If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone

 

Was Constance Mistaken for the Blessed Virgin at La Salette?
 
La Salette is a mountain near Grenoble in France. There on September 19th, 1846, the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ who is God in Catholic dogma, allegedly appeared to Melanie Mathieu and Maximin Giraud when they were tending cows. This apparition was given the approval of the Church in 1851 (page 111, The Thunder of Justice).
 
In the interesting booklet, The Exaltation of the Virgin Mary, by Rev S.G. Poyntz, M.A., B.D. we read, “Clergy of nearby dioceses stated that the vision was an imposture by a lunatic named Constance Lamerliere, who had purchased the alleged dress in which the Virgin appeared.  The followers of La Salette argued that this was simply the story of a jealous party who were annoyed because their own shrines were doing bad business due to the decrease in pilgrims. This story persisted so much that the said Constance Lamerliere took the matter to a Court of Justice.
 
The Court decided the case against her and threw out the appeal. This vision must be pronounced a fake and a scandal” (page 25). So the civil court decided that the apparition was indeed a hoax and that this woman had indeed pretended to be the apparition. We should believe it rather than the Church court which declared that Mary had appeared. There were more witnesses to the evidence for fraud than witnesses to the vision. And the Church court was prejudiced for there was no real evidence that the visionaries saw Mary apart from a good guess as to her identity and the light surrounding the Lady. Fantasy and excitement can pollute the memory and add in exaggerated elements later. Moreover, the lies and fanaticism and the occasional insanity and hallucinations of Melanie are against the Church judgement that the visions were authentic.
 
Constance Lamerliere was born of rich parents in Grenoble. We must remember that nobody is likely to point the finger at the member of a wealthy and powerful family without reason. They had the money and power to cover up or retaliate. Why was she accused of pretending to be Mary when other people would have made safer choices?
 
She was the mistress of novices at the New Convent de la Providence which she joined in 1822. She was described as having a powerful imagination and was fond of mystical practices such as trying to hear the voice of God and experience miracles. She had a penchant for shrines of Jesus and Mary and wanted them established everywhere in the convent. She was an outstanding communicator and soon infected the novices with her fanaticism. The superior Madame Chantal took action to counteract this. She was put under surveillance and she hated this so much that she took rest from her labours. She became a recluse who never left her cell except to go to Church. One day she left the convent without permission and anybody knowing that she had gone. She went to several churches and told the priests that if they requested money in her name they would get it for improving their Churches. Of course any priest who took her seriously got nothing. At Marseilles, she tried to set up a congregation of religious devoted to the Holy Family. This lady was certainly capable of doing what she was accused of at La Salette.
 
The Catholic objection to the apparition being Constance Lamerliere is that this lady was in her fifties and heavy. The witnesses said the vision was slim and tall and didn't look that old.

But with pale makeup she would have looked younger and she was wearing robes that could have made her look slimmer. Light reflecting from bright clothes will also make a person look younger. However The Sceptical Occultist  indicates that the lady wasn’t very youthful when Melanie said she was a mad mother who would kill her children.
 
She was short and fat and in her fifties and didn't seem to one to get easily mistaken for the beautiful Virgin Mary. But people have mistaken all kinds of things for ghosts and apparitions.
 
After the vision, Maximin said, “Perhaps it is a great saint”. After they had claimed to have listened to the Lady saying she was the mother of Christ! They did not know who she was at all! They were not even sure if she was a saint! This surely suggests that there was a lot of exaggeration in their original story though they stuck to the public version of it and that Our Lady of La Salette was possibly some nut in fancy dress. Nobody denies that after the apparition the children did embellish their story but it is the original story that the Church believes.
 
The children came down the hill and Melanie said she was sure the Lady was a mad woman who would kill her children but she was less sure because she rose up into the air.
 
Melanie said, "If I hadn't seen her rise up into the air, I would have believed that it was some woman whose husband wanted to kill their children" (page 31, Encountering Mary).
 
A diocesan priest wrote two books against the apparition. The priest was in trouble with the Church and reconciled with it. He produced a third book against the apparition. It was called La Salette devant le pape.
 
This book claimed that a manically religious lady from St Marcellin,  Constance Lamerliere, was dressed the way the children described the Virgin. She had stopped where the children reported seeing Mary for she was on her way to the shrine of Our Lady of LeLaus. She walked into mist as she left them and nuns at a convent had seen her dressed as the children were to describe the Virgin. The whole thing had been mistaken identity.
 
He went to the trouble of giving names and dates to support his theory.
 
Witnesses subsequently appeared claiming that Constance was at St Marcellin at the time of the apparition. That was seventy-five miles away. Supporters of the Church would say that!
 
The man he claimed who drove her coach was named as Fortin. But Fortin was not employed at the time of the apparition as a coachman on that route. It would be three years later before that would happen. Was this a case of mistaken identity? Was Fortin a casual worker?
 
Encountering Mary, page 34, tells us that Maximin was prone to mistaking ordinary people for visions. "About three or four weeks after the apparition, Maximin and three or four other boys reportedly went to the mountain...they saw a woman in the distance dressed in black whom they thought must be one of the Sisters of Providence from Corps. When he returned to Corps, however, Maximin found that none of the sisters had been on the mountain that day, and this led him to conclude that he had seen no ordinary person but someone from 'the other world', perhaps his deceased mother".
 
None of the objections really prove that Constance Lamerliere was innocent.
 
The apparition could have been none other than poor mad Sister Constance Lamerliere in fancy dress!

http://books.google.ie/books?id=2LM8AAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false  

Encountering Mary, Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, Avon, New York, 1991
 
APPENDIX
Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World

LA SALETTE.

Some months ago, we presented our readers with the
prospectus of a work prlkted at Grenoble, by several of
the diocesan clergy of that place, with the object of
laying before the Pope a memorial, exposing, in detail,
the imposture of the alleged apparition of the Blessed
Virgin on the Mountain of La Salette, and showing the
dangers attending the (Roman) Catholic Church from
the adoption of such false miracles; and at the same
time we called our readers' attention to the persevering
exertions of the ultramontane journals — the Tablet,
L' Univers, and Catholic Standard — to uphold the appa-
rition as " a stupendous supernatural event which happened
in an unbelieving age, to confound the infidel and blas-
phemer!"

The French work itself, which we havenow before us,eon-
sists of a closely printed octavo volume of 368 pages.andis
entitled " La Salette devant le Pape, ou Rationalisme et
heresie decoulant dufait de La Salette, suivie du Memoire
au Pape, par plusieurs Membres du Clerge Diocesain ;
signed VAbbi Deleon, de Grenoble ; and printed by E.
Redon, Rue Bayard No. 13, Grenoble ; and as it is rather
difficult of procurement in this country, and has, so re-
cently asthe 2nd May, 1855, been made the subject of legal
proceedings before thecivil tribunals of Grenoble, we think
it may beinterestingtomakeknownitscontents somewhat
particularly, and the more so, as it affords an instructive
lesson, how easily false miracles may have been palmed
upon the credulous in former ages, by showing how a
similar one can be got up, even in such a country as
France, at the present day, and in the enlightened nine-
teenth century.

The whole subjest is too large, and has been too
minutely dealt with by the Abbe Deleon and his col-
leagues, to be satisfactorily disposed of in a single article,
and we, therefore, propose to confine ourselves, for the
present, to that part of the work alone which has
reference to the lady plaintiff in the court of Grenoble,
and which will enable our readers to understand, with-
out going any deeper into the supposed mystery, why
Mademoiselle Lamerliere should have brought an action
against the Abbe Deleon for 20,000 francs damages for al-
leged injury done to her character by the publication of the
work in question, and, at the same time, to estimate, at
somewhat of its real value, the importance of the deci-
sion at Grenoble, as bearing on the veracity and faith-
worthiness of the reverend author and his colleagues,
when we state that the court dismissed her proceedings^
with costs.

We propose, also, in order to make the matter more
fully intelligible, to annex some extracts taken verbatim
from the recent work of the Right Rev. Dr. Ullathorne,
Roman Catholic Bishop of Birmingham, which con-
tains some important admissions and statements upon
the subject, and which, as coming from the pen of a
professed advocate of La Salette, will naturally carry
more weight with those predisposed to believe such mat-
ters (if such persons exist in this country) than any
statement made by the open opponents of the prodigy, even
though those opponents should be (as, in fact, they are)
Roman Catholic priests, of high character, living near
the spot, and in the very diocese in which the disputed
miracle occurred.

What follows is a verbatim translation (and, perhaps,
may be considered by some too literal a one) of the early
part of the 4th chapter of the Abbe Deleon's book, pp.
59-69.

The Apparition on the Mountain of La Salette on
the 19Mi September, 1846 — Mademoiselle Lamerliere.
Mademoiselle Constance Lamerliere, de Saint-
Ferreol, was born of rich parents, and received a
careful education. After several years' sojourn in the
Convent of St. Pierre, at Grenoble, under the religious
direction of M. Rousselot, Canon and Vicar-General of
Grenoble, she entered the Convent de la Providence, in
1822. That convent had only just been established, and
had at its head a lady of high merit, Madame Chantal.
Mademoiselle Lamerliere filled several offices in this
convent, and was at last chosen as the mistress of the
novices. Gifted with a lively imagination, she became
remarkable for an exaggerated piety, and gave herself
up to practices the most mystical. To fulfil the rules of
her convent was not sufficient for her ardent zeal. In
her class, in her cell, in fact, everywhere, she desired to
have little shrines which might recall to- her more par-
ticularly the presence of God and the Holy Virgin. By
the aid of a fluent speech, she easily fascinated her
pupils — simple, young, country girls, who were scarcely
initiated into the first elements of the most ordinary in-
struction. This continued tendency to fanaticism ex-
cited the solicitude of her superior, Madame Chantal;
and, as it was her duty to guard the novices of the
institution against rash innovations, or any dangerous
exaggerations, Madame Chantal submitted the explana-
tions and commentaries of a private catechism, which
Mademoiselle Lamerliere had composed, to the conside-
ration of M. Desmoulins, at present attached to the
Seminary of St. Joseph, at Grenoble.

This surveillance annoyed Mademoiselle Lamerliere,
who already had made known to her pupils and the
sisterhood her project of founding particular congrega-
tions (the Holy Family, La Creche, &c, &c.) ; and, after
eight years' sojourn in the establishment as teacher of
the novices, she suddenly pretended to have need of
repose, in order to give herself up more completely to
the exercises of an absolute retreat.

Madame Chantal readily yielded to this request,
and Mademoiselle Lamerliere entered into retreat, which
she did in a manner so complete, that she shut herself
up in hercell, and never quitted it but to go to the church
or the refectory.

Three months thus passed on, when, without giving
any one notice of her intention, Mademoiselle Lamer-
liere quitted the house as a fugitive, and directed her
steps to Notre Dame du Laus, in the Diocese of Gap.
There she rested for some days, and then commenced
her route for Marseilles, on foot. On her way, she
visited all the churches, pointed out to the cure of each
place defects to be corrected, and repairs to be made,
and, to induce them to enter into her views, put down
the name of C. Lamerliere, de Saint-Ferreol, for large
sums, which she promised should be paid as soon as
they informed her that the improvements were made.
It is needless to say that not one of these promises were
fulfilled. Arrived at Marseilles, she associated herself
with a priest who was occupied with several institutions
and pious works, among others, societies for the
working classes. This excellent clergyman, however,
died, and Mademoiselle Lamerliere proceeded to
Valence. There she associated herself with an ecclesi-
astic whose name had had much notoriety, and she only
left him when he himself sunk under the reverses of ill
fortune. During her sojourn there, however, Made-
moiselle Lamerliere had pursued the realization of her
favourite dream, and had organized the congregation of
" the Holy Family," ami made desperate efforts to obtain
the patronage of the Bishop of Valence, Monseigneur
Latourette.

At Grenoble, where she came often, she placed her-



1855.]



THE CATHOLIC LAYMAN.



65



self wider M. Rousselot, the first director of her con-
science, and M. Canon Bouvier, the second director.

Among all these projects she dissipated her fortune, and
her correspondence evinced such a constantly-increasing
change in her intellectual faculties, that some members
of her family became alarmed, and tried to lead her back
by kindness. Mdlle. Lamerliere took no notice, however,
of their friendly overtures ; and, as matters appeared only
to grow worse, her own sister and brother-in-law com-
menced proceedings for her protection before the tribu-
nal of Saint Marcellin on the 28th August, 1846, and
the 5th September following, the court assigned to Mdlle.
Lamerliere guardians appointed by the court (un con-
seiljudiciaire).

Deeply wounded by this measure, and, above all, irri-
tated because it had been taken at the instance of her
brother-in-law (a military officer, whose name already is
distinguished, and will probably figure still more hereafter
in the records of ourhistory), rememberingalso, with com-
placency, the benevolent reception she had experienced
from several members of the clergy at Grenoble, Valence,
and Marseilles, Mdlle. Lamerliere at once formed her
resolve. Having been placed under a kind of tutelage
by the magistrates of her country and at the instance of her
ewn family, it was by means of the clergy of her country
and by a bold stroke that she was to regain her liberty.

The clergy take the lead in matters of civilization ; it is
their duty, and their disposition ; if the clergy, therefore,
should bow before her proceedings, and proclaim her
above the laws which govern feeble humanity — if this
proclamation should be accepted by the Catholic world —
if the magistrates themselves should respect it and keep
silence — the decision of the 5th September would be, in
fact, reversed, and the superhuman nature of Mdlle. La-
merliere, and the success of her divine mission, would he
for her an ample compensation ! Thus thought Mdlle.
Lamerliere, and thus she set herself to act.

Very skilful in the art of embroidery, she prepared an
aerial costume ; it was a white robe, trimmed with a
garland of silver flowers, ornamented with arabesques,
rising in graceful designs to the waist ; on the front of
the body was embroidered a brilliant cross, which ap-
peared supported by a chain embroidered in the same
manner ; on either side, two similar embroideries repre-
sented the pincers and hammer, the instruments of the
passion of the Saviour. A yellow apron, surrounded with
a silver fringe, a scarf, bordered with roses, shoes of white
satin, ornamented with a little garland of flowers, and,
lastly, yellow stockings were prepared by her ; and, as if
one single costume was not sufficient for her purpose,
she further prepared a dark blue dre9s, and another rose-
coloured one, and, carefully packing them up in a paste-
board box, set off for Grenoble.

At St. Marcellin she took the diligence ; and, as the
Conveyance was already full, she was obliged to mount
the imperial, and share the seat of the conducteur, whose
uame was Fortin.

She had with her her precious box. Her whole soul
was set on the execution of her project. She commenced
speaking mysteriously at first, but afterwards without
disguise, to her "compagnon de voyage." " Her brother-
in-law had rendered his name illustrious by his feats of
arms ; she aspired to acts of renown of another kind.
She was going to the mountains of the Alps ; there she
was sure of success!" The conducteur, Fortin, laughed,
and, like an agreeable traveller, began to banter Mdlle.
Lamerliere ; but, far from disconcerting her, she dis-
played the resources of her imagination, and her bril-
liant and fluent elocution charmed her companion, who
was satisfied with becoming a listener. When they
reached Grenoble, he restored her box to his fair passen-
ger, and wished her good fortune, and complete success.

Thesameday Mdlle. Lamerliere presented herself atthe

houseof M. X , a merchant, at Grenoble, and asked for

a particular kind of trimming ( u galorrs en points d'Es-
pagne"). She specified the size which was necessary to en-
able her to complete her work ; and, as the merchant could
notsatisfyher with the lace which he showed her, of which
the breadth was not exactly what she required, Mdlle.
Lamerliere opened her box, took out her several dresses,
and displayed, before the eyes of the merchant and his
family, the white robe embroidered and ornamented with
arabesques and garlands, and especially the cross,
pincers, and hammer, which decorated the upper part ;
the yellow apron, yellow stockings, scarf trimmed with
roses — in short, the whole contents of her box. In vain
the merchant searched his stock for trimming which
would match those so artistically used by Mdlle. Lamer-
liere. He was obliged to ask for a delay of 48 hours to
enable him to get it from Lyons, but the traveller was
too much hnrried to agree to his proposal — for she wished
to continue her journey the next day. The merchant

then gave her the address of Messieurs X or Y

as the only persons in Grenoble who could supply her.*



* A feelinic of strict propriety, and. still more, the duty of not ex-
?°^v! K tfl illexor * bl e attacks toe persons whose testimony I appeal to
in the course of my story, is the reason thai, I designate them t>y mere
Initials: but tl e'r names and addresses have lieen placed in the h.inds
ranis Eminence the Metropolitan Cardinal De Bonald, Archbishop
m WO"", also of the Archbishop of Paris, the Archbishop of Avl«-

h' »uaii " >P °' Gap * ' ni h] * Excellency the Apostolical Nuncio;
•nd if Malic L. shall ever take it into her head to bring her case before
either an ecclesiasiieal or civil tribunal, each of these persons to whom
l nave referred, will appear, and will nnd theirsecurity in the publicity
of the legal proceedings.



Mdlle. Lamerliere, in the presence of all the members
of the family of the merchant, shut up her goods again in
the box, and retired, leaving them in a state of astonish-
ment ; for none of them could comprehend the design or
aim of a costume so eccentric.

The next day she returned ; she had found, at one of
the places to which they had directed her the evening
before, the kind of material which she was seeking for.

She thanked the family of M. X for the assistance

they had given her, and left them, tore-appear no more.

All this took place in the early part of September,
1846, and before the event of LaSalette, which occurred;
on the 19th of the same month.

Mdlle. Lamerliere betook herself towards the Alps.

In the very heart of the mountains, at a few miles
distant (huit kilometres) from Corps, there is a village
called La Salette-Fallavaux, of difficult access, and which
is surmounted by wild and abrupt mountains, which
serve as pastures for cattle. Every day the children of
the village climb these mountains, and drive there the
beasts of their parents or masters, and, in the evening,
lead them back to the hamlet.

Melanie Mathieu, a native of Corps, and who had
been for nine months in the service of Baptist Pra, met
on this mountain, on the 18th September, 1846, Maximin
Giraud, also a native of Corps, whose services his father
had given for eight days only to Peter Selme. She
descended the mountain with him, promised to meet liim
again the next day ; and, on the 19th September, the two
children again betook themselves to the mountain.*

Maximin was always accompanied by his master,
who, not to lose sight of him, went to till a field, from
which the little shepherd could watch the cows, and
sent him, at noon, to water them at a rivulet which
flowed near the place, desiring the child to rejoin him
immediately. On this 19th September, at noon, Peter
Selme despatches his young herd to the fountain. Maxi-
min commenced by calling Melanie ; then joined, and went
away with her, and, contrary to his usual custom, did
not come back to his master, lie did not, in fact, rejoin
him until the evening, at his house ; and when the latter
scolded him for the liberty he. had taken, Maximin
replied by telling a story of a beautiful lady who had
appeared to him, and also to Melanie, and had amused
them for a long time, and had made them both talk
familiarly with her (" les a fait deviser l'un et l'autre").t

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 Maxi-
min. 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 re-
gained 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 re-
commencing, she continued her discourse in patois, then
finished in French, and, taking some fifteen paces (quin-
zaiue 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 hand-
kerchief 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 dis-
tinguished 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 oc-
curred to any painter or sculptor to annex to a statue of
the Blessed Virgin, and it is certainly something very sin-
gular 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

» Dr. Ullathome states that Maxlmia was then eleven years of
age, and Melanie, fourteen.

t D Ullathome, p. instates his words to have been "Qui nous a
amuses long temps et qui nous a fait deviaer avec Melanie."



lady of La Salette ; and still more singular is the coinci-
dence 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 perceivedthat the children did not understand
French, and, without going over again what shell ad 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'Evene-
ment, par MM. Orcel et Kousselot, pp. 53, &c, 04, &c).*

The Holy Scriptures inform us that Jesus Christ, after
his ascension, sent down his holy spirit on the apostles,
and enabled them to speak in divers tongues, to the end
that every one of the nations collected at Jerusalem —
Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamia's, Egyptians,
Lybians, jews, Cretes, and Arabians — might all hear, in
their own tongues, the wonderful works of God ; and,
accordingly, 3,000 souls were converted to the faith in
one day. God was with the apostles, He rendered bis
presence sensible by a miracle, the miracle produced its
proper effects, and senseless would have been the man
who would attempt to deny it.

But at La Salette, the. Lady of the Apparition (who
came also, according to MM. Orcel et Rousselot, to per-
form 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 re-
producing 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 shep-
herds 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 under-
stood. 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 necea-
sary that they should understand what was told them,
in order that the Divine communication should be pre-
served 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 with-
out repeating what she had already said, and which wan,
moreover, the essential part, the very seal of the mis-
sion 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 understand-
ings 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, wlten 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 shep-
herds?

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, as-
cends 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 moun-
tains where the ground is scarcely covered with a light

» Our readers will understand this better if they take the trouble
to read the extr.cta in the next page, taken verbatim from the
work of Dr. Ullathorne. Roman Catholic Bishop of Birmingham, on
" The Holy Mountain of La Salette."



GG



THE CATHOLIC LAYMAN.



[June,



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
•rhole 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 antici-
pated 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 strength-
ened still more by the nature and variation of the lan-
guage of the white lady to the shepherds, and by the
human precautions which she took to disappear adroitly
from their view. I am still, however, only at the preface of
this sad drama, which they call the Event of La Salette. As
we proceed, this probability will soon change to certainty.



vous abandonne pas, je suis I am compelled to pray to
chargee de le prier sans Him without ceasing.



"THE APPARITION.

(Extracted verbatim from Dr. Ultathorne's work, entitled
" The Holy Mountain of La Salette." By a Pilgrim of the year
1854. Published by Richardson and Son, 173, Fleet-street,
London.)

" The 19th of September, 1846, fell on a Saturday.
It was also the eve of the Festival of Our Lady of the
Seven Dolours. Maximin and Melanie, conducting
their cows, came down together from the mountain of
La Salette upon the level, or terrace, called Sous- les -
Bai/ses. The day was serene, the sky cloudless, the
sun shone brilliantly. It was about mid-day, for they
heard the distant sound of the Angelus bell. They took
their provisions, and ate them by the side of a little
spring, called des hommes, on the right of the little
stream called Sezia. When they had finished their
repast they descended, crossed the stream, and laid down
their bags separately near the place where another
spring sometimes flowed, but was at that time dry,
though soon to become for ever famous. They descended
a few more paces, and then, contrary to their usual
habits, as they afterwards said, they lay down at a little
distance from each other, and fell asleep. Melanie
awoke first, and not seeing the cows, she awoke Maximin.
They then crossed the stream together, ascended in a
straight line to the opposite ground, and, on turning
round, saw the cows lying on a gentle slope of Mount !
Gargas. They were about returning towards the dried- I
up spring to pick up their bags, but scarcely had they !
turned, when they saw a bright and dazzling light. !
Here we will give the recital of the children. We will !
give it exactly as they gave it on the same evening to
their employers ; as they gave it the next morning to
the Cure of La Salette ; as Melanie recounted it the
same day to Monsieur Peytard, the Mayor of La Salette;
as they gave it on the following days, Melanie to the
inhabitants of La Salette, Maximin to the inhabitants of
Corps ; and as they have constantly given it to all in-
quirers ever since.

" melaxie's recital.

"We full asleep then I woke first, and I did not see my

cows. I woke Maximin. ' Mnximin,' I said, ' quick, let us
go and look for the cows.' We posted the little stream which
went up straight before us, and saw the cows lying down on
the other side ; they were not far on'. I was coming down
first, and when I was five or six steps off the little stream, I
saw a brightness like the sun, it was far uiore brilliant, but it
had not the same colour; and I said to Maxiniin, ' Come,
quick, and see the bright light down there;' and Maximin
came down, saying, ' Where is it ?' I pointed to it near the
little spring, and he stopped when he saw it. Then we saw a
Lady in the bright light; she was sitting with her head in her
hands. We were afraid ; I let my stick fall. Then Maximin
said, ' Keep your stick; if it does anything, I will give it a
good knock.' The Lady rose up, crossed her arms, and said
to us, ' Come near, my children, be not afraid, 1 atu here to
tell you great news.'

" Then we crossed the little stream ; and she advanced to
the place where we had been sleeping. She was between us
both. She said to us, weeping all the time that she spoke (1
clearly saw her tears falling) —

'"Si uion peuple ne veut "'If my people will not
pas se soumettrc, je snis submit, I shall be forced to
forcee dc laisser aller la main let go the hand of my Son.
de mon fils.

" ' Elle est si forte, si " ' It is so strong, so heavy,
pesante, que je ne penx plus that I can no longer withhold
la mainienir. it.

"'Depuis le temps que "'For how long a time do
je souffre pour vous antres ! I suffer for you! If I would
Si je vc-ux que mon fils ne rot have my son abandon you,



"'Et pour vons autres, "'And as to you, you tale

vous n'en faites pas cas. no heed of it.

" ' Vous aurez beau prier, " ' However much you pray,

beau faire, jamais vous ne however much yon do, yon

pourrez recompenser la peine will never recompense the

que j'ai prise pour vous au- pains I have taken for you.
tres.

" * Je vous ai (tonne six " ' Six days have I given

jours pour travailler, je vie yon to labour, the seventh

suis reserve le septieme, et on I have kept for myself, and

ne veut pas me I'accorder. they will not give it me. .It

C'est ce qui appesantit tant is this which makes the hand

la main de mon fils. of my Son so heavy.

"'Ceux qui conduisent les " 'Those who drive the

charrettes ne savent pas jurer carts cannot swear without

sans y mettre le nom dc mon introducing the name of my

fils au milieu. Son.

" ' Ce sent les deux ehoses " ' These are the two things

qui appesantissent tant la which make the hand of my

main de mon fils. Son so heavy.

"'Si la recolte se gate, "'If the harvest is spoilt,

ce n'est rien qu'a cause de it is all on your account. I

vous autres. Je vous l'ai fait gave you warning last year

voir l'annee passee, par les in the potatoes, but you did

pommes de terre ; vous n'en uot heed it. On the con-

avez pas fait cas. C'est au trary, when you found the

contraire, quand voustrouviez potatoes spoilt, you swi,re,

des pommes de terre gatees, you took the name of my

vous juricz, vous mettiez le Son in vain. They will con-

noni de mon fils. EUes vont tinue to decay, so that by

continuer ; que cette annee Christmas there will he none

pour Noel, il n'y en aura left.'
plus.'*

" And as I did not well understand what was meant by pota-
toes (pommes de terre), 1 was going to ask Maximin what was
meant by potatoes, and the Lady said to us —

" ' Ah ! my children, you do not understand; I will say it in
a different way.' Then she continued —

(Melanie continues the recital in the patoti of the country.)

" * Si las truffas se gastuun "'If the potatoes {las

ei rien que per vous aoutres ; trvffas) ere spoilt, it is all on

vcus oou a'iou fa reyre, i'au your account. I gave you

passa, n'aia pas vougu fas warning list year, but you

conti ; qn era oou countrere, would not take heed of it.

quand troubava de trnfi'us On the contrary, when you

gastas djurava, l'y bitava lou found the potatoes spoilt, you

nouc de moun fis oou mey. swore, and introduced in your
oaths the name of my Son.

" ' E van continua, qu'aqey "'They will continue to

an per tsalendas n'y ooure decay, so that by Christmas

plus. there will be none left.

" ' Si ava de bla, f oou pas " ' If you have corn, it is no

Ion semenas, que tout ce que good to sow it; all that you

semenare las bestias vous lou sow the beasts will eat. What

mendjarein, 6 co que vendre comes up will fall into dust

tombare tout en poussicra when you thrash it.
quant l'eyquoi're.

" ' Vendret una granda fa- " ' There will come a great

mina. famine.

" ' D'avant que la famina " ' Before the famine comes,

vene lous maris oou dessous the children under seven years

de sept ans prendren un of age will be seized with

tremble, muriren entre las trembling, and will die in the

mas de las personnas que loos hands of those who bold them ;

tendren, e lous aoutres faren the others will do penance by

leur penitenca de famiua. the famine.

'"Lasnouzesvendrenboffas, " ' The walnuts will become

lous rasins puriren. bad, the grapes will rot.f

" ' Si se counvertissoun, las "' If they are convorted, the

peyras, lous routsas seren de stones and the rocks will

mounteous de bla, las truffas ;hange into heaps of corn, and

seren eusemensas per las the potatoes will be self-sown

terras. on the lands.

" ' Fasa bian vouatra priera, " ' Do you say your prayers

mous marris ?' well, my children ?'

" Tous deux nous avors "ISoth of us auswered —

repondu — ' Pas guaire, Ma- ' Not very well, Madam.'
damn.'

" ' Tsiiou biaa la fas, mous " ' You must be sure to say

marris, vepre e mati, quant them well, morning and even-

diria ooumen qti'un Pater e ing. When you cannot do

un Ave Maria, quant poitire better, say at least an Our

pas mey fas; e quant pouire Father and an Hail Mary.

mey fas n'en msi dire. liut when you have time say
more.

" ' Vai que quaouqua fena " ' There are none go to

un paou d'iadje u la messa, Mass but a few aged women,

Ions aoutres trabailloun tout the rest work on the Sunday

l'stiou la dimentsa; e 1 hiver all the summer; and in the

quant saboun pas que fas lous winter, when they know not

garcous van a la messa per se w-bat to do, the boj's go to

muuquas de la relitljiou ; e la Mass, only to mock at religion,

careyma van u la boutsaria During Lent they go to the

couma lous tsis. shambles like dogs.

"'N'ava djis vegu de bla "'Have you never seen

gasta, mous marris?' corn that is spoilt, my child V

" Maxiiuin repoudit — 'Oh! "Maximin replied — 'Oh!

nou, Madama.' Aloi je ne no, Madam.' For me, I did

savftis pas a qui elle deman- not know of which of us she

dait cela, et je rcpomlis bien aiked this question, and I

doucement — 'Nou, Madama, replied very gently — ' No,

n'ai dgis vegu.' Madam, I have never seen
any yt t.'

» To this point it will be observed that the Lady spoke wholly in
modern French — Eo.

t The Abte Deleon has proved that these words about V e walnuts
ar.d urapes were net part of the origl al rec'tul, at d never appeared
in any narrative prior to that of the S2nd of Slav, 1S47, when the

children were interrogated by M. Lon?, the "Suppliant du Juge
de Paix," and their statement transmuted by him as a proces-vertal
to a magistrate of Grenoble.- p. IIS.



" ' E vous, uooun marri, " ' You must surely have

n'en deva bian ave vegu, un seen it, you, my child (torn-

viadje ves lou Couin embe ing to Maximin), once when

vouetre pai're. you were near the (arm of

Coin with your Father.

"'Que lou mestre de la "' The master of the field

peca, que disia a vouetre told your father to go and

pai're d'anas veyre soon bla see his ruined wheat. You

gasta, e pey le anera tous went both together. You

doux, prenguera dous treis took two or three of the ears

eipias de bla din vouatras into your hands and rubbed

mas, las froutera, e tseyguet them, and they fell all into

tout en poussiera e pey vous du»t; and then you returned

n'entournera ; quant era plus home. When you were still

que dime fioura luen de half-an-hour's distance from

Couarp vouetre pai're vous Corps, your father gave you

beylle una | eja de pa en vous a piece of bread, and said to

disant: Te moun marri, mendja you, Here, my child, eat some

encas de pa aqueytan, que bread this year at least; I

sabon pas qui n'en vai'mendjas don't know who will eat any

Van que ven, si lou bla next year if the corn goes on

countinua couma quo ?' like that.'

"Maximin a repondu — "Maximin replied — ' Oh!

' Oh 1 si, Madama, m'en rap- yes, Madam, I recollect now ;

pellou avus, ades me n'en just this moment, I did not

rappellavou pas' " remember.' "

" After this the Lady said to us in French, ' Well, my
children, you will make this to be known to all my
people.'

" She passed the little stream, and turned again to us
to say, ' Well, my children, you will make this to be
known to all my people.' Then she ascended to the
place where we had gone to look for our cows.* She did
not touch the grass. She moved along on the tips of the
grass. I and Maximin followed her ; I passed before
the Lady, and Maximin a little on the side, two or three
steps. And then this beautiful Lady arose a little from
the ground (Melanie raised her hand a yard, or more,
above the ground, by way of illustration), then she
looked towards heaven, then towards the earth ; then
wo saw her head no more, then the arms no more, then
the feet no more ; we saw nothing more but a brightness
in the air ; after this the brightness disappeared. And
I said to Maximin — ' Perhaps it is a great saint.' And
Maximin said to me — ' If we had known it was a great
saint, we would have asked her to take us with her.'
And I said to him — ' Oh, that she was here still!'
Then Maximin darted his hand out to catch a little of
the brightness ; but there was nothing there any more.
And we looked well, to see if we could not see her. And
I said — ' She will not let herself be seen, that we may
not see where she goes.' Afterwards we looked after
our cows.

"At this point Melanie is asked— Did she tell you
nothing else?

" Melanie. — No, Sir.

" Q. — Did she not tell you a secret ?

" Melanie. — Yes, Sir, but she has forbidden us to tell
it.

" Q. — What did she speak about ?

"Melanie. — If I tell you what about, you will soon
find out what it is.

" Q. — When did she tell you your secret ?

" Melanie. — After speaking of the walnuts and the
grapes. But before giving it to me, it seemed to me
that she spoke to Maximin, and I heard nothing.

" Q. — Did she give you the secret in French ?

" Melanie. — She told it me in Patois.

" Q. — How was she clothed ?

" Melanie. — She had white shoes, with roses round
them of all colours, gold-coloured stockings, a gold-
coloured apron, a white robe, with pearls all over it, a
white cape over her shoulders, with roses round it ; a
white cap, a little bent forwards ; a crown with roses
round her cap. She wore a very small chain, on which
was hung a cross, with a figure of our Lord ; on the
right were pincers, on the left a hammer. At the
extremities of the cross another large chain fell, like
the roses round the handkerchief. Her face was white
and elongated. I could not look at her long together,
because she dazzled us" (pp. 23-29).

"The Abbe Lagier was one of the earliest and most
searching of their interrogators. He said to Melanie —
You do not know French, you do not go to school ; how
could you recollect what the lady said ? She told you
several times over ? She taught you to remember it
well?

"Melanie. — Oh, no; she told me but once, and I
remembered it. And even if I did not understand it,
those who know French understand it ; that is suffi-
cient.

" Mdlle. Des Brulais was on the most familiar and
affectionate terms with Melanie. She asked —

" Q. — Did you know French before the 19th of Sep-
tember, 184C?

" Melanie.— I did not know it.

" Q. — Did you understand it?

" Melanie. — I did not understand it.

'• Q. — Did you immediately afterwards repeat in
French what the Blessed Virgin told you in French ?

" Melanie. — Yes, I said it as she said it to me.



* Maxiniin's statement, which we hare not room to give in detail,
contains the following passage:— "Then she ascended some fifteen
paces, gliding over the herbage as if she was suspended and moved on
by ottier hands— her feet only touched the top of the herbage; t«
foVowtd her up the ascent," &c— L'r. VUrtthorue, p 30.



1855.]



THE CATHOLIC LAYMAN.



67



« Q. You are very sure you repeated it in French,

and not in Patois t .

" Melanie.— I said in French what the Blessed Virgin
said in French, and in Patau what she said in Patois.

Q. — You are very sure, quite sure, you did not say it
in Patois the first day when you came from the moun-
tain? . . _ .

"Melanie How could I manage to say it in Patois

when I could not say it (for translate it). I did not
know French.

« Q. How could you repeat in French what the

Blessed Virgin said in French, since you only knew the
Patois f

" Melanie.— Well, I said it as she said it.

« Q. — Do you know what you said ?

"Melanie.— I said it as she had said it "(pp. 41-2).

The account given of Maximin's and Melanie's pre-
vious character in Dr. Ullathorne's book is also worthy
of notice; we have only space for the following pas-
sages ;_« Maximin was eleven years old ; he was utterly
without education — couldneither write nor read. . . .
His father declared it had taken three or four years to
teach him, and that with difficulty, to say the " Our
Father" and the "Hail Mary". . . . When asked
some time after the event of his life, "Maximin, I am
told that, before the apparition of La Salette, you were
somewhat of a story-teller ?" he smiled, and honestly
said, " They have told you true ; I told lies, and I swore
when I threw stones after my strayed cows." Such was
Maximin Giraud.— p. 17. Then, as to Melanie—" Her
parents were of the very poorest, and at an early age
she had to, earn her bread by guarding cattle ; she rarely
entered a church ; for he* employers kept her at work on
Sundays and festivals as well as on week-days. She had
scarcely any knowledge of religion ; and her ungrateful
memory could not retain two lines of her catechism. .

. She was idle, disobedient, and inclined to pout."—
p. 18. Interrogated at a later period, the superioress
said—" During the year past, Maximin, though taught
almost every day, has not learned to serve mass well, nor
has Melanie learnt to say well by heart the ' Acts of
Faith, Hope, and Charity,' though I cause them to be
taught her twice a day." — p. 22.

We must here close for the present our extracts from
Dr. Ullathorne's account of the "stupendous event" of
La Salette, but have, we hope, given enough to enable our
readers to follow the Abbe Deleon's masterly expose of
what we believe to have been the most palpable imposture
of the present age.