Our Lady of La Salette
On September 19, 1846 Virgin Mary appeared to the two small kids-shepherds near the village of La Salette in the south of France, approximately 35 km from the Grenoble, in a very mountainous area 1800 meters above the sea level in French Alps. The small shepherds were Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, 14 and 11 years old, who had known each other only for two days. On September 19, 1846 they were looking after a herd of 8 cows on the Alpine meadows of the Mont Sous-les-Baisses. It was about three o'clock in the afternoon in full sunlight and about 3 miles away from La Salette village. And suddenly a miraculous Lady in a cloud of light appeared to them sitting on the huge stone and bitterly weeping. This is how Melanie later described it:
“I had seen from a hill that our cows were lying down peacefully chewing the grass. I went down and Maximin started to climb upwards. Suddenly I saw a magnificent light, much brighter than the sun and felt full of tremendous loving wonder and respect. In that light I saw a very beautiful woman with her head resting in her hands. The lady stood up and said; come nearer children, do not be afraid “I am here to tell you great news.””
The children later described her as very tall and beautiful, wearing a long, white, pearl studded, sleeved dress, and a white shawl, with some sort of tiara or crown on her head. Hanging from her neck was a large crucifix adorned with a small hammer and pincers, with a brilliantly shining figure of Christ on it. The whole effect was as if she were made of light.
The Lady begun speaking French but soon changed to the local dialect of the children. The Blessed Lady tearfully said that it is creating lots of sorrows to see how people are behaving – they are swearing, don’t keep the Sunday as a day of rest and are disobeying Gods laws. Virgin Mary told she is praying restlessly to her son Jesus, but can’t help much if people don’t change their attitude. In this case punishments for their sins will come, including poor harvests, famine and political instability. Virgin Mary told: ‘’… if people will not obey she will be compelled to release her son’s heavy arm.”
After this the Blessed Lady entrusted some secrets to each of the children individually, which was said they should not reveal or at least not until 1858. Melanie later described that the first received his secret Maximin, Lady were speaking, Melanie saw her lips moving but could not hear what was said. After this Melanie received her secret.
After that Virgin Mary asked them: "Are you praying well, my children?” They replied that they hardly prayed, and the Lady told them they should say at least their morning and night prayers: "When you can do no more, say a Pater and an Ave Maria; and when you have the time to do better, you will say more", before continuing: "Only a few rather old women go to Mass in the summer. Everyone else works every Sunday all summer long. And in the 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 shops like dogs."
She then asked the children if they had ever seen spoiled wheat and when both replied that they had not, the Lady reminded Maximin that he had once seen it when on a visit to a nearby hamlet with his father; he then remembered that what she had said was true. Finally the Lady spoke to them in French: "Well, my children, you will make this known to all my people," before moving forward between them. She went on a few yards and then re-emphasised her message to them without turning around: "Now, my children, be sure to make this known to all my people." Then the apparition of Mary vanished.
Shortly after the bishop of Grenoble started to investigate the apparition of Mary and during the investigation many accusations were made against the visionaries, including the assertion that the apparition was just a young woman named Lamerliere. But later on November 16, 1851 the bishop of Grenoble Mgr. Philibert de Bruillard declared the apparition to be worthy of belief with title Our Lady of La Salette, the first step in approval by the Catholic Church. Both secrets were written down by the visionaries and sent to the pope in sealed envelopes in the same year.
Maximin Giraud never revealed publically his secret until his death on 1875. But it was published later at 1888. This was the letter of Maximin Giraud to the Pope Pius IX:
On September 19, 1846, we saw a beautiful Lady. We never said that this lady was the Blessed Virgin but we always said that it was a beautiful Lady. I do not know if it is the Blessed Virgin or another person. As for me, I believe today that it is the Blessed Virgin.
Here is what this Lady said to me:
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. A monster will come to disturb it.
All that I tell you here will arrive in the other century, at the latest in the year two thousand.
(She told me to say it some time before.)
My Most Holy Father, your holy blessing to one of your sheep.
Grenoble, July 3, 1851.
What about the secrets Virgin Mary revealed to Melanie Calvat?! It was said that those secrets don’t have to remain secret and could be revealed in 1858. When the year was near Melanie were writing letters to the Pope Pius IX asking him to reveal secrets, but Pope refused to do so. It is considered that the reasons were the political situation in the France at the time, where Napoleon III was ruling in France as a republic, but there were many groups who were fighting for power and wanted to restore the Monarchy and Catholic country. And everyone was concerned the secrets revealed to Melanie Calvat in la Salette could be interpreted and used by political groups to influence current situation in France.
Finally the secret message was published by Melanie Calvat herself on 15 November 1879 in a book named Apparition of the Blessed Virgin on the Mountain of La Salette. The Secret was written down first on July 3, 1851 in Corenc, at the Sisters of Providence convent. She sealed it at 10.00 am, and it was carried at 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. Melanie was allowed to rewrite her Secret, on July 6, then the engineer Dausse led her to the Bishop's House, where Bishop of Bruillard read the document before sealing it.
The Melanie’s secret entrusted by Virgin Mary, contained the message that due to many crimes and sins of their inhabitants, two large cities of France will be destroyed – Paris and Marseille soon afterwards. There will be persecutions and attempt to murder the Pope, but it will not succeed. After this a great king will come on the throne, will reign a few years and religion will re-flourish and spread all over the world, and there will be a great abundance. The world not lacking anything will fall again in its disorders, will give up God, and will be prone to its criminal passions. Some bishops and spouses of Jesus Christ will go astray. Lastly, hell will reign on earth. Then the Antichrist will be born and claim he is from Heaven and many will believe, but it will be very disastrous for those who will believe.
On 1880 the book containing the secrets was included in the index of forbidden books by Vatican. But Melanie later has written at least 5 versions of the secret to different persons that were later made public, and some of them contained some further Apocalyptic revelations and predictions that circulated among the people in different versions. Later the Pope had to declare that only the revelations described in the first letter should be believed.
Melanie Calvat spent most of her life as a nun of Catholic Church, but due to different circumstances, both personal and political had not an easy fate. She was often sent to a different place and convent, first inside France, later in exile to England, then returned to France and later again travelled to Italy where she died on 15th December of 1904.
Still, all of their lives both Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud believed and confirmed that Our Lady of La Salette had appeared to them and did talk with them. And Vatican has fully confirmed this Marian apparition of Lady of Salette.