La Salette (French La-sa-let, “the little room”), is the name of a little French village nestled in the Alps where the Blessed Mother appear to two children on September 19, 1846. Today, it is the site of a shrine built to celebrate the apparition. It is holy ground as the Mother of God came to this remote area to invite all her children to the reconciling love of her Son, Jesus. It is a place of faith and prayer, a place of prophetic challenge to our time, a place of pilgrimage.
The event took place on a sleepy Saturday afternoon. Children woke from a nap near the slopes of Mt. Gargas where the cows they were herding were also resting. Suddenly, they came upon a brilliant ball of light in which a Beautiful Lady sat weeping with her face in her hands. They were afraid, but as she spoke their fears began to subside. She began speaking to them, saying, “Come closer, my children. Do not be afraid.”
With tears still in her eyes, she spoke of the sadness caused by those who had no room in their lives for God. She spoke of the evils of the day and of the need for conversion. She continued speaking to the children for the better part of an hour. Finally, she ended the discourse with the words, “Well, my children, you will make this known to all my people.” Then she slowly disappeared into the sky.
The investigation of the event began as soon as the Bishop of the diocese of Grenoble heard of it. The news of the apparition spread slowly and it was almost two weeks before the event was reported to Bishop de Bruillard. An investigation was conducted by two commissions appointed by the Bishop. At the completion of the investigation, the Bishop issued a proclamation permitting the faithful to visit the site of the apparition designating it as a place of prayer where the Mother of God spoke to the two children.
The Shrine on the Site of the Apparition
The basilica was built six years later on the site of the apparition. In 1864 three bronze statues, marking the three phases of the apparition were placed at the scene.
Some of the diocesan priests and laymen were moved by the call of our Mother Mary to make the message known to all people. They joined together to minister to the pilgrims, to care for the shrine, and to take the message of reconciliation beyond the village of La Salette, France.
Established in 1852, the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette can be found in twenty three countries around the world, including the United States.