Feast of Notre-Dame de la Salette / Our Lady of La Salette – 19 September (French: Notre-Dame de La Salette) is a Marian apparition reported by two children, Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat to have occurred at La Salette-Fallavaux, France, in 1846.
The shepherd children Maximin and Melanie
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 Virgin Mary during her apparitions.
La Salette is celebrated as the place where, the Blessed Virgin appeared to two little shepherds and each year is visited by a large number of pilgrims. On 19 September, 1846, about three o’clock in the afternoon in full sunlight, on a mountain about 5918 feet high and about three miles distant from the village of La Salette-Fallavaux, it is related that two children, a shepherdess of fifteen named Melanie Calvat, called Mathieu and a shepherd-boy of eleven named Maximin Giraud, beheld in a resplendent light a “beautiful lady” clad in a strange costume. Speaking alternately in French and in patois, she charged them with a message which they were “to deliver to all her people”. After complaining of the impiety of Christians and threatening them with dreadful chastisements in case they should persevere in evil she promised them the Divine mercy if they would amend.
Finally, it is alleged, before disappearing she communicated to each of the children a special secret. The sensation caused by the recital of Melanie and Maximin was profound, and gave rise to several investigations and reports. Mgr. Philibert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, appointed a commission to examine judicially this marvellous event; the commission concluded that the reality of the apparition should be admitted. Soon several miraculous cures took place on the mountain of La Salette, and pilgrimages to the place were begun. The miracle, needless to say, was ridiculed by free-thinkers but it was also questioned among the faithful and especially by ecclesiastics. There arose against it in the Dioceses of Grenoble and Lyons a violent opposition, aggravated by what is known as the incident of Ars. As a result of this hostility and the consequent agitation, Mgr. de Bruillard (16 November 1851) declared the apparition of the Blessed Virgin as certain and authorised the cult of Our Lady of La Salette. The first stone of a great church was solemnly laid on the mount of La Salette, 25 May, 1852, amid a large assembly of the faithful. This Church, later elevated to the rank of a basilica, was served by a body of a religious called Missionaries of La Salette – who were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.. In 1891 diocesan priests replaced these missionaries, driven into exile by persecuting laws.
As said above, the Blessed Virgin confided to each of the two children a special secret. These two secrets, which neither Melanie or Maximin ever made known to each other, were sent by them in 1851 to Pius IX on the advice of Mgr. de Bruillard. It is unknown what impressions these mysterious revelations made on the pope, for on this point there were two versions diametrically opposed to each other. Maximin’s secret is not known, for it was never published. Melanie’s was inserted in its entirety in brochure which she herself had printed in 1879 at Lecce, Italy, with the approval of the bishop of that town.
” 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.”
“I have suffered all of the time for the rest of you! If I do not wish my Son to abandon you, I must take it upon myself to pray for this continually. And the rest of you think little of this. In vain you will pray, in vain you will act and you will never be able to make up for the trouble I have taken over for the rest of you.” – Our Lady of La Salette
Maximin Giraud, after an unhappy and wandering life, returned to Corps, his native village, and died there a holy death (1 March, 1875). Melanie Calvat ended a no less wandering life at Altamura, Italy (15 December, 1904). (From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc)
The message of the visionaries of La Salette focuses on the conversion of all humanity to Christ. St John Vianney, St 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.
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.”