maximino was sitting behind me, and he told me very directly, ‘Let me be with you. I will behave.’ Against my will and feeling pity for him, I allowed him to stay. Upon hearing the bells from La Salette for the Angelus, I told him to elevate his soul to God. He took off his hat and stayed in silence for a moment. Later we walked and played together. At sun down we walked down the mountain and promised to return the next day to take the cattle.”
The following day Saturday, September 19th, 1846, was a very hot day and the children decided to eat their lunch in a shaded area. Melanie discovered that Maximino was a good child, simple and willing to talk about what she wanted. He was playful and flexible, but yet somewhat curious. They took the cattle to a small mountain opening and decided to stay and take a nap. Both slept deeply. Melanie was the first to awaken. She did not see the cattle, and she quickly awakened Maximino. Together they went in search for the cattle and found them resting in the pasture. The two children then returned to the spot near where they napped to get the utensils they had used for lunch. Suddenly, they saw a luminous globe that seemed to divide itself. Melanie asked Maximino if he saw what she was seeing. She exclaimed, “Oh, My God!” and dropped the stick she had been holding in her hand. Something unreal and inconceivable filled her at that moment. Full of profound respect and love, she felt attracted to this vision, and her heart began to beat rapidly.
Suddenly, they saw a woman sitting on an enormous rock. She had her face in her hands and was crying bitterly. Melanie and Maximino were frightened, but the Lady, rising slowly to her feet and crossing her arms softly, called them towards her and told them not to be afraid. She added that she had great and important news to communicate. Her gentle and soft words made the children go near to her with haste. Melanie recalls that at that moment her heart wanted to be close to the beautiful Lady.
The Lady was tall and with a majestic appearance. Her dress was white, with an apron around her waist. It seemed to be gold in color, but they could not say for certain because the fabric did not seem to be of the earth, and it shone more brilliantly than the sun. Over her arms she had a beautiful white shawl surrounded by a border containing many multicolored roses.
A chain with a crucifix hung from her neck. Two items hung over the crossbar of the crucifix– on one side a hammer, and on the other side pliers. A crown of roses on her head radiated luminous rays, like a diadem. Tears from her beautiful eyes flowed over her cheeks. A light more brilliant then the sun, but somehow different, surrounded her.
To explain her tears, she told the children that the hand of her Son was so heavy and strong that she could no longer sustain it. It would only change if people would do penance and obey the laws of God. If they did not, they would have to suffer much. She said, “People do not observe the Day of the Lord. They continue to work with out ceasing on Sundays. Only some older women go to Mass in the summer. And in the winter, when there is nothing else to do, they go to Church to ridicule religion. Lenten time is ignored. Men swear, taking the Name of God in vain. The disobedience and disregard of God’s commandments are the things that make the hand of My Son heavier.”
The Lady continued conversing with the children, and she foretold them of a terrible famine and food shortage. She also explained that the potato harvest had gone bad for the same reasons the previous year. When the men had found the rotten potatoes, they swore and blasphemed against the Name of God and more. Our Lady said that in the coming year, the harvest would go bad again. The corn and wheat would become dust when touched, the nuts would spoil and the grapes would be rotten. Later, the Lady communicated to each child a secret that they were not to reveal to anyone, except the Holy Father through a special petition that he himself would make.
The Lady added that if the people would convert, the rocks and stones would become wheat and potatoes would be found planted on the earth. Then she asked the children, “Do you do your prayers well, my children?” They both responded, “Oh no, my Lady; not too well.”
She answered, “Oh, my children! You have to say them well at night time and in the morning. When you cannot pray them well, pray an Our Father and a Hail Mary; and when you have time and can, pray more.” With her maternal voice, she ended: “Well, my children, tell all this to my people.” She then moved toward the place where the children had went to look for the cattle. Her feet glided, touching only the tips of the grass without bending it. On the mountain the Lady stopped. Melanie and Maximino ran towards her rapidly to see where she was heading. Our Lady elevated slowly. She stayed elevated a few minutes a few meters up (aprox. 3-5m). She then looked up to heaven, to her right (towards Rome), to her left (France), and last, into the eyes of the children. Then, intermingled with the globe of light, she rose until she disappeared in the firmament.
After the Apparition
Only a few believed what the children saw and heard. The farmers who came into contact with the children where amazed at them. They were so ignorant, and yet they were able to transmit and communicate, in French, a complicated message which they did not understand well. As well, they were able to do this clearly and with precise descriptions.
The following morning Melanie and Maximino were taken to see the pastor. He was an older priest, very generous and respected. The priest, upon interrogating the children and hearing of the events, was very surprised and believed they were telling the truth.
The following Sunday at Mass the priest spoke about the visit of the Lady and her petition. When the news that the pastor spoke about an apparition from the pulpit reached the bishop, he was reprimanded and replaced by another priest. This is not surprising, given that the Church is very prudent in not making hasty judgments on apparitions.
Melanie and Maximino were constantly interrogated by curious people as well as very devoted ones. They simplely said the same story, repeating it over and over. To those interested in going up the mountain, they take them to the place where Our Lady appeared. On several occasions, they were threatened with jail if they did not deny the alleged apparitions and if they continued to speak about them. Without fear or hesitation, they continued to report all the messages that Our Lady gave them.
Soon after, a fountain emerged near the place where Our Lady appeared. The water from the fountain ran down to the stream below. Many miracles started to occur. The terrible calamities foretold started to happen. The terrible potato famine of 1846 occurred, especially bad in Ireland where many died. The shortage of wheat and corn was very severe; more then one million people in Europe died of hunger. A disease affected the grapes throughout all of France. Most likely the punishment would have been worse without the messages of La Salette.
However, as a result, many people started to go to Mass. The businesses began to close on Sundays, and people stopped working unnecessarily. The bad words and blasphemies started to diminish.
The Bishop of La Salette named two theologians to investigate the apparitions and all the healings that had occured. For five years detailed investigations took place. In approximately 80 different places throughout France, bishops named canon lawyers to investigate the miraculous healings that had occurred as a result of prayers to Our Lady of La Salette and from the water of the fountain. Hundreds of miracles were registered.
The Holy Father, Pius IX, approved the devotion to Our Lady of La Salette. He requested that the children send him the events of the apparition in writing. Some time later the Holy Father said: “These are the secrets of La Salette; if the world does not repent, all will perish.”
THE VISIONARIES AFTER THE APPARITIONS
Maximino tried to become a priest and entered the minor seminary. He had difficulty learning, had many doubts about his vocation, and left the seminary. Many ask why? Did he not receive the grace of a vocation or did he not respond to it? We can only say that the life of each soul, the graces and the response given, is a mystery.
Many affirm that Maximino had profound faith and solidly possessed the virtue of chastity. “When one has seen Our Lady, we can no longer thing of women.” He worked in the hospital for some time, later became a soldier, and finally ended up administrating a small religious store.
There has been some confusion concerning an encounter between St. John Vianney (Cure of Ars) and Maximino. The young man visited the Saint when he had the vocational crises. The Cure of Ars, at that moment, misinterpreted him and believed that Maximino had denied seeing Our Lady. St. John Vianney, being obedient, submitted it to authority of the Bishop and the Pope, who eventually approved the apparitions. “God does not confirms with miracles a superstition, nor the Church enrich it with indulgences” (Journal d́une Institutrice, page 117). Maximino, on his part, denied that he retracted. According to the explanation from Maximino, the Cure of Ars was hard of hearing and understood wrong, and he was only able to speak to him in the confessional. It became a confusion: Maximino said he confessed to lying on occasions, and St. John Vianney understood he was talking about the apparitions . . . Years later the Saint received a confirmation from God concerning the authenticity of the apparitions of La Salette. (Even though it was not necessary because of the Church’s approval.) All of this confusion, however, was all providential, for the newspapers and other periodicals printed the news. The news reached Archbishop of Lyon and Pope Pius IX, who from all this, received the secret and officially approved the apparition.
Regardless of all this, by God’s divine providence, Maximino lived through many moments of suffering, poverty, sickness and calamities. Maximino gained much merit here on earth, and without a doubt, has reached the glory of heaven. He died in state of grace at age 38.
Melanie also tried to enter religious life. She visited several communities, but never stayed for very long. Community life was very difficult for her. She was persecuted for being selected to communicate Our Lady’s messages. She courageously rejected the offenses against her. Even though she faced many contradictions, she admirably maintained constancy with the content and transmission of the messages of Our Lady of La Salette.
Her prayer life was intense, and some miracles were attributed to her while she was still living. One of the miracles concerns the illness of Rev. Combe, who was healed the day after Melanie visited him and told him he will be well and live to an old age. The priest, astounded, asked her, “What did you say to Our Lady?” Melanie answered, “Well, I only prayed to Our Lady and told her: ‘My Mother, Father Combe is very ill; he works for you and you have left him like this.’” Father Combe lived to be 82 years old.
In June 1904, Melanie left France to a small town called Altamura, south of Italy. Bishop Cecchini, O.P. was her friend and welcomed her with affection. She found a house outside of the city and settled there. She was tranquil and happy in her solitude. She went daily to the Cathedral. However, on December 15th she did not appear at the Cathedral. She had died during the night of December 14th. They entered her house by force and found her lying on the floor, completely dressed. She was 72 years old.
In February 1903 she had prophesied that her door of her house would be forced open and she would be found dead, somewhere in an unknown place of Italy. Two neighbors in Altamura related that the previous evening they had heard the beautiful Tantum Ergo hymn sung in the room of the French lady, as well as the ring of a small bell used to accompany the Sacred Viaticum taken to the dying. The people of Altamura believe Holy Communion was given to Melanie by the Lord Himself.
IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT THE SECRET GIVEN TO MELANIE BY OUR LADY
The Beautiful Lady of La Salette communicated a secret to be revealed years later. Maximino assured that Our Lady said something to Melanie that he did not hear. This secret, however, is not included in the Church approval of the apparition because it was posthumously revealed.
Melanie: “What I’m to say to you will not always be a secret; you can announce it in 1858. Priests, my Son’s ministers, priests, by their evil life, by their irreverences and their impiety in celebrating the holy mysteries, love of money, love of honor and pleasures, priests have become sewers of impurity. Yes, priests call forth vengeance, and vengeance is suspended over their heads. Woe to priests, and to persons consecrated to God, who by their infidelities and their evil life are crucifying my son anew! The sins of persons consecrated to God cry to heaven and call for vengeance, and now here is vengeance at their very doors, for no longer is anyone found to beg mercy and pardon for the people; there are no more generous souls, there is now no one worthy of offering the spotless Victim to the Eternal on the worlds behalf.
“God will strike in an unparalleled manner. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth! God will exhaust His anger, and no one will be able to escape so many evils at once. The heads, the leaders of the people of God, have neglected prayer and penance, and the devil has darkened their minds; they have become those wandering stars which the ancient devil will drag with his tail to destruction. God will permit the ancient serpent to sow divisions among rulers, in all societies and in all families; both physical and moral punishments will be suffered. God will abandon men to themselves and will send chastisements one after the other for over 35 years.
“Society is on the very eve of most terrible scourges and greatest events; one must expect to be governed by a rod of iron and to drink the chalice of God’s wrath.
“In the year 1864 Lucifer, together with a great number of devils, will be loosed from hell; little by little they will abolish the faith, and that even in persons consecrated to God; they will so blind them, that without a special grace, these persons will take on the spirit of these evil angels; a number of religious houses will lose the faith entirely and cause many souls to be damned.
“Bad books will abound over the earth, and the spirits of darkness will everywhere spread universal relaxation in everything concerning God’s service: they will have very great power over nature; there will be churches to serve these spirits. People will be transported form one place to another by these evil spirits, and even priests, because they will not have lived by the good spirit of the gospel, which is a spirit of humility, charity and zeal for the glory of God.
“There will be extraordinary wonders every place because the true faith has been extinguished and false light illumines the world. Woe to the princes of the church who will be occupied only with piling up riches upon riches, with guarding their authority and lording with pride!
“Because of the abandonment of the Holy Faith in God, each individual would want to guide himself and to be superior to his neighbor. “The Holy Father will suffer greatly. I shall be with him till the end to receive his sacrifice. “The wicked will make a number of attempts on his life without being able to harm him; but neither he nor his successor will see the triumph of God’s Church.
“Civil governments will all have the same objective, which will be to abolish and make every religious principle disappear, to make way for materialism, atheism, spiritism and vices of all kinds.
“In the convents the flowers of the Church will putrefy, and the devil will establish himself as king of all hearts. Let those who are at the head of religious communities be on their guard concerning the persons they are to receive, because the devil will use all his malice to introduce into religious orders persons given to sin, for disorders and love of carnal pleasures will be widespread over the whole earth.
“The righteous will suffer greatly; their prayers, their penances and their tears will rise to heaven and all God’s people will ask pardon and mercy and will ask my help and intercession. Then Jesus Christ, by an act of His justice and His great mercy toward the righteous, will command His angels to put all His enemies to death.
“At one blow the persecutors of the Church of Jesus Christ and all men given to sin will perish, and the earth will become like a desert. Then there will be peace, the reconciliation of God with men; Jesus Christ will be served, adored and glorified; charity will flourish everywhere. The new kings will be the right arm of Holy Church, which will be strong, humble, pious, poor, zealous and imitative of the virtues of Jesus Christ. The Gospel will be preached everywhere, and men will make great strides in the faith, because there will be unity among Jesus Christ’s workers and men will live in the fear of God.
“This peace among men will not last long: 25 years of abundant harvests will make them forget that the sins of men are the cause of all the woes which happen on earth.”
“I address a pressing appeal to the earth: I call upon the true disciples of the God living and reigning in the heavens; I call upon the true imitators of Christ made man, the one true Savior of men; I call upon my children, my true devotees, those who have given themselves o me so that I may lead them to my Divine Son, those whom I bear as it were in my arms, those who have lived in my spirit; finally, I call upon the Apostles of the Latter Times, the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have lived in contempt of the world and of themselves, in poverty and humility, in contempt and silence, in prayer and mortification, in chastity and in union with God, in suffering, and unknown to the world. It is time for them to emerge and come enlighten the earth. Go, show yourselves to be my dear children; I am with you and in you, provided your faith is the light enlightening you in these evil times. May your zeal make your famished for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. Do battle, children of light, you, the few who see thereby; for the time of times, the end of ends, is at hand.”
The Blessed Mother predicted events to be fulfilled at specific dates, affecting nations, the Church and the whole world.