SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF LA SALETTE
The Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette is situated in La Salette, a small town about 80 km south of Grenoble, France.
On September 19, 1846, about 3:00 in the afternoon, a shepherdess named Mélanie (15) and a shepherd boy (11) named Maximin were tending cows on a mountain about three miles distant from the village of La Salette when both of them beheld in a resplendent light a "beautiful lady" seated and crying.
The children described the lady as wearing a long white dress, slippers decorated with gold buckles and roses, and a headdress capped with roses. She gave them a message which they were to deliver to all her people: "If my people refuse to submit, I will be forced to let go the arm of my Son. It is so strong and so heavy, I can no longer hold it back." She complained of the loss of faith in the area, the desecration of the Sabbath, and the profanation of her Son's name, saying, "This is what makes the arm of my Son so heavy."
The lady went on to speak of hope of divine mercy if the people amended their lives, and encouraged the children to say their prayers regularly. Finally, before disappearing, she communicated to each of the children a special secret.
Mélanie and Maximin told the villagers what they saw, and the story caused quite a sensation. Soon several miraculous cures took place on the mountain of La Salette, and pilgrimages to the site began.
Bishop de Bruillard declared the apparition of the Blessed Virgin certain, and authorized the cult of Our Lady of La Salette. In 1852 the bishop published a decree announcing the construction of the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette on the mountain and the founding of the religious order Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.
Neither of the child visionaries led particularly saintly or religious lives after the apparitions. Maximin Giraud fell under the spell of unscrupulous people who used him for his notoriety. He led an unhappy and wandering life. After returning to Corps, his native village, he died on March 1, 1875, at the age of 39. Mélanie Calvat attempted to live as a Carmelite nun a few times, but eventually returned to the secular world. She began to espouse her own prophecies and mystical dogmas and unsuccessfully tried to develop a personal following. She died at Altamura, Italy, on December 15, 1904, where she was buried under a marble column with a bas-relief of the Virgin escorting the shepherdess into heaven.
What to See
The Shrine is located in a high alpine pasture. It is easily accessible by car, bus, and taxi, the shrine operates a hospitality service with a range of accommodations.
The mountain scenery around the shrine is spectacular and it is surrounded by a network of walking trails, making La Salette an ideal place for spiritual retreats and day hikes.
The Basilica of Our Lady of La Salette was begun in 1852, completed in 1865, and designated a basilica in 1879. It is a large, rather austere church, with a facade flanked by two strong towers.
The basilica also includes a small museum documenting the history of La Salette.
Outside the basilica, pilgrims can take a walking path leading to the apparition site, the "Valley of the Apparition." Bronze statues erected in 1864 depict the three stages of the apparition.
September 19 - Feast of Our Lady of La Salette
August 15 - Assumption of Our Lady
September 8 - Nativity of Our Lady
Website for The Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette: www.lasalette.cef.fr