DID A RELIGIOUS MANIAC PRETEND TO BE JESUS' MOTHER AT LA SALETTE?

Two little shepherds, Maximin and Melanie reported a vision of a beautiful lady they assumed to be the mother of God.  A mad religious lady was accused of orchestrating this and of being the imposter who was wandering about in a religious fantasy and who made the dress the vision wore.  Let us look at that rumour.

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LA SALETTE

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I extract these details and the chief part of those which follow from a report of MM. Rousselot et Orcel, printed under the title " Verite sur l'Evenement de La Salette," p. 51, &c.

The question is, who was this beautiful lady ? and under what circumstances did she appear to the two shepherds ?

Having lunched Ute-a-tUe at a little fountain called " fontaine des homines," Melanie and Maximin betook themselves to the other side of the rivulet (le Sezia),and, contrary to their habit, went to sleep at some distance from one another. Melanie awaking first, woke Maximin. The two shepherds crossed the brook, set about searching for their cows, thou came down again to get their bags, which had remained near the place where they had gone to sleep, when all of a sudden their dazzled eyes perceived a lady bright with light seated on the stones of the fountain, in an attitude which indicated profound grief.

Frightened at first, the children, however, soon regained courage. The lady rose, advanced towards them, invited them to approach her, then crossed her arms, and announced to them that she was there to tell them great news, which she then proceeded to relate. Her language, at first, was French ; she perceived afterwards, however, that she was not understood, and, without recommencing, she continued her discourse in patois, then finished in French, and, taking some fifteen paces (quinzaiue de pas^) to ascend to the highest part of the hillock, she then disappeared (Verite sur rEvenement de La Salette, par MM. Orcel et Kousselot, pp. 52, 3, 4).

The beautiful lady had risen, and the children had been able to see her costume.

It was a white robe, with pearls all over it, a handkerchief with roses round it, a yellow apron, yellow stockings, white shoes with roses round them, a small chain to which a cross was suspended, on the right, the pincers, on the left, a hammer (Verite sur l'Evenement de La Salette, page 59).

Now this costume is precisely that which Mdlle. Lamerliere displayed some days before, at Grenoble, in the warehouse of M. X . This costume was distinguished particularly by the fantastic yellow apron and yellow stockings, a colour which has never in any place been employed to ornament the statues, altars, or chapels of the Holy Virgin. It was distinguished still more by the pincers and hammer, which it never occurred to any painter or sculptor to annex to a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and it is certainly something very singular that such a coincidence should exist between the costume previously imagined by Mdlle. Lamerliere, without any foundation in the pious usages regarding the Holy Virgin, and the costume worn by the beautiful lady of La Salette ; and still more singular is the coincidence between La Salette, the mountain on which " the beautiful lady" appeared to the two shepherds, and the mountain of the Alps towards which Mdlle. Lamerliere directed her course some days before, carrying with her the costume of the Lady of the Apparition, and with the design of doing "something which was destined to make a great noise in the world."

But these two striking coincidences are not the only strange things in the story.

" The beautiful lady" commenced speaking in French, and then, when she had recounted one half of her " great news," she perceived that the children did not understand French, and, without going over again what she had already said, she proceeded in patois, and, subsequently, began again to speak French, to tell the children what must have been the most unintelligible to them of all — " You will make this to be known to all my people" (" Vous le ferez passer a tout mon peuple") — (Verite sur l'Evenement, par MM. Orcel et Kousselot, pp. 53, &c, 04, &c).*

-at La Salette, the. Lady of the Apparition (who came also, according to MM. Orcel et Rousselot, to perform an apostolic office, for the conversion of the world) employs the common language of the country, which the shepherds did not comprehend ; and instead of reproducing in a simple form, in reference to the two children, the miracle which the apostles had wrought in a multiform manner with relation to twenty different nations, she accommodates herself to the ignorance of the two shepherds, and speaks "patois" to them, but only after her young auditors had let her know that they could not comprehend her. Could the most ordinary mortal have acted in a different manner ?

But this is not all. The lady announces to the shepherds that she is come to La Salette to tell them great news (Verite, pp. 55 et 65). She adds that their duty is to make it known to all the people (Verite, pp. 57 and 68). Both these important paragraphs were announced in French, a language that neither of the children understood. Those shepherds are the channel chosen of God to communicate to all Christian people the great news which so miraculously reached them. Was it not necessary that they should understand what was told them, in order that the Divine communication should be preserved in all its purity, and that the first intriguer who met with them might not be able to change it to his own purposes? Both the honour of God and human reason seem to demand that this should have been so.

But how did things really happen ?

The lady related, in French, the half of her news, and then only when the children informed her that they did not understand it, she continued in " patois," but without repeating what she had already said, and which wan, moreover, the essential part, the very seal of the mission which she came to fulfil ; for it is the expression of the Lord's complaints of the iniquities of Ms people.

On this capital point did the Lady of the Apparition, after the example of the apostles, open the understandings of the two shepherds V Let us see. MM. Orcei and Rousselot have taken on themselves to inform us.

In their joint work (Verite, p. 87), they represent, as inspired, the answer which they put into the mouth of Melanie, when pressed with questions on the difficulty she must have experienced in remembering the recital of the lady — "Oh! no," said she, " she (the lady ) told it to me but once, and I remember it well ; whenever I did not understand her well, in saying what she said to me, those who understand French comprehend it, when even I did not comprehend it ; that is sufficient."

If that was sufficient, why did the lady change her language with the object of making herself understood ? If that was not sufficient, why did she not repeat the part of her news which was not understood by the shepherds?

In either case the white lady has to choose between tie absurd and the ridiculous — a dilemma not unnatural for Mdlle. Lamerliere, but superlatively indecent to imagine, much less to say, in reference to the Holy Virgin. The answer of Melanie, so far from being inspired, was either silly or impious.

One other strange thing, and I proceed.

The white lady, after having fulfilled her mission, ascends to the highest part of the hillock, her feet only touch the top of the grass; then she disappears, by rising into the air (Verite, pp. 58 and 68).

Now, in the first place, in those high parts of the mountains where the ground is scarcely covered with a light coating of earth, and the grass is so short that it does not even afford the teeth of the sheep or goats anything to lay hold of, how could the feet of the lady touch anything else than the top of the grass, since the top is, in fact, the whole of it ?

Moreover, why was this ascension of the white lady from the very top of the hill? The Holy Virgin could just as easily have raised herself to heaven from the bottom of the hollow where she was ; then every natural explanation of the phenomenon would have been anticipated and prevented. In surmounting the hollow, she reached a crest which presented at the other side a rapid descent, and allowed a human being to disappear and vanish adroitly before the dazzled eyes of two little ignorant peasants — a precaution very suitable to Mdlle. Lamerliere, but which it is ridiculous to attribute to a messenger from heaven.

Thus, the agreement between the Lady of La Salette and Mdlle. Lamerliere in the choice of a fantastic dress, and in the choice of a mountain of the Alps destined to become the theatre of a great event, affords, in the first place, a strong presumption that Mdlle. Lamerliere is the Lady of La Salette ; for without a divine revelation, Mdlle. Lamerliere could not have foreseen either the eccentric costume which the Holy Virgin was to choose, or the apparition of the 19th September on La Salette, a mountain of the Alps. This presumption is strengthened still more by the nature and variation of the language of the white lady to the shepherds, and by the human precautions which she took to disappear adroitly from their view.