In many countries and in varied situations, we, the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette continue our efforts to spread the message of the Beautiful Lady and respond to the problems of the day and the evangelization efforts of the Church around the world.
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, 19 September 1846, Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat 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 headdress. Around her neck she wore a crucifix suspended from a small chain.
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 giving a secret to each child, the apparition walked up a hill and vanished.
According to the children's account, the Virgin invited people to respect the repose of the seventh day, and to respect the name of God. She sorrowfully 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 France and in Ireland, a period of famine in the months which followed the apparition. This was one of the factors of the apparition's popular appeal.
The message of the visionaries of La Salette focuses on the conversion of all humanity to Christ. John Vianney, John 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. Fr. René J. Butler, M.S. of the La Salette Missionaries of North America says "The whole purpose of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette was reconciliation."
Pope John Paul II stated: "As I wrote on the occasion of the 150th anniversary, 'La Salette is a message of hope, for our hope is nourished by the intercession of her who is the Mother of mankind."
Approval of the Apparition.
Five years after the apparition of the Beautiful Lady to Mélanie and Maximin on Sept. 19, 1851, and after numerous consultations and a thorough, disciplined investigation, Bishop Philibert of Bruillard of Grenoble, France, judged that the Apparition at La Salette: “… bears in itself the nature of truth which the faithful may accept as indubitable and sure. We authorize the devotion to Our Lady of La Salette. We permit that it be preached so that practical and moral consequences may be drawn from this great event.”
On May 1, 1852, he had announced the construction of a sanctuary in the same area where the apparition has taken place, some 2,600 feet high, as well as the creation of a group of Diocesan Missionaries whose purposes were to greet pilgrims, preach the Word of God, and celebrate the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist. In the wintertime, they would travel the diocese giving mission and retreats.
Initially we worked only in the diocese of Grenoble and its surroundings. Eventually our ministry extended well beyond because we were called the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, called to share her message with all her people.
175 Years Later.
Today our efforts continue, based on the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As our mother, she was concerned for us, “her people,” and in particular for the poor and the young.
Assuredly Christ, crucified and risen, takes the central place in our lives because he is the Reconciler. With Mary, we are but his humble, prayerful servants, collaborators in building his kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.”
We fight the evils of the day which degrade human beings and can easily separate people from God. By our preaching and the various expressions of our ministry of reconciliation, we help people discover and respond to the call to follow Christ. We also assist others in listening to Jesus through their prayer, participation in the Eucharist and use of Lenten traditions to strengthen their faith.
The words of the Beautiful Lady at La Salette concerned the problems and daily concerns of her children. Our responsibility as La Salette Missionaries is to share with others the graces we ourselves have received. We simply walk in the footsteps of Mary, sharing her message of motherly concern for her people.