|Our Lady of La Salette|
|Location||La Salette-Fallavaux, France|
|Date||19 September 1846|
|Holy See approval||Pope Pius IX
Pope Leo XIII
|Shrine||Basilica of Our Lady of La Salette, La Salette, France|
On 19 September 1851, Pope Pius IX formally approved the public devotion and prayers to Our Lady of La Salette, referring to its messages of apparition as "secrets". On 24 August 1852, Pope Pius IX once again mentioned the construction of the altar to La Salette. The same papal bull granted the foundation of the Association of Our Lady of La Salette, formalised on 7 September.
On 21 August 1879, Pope Leo XIII formally granted a Canonical Coronation to the image at the Basilica of Our Lady of La Salette. A Russian style tiara was granted to the image, instead of the solar-type tiara used in its traditional depictions of the Virgin Mary during her apparitions.
In 1846 the village of La Salette consisted of eight or nine scattered hamlets. The population was about 800, principally small farmers with their families and dependents. On the evening of Saturday, September 19, 1846, Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat (called Mathieu) returned from the mountain where they had been minding cows and reported seeing "a beautiful lady" on Mount Sous-Les Baisses, weeping bitterly. They described her as sitting with her elbows resting on her knees and her face buried in her hands. She was clothed in a white robe studded with pearls; and a gold colored apron; white shoes and roses about her feet and high head-dress. She wore a crucifix suspended by a small chain from her neck.
According to their account, she continued to weep even as she spoke to them—first in French, then in their own dialect of Occitan. After speaking, the apparition vanished. The following day the children's account of the apparition was put into writing and signed by the visionaries and those who had heard the story.
According to the children's account, the Virgin invited people to respect the repose of the seventh day, and the name of God. She threatened punishment, in particular a scarcity of potatoes, which would rot. The context of these punishments places the warning just prior to the winter of 1846-1847, which was in Europe, and especially in Ireland and in France, a period of famine in the months which followed the apparition. This was one of the factors of the apparition's popular appeal.
After five years of research, the bishop of Grenoble, Philibert de Bruillard announced in 1851 that the apparition was likely to be a true revelation and authorised the commencement of the cult of Our Lady of La Salette. This determination was later confirmed by his successor, Bishop Ginoulhiac, in 1855.
If my people do not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son’s arm. It is so heavy that I can no longer hold it. How long have I suffered for you! If my Son is not to abandon you, I am obliged to entreat him without ceasing. But you take no heed of that. No matter how well you pray in the future, no matter how well you act, you will never be able to make up what I have endured on your behalf.
I have given you six days to work. The seventh I have reserved for myself yet no one will give it to me. This is what causes the weight of my Son's arm to be so heavy. The cart drivers cannot swear without bringing in my Son's name. These are the two things that make my Son's arm so heavy.
If the harvest is spoiled, it is your own fault. I warned you last year by means of the potatoes. You paid no heed. Quite the contrary, when you discovered that the potatoes had rotted, you swore, you abused my Son's name. They will continue to be spoiled, and by Christmas time this year there will be none left. If you have wheat, it will do no good to sow it, for what you sow the vermin will eat, and whatever part of it springs up will crumble into dust when you thresh it.
A great famine is coming. But before that happens, children under seven years of age will be seized with trembling and die in the arms of those holding them. The others will pay for their sins by hunger. The grapes will rot and the walnuts will become worm-eaten. If my people are converted, the very stones will become mounds of wheat and the potatoes will grow self-sown. ... “Ah, my children, it is very important to do so, at night and in the morning. When you don't have time, at least say an Our Father and a Hail Mary, and whenever you can, say more.Only a few rather elderly women go to Mass in the summer. Everyone else works every Sunday all summer long. And in winter, when they don't know what else to do, they go to Mass only to scoff at religion. During Lent, they go to the butcher shop like dogs.
The message of the visionaries of La Salette focuses on the conversion of all humanity to Christ. Though La Salette's message is embedded in the bygone environment of the nineteenth century, rural France, it has had a tremendous impact on the modern world. John Vianney, Don Bosco, and writer Joris-Karl Huysmans were all influenced by La Salette. The spirit of La Salette is said to be one of prayer, conversion, and commitment.
Sensation about Our Lady of La Salette arose when Melanie and Maximin made their message public, which caused the bishop of Grenoble to investigate the apparition. During the investigation, a number of accusations were made against the visionaries, including the assertion that the apparition was just a young woman named Lamerliere.
The children also reported that the Blessed Virgin had confided a special secret to each of them. These two secrets, which neither Melanie or Maximin ever made known to each other, were sent by them in 1851 to Pope Pius IX on the advice of Mgr. de Bruillard.
Mélanie's Secret, July 6, 1851
Calvat first recorded her revealed Secret on July 3, in Corenc, at the Sisters of Providence residence and it was carried to the Bishop's House. The following day, she said she had not expressed herself well on the misfortunes which were to befall to two cities (Paris and Marseilles): they appeared simultaneous, whereas they were successive. She was asked to rewrite her Secret on July 6, then the Bishop read the document before sealing it. Calvat's statement was:
"The time of the God's wrath has arrived! If, when you say to the people what I have said to you so far, and what I will still ask you to say, if, after that, they do not convert, (if they do not do penance, and they do not cease working on Sunday, and if they continue to blaspheme the Holy Name of God), in a word, if the face of the earth does not change, God will be avenged against the people ...
My Son will make his power manifest! Paris, this city soiled by all kinds of crimes, will perish infallibly. Marseilles will be destroyed in a little time. When these things arrive, the disorder will be complete on the earth, the world will be given up to its impious passions. The pope will be persecuted from all sides, they will shoot at him, they will want to put him to death, but no one will not be able to do it, the Vicar of God will triumph again this time. The priests and the Sisters, and the true servants of my Son will be persecuted, and several will die for the faith of Jesus-Christ. A famine will reign at the same time. After all these will have arrived, many will recognize the hand of God on them, they will convert, and do penance for their sins. ... Lastly, hell will reign on earth. It will be then that the Antichrist will be born ... That time is not far away, twice 50 years will not go by.
Maximin's Secret, July 3, 1851
Giraud wrote his revealed Secret at the bishop's palace, in front of Bishop de Bruillard's staff on July 3 in the evening. He was asked to rewrite it again because of spots of ink. The Secret was delivered to the bishop sent to the pope. The sealed envelope was countersigned by two witnesses. Giraud's statement was:
"If my people continue, what I will say to you will arrive earlier, if it changes a little, it will be a little later. France has corrupted the universe, one day it will be punished. The faith will die out in France: three quarters of France will not practice religion anymore, or almost no more, the other part will practice it without really practicing it. Then, after [that], nations will convert, the faith will be rekindled everywhere. A great country, now Protestant, in the north of Europe, will be converted; by the support of this country all the other nations of the world will be converted.
Before all that arrives, great disorders will arrive, in the Church, and everywhere. Then, after [that], our Holy Father the Pope will be persecuted. His successor will be a pontiff that nobody expects. Then, after [that], a great peace will come, but it will not last a long time. ... All that I tell you here will arrive in the other century, at the latest in the year two thousand."
Two versions of the Melanie's secret
There are two versions of the secret of Melanie, one written by her in 1851, and another by the same author published in 1879 in Lecce, Italy, with the local bishop's approval. This last secret however, is not included in the approval given by the Church to the apparition since it was disclosed later. The most controversial aspect of this second version of the Melanie' secret is it was reported that She said "Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist."  which is used by some[who?] Traditionalist Catholics to claim that the papacy of John XXIII and his successors are not valid popes of the Catholic Church.
A controversy followed as to whether the secret published in 1879 was identical with that communicated to Pius IX in 1851 or if its second form it was a work of the imagination.
Fate of the children
Maximin Giraud, after an unhappy and wandering life, returned to Corps, his native village, and died on 1 March 1875. Mélanie Calvat died at Altamura, Italy on 15 December 1904.
The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries. The National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette is located in Attleboro, Massachusetts (USA).
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