On Saturday, September 19, 1846, the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows at about 3:00 in the afternoon, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on the mountain of La Salette in the French Alps to fifteen-year-old Melanie Calvat and eleven-year-old Maximin Giraud, two young shepherds. The Blessed Mother appeared in a resplendent light as a beautiful woman dressed in an unusual costume, seated on a stone, her face buried in her hands, crying. She then stood up and crossed her arms. Around her neck, she wore a chain containing a crucifix with a hammer and pincers on either side. She told the children not to be afraid but reassured them that she had great news to share. She gave them a public message and asked them to make her message known to all her people. In her message, Our Lady called the townspeople to repent of their sins and to turn back to Christ.
The Blessed Mother told them: "If my people do not wish to submit themselves, I am forced to let go of the hand of my Son. It is so heavy and weighs me down so much I can no longer keep hold of it." She lamented with tears those who do not keep Sunday holy and those who take the name of the Lord in vain. She went on to speak of the hope of divine mercy if the people amended their lives, and encouraged the children to say their prayers regularly. She told them:"You should say them well, at night and in the morning, even if you say only an Our Father and a Hail Mary when you can't do better. When you can do better, say more." Our Lady then shared a private secret with each of the children. After she had finished giving the messages to the children, she walked up a steep path and vanished into a bright light. According to the children, the light emanated from a crucifix on the her chest.
Blessed Melanie Calvat was instructed to found a new religious order, the Order of the Mother of God, which would associate under one single common rule more than one community.
Blessed Melanie was told by the Mother of God to make known her secret after the year 1858. In 1851, both secrets were written down and handed to Pope Pius IX. The apparition at La Salette was approved by the Church at this time. In 1888, the secret was published.
Three quarters of France will lose the Faith.
A Protestant nation in the North shall repent and return to God.
The Church shall grow once more.
The peace will be destroyed by a "monster" [Communism] at the end of the 19th Century or beginning of the 20th century.
Our Lady of La Salette implores all people who would listen to "be reconciled to God." This conversion requires daily prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The Blessed Virgin Mary was in tears because she recognized the tremendous responsibility that free will places upon each person to lead a moral life and follow God's will. The message of La Salette traces the "narrow road that leads to life" (Matthew 7:14), like the steep and narrow path the Blessed Mother climbed before melting away in the light.
After the visionaries' experience at La Salette, a Christian renewal transformed the region. In 1872, nationwide pilgrimages began to be formed across France. For roughly 150 years, La Salette's spirit has been embodied in a movement that has gained convents, monasteries, congregations, and arch-confraternities. Christians everywhere saw or felt its influence. Saints (for example, John Vianney), pastors (such as Don Bosco), and religious writers (like J.K. Huysmans) have all been influenced by La Salette.
Quote on the Apparition at La Sallette:
"As I wrote on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady: 'La Salette is a message of hope, for our hope is nourished by the intercession of her who is the Mother of mankind.' May the proclamation of this hope always be at the heart of your encounter with the men and women of today! Through it our contemporaries can be assured that divisions are not irreparable and that it is always possible to repent of one's infidelities, in order to build a reconciled humanity and to follow the Lord, for nothing is beyond God's reach."
- Pope St. John Paul II in his Address to the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Sallette on May 4, 2000
Today in our our modern world, we need, more than ever, to pray often and to frequent the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion. God has placed us in this time period for a reason. As Christians, we are called to evangelize and the most effective way we do that is to live out virtuous lives, reflecting the light of Christ's love to those we encounter in our daily lives. Our Blessed Mother calls us to ongoing conversion. Let us heed her voice and experience a renewal of Christianity in our own day, remembering that "nothing is beyond God's reach."