Friday, May 17, 2019

Notre Dame du Laus

Celebrated Sanctuaries of the Madonna

Tenth in a Series

In this series, condensed from a book written by Fr. Northcote prior to 1868 on various famous Sanctuaries of Our Lady, the author succeeds in defending the honor of Our Blessed Mother and the truth of the Catholic Faith against the wily criticism of many Protestants.
While some material covered in this chapter of Fr. Northcote's book has already been discussed in Salve Maria Regina No. 160, Fr. Northcote adds many interesting facts, as well as his usual excellent apologetics.

Our Lady of Laus, France

Benoite YouthAt about two leagues (about 7 miles) distance from the city of Gap, in the district of the High Alps, lies the little valley of Laus, shut in by wooded mountains and surrounded by other valleys, through which the river L’Avance winds its way. A more picturesque locality can hardly be imagined. The mountains of Colombis and St. Maurice appear clothed with forests to their very summits, whilst to the south appear the distant peaks of the Lower Alps, contrasting in their barren and savage grandeur with the rich vegetation which adorns the hills in the immediate vicinity of Laus. As the traveler approaches this beautiful region from the valley of L’Avance, he suddenly discovers the church of Laus lying as it were at his feet, and is reminded by a profusion of pious monuments which meet his eye at every turn that he is approaching a place specially consecrated to devotion. Chapels and crosses rise on all sides to commemorate some event in the life of the poor shepherdess to whom the place owes all its celebrity, and the marvels of whose story receive a certain confirmation from what we may call a greater marvel still. A simple unlettered peasant girl two centuries ago kept her sheep on these mountains, and succeeded in transforming a rude and unfrequented wilderness into a vast focus of religious life; leaving among her native hills so vivid a memory of herself, that time and revolution have not had power to destroy it, and our own unbelieving century still beholds pilgrims resorting to the spots made memorable by the apparitions of Our Lady to the shepherdess Benoîte.
We shall relate the story of the servant of God simply as it has been preserved, without retrenching anything from the marvelous character attached to it. And let it be remembered that these events did not take place in the dim religious light of mediaeval antiquity, nor are they magnified in our eyes as we behold them through the mist of a long series of centuries. The Shepherdess of Laus lived during a period when the faith of Europe was on the wane, and when men were disposed to anything rather than an over-credulous superstition.
Benoîte Rancurel was born at St. Etienne on the feast of St. Michael, 1647. Her parents were humble peasants who lived by the labor of their hands; and in her twelfth year, Benoîte was put out to service, to keep the sheep of a neighboring farmer, taking her clothes and her Rosary as her only property. During her childhood she had been distinguished for her great tenderness to the poor, and had once earned a sound beating from her mother for giving away food during a time of famine; she had also early evinced a remarkable love of prayer. So much distress prevailed at that time in the country that her master was unable to charge himself with her whole maintenance, and to earn a living Benoîte hired herself out during alternate weeks to a poor widow. The farmer was a brutal character, who up to that time had never been able to keep anyone in his service, but the simplicity and sweetness of Benoîte not only protected her from his cruelty, but had such a softening effect on his hard nature, that in a short time he became another man.
The widow was almost as destitute as Benoîte herself, and the little shepherdess found ample opportunities for exercising her cherished virtue of charity, often sharing her scanty provisions among the six hungry children of the house, and silencing their scruples by the assurance that she herself would have plenty to eat next week. It was thus she grew up in the midst of labor and privation, simple, charitable, and devout, when one day, chancing to hear a sermon wherein the village curé spoke much of the love of the Blessed Virgin for sinners, and the singular protection which She extended to those who consecrated themselves to Her service, Benoîte conceived an ardent desire of being numbered among Her special clients. At the same time the wish sprang up in her heart that she might be found worthy to behold the Blessed Mother of God, of whose mercy and tenderness to the unfortunate She had heard so much.
St. MauriceShe was accustomed to frequently lead her sheep to the mountain of St. Maurice, on the summit of which stood an old ruined chapel, dedicated to that Saint. One day in May of the year 1664, Benoîte who was then about sixteen years of age, sat down near the ruins to pray her Rosary; she was ignorant of what had been the nature of the building, and also of the fact that close to it was to be found a spring of water, though this latter circumstance would have been most welcome news, for during her long days on the barren hillside, she often suffered greatly from thirst. As she sat thus with her flock grazing around, she perceived an old man approaching her, of venerable aspect, dressed in red and wearing a beard. He asked her what she was doing there, to which she replied, with her usual simplicity, that she was watching her sheep and praying to the good God, but that she was very thirsty. Yet there is water close by you, said the old man; and he then pointed out the well, which is still to be seen, and which to this day produces an abundance of excellent water. Benoîte, who had no suspicion of her visitor, thanked him heartily, and pressed him to eat some of her bread, when he made known to her that he was St. Maurice, the patron of that mountain, and desired her to lead her flock to a valley near St. Etienne, where the desire of her heart would be granted to her.
The spot indicated is a sort of ravine which extends from the village to the borders of the forest which crowns the hill; on the eastern side is still pointed out a little cavern where Benoîte was in the habit of retiring to say her Rosary before taking her frugal repast. Hither therefore the little shepherdess directed her steps on the following day, and towards evening she saw standing on a rock, known as Les Fours (The Ovens—a chapel now stands on the spot, erected in 1835), a Lady and Child both of singular beauty. The Lady did not speak to her, and for two months these apparitions were constantly renewed on the same spot, before Benoîte summoned courage to ask Her name. Nevertheless, although not a word had been spoken by her visitor, Her presence filled the heart of Benoîte with joy, and a certain spiritual illumination; but it does not seem certain that she recognized who it was who thus appeared to her, and though on returning home she spoke to all her neighbors of the beautiful Lady she had seen on the rock, she never gave them any reason to suppose that she had been favored with a heavenly vision.
Les FoursDuring these two months the flocks showed the same mysterious attraction to the valley of St. Etienne as their young mistress, a fact the more remarkable as the ravine was rocky and barren, and the pasturage extremely scanty. The neighbors were not slow to inform the farmer that if he allowed his sheep to be driven every day to a spot where there was nothing for them to eat, he would lose them all, and become the laughing-stock of the village. As to the farmer's wife, she also had complaints to make of Benoîte, who now never returned till late in the evening, and who on her appearance was commonly received with blows. In obedience to her master's orders therefore, Benoîte conducted her flock to a better pasturage, lying in a different direction from her favorite ravine, but no sooner had they reached the spot indicated by the farmer, which afforded an abundance of excellent grass, than of their own accord they set off at full speed to the barren valley in spite of every effort made by Benoîte to stop them. When this fact was related to the farmer he would not believe it, and to ensure his orders being carried out, the next day he led his sheep to pasture himself, but had the mortification of seeing them all trot off in the direction of the forbidden ravine by a sort of instinct which he found himself unable to overcome. He was forced to admit that there was something in it which he did not understand, and seeing that the sheep were really in better condition than those of his neighbors, he thenceforth allowed Benoîte to do as she pleased.
After this time the mysterious apparition was very frequently renewed, and Benoîte was allowed not only to see, but even to converse with Her whom she still called by no other name than that of her Beautiful Lady. The matter was talked of in the neighborhood, and one of the magistrates of the province, named Mr. Grimaud, considered it his duty to interrogate the shepherdess on the subject. Benoîte answered all his questions with the utmost simplicity, but as she declared herself entirely ignorant who the Beautiful Lady was, the magistrate was at a loss what to think. The advice he gave her, however, was to make a good Confession and Communion, and then, the next time she saw the Lady, to approach Her and respectfully enquire Her name. Benoîte followed the wise counsel, and having prepared herself by a worthy reception of the Sacraments, she summoned the courage to ask the Lady who She was. I am Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was the reply, and it is the will of My Son that I should be honored in this parish, though not on this spot. You will therefore request the Prior to come hither in procession together with his parishioners. Benoîte, filled with joy on learning who her Beautiful Lady was, hastened to communicate her orders to the Prior, who after careful investigation of the facts decided on giving credence to the heavenly message, and, on August 29, a solemn procession was made to the valley, at which all the villagers assisted, headed by their pastor.
PindreauAfter this incident, Benoîte was given to understand that she would not again behold Our Lady in that valley; and it was not until a month later that she was favored with another apparition. This time Our Lady appeared on a little eminence (Pindreau – image right) near the road leading from Laus to St. Etienne, now marked by a small oratory, and made known to Benoîte that if she wished to see Her again, she must repair to a little chapel at Laus, the road to which She pointed out. The next day Benoîte found her way to the chapel in question; it bore the title of Notre Dame de Bon Rencontre (Our Lady of Good Meeting), and had been built in 1640, but since then had fallen into partial ruin. The sight of its dusty walls and neglected altar filled Benoîte with sorrow when she reflected that this was the chosen sanctuary of the Mother of God, but Our Lady made known to her that before long this poor and squalid building would be replaced by a large church, richly adorned, and served by many priests, that many poor sinners would be converted here, and that the money required for such a building would be furnished from the pence of the poor.
Bon RecontreFrom this time on Benoîte every day visited the chapel, where she spent long hours in prayer, leaving her flock to the care of Providence. No accident ever befell them, nor did her master oppose her doing as she chose. The rumor of what had passed very soon spread among the villagers, and induced them also to resort to the little oratory in ever-increasing numbers. Many of these, touched by grace, devoutly prepared themselves for the Sacraments, and it was found necessary to engage priests to attend on the spot to hear the confessions of the pilgrims. The chapel very soon became too small to contain the hundreds who daily presented themselves, and an altar for the celebration of Mass had to be erected out of doors, while the priests heard confessions under the rocks and trees of the valley. Whole parishes came hither in procession from many miles' distance, thirty-five such processions arriving on a single day. Some of these had journeyed on foot for fourteen hours, and this manifestation of popular devotion took place before any official examination had been made into the circumstances to which it owed its origin. Many signal graces, both spiritual and temporal, were granted to the prayers of the pilgrims; miraculous cures, and striking conversions were of continued recurrence.
At length in September, 1665, the ecclesiastical authorities felt it their duty to investigate the whole affair. M. Lambert, the Vicar-General of the diocese of Embrun, accompanied by twenty-two other ecclesiastics of rank and learning, proceeded to Laus to initiate a juridical inquiry. Benoîte was subjected by them to a severe examination. The Vicar-General made her understand that they were not come there to authorize her visions and foolish fancies, and that if she was detected of any imposture, she would be severely punished. One after another the examiners then attacked her with questions, arguments, and even with ridicule; they strove now to embarrass and now to intimidate her, but the simplicity and integrity of the poor shepherdess withstood the trial, and she replied to their questions with a precision and modest self-possession that filled them with surprise.
CuresProvidence had so ordered it, that the Vicar-General and his companions should themselves be eyewitnesses of a striking miracle wrought during their visit. Twice they had made preparations to depart, and each time violent torrents of rain had obliged them to return to their lodgings. It seemed as if against their wills they were to be detained at Laus, in order to be able to bear witness to one of those prodigies the truth of which they were as yet unwilling to allow. On the very day they were to leave, a poor crippled woman, named Catherine Vial, who had for years been entirely deprived of the use of her limbs which were withered and bent under her, was suddenly restored to strength on the ninth day of a novena which she had made to Notre Dame du Laus. Every day during the novena, the Vicar-General had seen her carried to and from the chapel, and it was while he himself was offering Mass at the altar, that he now beheld her enter, walking alone and without support, and heard the by-standers exclaiming, a miracle! a miracle! Catherine Vial is cured!
I myself was serving his Mass, writes M. Gaillard, the Grand-Vicar of Gap, who has preserved all these particulars, and I perceived he was so overcome that he could hardly finish the Last Gospel, and the cards on the altar were moistened with his tears. (A month later the parish of St. Julien to which Catherine belonged, made the pilgrimage to Laus in procession, their banner being carried by Catherine herself.)
A fresh inquiry was now set on foot into the truth of this fact; not only the woman herself and her family, but the two surgeons who had attended her, were rigorously questioned. The latter were both Calvinists, and when they heard of the proposed novena, had declared themselves willing to become Catholics if they should see her ever able to walk again. They had seen her returning from the chapel, and not only attested that her disease had been incurable by human means, but avowed themselves convinced by that they had seen, and ready to abjure their heresy. The record of these events was drawn up by the Vicar-General, who desired that a Te Deum should be chanted in the chapel in thanksgiving for so signal a grace, and who became from that time the firm protector and friend of the shepherdess, and of the work of which she was chosen as the instrument.
And in fact poor Benoîte was often subjected to trials, wherein she stood in need of protection. Many persons of rank and influence regarded her as an impostor, and attempts were made not only to bring her into discredit, but even to have her driven from Laus and consigned to prison. In spite of this hostility however, the pilgrimages continued to increase, and four years after the first apparition of Our Lady in the chapel of Laus, M. Lambert decided on erecting a church on the site of the chapel, which was altogether inadequate for the wants of the pilgrims. M. Gaillard met him at Laus in order to consult with him on the subject, and has left an account of what passed on the occasion. The plan of the Vicar-General was to build a small church, seven or eight fathoms long (a ‘fathom’ is six feet), containing two or three altars. On the representation of M. Gaillard that it ought to be at least fifteen fathoms, he replied that he had never contemplated such an undertaking, that the pilgrimages would probably last at most a dozen years, and would then die away, and that it would be impossible to find funds for so large a building. After some demur he at last consented that the foundations should be dug for twelve fathoms, and entrusted the direction of the works to M. Gaillard.
I remember very well, he writes, that when we began to dig the foundations we had no money; we had some alms-boxes made, and M. Naz, one of the directors of the works, asked alms with one of these. A poor woman dressed in rags, to whom one would have felt disposed to give relief if one had met her on the road, came gently behind him, and slipped in a Louis d’or (a small gold coin weighing just under 1/4 of an ounce); that was sufficient for the first week. The next week we had ten crowns, and so it went on, so that we were never in want either of money, material, or workmen; it was the 'pence of the poor' that built the entire church, though in point of fact it cost more than 15,000 livres (pounds).
Chapel of LausThe pilgrims aided the rising work with their alms and their labor. It became the custom, whenever a parochial procession visited Laus, for every member of it – man, woman, and child – to bring a stone. A year was devoted to collecting the necessary materials, and then the building began in good earnest. We have said that M. Gaillard had originally proposed to M. Lambert that the length of the church should be fifteen fathoms, and singularly enough the additional length was added by order of the Vicar-General, who on coming to survey the works found that by some unaccountable omission no provision had been made in the plans for a sanctuary; he therefore ordered one to be added to the erection then in progress, and in less than four years the church was completed with the exception of the portico – which, however, was built at the expense of the Archbishop of Embrun, then Ambassador at Madrid, who having recovered from a dangerous sickness in consequence of a vow made to Notre Dame du Laus, wished to make this portico his thank-offering.
Although the erection of this magnificent church on a spot so humble seemed in itself to confirm the truth of the revelation made to Benoîte, the success of her work only increased the number and malice of her enemies. After the death of M. Lambert, which took place very soon after the consecration of the church, certain members of the chapter of Embrun revived all the old accusations against the shepherdess of Laus. They caused a paper to be affixed to the church door, threatening with excommunication any priest who dared to offer Mass there, or any lay person who received the Sacraments within its walls. It is needless to say that an interdict of such a character, and from such an authority, was altogether unlawful – neither did those who published it ever dare to carry its threats into effect.
A new Vicar-General was soon appointed who summoned Benoîte to Embrun, and subjected her to a second examination, which terminated in his declaring that the pilgrimage of Notre Dame du Laus was the work of God, and that the innocence and sanctity of Benoîte were above suspicion. The newly appointed Archbishop, Monseigneur de Genlis, even visited Laus in person, and on beholding the church crowded with its devout worshipers, exclaimed aloud, Vere Dominus est in loco isto (Truly the Lord is in this place!) He also questioned Benoîte closely, and wrote down her answers with his own hand, declaring afterwards that he had never witnessed more simple or more solid piety.
ConversionsIn fact, the reputation for sanctity which the shepherdess of Laus enjoys does not by any means rest merely on the apparitions with which she was favored. Her devotion to Jesus and His Holy Mother was not alone evinced by prayers and ecstasies, but by the far surer tokens of humility, disinterestedness, charity, and forgiveness of injuries. The work to which she devoted herself was to labor by prayer and severe austerities for the conversion of sinners. This idea had never left her soul since she had one day been granted a vision of her Divine Lord hanging on the Cross: this then was what He had suffered for sinners, and this was the love He bore them! Such were the thoughts which the piteous spectacle engraved on the heart of Benoîte, and from that hour her sole desire was to suffer and to love with Him.
She often prolonged her fasts for many days, and observed a continual abstinence, living only on bread and a little fruit. She watched the greater part of every night, and only slept on the bare ground. Thrice a week for the space of thirty years she went barefoot to that spot on the road between Laus and Avançon, where the vision above spoken of had appeared to her, and spent many hours there, weeping and praying for the conversion of sinners, and all the rest of her time she devoted herself to the service of the pilgrims. Many were the souls who owed their lasting conversion to her charitable exhortations, and not a few have borne witness to the marvelous gift which she possessed of penetrating into the secrets of their consciences. Of her other mortifications, in the shape of hair-cloths, disciplines, chains, and endurance of excessive cold, we will only add, that she was at last warned by Our Lady to moderate their excess, and that, by the testimony of all who knew her, she made her life one long-continued martyrdom.
Far from dying out at the end of a dozen years, as M. Lambert had expected, the devotion to Notre Dame du Laus constantly assumed larger proportions. At the suggestion of Benoîte, regular retreats were established eight times a year, which were conducted according to fixed rules, and were the means of effecting a great revival of solid piety. And what is more, this religious movement of which Laus had become the center, survived more than one crisis which threatened the entire destruction of the new Sanctuary. In 1692 the troops of the Duke of Savoy entered Dauphiny, and laid siege to Embrun. Benoîte with many of here fellow-villagers took refuge at Marseilles, whilst the hostile forces overran the country, pillaged the church of Laus, and destroyed whatever they were not able to carry off. When she was at length able to return to her native valley, the servant of God was profoundly afflicted at beholding the profanation which had been offered to the Sanctuary. The house of the priests had been burnt, and the marble altars dashed to pieces; everything was in ruins and desolation, but Benoîte did not lose heart. We have more than we had twenty-eight years ago, she said, and she at once set about the work of restoration. Once again this was accomplished with the pence of the poor; no rich benefactors came forward; but one village contributed wood, another stone, a third wagons and horses. Benoîte herself directed and encouraged their labors, and in a few months' time the church of Laus presented even a better appearance than it had done before the invasion.
A more serious danger menaced the prosperity of Laus, when, on the death of the priests who had up to that time served the Sanctuary, others were appointed of Jansenistic principles, who no sooner found themselves in possession of the place than they used every effort to put a stop to the pilgrimage. They caused all the oratories erected in the different localities of Laus to be destroyed, they drove away the pilgrims, and publicly preached from the pulpit against the popular devotion exhibited towards Our Lady; and not only did they forbid Benoîte to discharge her accustomed offices in the holy chapel – the altar and linen of which she had hitherto had charge of – but they refused to admit her to the Sacraments, put her in a sort of confinement, and only allowed her to hear Mass once a week. This persecution lasted for twenty years, during all of which time Benoîte submitted to their injurious treatment with her usual docility and resignation; the only order which she refused to obey, was that she should use her influence with the people to deter them from resorting to Laus, for this would have been, as she considered, a direct disobedience to the Divine commands. Her only weapons of defense were prayer and confidence, and they did not fail to effect her deliverance. In 1712 the Archbishop of Embrun removed the priests of Laus, and confided the care of the Sanctuary to a congregation of missionaries, knows as that of Notre Dame de Sainte-Garde, and no sooner was the change effected than everything returned into its former channel; the pilgrimage became more frequented than ever, and the fruit of souls more marvelous and abundant. Benoîte, who had lived to see this happy fulfillment of her prayers and ardent desires, understood that her work was ended, and that she had nothing more to do but to prepare for death. She expired on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, 1718, at the age of seventy-one years, fifty-six of which had been spent in founding and supporting the Sanctuary which seemed to have been entrusted to her guardianship by the Mother of God.
Death of BenoiteHer body lies buried in front of the high altar of Laus, and is covered with a stone, bearing the following inscription:

Tombeau de la Sœur Benoîte, Morte en odeur de sainteté Le 28 dècembre 1718.
Tomb of Sister Benoite, Died in the odor of sanctity December 28, 1718.

The title of Sister is here bestowed on her, in consequence of her having been associated to the Third Order of St. Dominic. Eighty years later the tomb was opened and the body was discovered perfectly incorrupt. The voice of the people has long since expressed their pious conviction of her heroic sanctity, and it is understood that the necessary documents have been drawn up by the ecclesiastical authorities with the view of introducing the process of her beatification at Rome.

The devotion of the people in no degree slackened after the death of Benoîte. The missionaries continued their pious labors, and pilgrims continued to resort to Laus in great numbers up to the year 1791, when the revolution came once more to lay waste the holy sanctuary. The priests were driven away, all the ornaments of the church seized, the church itself shut up, and the houses for the use of the pilgrims either burnt or sold. Frightful sacrileges were perpetrated by the brutal ruffians who carried out the orders of their masters, and who destroyed and desecrated whatever they were unable to carry off. They were directed to efface every memorial of piety in the neighborhood, to demolish all the crosses and oratories in the surrounding valleys, and to purge the country of their odious presence, and these orders they carried out to the letter. But they were unable to destroy the devotion which had struck its roots into the hearts of the people. All through the miserable days of the Reign of Terror, the peasants continued to resort to their ruined and desolate sanctuary, to bring thither their sick, and to invoke the aid of the Mother of God in all their tribulations. On occasion of a great drought which threatened to destroy all hope of a harvest, the surrounding villages even insisted on making a solemn public procession to Laus, as in former times, and their faith was rewarded by a fall of rain, which restored their lands to fertility.
At last, when order was restored, in 1802, Msgr. Miollis, Bishop of Digne, purchased and restored the church, and reopened it for public worship. Three of the surviving missionaries returned to their old post, and at once the devotion of the people, forcibly restrained for a time, broke forth with a greater enthusiasm than ever. Ocular witnesses have described the scenes they themselves witnessed in 1804, when the entire church was blocked up by the crowds of penitents, and the priests in attendance were found insufficient to satisfy the requirements of the pilgrims. In course of time a new congregation of missionary priests was established at Laus, the retreats and other pious exercises were revived, and oratories and chapels erected on the site of those destroyed by the revolutionaries. Eventually Notre Dame du Laus probably attracted a greater number of pilgrims than even during the days of Benoîte, and it was no uncommon thing on the greater feasts to see altars erected out of doors for the celebration of Mass, in order to accommodate the vast crowds that overflowed the spacious church. The average number of those who visited Laus in the course of the year was 80,000, of which the greater proportion attended at the Feast of Pentecost, and during the October retreat. On those occasions as many as thirty-six or even forty priests were to be seen attending in the confessionals, where they often had to remain during the entire night. Many extraordinary graces have been received at these times, of which testimony is to be found in the ex-voto offerings which cover the walls.
Cross VisionThe visitor to Laus would find the memory of Benoîte still fresh in the breasts of the people, and all the surrounding valleys filled with pious monuments attesting their faith in those apparitions which were vouchsafed to her by the Mother of God. The grotto where the little shepherdess was accustomed to pray, the rock where Our Lady first appeared to her, the chapel of Notre Dame d’Erable, where, according to her history, she had to sustain many assaults from the evil one; another, called the Chapel of the Angel, where her guardian angel is said to have appeared to her in visible form; the Oratory in Pindreau, on the spot where the Blessed Virgin first directed her to go to Laus, and finally, that of the Cross, on the road where she beheld the Vision of Jesus Crucified (image right) – all these and more are numbered among the holy places of Laus. Swept away once by war, and again by anti-religious revolution, they have each time been restored, and not merely the material buildings have reap-peared, but with them the faith, the devotion, the indescribable atmosphere of piety which seems to hang about this celebrated place of pilgrimage.
At the close of one of the retreats, one of those who had assisted at its exercises exclaimed with great emotion, Why do they not preach like this in our parish?! One of the missionaries who overheard him replied, In your parish, very probably they preach not only as well, but a great deal better than they do here; only here, there is an Invisible Preacher, Who speaks to the heart.And these few words contain the secret of that wonderful influence which is felt by those who visit holy sanctuaries in the true spirit of pilgrimage. God makes Himself felt there as the Invisible Preacher; He draws souls to these His secret places, that He may speak to their hearts, and the long list of miraculous cures and graces which fill the chronicles of such sanctuaries are but a feeble exterior token of far more numerous and prodigious graces granted invisibly to penitent and believing souls.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Our Lady of Knock - Why Did She Just Stand There, Silent?

Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John at Knock, Ireland 1879

My grandmother, María del Refugio Chacón de Hermosillo, was a Third Order Franciscan for over fifty years. She instilled in me a great love for St. Francis and his religious orders, especially the Third Order. One of the things she told me many times was how St. Francis taught his children that they must live the teaching of Christ and in that way they would be preaching the Gospel - even as laymen. In other words, she told me, "Preach the Gospel always - if necessary, use words."

Our Lady, appointed by Her Divine Son, to prepare the way for His Second Coming, has appeared many times, in many places around the world, to warn us and encourage us; to prepare us. She has spoken in many places with messages from Christ the King. But at Knock, She said nothing at all. She just stood still, as did St. Joseph and St. John while behind them and to their left, was a Lamb and a Cross on an altar. Here is a brief description from

August 21: Our Lady of Knock, Ireland (1879)
The apparition in County Mayo in Ireland of Our Lady of Knock is reported to have occurred on the evening of August 21, 1879, the vigil of the octave of the feast of the Assumption. Those who witnessed the miracle ranged in age from five years old to seventy-five.
The apparition was described as follows: “Our Lady was wearing a large, brilliant crown and clothed in white garments. On her right was Saint Joseph, his head inclined toward her and on her left Saint John the Evangelist. To the left of Saint John was an altar on which stood a cross and a lamb.” Standing only a few feet off the ground, the Blessed Virgin wore a white cloak and was described by witnesses as being incredibly beautiful. She wore a bright golden crown, and appeared to be praying with her eyes looking toward heaven with her arms bend in front of her with her palms facing inward.

Fifteen parishioners stood to witness the apparition for two hours as they recited the rosary. Although it was daylight when the apparition began, the weather turned for the worse and it began to rain heavily. The area around the apparition appeared unaffected, however, as the ground remained dry as long as the vision lasted. She did not speak, but the gable of the church where the manifestation was made was covered with a cloud of light.

Saint Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, also wore white robes and stood on the Virgin’s right. He inclined his head respectfully toward the Blessed Virgin. Saint John the Evangelist wore a miter, and appeared to be preaching as he held a book in his left hand.

~~~                           ~~~                           ~~~

Why was she silent? Did she come simply to tell the people of Ireland, "I am pleased by  your steadfastness in the Faith and your love for me and My Son."?

I do think that is the reason she chose Ireland, but I do NOT think that is why She did not speak. If She stood there, saying nothing, as did St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, and St. John, writer of the Apocalypse, it was because she wanted us to understand the message she was bringing NOT VERBALLY, but in the symbolism of the circumstances surrounding her apparition. She was teaching us how to understand Her by examining what happened and to whom She appeared in each circumstance. I will apply this concept to some of Her most well-known apparitions.

Zaragoza, Spain in 42AD

Read the history of the apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar to St. James the Greater in Spain in 40 AD, while she was still living in Jerusalem

Even before Our Lady's Assumption into heaven, She appeared to St. James in Spain, standing atop a pillar of jasper. She told encouraged him to continue his activities and said that the faithful there would give great glory to God. That a church should be built around the pillar and that the pillar would last until the end of time in order that God may work miracles through Her intercession. She stood on a pillar to remind us that the Church, "pillar and ground of truth" will remain until the end of time.

Mexico in 1531

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Our Lady appeared to a baptised Juan Diego, under the appearance of an Indian woman with child on a hill where previously had stood a temple to a pagan god to whom the sacrifice of children was offered.  She asked to be called by a name that means she who crushes the serpent and she gave the Castilian roses and Her glorious image on the tilma during the octave of the Immaculate Conception. The Miraculous Tilma spoke silently to the native people of Mexico, telling them that the Mother of the TRUE God loved them and wanted them to worship Him. Millions were baptised over the next decade and She continues to be venerated as Empress of the Americas.

Quito, Ecuador in 1670

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Our Lady of the Great Event, more commonly, but erroneously, known as Our Lady of Good Success

This title by which Our Lady describes Herself to Mother Mariana in Spanish is Nuestra Señora del Buen Suceso.  This is commonly, almost universally, mistranslated as Our Lady of Good Success. 

The events in the life of Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres of the Conceptionist (!) sisters in the convent of the Immaculate Conception (!) in Quito are so unbelievably symbolic that if they had not occurred so long ago, one would think it was an allegory written by a Traditionalist Catholic in the 21st century. 

Our Lady repeatedly warns Mother Mariana that in the middle of the 20th century a horrible chastisement would befall the Church (cf. Her warning at La Salette and Fatima’s 3rd secret). She explains in some detail the things that the Church would suffer, saying that the Sacraments would be difficult to find, that there would be the lack of a shepherd to guide the flock, etc. In addition to the direct communication of these warnings in words, the events which Mother Mariana endured and witnessed are equally prophetic. I believe the meaning of the sufferings is even stronger.

Mother Mariana wanted to live her Franciscan vocation by following perfectly the Rule of the Franciscans given by Pope Julian II. That is, she wanted to hold on to the traditions, and not innovate in any way, no matter how insignificant it may appear to be, just as Catholics who want to keep the Faith have always done.  There were many in the convent who did not want to follow the rule [keep the Faith] and they conspired to make false reports to the bishop which led to her being put into the convent prison. This worked due to the weakness of the prioress who knew it was wrong but passed on the calumnies anyway.  Eventually, all of the nuns who wanted to keep the rule were put into the prison, underground, and unable to assist at the Mass and Divine Office.  The convent is symbolic of the Church in the mid-20th century. It is taken over by rebellious people who don’t want to keep the rule and those who hold on to tradition are placed in an underground prison and denied access to the Sacraments. All of this was done at the command of weak prioress and a bad bishop.  The bishop’s soul was only saved by the sacrifices of Mother Mariana on his behalf.  This happens repeatedly; Mother Mariana and sometimes the other obedient nuns are thrown in prison, then they are released, only to be thrown back in again. 

Mother Mariana actually died more than once and came back after having been shown visions of the horrible times that would come upon the Church in the mid-20th century.

La Salette in 1846.

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 Our Lady weeping. Why? The eclipse of the Church. Rome becoming the seat of Antichrist, the loss of so many souls due to the Apostasy. The two shepherds are not well catechised and do not know the Faith well. And what happened to them after the apparitions? The were harassed by the Bishops of France. They were calumniated, threatened, called bad Catholics. Melanie had to leave France many times due to the animosity of the bishops having to go all the way to Italy to find a bishop who would give her permission to print her booklet of the secret Our Lady had given her.  What happened to the faithful who rejected Vatican II and its false doctrine and invalid sacraments? They were hounded, calumniated, called heretics and driven from their parish churches having to go great distances to find the Sacraments.

Lourdes, France in 1858.  

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In the same year that Darwin’s heretical book on evolution was published, Our Lady appeared in Lourdes to St. Bernadette to proclaim Herself The Immaculate Conception.  She did so in the middle of the town dump where the trash of the city was burnt. The only human being conceived without original sin, the Summit of all creation, stood in the midst of the dump and offered us the choice of following Her Immaculate Heart or wallowing in the wickedness and mire of worldly philosophies. Our Lady also represents the Church, which is surrounded by heresies and moral depravity. Bernadette, representing the Church, was sick, suffering from a lung disorder. She eventually died of this disorder. There were many false apparitions in the area and demonic manifestations as well, causing doubt about the truth of the legitimate appartions and the messages.

Knock, Ireland in 1879 

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Our Lady came with St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, and St. John the Evangelist - who was reading from it. After saying at La Salette that Rome would lose the Faith and become the seat of Antichrist just a few years before, and referring to herself as the Immaculate Conception, she clearly had placed us in the age of the coming of the great Apostasy. At Knock, she stood silently, with her hands raised as if to begin praying, looking up to Heaven. St. Joseph stood silently also. He who is the special Patron and Protector of Holy Mother Church, who will see Her through the years of Her Passion. Then, St. John reading, preaching from his book of the Apocalypse. But all - silent! Just behinde them stood a Lamb on an altar and a cross. Our Lady's message? Perhaps She was saying,

"The times prophesied in the Apocalypse of my son, St. John, are here. The Church will suffer as did the Lamb of God - silently, as if nobody knew it was happening, just as Christ my Son suffered His Passion in silence. The Church will be undergoing Her Passion, her voice will be silenced for a time. The faithful will doubt because She will seem to have lost the attributes of a Divine Institution just as My Divine Son seemed to lose his Divine Beauty and Strength. Remain Strong! St. Joseph will remain with you through it all. Ite ad Joseph! I also will be here to sustain you and obtain for you all the Graces and Virtues that you will need to persevere until the end."

I think She also silently instructed us to look beyond the words she spoke at Her apparitions and look for the meaning of the circumstances which surround them.

Fatima, Portugal in 1917.   

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The fruit of godless atheism being godless communism, how appropriate that the Blessed Virgin appeared in Fatima in the same year that the Communist Revolution was destroying Russia. The miracle of the sun coming within a month of the establishment of the Soviet Union. And what about the Miracle?  The sun falling from its place after spinning out of control and losing its natural appearance. Quae est ista quae progreditur quasi aurora consurgens, pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol, terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinataWho is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array? Is this not a symbol of our Holy Mother the Church as well as of Our Lady. The request for the consecration of Russia; the sun falling from the sky; the Church in eclipse; the rise of communism which would soon spread throughout the world. In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph – what a great event that will be!

But what did the three visionaries, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia represent? What lesson can we take away by observing their lives in connection with the apparitions? The children were shown "Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go" and Our Lady said that Francisco and Jacinto would die soon but that Lucia would live for some time longer. It is suspected that the third "Secret" of Our Lady deals with the Apostasy in the Church membership, starting at the top.  This third part of the message of Our Lady was to be revealed no later than 1960. 

I believe that the lives of the three visionaries after the Miracle of the Sun on October 13, are indicators of the contents of the third secret that was never officially revealed and indicators of what would happen in the Church AFTER 1960.

So what happened? Francisco and Jacinta died soon after of the complications related to infectious diseases. Two thirds of the visionaries died from infections, influenza, contracted by contact with the world. Lucia lived much longer. If we understand the children to represent the Church, then two thirds of them dying seems to indicate the Aposasy - two thirds of the Church Militant falling into apostasty. I believe the percentage is much higher, but the message is that the majority would fall away.

What about the other third represented by Lucia? Let's look at what Lucia went through. William Thomas Walsh writes in his book, Our Lady of Fatima.

"When Lucia's second teeth began to come in, it was evident that nature was not preparing her to be 'Miss Portugal'. For they were large, projecting and irregular, causing the upper lip to protrude and the  heavy lower one to han, while the tip of her snub nose turned up more than ever." (p. 11)

She wanted to be a Carmelite, but they did not accept her saying that she did not have a vocation to their Order. She ended up becoming a Dorothean, a non cloistered order. As a Carmelite, she would have been, more or less, inaccesible. Our Lady did not want her to be cloistered, hence, she entered the Dorotheans. Here is a picture of sister Lucia taken in the Dorothean convent:

So, to sum up to this point, Lucia was, providentially, born with "projecting, irregular teeth, causing the upper lip to protrude..." and she was, providentially, accepted into a non-cloistered order rather than being accepted by the Carmelites. Why do I say that it was providential, that she had badly misaligned teeth and was not allowed to be cloistered? Because these two facts allowed the truth about her symbolic life to be known.  What does that mean? Well, just this:

Lucia represents the REMNANT CHURCH, the faithful Catholics holding on to the True Catholic Faith after the Apostasy of the "two thirds"! Lucia - the REAL Lucia - was "killed" and "replaced" with a FAKE one! Just as the Church would be ECLIPSED as Our Lady warned at La Salette. The authentic Catholic Church has been hidden and a false, more "attractive" (to the world) church has replaced her, just like Lucia of Fatima.

Why was she moved to a Carmelite convent after so many years, after the Carmelites said she had no vocation to be a Carmelite? Then, years later, this person is paraded in front of the cameras:

Look at the teeth! The nostrils! The chin!  
The shape of the lips forming the smile! 
This is not the same person! 

Those messed up teeth and unique facial structure make it unmistakeable that the real Lucia was ECLIPSED by the fake one.

Garabandal, Spain 1960 - 1965

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Sister Lucía of Fatima warned that the Church and the world would be in a state of “Diabolical Disorientation” and she was, of course, correct. Sister Lucia also told us that the Blessed Virgin Mary wanted the third secret to be revealed by 1960 at the latest! Like the rest of Her requests, this was not followed either.

The third part of the secret Our Lady gave to Lucia was not revealed by the Popes, or by Angelo Roncalli in 1960. So Our Blessed Lord, whose mercy is without bounds, gave us another warning. The message that was written by Lucia to be read no later than 1960 was explained BY THE ACTIONS OF OUR LADY WITH THE CHILDREN AT GARABANDAL! Let this be clearly understood. It is the reason for Our Lady’s appearance at Garabandal, literally just a few months after the deadline she had given for the third secret to be revealed. Her wishes, actually, those of Her Divine Son, were NOT obeyed. Did He and She turn their backs on us and leave us to our just desserts? NO. They told us the contents of the third secret of Fatima by dramatising them at GARABANDAL. The contents of the third secret are not in the future. THEY ARE FULFILLED AND MAYBE YOU DID NOT EVEN KNOW IT.

Many have heard of the prophecies of Daniel regarding the cessation of the continual Sacrifice; of the prophecies of Our Lady at La Salette regarding Rome becoming the seat of the Antichrist, of antipopes, and the rest and you have said to yourself, and rightly so, “How terrible will those times be!” and “I hope to be in heaven before these things happen.” however, these events have already happened. Our Blessed Mother came to Garabandal to REVEAL the third secret by Her actions. 

1.     Our Lady told the children: Many Cardinals, many Bishops and many Priests are on the road        to perdition and with them they are bringing many souls.
2.     They were led through the streets and neighbourhoods of Garabandal as if looking for something. They kept their eyes on Our Lady and were never harmed, never fell or tripped on the stone paths. They walked forward, backward, with their heads looking almost straight upwards, not looking where they were going.
3.     They saw Our Lady separately from each other, not always together.
4.     The Blessed Virgin at first led the children to the village church to adore Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, but the new bishop forbade this. The children began to receive Holy Communion OUTSIDE OF THE VILLAGE CHURCH WHERE THE BISHOP HAD FORBIDDEN THEM TO COME.
5.     Our Lady stressed the holy state of matrimony and kissed wedding rings.

The first thing that must be understood in the allegorical apparitions of Our Lady at Garabandal is that the children represent the Church Militant in the time of the Apostasy. Have you not wondered why Our Lady does the strange things that She does there? This is why! She was showing us THE THIRD SECRET. Have you never wondered why She would let the wickedness of men prevent the revelation of the secret which She wanted revealed without correcting the situation? She did no such thing. Just MONTHS after the deadline for the revelation of the secret had passed, She explained it to us. I will now explain.


#1. Many Cardinals, many Bishops and many Priests are on the way to perdition and with them they are bringing many souls.

This is the GREAT APOSTASY about which we have been warned since St. Paul! What was about to happen in 1961 when Our Lady spoke these words? Vatican Council II (so called) was being prepared. Who attended that “Council”? Many Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests! Why did Our Lady want the secret revealed by 1960? Well, WHEN DID THE COUNCIL BEGIN? 1962!!!  

#2. They were led through the streets and neighbourhoods of Garabandal as if looking for something. They kept their eyes on our Lady and were never harmed, never fell or tripped on the stone paths. They walked forward, backward, with their heads looking almost straight upwards, not looking where they were going.

The people will be (are) without shepherds to guide us. We must keep our eyes on heaven, on Our Lady and ultimately on Jesus Christ as St. Peter on the lake. As soon as we take our eyes off of Him and Her, we WILL sink. The Apostasy began at the top, with many Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests who led so many into perdition and want to lead us there too!

Why did Our Lady lead the children through the streets seemingly without aim or direction? Remember, they represent the Church Militant. That is how the Church is now: without shepherd, without guidance, without pastors. Recall the words of Our Lord in the Gospel: When the shepherd has been struck, the sheep will scatter. However, the Church is indestructible, so the children never fell, never even tripped on a stone! But they wandered outside the village church and throughout the mountain paths  like sheep whose shepherd had been taken away. Why were our shepherds gone? See #1.

#3 The children saw Our Lady many times individually, or in pairs, but mostly not all together.

The Church Militant is in small pockets, scattered throughout the world. Those who have held on to the traditions, the true Faith, the true Mass, the true Discipline of Holy Mother Church and did not follow the apostate Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests into perdition are small groups here and there. They are visible, as the True Church is visible, but they are scattered because the shepherd has been struck. They cannot find him, because the Church is in eclipse!  But, Our Lady will reunite the remnant just as she called the children together each time.

#4. The Blessed Virgin at first led the children to the village church to adore Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, but the new bishop forbade this. The children began to receive Holy Communion  
Recall the quote of Pope Pius XII about the people searching in vain for the lamp of the sanctuary indicating the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament: In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them, like Mary Magdalene weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, “where have they taken Him?”

Why did Our Lady not continue to lead the Church Militant (the children) to the village church to adore the Sacramental Jesus? Because the Bishop FORBADE IT! What did the apostate Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests do with the Mass at and after Vatican II? They brought in a 33rd Degree Freemason, Annibale Bugnini, and six (6) protestant ministers to invent a new “Mass” that would be agreeable and acceptable to protestants! They changed the necessary words required for validity. Pope Pius XII knew this was coming, even as far back as Daniel the prophet we were warned that the continual Sacrifice would cease. IT HAS CEASED! Not absolutely, but in its being continual. It used to be that, at any time, there was a Mass being offered somewhere in the world. That is no longer the case.

 The new mass is not new, and it is not the mass. It is essentially the same as the Anglican service invented by Cranmer in the 1600s and it is not the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Why did Our Lady have St. Michael give them (the CHURCH MILITANT!) Holy Communion outside and not in the parish church? Why In the street? In parks? In barns? On the mountainside? To tell us that it would not be available IN THE CHURCHES! That is exactly the situation we are in. And please do not say that this could not happen. We were warned of it repeatedly since Daniel all the way up to Pope Pius XII!!!

#5. Our Lady stressed the sanctity of Holy Matrimony and kissed many wedding rings.

The religious orders are all apparently dead, save for a few holy priests and nuns scattered throughout the world. It is the family that holds on to Traditional Catholicism that is the Church Militant now. What is the predominant force moving things now? The sodomites run everything and the governments back them up with firepower and tax law.

In the end, my Immaculate Heart will Triumph!