La Salette, France

What follows is the original testimony of Mélanie Calvat, who, along with Maximim, is the only witness able to tell the story of the apparition accurately.

After having relayed what happened by word of mouth countless times, she decided to write it down in 1878. On November 15, 1879 it was published for the first time with the "Imprimatur" of His Excellency Mgr. Zola, Bishop of Lecce. In 1904, just a few weeks before Mélanie's death, it was reprinted "ne varietur" at Lyon.

Mélanie's personal account is extremely rare. We have followed her text to the letter here.

Apparition of the Blessed Virgin

on the Mountain of La Salette

the 19th of September, 1846

Published by the Shepherdess of La Salette, with Imprimatur by the Bishop of Lecce.

On the 18th of September (1846), the eve of the Holy Apparition of the Holy Virgin, I was alone, as usual, watching over my Master's cows. Around eleven o'clock in the morning, I saw a small boy walking towards me. I was frightened at this, for it seemed to me that everyone ought to know that I avoided all kinds of company. This boy came up to me and said:

"Little girl, I'm coming with you, I'm from Corps, too." At these words, the natural evil in me soon showed itself, and taking a few steps back, I told him: "I don't want anybody around. I want to be alone." But this boy followed me, saying: "Go on, let me stay with you. My Master told me to come and watch over my cows together with yours. I'm from Corps."

I walked away from him, gesturing to him that I didn't want anyone around, and when I was some distance away, I sat down on the grass. There, I used to talk with the little flowers or the Good Lord.

A moment later, I looked behind me, and there I found Maximim sitting close to me. Straightaway he says to me: "Keep me with you. I'll be very good."

But the natural reason in me will not hear reason. I jump to my feet, and run a little farther off without saying a word and again I start playing with the little flowers of the Good Lord. In an instant, Maximim was there again, telling me he would be very good, that he wouldn't talk, that he would get bored by himself, and that his Master had sent him to be with me, etc. This time, I took pity, I gestured to him to sit down, and I kept on playing with the little flowers of the Good Lord.

It wasn't long before Maximim broke the silence by bursting into laughter (I think he was making fun of me). I look at him and he says to me: "Let's have some fun. Let's make up a game." I said nothing in reply, for I was so ignorant I didn't understand what games with other people were, always having been alone. I played with the flowers, on my own, and Maximim came right up close to me, doing nothing but laughing, telling me that flowers didn't have ears to listen to me and that we should play together instead. But I had no liking for the game he told me to play. I started talking to him, however, and he told me that the ten days he was to spend with his Master would soon be over and then he would go home to his father in Corps etc. . .

While he was talking, I heard the bell of La Salette, it was the Angelus. I gestured to Maximim to lift his soul up to GOD. He took off his hat and was silent for a moment. Then I said: "Do you want to have dinner?" "Yes, he replied, let's eat." We sat down and I brought out of my bag the provisions my Master had given me. As was my habit, before breaking into my little round loaf, I made a cross with the point of my knife in the bread, and a little hole in the middle, saying: "If the devil's in there, may he leave, and if the Good Lord is in there, may he stay!" and I rapidly covered up the little hole. Maximim burst into laughter and kicked the loaf out of my hands. It rolled down the mountainside and was lost out of sight. I had another piece of bread which we shared. Afterwards, we played a game. Then, realizing that Maximim must still be hungry, I pointed out a place on the mountainside covered with all kinds of berries. I urged him to go and eat some and he went straight away. He ate a few berries and brought his hat back full of them. In the evening we walked back down the mountain together and promised to come back the next day and watch over our cows together.

The next day, the 19th of September, I met Maximim on the way up. We climbed up the mountain side together. I discovered that Maximim was a very good, simple boy, and would willingly talk about what I wanted to talk about. He was so very flexible and had no fixed opinions. He was just a little curious, for, when I walked away from him, as soon as he saw I had stopped, he would run over to me to see what I was doing and hear what I was saying to the flowers of the Good Lord. And if he arrived too late, he would ask me what I had said.

Maximim told me to teach him a game. It was already late morning. I told him to gather some flowers for the "Paradise." We set to work together. Soon we had a number of flowers of various colours. I could hear the village Angelus ringing, for the weather was fine and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Having told the Good Lord what we had learned, I said to Maximim that we ought to drive our cows on to a small plateau near the gully, where there would be stones with which to build the "Paradise." We drove our cows to the selected spot and then had a small meal. Then we started collecting stones to build our little house, which comprised of a so-called ground-floor which was where we were to live, and then a storey above which was to be, as we called it, "Paradise."

This storey was decorated all over with different-coloured flowers, with garlands hanging from flower stalks. This "Paradise" was covered by a single large stone which we had strewn with flowers. We had also hung garlands all the way round. When we finished, we sat and looked at the "Paradise." We began to feel sleepy and having moved a couple of feet away, we went to sleep on the grass.

When I woke up I couldn't see the cows, so I called Maximim and climbed up the little mound. From there I could see our cows grazing peacefully and I was on my way down, with Maximim on his way up, when all at once I saw a beautiful light shining more brightly than the sun.

"Maximim, do you see what is over there? Oh! my GOD!" At the same moment, I dropped the stick I was holding. Something inconceivably fantastic passed through me in that moment, and I felt myself being drawn. I felt great respect, full of love, and my heart beat faster.

I kept my eyes firmly fixed on this light, which was static, and as if it had opened up, I caught sight of another, much more brilliant light which was moving, and in this light I saw a most beautiful lady sitting on top of our Paradise, with her head in her hands.

This beautiful Lady stood up, she coolly crossed her arms while watching us, and said to us:

"Come, my children, fear not, I am here to PROCLAIM GREAT NEWS TO YOU."

These soft and sweet words made me fly to her, and my heart desired to attach itself to her forever.

When I was close to the beautiful Lady, in front of her to her right, she began to speak and from her beautiful eyes tears also started to flow.

"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 the time for the rest of you! If you 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, you will never be able to make up for the troubles I have taken over for the rest of you.

I gave you six days to work, I kept the seventh for myself, and no one wishes to grant it to me. This is what weighs down the arm of my Son so much.

Those who drive carts cannot speak without putting the name of my Son in the middle.

These are the two things which weigh down the arm of my Son so much. If the harvest is spoiled, it is only because of the rest of you. I made you see this last year with the potatoes, you took little account of this. It was quite the opposite when you found bad potatoes, you swore oaths, and you included the name of my Son. They will continue to go bad, at Christmas there will be none left."

At this point, I was trying to interpret the words "potatoes" (pommes de terre): I thought I understood it to be "apples" (pommes)1. The Beautiful and Good Lady, reading my thoughts, repeated thus:

"You do not understand, my children. I will tell it to you another way.

If the harvest is spoiled, it does not seem to affect you. I made you see this last year with the potatoes. You took little account of this. It was quite the opposite when you found bas potatoes, you swore oaths, and you included the name of my Son. They will continue to go bad, at Christmas there will be none left.

If you have corn, you must not sow it. The beasts will eat all that you sow. And all that grows will fall to dust when you thresh it. A great famine will come. Before the famine comes, children under the age of seven will begin to tremble and will die in the arms of those who hold them. The others will do penance through hunger. The nuts will go bad, the grapes will become rotten."

At this point, the Beautiful Lady, who was entrancing me, for a moment did not make herself heard. I could see, however, that she was continuing, as if speaking, to move graciously her kindly lips. At that moment, Maximim was receiving his secret. Then, turning to me, the Most Holy Virgin spoke to me and gave me a secret in French. Here is the secret in its entirety as she gave it to me: [NOTE: Message is on next page] .....

The Most Holy Virgin was tall and well-proportioned. She seemed so light that a mere breath could have stirred Her, yet She was motionless and perfectly balanced. Her face was majestic, imposing, but not imposing in the manner of the Lords here below. She compelled a respectful fear. At the same time as Her Majesty compelled respect mingled with love, She drew me to Her. Her gaze was soft and penetrating. Her eyes seemed to speak to mine, but the conversation came out of a deep and vivid feeling of love for this ravishing beauty who was liquefying me. The softness of Her gaze, Her air of incomprehensible goodness made me understand and feel that She was drawing me to Her and wanted to give Herself. It was an expression of love which cannot be expressed with the tongue of the flesh, nor with the letters of the alphabet.

The clothing of the Most Holy Virgin was silver white and quite brilliant. It was quite intangible. It was made up of light and glory, sparkling and dazzling. There is no expression nor comparison to be found on earth.

The Holy Virgin was all beauty and all love; the sight of Her overwhelmed me. In her finery as in Her person, everything radiated the majesty, the splendour, the magnificence of a Queen beyond compare. She seemed as white, immaculate, crystallized, dazzling, heavenly, fresh, and new as a Virgin. The word LOVE seemed to slip from Her pure and silvery lips. She appeared to me like a good Mother, full of kindness, amiability, of love for us, of compassion and mercy.

The crown of roses which She had placed on Her head was so beautiful, so brilliant, that it defies imagination. The different coloured roses were not of this earth; it was a joining together of flowers which crowned the head of the Most Holy Virgin. But the roses kept changing and replacing each other, and then, from the heart of each rose, there shone a beautiful entrancing light, which gave the roses a shimmering beauty. From the crown of roses there seemed to arise golden branches and a number of other little flowers mingled with the shining ones. The whole thing formed a most beautiful diadem, which alone shone brighter than our earth's sun.

The Holy Virgin had a most pretty cross hanging around Her neck. This cross seemed golden, (I say golden rather than gold-plated, for I have sometimes seen objects which were golden with various shades of gold, which had a much more beautiful effect on my eyes than simple gold-plate). On this shining, beautiful cross, there was a Christ, it was our Lord on the Cross. Near one end of the Cross there was a hammer, and at the other end, a pair of tongs. The Christ was skin-coloured, but He shone dazzlingly; and the light that shone forth from His holy body seemed like brightly shining darts which pierced my heart with the desire to melt inside Him. At times, the Christ appeared to be dead. His head was bent forward and His body seemed to give way, as if about to fall, had He not been held back by the nails which held Him to the Cross.

I felt a deep compassion and would have liked to tell His unknown love to the whole world, and to let seep into mortal souls the most heartfelt love and gratitude towards a GOD who had no need whatsoever of us to be everything He is, was, and always will be. And yet, O love that men cannot understand, He made Himself man, and wanted to die, yes, die, so as to better inscribe in our souls and in our memory, the passionate love He has for us! Oh, how wretched am I to find myself so poor in my expression of the love of our good Savior for us! But, in another way, how happy we are to be able to feel more deeply that which we cannot express!

At other times, the Christ appeared to be alive. His head was erect, His eyes open, and He seemed to be on the Cross of His own accord. At times, too, He appeared to speak: He seemed to show that He was on the Cross for our sake, out of love for us, to draw us to His love, and that He always has more love to give us, that His love in the beginning and in the year 33 is always that of today and will be for ever more.

The Holy Virgin was crying nearly the whole time she spoke to me. Her tears flowed gently, one by one, down to her knees, then, like sparks of light, they disappeared. They were glittering and full of love. I would have liked to comfort Her and stop Her tears. But it seemed to me that She needed the tears to show better Her love forgotten by men. I would have liked to throw myself into Her arms and say to Her:

"My kind Mother, do not cry! I want to love you for all men on earth." But she seemed to be saying to me:

"There are so many who know me not!"

I was in between life and death, and on one side, I saw so much desire by this Mother to be loved, and on another side, so much cold and indifference . . . Oh! my Mother, most beautiful and lovable Mother, my love, heart of my heart!

The tears of our sweet Mother, far from lessening her air of majesty, of a Queen and a Mistress, seemed, on the contrary, to embellish Her, to make Her more beautiful, more powerful, more filled with love, more maternal, more ravishing, and I could have wiped away her tears which made my heart leap with compassion and love. To see a Mother cry, and such a Mother, without doing everything possible to comfort her and change her grief into joy, is that possible? Oh! Mother, who is more than good, you have been formed with all the prerogatives GOD is able to make; you have married the power of GOD, so to speak; you are good, and more, you are good with the goodness of GOD Himself. GOD has extended Himself by making you his terrestrial and celestial masterpiece.

The Most Holy Virgin had a yellow pinafore. What am I saying, yellow? She had a pinafore more brilliant than several suns put together. It was not of tangible material, it was composed of glory, and this glory was scintillating, and ravishingly beautiful. Everything in the Holy Virgin carried me firmly and made me kind of slide into the adoration and love of my Jesus in every state of His mortal life.

The Most Holy Virgin had two chains, one a little wider than the other. From the narrower one hung the Cross which I mentioned earlier. These chains (since they must be given the name of chains) were like rays of brightly shining glory, sparkling and dazzling. Her shoes, (since they must be called shoes) were white, but a silvery brilliant white. There were roses around them. These roses were dazzlingly beautiful, and from the heart of each rose there shone forth a flame of very beautiful and pleasing light. On Her shoes there was a buckle of gold, not the gold of this earth, but rather the gold of paradise.

The sight of the Holy Virgin was itself a perfect paradise. She had everything needed to satisfy, for earth had been forgotten. The Holy Virgin was surrounded by two lights. The first light, the nearer to the Most Holy Virgin, reached as far as us. It shone most beautifully and scintillatingly.

The second light shone out a little around the Beautiful Lady and we found ourselves bathed in it. It was motionless (that is to say it wasn't scintillating) but much more brilliant than our poor sun on earth. All this light did not harm nor tire the eyes in any way.

In addition to all these lights, all this splendour, there shone forth concentrations or beams of light and single rays from the body of the Holy Virgin, from her clothes and from all over Her.

The voice of the Beautiful Lady was soft. It was enchanting, ravishing, warming to the heart. It satisfied, flattered every obstacle, it soothed and softened. It seemed to me I could never stop eating up Her beautiful voice, and my heart seemed to dance or want to go towards Her and melt inside Her.

The eyes of the most Holy Virgin, our Sweet Mother, cannot be described in human language. To speak of them, you would need a seraph, you would need more than that, you would need the language of GOD Himself, of GOD who formed the immaculate Virgin, the masterpiece of His omnipotence. The eyes of the majestic Mary appeared thousands of times more beautiful than the rarest brilliants, diamonds and precious stones. They shone like two suns; they were soft, softness itself, as clear as a mirror. In her eyes, you could see paradise. They drew you to Her, She seemed to want to draw and give Herself.

The more I looked, the more I wanted to see; the more I saw, the more I loved Her and I loved Her with all my might.

The eyes of the beautiful Immaculate One were like the door to GOD's Kingdom, from which you could see all that can elate the soul. When my eyes met those of the Mother of GOD and of myself, I felt inside me a happy revolution of love and a declaration that I love Her and am melting with love. As we looked at each other, our eyes spoke to each other in their fashion, and I loved Her so much I could have kissed Her in the middle of Her eyes, which touched my soul and seemed to draw it towards them and make it melt into Hers. Her eyes set up a sweet trembling in all my being; and I was afraid to make the slightest movement which might cause the smallest displeasure.

Just the sight of the eyes of the purest of Virgins would have been enough to make the Heaven of a blessed creature, enough to fill the soul with the will of the Most High amid the events which occur in the course of mortal life, enough to make the soul perform continual acts of praise, of thanksgiving, of atonement and expiation. Just this sight focuses the soul on GOD, and makes it like a living-death, looking upon all things of this earth, even the things which seem the most serious, as nothing but children's playthings. The souls would want to hear no one speaking unless they spoke of GOD, and of that which affects His Glory.

Sin is the only evil She sees on earth. She will die of grief unless GOD sustains Her.

Amen.

MARIA OF THE CROSS, Victim of Jesus née MÉLANIE CALVAT, Shepherdess of La Salette

Castellamare, 21st of November 1878.

Notes

1 Neither Mélanie nor Maximim understood French. The beautiful Lady now continues her speech in "patois."

2 In a letter to Father Combe, dated October 7th, 1899, Mélanie corrects these words in parenthesis which are her own, she says, and which she judges to be unclear and inaccurate. "That is to say," she writes, "that in those days, which only seem like twenty years ago, some perverted people (Italian: malvages) had given themselves over to devotion to the demon of magic. These people would cause to appear in the eyes of the curious, acquainted and theirs who had not led a Christian way of life.

These supposedly resurrected individuals appeared in heavenly glory. People known to have lived in the fear of GOD appeared to be in horrible suffering, and urged their friends and acquaintances not to follow in their footsteps, and they preached a Gospel opposed to that of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems that these bizarre occurrences may be put down to the fashion for spiritualistic and demoniac practices which no doubt will one day be brought to light through a more thorough examination of the Luciferian archives of FREEMASONRY."

In the same letter, Mélanie takes care to explain that where it is said that people will be transported from one place to another, it must be understood as to be in rare cases only.

3 In Patois.

4 "In which direction had the Holy Virgin turned when she rose?" -- "That way (she pointed to the East) . . .I know that Rome is in that direction." (Conversation with Mélanie & Miss des Brűlais, Sept. 8, 1849.)

5 My Father's Good Lord: this is the Crucifix, this living crucifix which the beautiful Lady wears around her neck, and which seemed to talk to Her. The Holy Virgin . . .Mélanie does not seem to have doubted for a moment that it was Her, this comes out in the account, however, she does not dare to be the first to state it: it is for the Church of Jesus Christ to do so, she has this intuition. In effect, the next morning, it is the parish priest of La Salette who cries out at the account of the two children: "It was the Holy Virgin who appeared to you," and from the pulpit, will announce this to all his parishioners, and to all the faithful ones among them.

6 Today: 21st of November 1878, when this account was written.

Send E-Mail