|Statue of Our Lady at La Salette (Statue is at exact location - among three -where Our Lady appeared.)|
At the base of Mount Gargas the children Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat had been tending their master's cows as usual during the morning of September 19, 1846. In the middle of the day they had their meal of rye bread dipped in the water of a stream known as the Fontaine des homines, then they slept awhile, lying upon the grass. Close by there was another mountain torrent which flowed into the ravine, called the Fontaine des betes, whilst close by these was the dried-up bed of yet another stream, the Petite Fontaine, which flowed at certain seasons only. Suddenly Melanie woke from her siesta, startled and seized with fear because her cows were nowhere to be seen. Together with Maximin she set out to search for the animals. Having found them safely at a little distance, the two children returned for their baskets, when they beheld—first Melanie, then Maximin—a globe of light more wonderful, it seemed, than that of the sun, though of a different kind. As they looked the luminous globe appeared to open. They then saw within the radiance the majestic figure of a Lady, sitting on a heap of stones which they had recently piled in the Petite Fontaine, of which I have just written. The heavenly figure then spoke to the children of the sins of France, especially of the blasphemous language and neglect of Sunday Mass which at the time were calling down God's punish ments on the neighbouring countryside, reminded Maximin of an incident in his life which he had completely forgotten, committed two secrets to their keeping, and ordered them to communicate every thing else which she had said "to all my people." Then, gradually, still surrounded by light, the Lady ascended into the air until she vanished from their sight. When the children had recovered the use of their speech, Melanie said to Maximin : " It must be the good God, or the Blessed Virgin, or some great Saint." " If I had known that," replied Maximin simply, " I would have asked her to take me with her!"
The Lady foretold various calamities which soon came to pass as she had said. As a direct result of this and of the wonderful vision, there was a great movement of conversion in the whole neighbourhood to virtuous living and to the practice of religion, a beautiful basilica was soon erected on Mount Gargas, and ever since the Faithful have gone in thousands each year in pilgrimage to the holy mountain, whilst miracles of bodily healing beyond number have been worked in favour of those who have invoked with confidence our Lady of La Salette. Maximin and Melanie absolutely refused to reveal their secrets, until at last they consented, when they understood that the Church had a right to demand this at their hands, to make them known only to the Pope. It should be added that the stream where our Lady appeared, until then dry excepting during a few months of the year, was seen the next day to be flowing with water at a time of great drought. From that time to this it has continued to flow with out the intermission of a single hour.
It has often been said that the holy Cure d'Ars disbelieved in the truth of the vision of La Salette. The facts are these—
Maximin always refused to say that the Lady who appeared to him was the Blessed Virgin. This conclusion he left others to draw. All that he could say with certainty was that it was " a Beautiful Lady." Maximin was taken to see the Curs' d'Ars, who asked him at once whether he had seen the Blessed Virgin. " I do not know whether I have seen her," was the disconcerting reply, " I saw someone—a Lady—if you know that it was the Blessed Virgin, tell the people so, in order that they may believe in La Salette." Maximin, it should be explained, had been told that the holy Cure" was so enlightened by heaven, that he would certainly know supernaturally the truth about La Salette. Consequently, the boy thought that the saintly priest would be able to do that which he, a simple lad, could not do, explain to everyone that his Beautiful Lady was indeed the Mother of God. The Cure d'Ars, how ever, mistakenly thought that he was listening to a retractation. For the following eight years he was much troubled on the subject, but when his doubts were at length dispersed (as he believed supernaturally) he declared that it was " as if his back had been delivered from a sack of lead." What happened at Ars, by establishing the veracity of Maximin Giraud, far from weakening rather strengthened the evidence for La Salette.