by Marcel Schlewer and
Maurice Sublet, MS
Near a little fountain the two children lay down on the grass and fell asleep. How long their slumber
lasted is not certain - half an hour perhaps, or three quarters of an hour or possibly more. In any
case Melanie suddenly awoke and called Maximin: "Memin, Memin, let us go and find our cows, I
cannot see them anywhere."
Of course, being at the bottom of the little ravine, they could not see the meadow where they had left
them. Quickly they climbed the slope opposite Mount Gargas (hence they were standing on what is now
the esplanade in front of the basilica). Turning around they could view the entire alpine pasture land
and were greatly relieved to see that their cows had remained where they had been left, peaceably
chewing the cud. Reassured, Melanie began to descend towards the dried-up fountain to recover her
little sack of provisions before once again watering the cows. Half-way down the grassy slope she
paused immobilized, frozen with fear. "Memin," she called out, "look at that great
light over there." "Where is it?" the boy replied, as he ran and stood at her side. (At
the place of the Apparition two statues represent the children on the slope of the ravine, in the
first stage of the Event.)
At the very spot where they had slept was a globe of fire, as if, in the children's words, "the
sun had fallen there." The light swirled, then grew in size and, opening, disclosed within
it a woman, seated, her head in her hands, her elbows on her knees, in the attitude of one oppressed
Melanie, in her fright, raised her hands and dropped her shepherd's staff. Maximin thought only of
defending himself. "Keep your stick," he said to her, "I will keep mine and will
give it a good whack if it does anything to us..." Even after she conversed with them, the
children could not identify their heavenly Visitor. They would simply call her " the Beautiful
Statuary marks the site of the Apparition of Our Lady at La Salette
The Beautiful Lady
The beautiful Lady now stood up while the children remained transfixed where they were. She said to
them in French: " Come near, my children, be not afraid. I am here to tell you great news."
Fully reassured by these words the children hurried to meet her. Her voice, they said, was like music.
They approached so near her that, as they later expressed it, another person could not have passed
between them and her. The Lady also took a few steps towards them.
They looked at her and noticed that she did not cease weeping all the time she spoke to them. As
Maximin put it, "She was like a mama whom her own children had beaten and who had escaped
to the mountain to weep." The beautiful Lady was tall and seemed to be made of light. She was
dressed like women of the region with a long white dress, a golden apron nearly as long as the dress,
a shawl that crossed over her breast and was knotted in the back, and a cap or bonnet similar to the
ones worn by peasant women. Roses crowned her head while another wreath of roses adorned the edges of
her white shawl and a third garland surrounded her shoes. Over her brow shone a light in the form of a
diadem. On her shoulders shone a heavy chain and from a smaller golden chain hung a resplendent
crucifix with a hammer and pincers placed on each side of the Cross, a little beyond the nailed hands.
The unknown Lady now spoke to the children. "We were drinking her words," they would say
later, adding, "she wept all the time she spoke to us."
"Come near, my children, be not afraid; I am here to tell you great news.
If my people will not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son's arm. It is so heavy that I can no
longer hold it.
How long have I suffered for you! If my Son is not to abandon you, I am obliged to entreat him without
ceasing. But you take no heed of that. No matter how well you pray in the future, no matter how well
you act, you will never be able to make up what I have endured on your behalf.
I have given you six days to work. The seventh I have reserved for myself yet no one will give it to
me. This is what causes the weight of my Son's arm to be so heavy.
The cart drivers cannot swear without bringing in my Son's name. These are the two things that make my
Son's arm so heavy.
If the harvest is spoiled, it is your own fault. I warned you last year by means of the potatoes. You
paid no heed. Quite the contrary, when you discovered that the potatoes had rotted, you swore, you
abused my Son's name. They will continue to be spoiled, and by Christmas time this year there will be
The French word potatoes (pommes de terre) puzzled Melanie. In the local dialect the word is "la
ruff." The word "pommes" reminded he only of apples. She turned to Maximin for help.
But the Lady said "Ah! You do not understand French, my children? Well then, listen. I shall say
it differently...Si la recolta la gasta..."
Changing into the local dialect, she repeated these last sentences and continued speaking to Maximin
and Melanie: "If you have wheat, it will do no good to sow it, for what you sow the vermin will
eat, and whatever part of it springs up will crumble into dust when you thresh it.
A great famine is coming. But before that happens, children under seven years of age will be seized
with trembling and die in the arms of those holding them. The others will pay for their sins by
hunger. The grapes will rot and the walnuts will become worm-eaten."
Suddenly Melanie no longer heard the Lady's voice although her lips were still moving. She noticed
that Maximin was listening very attentively. Then she, in turn was able to hear words that Maximin
could not hear. Maximin's native restlessness won out over his effort to behave. He toyed with his
hat, taking it off, putting it on again, and with the tip of his walking stick he poked at
pebbles. "Not a single stone touched the Beautiful Lady's feet," protested Maximin a
few days later. She said something to me and told me, "You will not repeat this and this. After
that I could not hear her, and I began diverting myself."
Finally they both heard the Lady's voice again: "If my people are converted, the very stones will
become mounds of wheat and the potatoes will grow self-sown.
Do you say your prayers well, my children?"
The children answered with one voice: "Not too well, Madame, hardly at all!"
The Lady said: "Ah, my children, it is very important to do so, at night and in the morning. When
you don't have time, at least say an Our Father and a Hail Mary, and whenever you can, say more.
Only a few rather elderly women go to Mass in the summer. Everyone else works every Sunday all summer
long. And in winter, when they don't know what else to do, they go to Mass only to scoff at religion.
During Lent, they go to the butcher shop like dogs.
Have you ever seen spoiled wheat, my children?"
"No, Madame," declared Maximin, quick to speak for Melanie as well as for himself. Turning
toward Maximin, the Lady replied:
"But you, my child, must have seen some once near Coin with your papa. The owner of the field
said to your papa, 'Come and see my spoiled wheat.' The two of you went. You took two or three ears of
wheat in your hands. You rubbed them together and they crumbled into dust. Then you came back from
Coin. When you were only a half-hour away from Corps, your papa gave you a bit of bread and said:
'Here, my son, eat some bread this year anyhow. I don't know who will be eating any next year if the
wheat continues to spoil like this.'"
"Oh, yes, Madame, now I remember! Until now I didn't," admitted Maximin.
The Beautiful Lady concluded, no longer in dialect but in French:
"Well, my children, you will make this known to all my people."
These were her last words.
Meanwhile the two witnesses were still standing motionless at the spot where the conversation had
taken place, when suddenly they realized that the heavenly Visitor was already some steps away from
them. In their eagerness to join her again, they ran across the brook and were with her in a moment.
Thus, in the company of Maximin and Melanie, the Lady moved along, gliding over the tips of the grass
without touching it, until she reached the top of the hillock where the children, after their sleep,
had gone to look after their cows. Melanie preceded her by a few steps, and Maximin was at her right.
On reaching the summit the Lady paused for a few seconds, then slowly rose up to a height of a meter
and a half. She remained suspended in the air for a moment, raised her eyes to Heaven, then glanced in
the direction of the southeast. At that moment, Melanie, who had been standing at the left of the
Lady, came in front in order to see her better. Only then did she notice that the celestial Visitor
had ceased weeping, although her features remained very sad.
The radiant vision now began to disappear. "We saw her head no more, then the rest of the body no
more; she seemed to melt away. There remained a great light," related Maximin, "as well as
the roses at her feet which I tried to catch with my hands; but there was nothing more." "We
looked for a long time," added Melanie, "to see if we could not have another glimpse of
her," but the Beautiful Lady had disappeared forever.
The little shepherdess then remarked to her companion: "Perhaps it was a great
Saint." "If we had known it was a great Saint," said Maximin, "we
would have asked her to take us with her."
Missionaries of La Salette
The Beautiful Story of La Salette by Roger
Stories About the Two Children by
Norman Theroux, M. S.