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Our Lady of Laus

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1 Our Lady of Laus on Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:29 pm


the newly approve Apparition

Refuge of Sinners

SITUATED in Dauphiné, in southern France at the foot of the Alps, just southeast of Gap, is the vale of Laus. Its name means lake in the local dialect as there once was one at the bottom of the basin. In 1666 the hamlet held twenty households scattered in little huts. The inhabitants had built a chapel dedicated to the Annunciation, Notre-Dame de on Recontre [Our Lady of the Good Encounter, meaning Annunciation]. It was here that Our Lady chose to appear in another "Good Encounter", several times to to a humble, unschooled girl, Bl. Benoite Rencurel: "I asked my Son for Laus for the conversion of sinners, and He granted it to me," said the Blessed Virgin to the young shepherdess.

Bl. Benoite had learned suffering early in life as she was born into extreme poverty which was made worse when her father died when she was only seven. Our seeress was born in 1647, in September, but two months before the birth of Saint Margaret Mary, future confidante of the Sacred Heart. Creditors were unrelenting to Benoite's widowed mother and so her children had to labor to maintain the family. Benoite was not only a help but a protection for her mother, who had faithfully taught her children the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Creed. One day she saw some men heading for the house and she ran to warn her mother, fighting off one of them who dared to offer her money in exchange for her virtue.

By the time Benoite was twelve the family was in even worse straits, so she took employment tending sheep for two masters at the same time. Thus, it was in the bosom of deprivation, sacrifice and prayer that the future Saint was preparing for her predestined mission.

In May of 1664, she was seventeen, praying the Rosary, her favorite devotion, watching her flock, when suddenly an old and venerable man, clothed in the vestments of a bishop of the early Church, came up to her and said: "My daughter, what are you doing here?"

"I'm watching my sheep, praying to God, and looking for water to drink."

"I'll get some for you," replied the elderly man. And he went to the edge of a well that Benoite had not seen.

"You're so beautiful!" she said. "Are you an Angel, or Jesus?"

"I am Maurice, to whom the nearby chapel [then it ruins] is dedicated . . . My daughter, do not come back to this place. It is part of a different territory, and the guards would take your flock if they found it here. Go to the valley above Saint-Étienne. That is where you will see the Mother of God."

"But Sir, She is in Heaven. How can I see Her there?"

"Yes, She is in Heaven, and on earth too when She wants."

Very early the next morning, Benoite hastily led her flock to the indicated spot, the Vallon des Fours (Valley of Kilns), so called because the hill above this valley contained gypsum, which the village inhabitants extracted and fired to make plaster for their buildings. Benoite had just arrived in front of a little grotto that was on the site when she saw a Lady of incomparable beauty holding a no less beautiful Child by the hand. She was ravished by the sight. Despite Saint Maurice's prediction, however, the naive shepherd girl could not imagine that she was in the presence of the Mother of God. Thinking that she was seeing a mere mortal, she said very innocently:

"Lovely Lady, what are You doing here? Did You come to buy some plaster?"

Then, without waiting for an answer, she added: "Would You be so kind as to give us this child? He would delight us all!"

The Lady smiled without answering. Charmed and won over, Benoite admired the beautiful Lady. At mealtime she took a piece of bread and said:

"Would You like to eat with me? I've got some good bread; we can dip it in the spring."

The Lady smiled again and continued letting her enjoy Her presence, going in and coming out of the cavity in the rock, approaching Benoite and moving away from her. Then, when evening came She took the Child in Her arms, entered the grotto and disappeared.

The following day and for the next four months, Benoite contemplated on that site the Joy of the Angels and the Ornament of Heaven. The shepherd girl's face was transfigured right from the start; she shared her happiness with everyone in cheerful simplicity. Seeing the change in her, people began to wonder, "What if it should be the Blessed Virgin she is seeing?" Benoite did not know this herself, and she never dared to ask the Lady, who gave her all this joy, who She was.

Before making Benoite Her friend and the dispenser of Her graces, the Blessed Virgin strongly attached the shepherd girl's soul to Herself with irresistible attraction. Then, after two months of silence, She made her Her pupil and began to speak in order to teach, test and encourage her.

Putting Herself on the level of the mountain girl's uneducated mind, the Queen of Heaven condescended to familiarities that would surprise us if we did not know that Mary's goodness is boundless. One day our tender Mother invited Benoite to rest by Her side, and the weary child went peacefully to sleep on the hem of the Virgin's mantle. Another time, doing as mothers do to teach prayers to their children, She had her repeat, word by word, the Litany of Loreto, then enjoined her to teach it to the girls of Saint-Étienne and go to church with them every evening to sing it there.

With the sweetness and patience of a mother, She formed her gradually in view of her future mission. The pious young girl was still uncouth, quite stubborn and readily impatient. Before the Virgin Mary personally revealed Her name, She initiated Benoite in the role she was to play all her life: to work at the conversion of sinners through prayer, sacrifice, and-----a special vocation-----exhortation, for God had granted her the charism of reading in hearts. Consequently, she was often given the heavy task of correcting souls and disclosing their sad condition to them. When needed, she would remind them of their forgotten or hidden sins and urge them to purify themselves of them.

A striking conversion, among many others, occurred to give credit not only to the Apparition, but to the seeress' clairvoyance as well. Benoite's employer, Mrs. Rolland, a woman who had no interest whatsoever in religion, wanted to see for herself what was going on at the site of the apparitions. One day before dawn she went in secret to the grotto, entered before Benoite, and hid behind a rock. Benoite arrived, and a few moments later she saw the Beautiful Lady.

"Your mistress is over there, hiding behind the rock," said Mary. "Tell her not to curse with the name of Jesus, because if she keeps it up there will be no paradise for her: Her conscience is in a very bad state; she should do penance."

The employer, who had heard everything, tearfully promised to amend. And she kept her word.

News of the apparitions began to spread; people were talking about them all over. Many believed in them, but several others were incredulous and treated the shepherd girl as a false mystic. Among the many people who supported Benoite were the little girls of St. Stephen's who, like her, loved Mary with all their heart. To repeat what we summarized above, the Blessed Virgin said to her, "Tell the girls of St. Stephen's to sing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin in the church every evening, with the permission of the Prior, and you will see that they will do it." Indeed, once they had learned their "lesson," the Litany was chanted every evening with great devotion. It might be interesting to point out here that Laus is in the diocese of Embrun. Since 1638, the year of the consecration of France to Mary by King Louis XIII, the Litany of Loreto had been chanted regularly in the cathedral of Embrun. As reports of the apparitions took on greater expansion, François Grimaud, the magistrate of Avançon Valley, a good Catholic and a man of integrity, decided to conduct an investigation. After serious examination he concluded that Benoite was not deceiving anyone, nor was she an impostor, or mentally ill. He also observed that Benoite had not asked her Lady to reveal Her identity, so to speak. At the magistrate's request, although personally it cost her a great deal, Benoite was obliged to ask: "My good Lady, I and all the people in this place are hard put to know who You are. Might You not be the Mother of our good God? Please be so kind as to tell me, and we will build a chapel here to honor You." The heavenly apparition replied that there was no need to build anything there because She had chosen a more pleasant spot. Then She added, "I am Mary, the Mother of Jesus. You will not see Me here any more, nor for some time." Benoite did not see her heavenly Mistress for an entire month. This cast her into such profound sorrow that without the assistance of Heaven, she would not have survived. On September 29, 1664, on the other side of the stream, halfway up the hill that led to Laus, she recognized the Blessed Virgin. "Oh, good Mother!" she exclaimed. "Why did You deprive me of the joy of seeing You for so long?" Then she crossed the swollen stream and threw her- self at the feet of the Queen of Heaven. The Blessed Virgin made this reply: "From now on, you will see Me only in the chapel that is in Laus." And Mary showed her the path that went up and over the hill toward Laus, a village the young girl had heard about but never visited, as she actually lived in the village of St.-Étienne d'Avançon.

In 1640, some pious mountain people had built a little chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Bon Rencontre (Our Lady of Good Encounter) deep in the solitude of Laus. They had done so for the purpose of gathering there to pray when high water would prevent them from going to the parish church in Saint-Étienne. Exteriorly, the humble thatch-roofed structure looked like all the other small houses; just over two meters square, it had a plaster altar whose only ornaments were two wooden candlesticks and a pewter ciborium. That is where the Queen of Heaven awaited the young shepherd girl, as in a new stable of Bethlehem.

since Benoite had never heard of the chapel, the next day she searched a long time for it in tears, going here and there, sometimes wandering away for a moment. She stopped at the entrance of each poor dwelling, trying to detect the "sweet fragrance." Finally she detected it near a door left ajar. Entering, she found her beautiful Lady standing on a dust-covered altar.

"My daughter, you have searched diligently for Me, and you should not have wept. Even so, you pleased Me by not being impatient."

Benoite humbly accepted this remark and then noticed with sadness the pitiful condition of the altar.

"Honorable Lady, would You like me to spread my apron under Your feet? It is very white."

"No, . . . soon nothing will be lacking here-----neither vestments nor altar linens nor candles. I want a large church built on this spot, along with a building for a few resident priests. The church will be built in honor of my dear Son and Myself. Here many sinners will be converted. I will appear to you often here."

"Build a church?" exclaimed Benoite. "There's no money for that here!"

"Do not worry. When the time comes to build, you will find all you need, and it will not be long. The pennies of the poor will provide for everything. Nothing will be lacking."

Throughout the winter of 1664-65, in spite of the four kilometers that separated the village of Saint-Étienne from the Laus chapel, Benoite went up to it every day. And there she often saw the Virgin. Our Lady told her, "Pray continually for sinners." Oftentimes, She would name those She wanted her to pray for. In this way the Virgin was forming Benoite for her mission, which was to help priests in the ministry of Confession and the conversion of sinners. As of 1665, the Blessed Virgin asked her to stop tending flocks in order to devote herself to her mission.

The Virgin had told Benoite, "I asked My Son for Laus for the conversion of sinners, and He has granted it to Me."

The words of the Mother of God were fulfilled. As news of the continuing Apparitions spread, the number of visitors to Laus continually increased. Graces and blessings poured down upon souls; people came by the hundreds and then thousands to pray in the poor chapel. Cures of all kinds abounded and sinners were converted in great numbers. On March 25, 1665, less than a year after the first apparition, an immense crowd came to the once-deserted chapel. That same year, on May 3, Feast of the Holy Cross, thirty-five parishes converged there, each walking behind its particular banner. Altars and confessionals had to be set up outdoors to satisfy the piety of the people. Priests from the area came to lend a hand to Father Fraisse, the pastor of Saint-Étienne, and hear the many Confessions.

Prudently, the diocesan authorities did not pronounce a decision, but they did permit Mass to be celebrated in the chapel. That is when the Reverend Canon Pierre Gaillard, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Gap, entered the scene. He was soon to become the director of the pilgrimage, and later he composed several authoritative narratives. Having come out of curiosity in August 1665, he asked for and obtained such great graces there, that he was immediately convinced of the authenticity of the apparitions.

However, Laus belonged to the Diocese of Embrun at that time. Being from the Diocese of Gap, Father Gaillard did not possess the authority to pass official judgment. Upon the recommendation of several priests, he therefore wrote to Father Antoine Lambert, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Embrun, and requested that he initiate an ecclesiastical inquiry.

Father Lambert was most unsympathetic towards the apparitions at Laus, and he was not pleased to see the faithful forsaking the old pilgrimage to Our Lady of Embrun. He was convinced that Benoite's apparitions were diabolical and that she was just a common illuminate. On September 14, 1665, he came to Laus in the company of several eminent priests, equally unsympathetic to the events at Laus, hoping to put an end to "this sorcery," prove Benoite guilty of a hoax, and shut down the chapel. When the poor shepherd girl heard that they had arrived, she was so afraid that she wanted to leave, but the Mother of God reassured her: "No, My daughter, you must not run away. You must remain, for you must do justice to churchmen. They will question you one by one and try to catch you with your own words. But don't be afraid. Tell the Vicar General that he can very well make God come down from Heaven by the power he received when he became a priest, but he has no commands to give the Mother of God."

When the Vicar General reached Laus, he entered the chapel to pray for a moment and then summoned the shepherd girl. Backed by his colleagues, he questioned Benoite haughtily, trying to trap her and make her contradict herself. She remained unruffled and answered him with simplicity and calm assurance. Her words were clear and surprisingly affirmative.

"Don't think I have come here to authorize your visions and illusions, and all the strange things that are being said about you and this place," the Vicar General said severely. "It is my conviction, as it is of everyone with any common sense, that your visions are false. Consequently, I am going to close down this chapel and prohibit the devotion. As for you, you have only to go back home."

Following the Blessed Virgin's inspiration, the shepherd girl answered him: "Sire, although you command God each morning and make Him come down to the altar by the power you received when you became a priest, you have no commands to give His holy Mother, who does as She pleases here."

Impressed by these words, the Vicar General replied: "Well, if what people are saying is true, then pray to Her to show me the truth by a sign or a miracle, and I will do all that I can to accomplish Her will. But once again, be careful that these not be illusions and effects of your imagination to delude the people, or I will punish you severely to undeceive those who believe you. I will stamp out abuses with every means in my power."

Benoite thanked him humbly and promised to pray according to his intentions. Father Fraisse, the pastor of Saint-Étienne, Judge François Grimaud and Father Pierre Gaillard were also questioned. The Vicar General, instead of closing down the oratory, made a detailed inventory and wrote out a lengthy report of his pastoral visit. He had planned on leaving that evening, but heavy downpours obliged him to remain for two more days. The Blessed Virgin had arranged it thus, so that he would witness a striking miracle.

A well known woman of the area by the name of Catherine Vial had been suffering for the past six years from the contraction of the nerves in her legs: they were both bent backwards and seemed bound to her body, and no effort could separate them. Her case had been declared incurable by two eminent surgeons. Having come to Laus with her mother to make a novena, she was a pity to behold, crouched all day long in the chapel. Around midnight on the last day of the novena, she suddenly felt her legs relax and begin to move. She was cured.

The next morning she entered the chapel under her own power while the Vicar General was saying Mass. Her presence caused quite a stir as the people exclaimed, "Miracle! Miracle! Catherine Vial is cured!" Moved to tears, Father Lambert had a hard time finishing his Mass. Father Gaillard, who was serving, wrote, "I am a faithful witness of all that occurred." And the Vicar General declared, "There is something extraordinary occurring in that chapel. Yes, the hand of God is there!"

Father Lambert questioned the woman who had been cured and wrote out an official report of the miracle. Then he had everyone enter the chapel to sing the Te Deum and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, and he named two young priests as chaplains at Laus: Father Jean Peytieu, who would die of exhaustion at the age of forty-nine after twenty-four years of ministry totally dedicated to souls, and Father Pierre Gaillard, who exercised an exemplary ministry there for fifty years as director of the pilgrimage. Father Barthelemy Hermitte was named to serve as their assistant, which he did for twenty-eight years until his death. The Vicar General concluded by authorizing construction of the church as the Blessed Virgin had requested.

The little Laus chapel, where more and more wonders were being wrought, could scarcely hold ten or twelve people. It became absolutely necessary to replace it with a bigger church. The construction and the financing of that church constitute part of "the wonders of Laus."

Although there were no resources at all, construction was undertaken with great enthusiasm. It was above all the poor, the little people, who took up the challenge, made doubly difficult by often impassable access roads. The people of the area and the many pilgrims who went up to Laus would take one or more stones from A vance stream and carry them to the construction site; even the children brought some of their own. Everyone wanted to donate something, whether materials or money. It took a year to gather all the necessary materials. Thanks to Father Gaillard's tenacity, the construction was built according to the indications Our Lady had given Benoite. To the great credit of those in charge, the chapel of Notre-Dame de Bon Rencontre was incorporated into the structure and became the choir of the new church.

On October 7, 1666, Feast of the Holy Rosary, Father Gaillard laid the first stone of the building, and the Dominican Fathers from Gap presided over a long procession of pilgrims. It was on that occasion that Benoite became a Dominican Tertiary. From then on she wore the tertiary veil and cape, and people began calling her "Sister Benoite."

Father Gaillard directed the construction work. Benoite saw to everything and motivated the workers. She prepared their meals, prayed with them and spoke words of salvation to them on occasion, sometimes adding a useful word of advice to avoid accidents. As a result of this, throughout the entire duration of the construction, not a single blasphemy was heard and no accidents occurred. Within four years, the church was completed (1666-70). An early historian wrote, "The Church of Our Lady of Laus was built to the singing of psalms and hymns. The hands of the poor gathered its materials, donations dug its foundations, Providence raised its walls, and confidence in God The earliest historians of Laus are unanimous in reporting the sweet, heavenly fragrance of the place; they mention it as a public occurrence to which a great number of people attested. These fragrances were sometimes so intense that their odor spread from the chapel all over the valley.

Judge François Grimaud attested, "During the Easter Season of 1666, I smelled a very sweet fragrance for around seven minutes; I had never smelled anything like it in my life, and it gave me such deep satisfaction that I was enraptured." It is related that from March 24th till the end of May 1690, the Laus church was so pervaded with this fragrance that all the pilgrims attested to it. In 1716, because he had smelled this "sweet fragrance," Honore Pela, a sculptor from Gap, donated a beautiful statue in Carrara marble, representing the Virgin and Child. This phenomenon of fragrances is still occasionally experienced by pilgrims today. To avoid any possibility of deception, flowers are not usually allowed at the shrine.

Sister Benoite breathed in these fragrances from their source. The manuscripts of Laus report, "Every time the Blessed Virgin honored her with Her visit, people smelled a heavenly fragrance that pervaded the entire church. Sometimes the shepherd girl's clothing was deeply permeated with the heavenly scent for up to eight days; these supernatural fragrances were so sweet and delightful that they lifted up the soul and surpassed all other fragrances on earth." Whenever Benoite returned from being with her good Mother, her face would seem to be ablaze, like that of Moses coming down from Sinai; she would kneel, recite the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, and then for the rest of the day she would be unable to eat.

One day in the winter of 1665, Benoite was advised by the Virgin Mary to invite those with illnesses to apply oil to their afflicted members. Our Lady said to her that "if they take oil from the lamp in the chapel and apply it to themselves, and if they have recourse to Her intercession and have faith, they will be healed;"that "God has given Her this place for the conversion of sinners." [Text from the manuscript of Rev. Can. Pierre Gaillard.]

The oil from the sanctuary lamp burning before the Blessed Sacrament, and the maternal presence of the Virgin Mary having appeared on the site, are to Laus what the waters of the spring are to Lourdes. Physical and moral cures were granted in great number by means of this oil applied with faith. A certain quantity is regularly taken from the lamp for the pilgrims' use, and its beneficial effect is still active today. Let us recall that Saint Brother Andre of St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal also used oil from the sanctuary lamp to heal the sick.

More than anywhere else, it was in this blessed shrine that the Virgin Mary appeared to Benoite at least once a month for fifty-four years, and this is where Mary made Her messenger Her instrument for the conversion of sinners. Faithful to her mission, Benoite never stopped praying, suffering and exhorting.

For many people, there is nothing harder than going to Confession. Rather than admit their sins to priests in order to receive pardon, many souls stop practicing their religion and sink even more deeply into sin. Out of compassion for Her sinful children, the Virgin Mary gave Benoite the exceptional privilege of reading into souls. Later, Saint John Mary Vianney, and more recently Saint Padre Pio, received the same charism in favor of the conversion of sinners.

Inspired by Heaven, Benoite urged sinners to set their conscience in order; she enlightened those who could not see and, if necessary, revealed forgotten or hidden sins. She could "see consciences the way we see in a mirror, all at once," she said. She revealed faults, grievous and lesser sins, hidden motives, hypocrisy, and errors often committed unconsciously. She required simplicity and purity of soul, humility and a firm will to improve. She would even take away from the Communion rail people who were not in the state of grace. Benoite often had to make painful observations and say things that were not easy to hear, but she was so kind and compassionate that people were generally very grateful to her. After speaking with her they were resolved to purify every aspect of their consciences in order to amend their lives. Her hardest task was to reprimand or warn certain souls at Our Lady's behest. When she would put of this duty, the Blessed Virgin would defer a visit. It was not that the sainty seer was defying Our Lady in pride, but that she was so humble and simple in that humility that she considered herself unworthy of the task. One day a priest asked her why she acted as she did.

"The Mother of God commands me to do it in such a mild manner that I don't believe She absolutely wants it. And when I fail, my good Mother corrects me without getting angry. So because of the shame I feel on admonishing others, I often wait for a second command, and then I obey." If it were only a question of sinners! . . . ----but she also had to guide their, confessors.

To priests, she revealed their indiscretion, their lack of prudence in their manner of questioning penitents, their neglectful behavior, their grudges. Concerning a religious brother who was always on the move, she said, "Let him stay where he is. That is where he will work out his salvation, but he must be faithful to grace."

She would see priests at the altar shining with light or tarnished, according to the state of their conscience, and she would warn the latter. A young priest from Embrun said, "You cannot be in that chapel without trembling if your conscience is not clear."

The Blessed Virgin, for Her part, did not condone any failings in Her messenger. She counseled her and corrected her: "Take heart, My daughter! Have patience . . . Do your duty cheerfully . . . Bear no hatred towards the enemies of Laus . . . Do not be troubled and sick over it if people do not profit from your advice . . . Do not be disturbed by temptations, visible or invisible spirits, or temporal affairs . . . Strive never to forsake the presence of God, for whoever has any faith will not dare to offend Him."

The humble shepherd girl could not love Mary without having a deep love for Jesus, Her Divine Son. She had chosen Him as the only Bridegroom of her soul, and she hungered to suffer with Him for the conversion of sinners. There was a Cross overlooking Avançon at the entrance to the vale of Laus. Benoite descended to pray there every day, even when it snowed or rained. Kneeling down, she would gaze at our Saviour on His Cross, and her heart would melt with love and compassion at the thought of all He has done for the salvation of men. To reward her, it pleased our Saviour to appear to her in the reality of His sufferings. She saw Him crucified, bleeding and in agony, with the wounds in His hands, feet and side, and red gashes from the scourging covering His Body.

Transported with sorrow, she said, "Oh, my Jesus, if You remain like this another instant, I will die!" The sight of His sufferings caused her such great distress that one day her Guardian Angel came to assure her, saying, "Do not be troubled, my Sister. Although our Divine Master has appeared to you in this condition, He is not suffering anything; it is solely to show you what He suffered out of love for the human race." But these words did not console her. The fact that her good and sweet Master had suffered in that manner and to such an extent was sufficient to maintain the compassion she felt.

On Friday, July 7, 1673, the bleeding Christ said to her, "My daughter, I am showing Myself to you in this condition so that you may participate in the sorrows of My Passion." Every week from that day on, she suffered a mystical crucifixion between Thursday evening and Saturday morning. This weekly crucifixion lasted fifteen years, with a two-year interruption from 1677 to 1679, when Benoite served food to the workers who were building the priests' residence; in November 1679, the mystical crucifixion was renewed at the Cross of Avançon.

The enemies of Laus, including some priests, regarded these occurrences as bouts of illness, phenomena related to epilepsy or hysteria. They called the pilgrimage chaplains "visionaries, idiots and fools for so easily believing a girl who has no common sense." As for Benoite, her exterior martyrdom caused her to suffer because it attracted the veneration of the people, thus offending her sensitive humility. One day Benoite said to her good Mother, "May my sufferings be even more cruel if such is God's good pleasure, but let them be less visible!" The Blessed Virgin appeared to her the following Saturday and said, "You will no longer have the Friday sufferings, but you will have many others."

She certainly did have "many others." The devil's rage could be felt increasingly all around her. What is more, Christ always marks the authenticity of His works with the seal of His Cross.

Canon Gaillard states that from 1664 to 1672, incredulity made only a few small waves. But during the next twenty years unspeakable contradictions arose, especially among the clergy, then infected with Jansenist venom. Father Lambert, Vicar General of the diocese of Embrun, had passed away. A few members of the metropolitan Chapter who were prejudiced against Laus took advantage of the authority they exercised in the interim to issue an interdict against the holy girl; they posted their document on the doors of the cathedral of Embrun, and threatened with excommunication any priest who celebrated Mass in the Laus chapel. They also posted a sign on the church door at Laus forbidding public devotions on the site. The Blessed Virgin commanded Benoite, "Remove that paper... and let Mass be said here as it was before." She was obeyed.

The Apparitions at Laus and Benoite were to meet with much hostility over the next twenty years. The Bishop, now old and in a weakened state appointed two chaplains who were not in favor of Laus, and turned the faithful away and for fifteen years Benoite was kept under house arrest, permitted only Sunday Mass.

The devil even raised up visionaries to ape Benoite's devotions, to the point of deceiving weak souls. People necessarily stopped coming to Laus for a time. It was also during this sad period that the holy priests [ Fr. Jean Peytieu and Fr. Barthelemy Hermitte] who had seconded Benoite passed away. Even so, nothing was to succeed in ruining the pilgrimage completely. Benoite's Angel comforted her by lifting a little of the veil that hid the future from her: "There will always be troubles at Laus until there are Religious established here.

The messenger's fidelity triumphed over this long "eclipse of Laus." At long last, the Bishop of Embrun awoke from his apathy. In 1712, six years before Benoite's death, the direction of the Pilgrimage was entrusted to some good priests, called the Pères Gardistes, "a deeply religious group of sound doctrine, moved by an ardent desire for the apostolate." On March 18, 1700, Benoite's Guardian Angel had told her, "The Laus devotion is the work of God which neither man nor the devil can destroy. It will continue until the end of the world, flourishing more and more and bearing great fruit everywhere."

On the one hand she was tormented by the demons in Hell for the sake of the conversion of sinners, but on the other, she lived in familiarity with the Angels. She was especially close to her Guardian Angel, to whom she condied all he pain and sorrows, consulting him at every moment. He responded to this absolute trust with all kinds of services which, because of Benoite's perfect simplicity, did not even surprise her. He taught her the virtues of plants and helped her to clean the little chapel. One time, she had forgotten her shawl, little more than a rag, which she had left hanging on a branch in the woods. As she was suffering bitterly from the cold that night, her Angel brought it back to her. On many occasions he opened the church door for her and said the Rosary with her. But he also knew when to correct her. One day he confiscated a beautiful Rosary that had been given to Benoite, but to which she was too strongly attached. And it was quite some time before he gave it back to her.

To the end, in spite of continual sufferings, Benoite remained Mary's faithful pupil and auxiliary with sinners. When her good Mother stopped visiting her to purify her, and Satan cried out, "She has forsaken you . . . You will no longer have any recourse but in me!" Benoite replied, "Oh, I would rather die a thousand times forsaken by Mary, than forsake Her for a single moment!"

But now a burning fever consumed her, and for her, the nights seemed to be ''as long as years." She became bedridden one month before her death. On Christmas Day of 1718, after asking forgiveness of those who were present, for the bad examples she might have given during her lifetime, she requested and received Holy Viaticum. Suddenly her good Mother reappeared before her eyes, leaving behind a fragrance that pervaded the very poor chamber.

The Pères Gardistes prayed for her cure. "Two more years, Lord!" they implored. But on December 28th she insisted on receiving Extreme Unction, knowing full well that she would be joining the Holy Innocents on their feast day. She received the Last Sacraments at three in the afternoon. There was no death agony; she appeared very happy.
"We are your children," Father Royere said to her. "Will you bless us before leaving us?"

At first Benoite's humility inclined her to refuse, but then her simplicity won out. "It is up to our good Mother to bless you," she said. And at once she raised her hand from her bed, not wanting to refuse them this consolation, and she said to them, "I give it to you most willingly, good Fathers."

She said a calm farewell to everyone.

Around eight in the evening, after the prayers for the dying had been recited, she asked her goddaughter to recite the Litany of the Child Jesus. And so she passed away in joy. She was seventy-one years old when she died in the odor of sanctity, as stipulated by the inscription on her grave. Sister Benoite Rencurel was declared Venerable in 1871 and beatified in 1984. The church in Laus was raised to the rank of a minor basilica in 1893.

Among the great figures who had a special devotion to Our Lady of Laus, let us mention Saint Eugene de Mazenod (1782-1861), founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate; Saint Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868), founder of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and Servants; Dom Jean Baptiste Chautard (1858-1935), Abbot of Sept-Fons; and there are certainly many others who remain unknown to us.

At the request of the bishop of the diocese, Saint Eugene de Mazenod assumed responsibility for the Shrine from 1819 to 1840. During that period he transferred his novitiate and scholasticate to Laus, where it was attended by Father Bruno Guigues, who became the first Bishop of Ottawa, Canada.

As for Saint Peter Julian Eymard, he was scarcely eleven years old when by repeated insistence he obtained permission to make a sixty kilometer pilgrimage on foot while begging for his bread. He spent nine days at the holy shrine in preparation for his First Communion. Later he wrote, "That is where I first came to know and love Mary." He had a great devotion for his "Good Mother of Laus" all his life. In times of crushing fatigue, he loved to retire to that shrine.

Our Lady of Laus, Refuge of sinners, look down with kindness and compassion upon the physical and moral miseries of our age! Have mercy on thy children and deign to convert us all entirely to the love of thy Divine Son!

Adapted from Magnificat Vol. XL, No. 5 and Vol. XXXVI, No. 5.

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2 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:36 am


3 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:56 am


Dear Friend of Saint Joseph Abbey,

«The sin of the twentieth century is the loss of the sense of sin,» declared Pope Pius XII on October 26, 1946. A half-century later, the crisis in the sacrament of Penance, abandoned by so many Catholics, shows that the Pope's opinion is still quite true today. However, «to the eyes of faith no evil is graver than sin and nothing has worse consequences for sinners themselves, for the Church, and for the whole world» (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 1488). Our present day is not the first to endure a crisis in the sacrament of Penance. The Most Blessed Virgin Mary has often been the messenger of God to men and women to turn them from sin and bring them to love of their Creator. Over the last centuries, she has intervened on several occasions, particularly at La Salette, Lourdes, and Fatima. But before these, she deigned to appear to a poor girl from the Alps, Benoîte Rencurel.
On September 16, 1647, Benoîte Rencurel was born in the little free town of Saint-Etienne d'Avançon, in the southern Alps. Her parents were good Catholics, and lived modestly from the works of their hands. When Benoîte was born, they already had a daughter, Madeleine; a third daughter, Marie, would be born four years later. The father, Guillaume Rencurel, died when Benoîte, full of life and high spirits, was seven years old. For the widow and her three daughters, this death would lead to material destitution. There was no school in Saint-Etienne d'Avançon, so Benoîte never learned to read or write. Her only instruction came from Sunday Mass. She learned there that Mary is the most merciful Mother of God, which awakened in her a desire to see her. Benoîte, a contemplative soul, loved to pray for long periods of time.

«My name is Lady Mary»

One day in May 1664, the young girl, who was working as a shepherdess for farmers in the area, was tending sheep in a little valley, the slopes of which had holes from faults that resembled shallow grottos. Benoîte was reciting her rosary when she perceived a beautiful Lady on a rock, holding the hand of a child of singular beauty. «Beautiful Lady!» she said to her. «What are you doing up there? Would you like to have a snack with me? I have a little bit of good bread—we could dip it in the spring!» The Lady smiled at her simplicity, and did not say a word to her. «Beautiful Lady! Would you like to give us this Child, Who would make our hearts so glad?» The Lady smiled again without answering. After having stayed a while with Benoîte, she took her Child in her arms and disappeared in the cave in the side of the rock, where the shepherdess saw her enter and go out several times.

Over the course of four months, the Lady appeared every day, talking very familiarly with the young girl. To prepare her for her future mission, she instructed her, correcting her vivaciousness and her abruptness, her stubbornness and her attachment to things and animals. Benoîte related her visions to her employer, who at first did not believe her, but who, one morning, secretly followed her to a small valley, the Vallon des Fours. There, she did not see the Lady, but she heard the words that the Lady spoke to Benoîte. The apparition asked the shepherdess to warn her employer about the dangers her soul was facing—«Her conscience is in a poor state. She must repent!» Moved, the employer mended her ways, began to receive the sacraments again, and lived the remainder of her days in a very Christian manner. On August 29, Benoîte asked the visitor what her name was, and heard the response, «My name is Lady Mary.» But at the same time, the Virgin announced to her that the apparitions would cease for an indefinite time. Indeed, Benoîte spent a month without seeing the Lady. This absence, by depriving her of a considerable consolation, served to purify her soul.

Finally, one morning at the end of September, the shepherdess, who had stopped her sheep and goats on a river bank, perceived Lady Mary before her, blazing like a beautiful sun. She hastened to catch up with her. But the old wooden bridge that crossed the river was broken, so she crossed the water by climbing on the back of a big goat. When she had gotten close to the apparition, she asked, «My good Lady, why have you deprived me for so long of the honor of seeing you?» «From now on, when you want to see me, you will be able to in the chapel in Laus,» replied the Lady, pointing out to her the path to follow. The next day, Benoîte went to the village of Laus and arrived at the little chapel. She immediately entered and saw on the altar the Virgin Mary who congratulated her on having searched without losing her patience. Delighted to see Our Lady again, Benoîte was embarrassed to see the poverty and dirtiness of the place. She suggested cutting her apron in two, so as to put a cloth under the Lady's feet. The Lady answered that in a short time, nothing would be lacking—she would see linens, candles, and other ornaments there. She added that she wanted to be built there a church in honor of her and her most dear Son. Many sinners, men and women, would be converted there. During the winter of 1664-1665, Benoîte went up to Laus very often. Every day she saw the Virgin who urged her «to pray continuously for sinners.» By way of this, Our Lady gives us to understand that sinners are in a piteous state. God is offended by their sins, but He wants to show them His boundless mercy, which can only be accepted freely. The news of the apparitions spread among the villagers with the help of vigils during the winter nights. Starting on the Feast of Saint Joseph, March 19th, pilgrims came to Our Lady of Laus. Many obtained graces through her intercession; they came to go to confession and to resolve to change their lives.

The doctor who examines the wound

The Gospel is the revelation, in Jesus Christ, of God's mercy towards sinners. But, although «God created us without us, He did not want to save us without us» (Saint Augustine). Accepting Divine Mercy requires us to admit our sins. If we say, 'We are free of the guilt of sin,' we deceive ourselves; the truth is not to be found in us. But if we acknowledge our sins, He who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong (I John 1:8-9) (cf. CCC 1846-1847). This confession of sins is a result of grace, for God, just like a doctor who examines the wound before dressing it, casts a bright light on the sin. «To acknowledge one's sin, indeed— ... to recognize oneself as being a sinner, capable of sin and inclined to commit sin, is the essential first step in returning to God. For example, this is the experience of David, who having done what is evil in the eyes of the Lord and having been rebuked by the prophet Nathan, exclaims: For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You alone, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight» (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia, December 2, 1984, no. 13).

God gave man the freedom to love Him and serve Him. Sin, which is an abuse of this freedom, consists of every act, word, or desire that is contrary to the law of God. However, sins are not all of the same seriousness. There is a distinction between mortal (or grave) sin and venial sin. Venial sin cools the love of God in our hearts without depriving us of the life of grace. Mortal sin, as a serious infraction of the law of God (for example, blasphemy, idolatry, irreligion, heresy, schism, perjury, abortion, contraception, adultery, fornication), turns man away from his Creator, over Whom the sinner prefers a created thing. For a sin to be mortal, a grave matter is not enough—the act must also have been committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. «Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back» (CCC 1861). The apostle Saint John thus described the fate of those who die in a state of mortal sin: As for the cowards and the faithless, the depraved and murderers, the fornicators and sorcerers, the idol-worshipers and deceivers of every sort—their lot is the fiery pool of burning sulfur, the second death! (Apoc. 21:Cool. This truth becomes all the more striking considering that, for every human being, death is a certainty, and after death, each of us will be judged. The lives of all of us are to be revealed before the tribunal of Christ so that each one may receive his recompense, good or bad, according to his life in the body (2 Cor. 5:10). But, after death there will be no more time to convert. Therefore, it is now that one must do penance. «Woe to those who die in mortal sin!» (Saint Francis of Assisi).

A miraculous oil

In September 1665, an investigation into the apparitions in Laus was undertaken by the vicar-general of Embrun, Antoine Lambert. After having finished questioning the seer, he celebrated Mass. That morning, Catherine Vial was present. This woman was seriously ill with a nervous disease which caused her to bend her legs such that her heels touched the lower end of her back. Her parents had tried everything to cure her, but in vain. She was taken to Laus in order to make a novena to Our Lady. During the night following the end of the novena, she could stretch out her legs, and felt cured. In the morning, she had herself carried to the chapel just as the vicar-general was concluding the Mass. Everyone exclaimed, «A miracle!» When the Mass had ended, the cleric questioned the woman who had been miraculously cured, as well as the witnesses, then affirmed: «The finger of God is there.» Thus, on September 18, 1665, for Benoîte's eighteenth birthday, the apparitions and the pilgrimage were officially recognized by the diocesan authority and, in the fall of that year, construction was begun on a church large enough to accommodate pilgrims who were becoming more and more numerous.

Our Lady revealed herself in Laus as the Reconciler and the Refuge of sinners. She also gave signs in order to convince sinners of the need to convert. She then announced to Benoîte that oil from the lamp in the chapel (which burned before the Blessed Sacrament), would perform cures on the sick who applied it on themselves, if they turned to her intercession with faith. In fact, many cures were recorded in a short time: a child recovered the use of an eye; a person was cured of an ulcer in his hand. Even in our time, miracles happen for people who, confident in the intercession of Our Lady, use the Laus oil with devotion.

A plank of salvation

Benoîte took to heart the mission she had received from the Most Blessed Virgin—to prepare sinners to receive the sacrament of Penance. She often encouraged the two priests who were assigned to the sanctuary to receive the pilgrims with gentleness, patience, and charity, treating the greatest sinners with particular kindness so as to encourage them to repent. «Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of His Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin... It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as 'the second plank of salvation after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.' Only God forgives sins. Since He is the Son of God, Jesus says of Himself, The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins and exercises this divine power: Your sins are forgiven. Further, by virtue of His divine authority He gives this power to man to exercise in His name» (CCC 1446, 1441). In this sacrament, the priest, who takes the place of Christ, Judge and Doctor, must be informed of the state of the penitent. As a result, «it is necessary that the faithful, as well as being aware of the sins they have committed, of being sorry for them and resolved not to fall into them again, should also confess their sins. In this sense, the Council of Trent declared that it is necessary 'by divine decree to confess each and every mortal sin' » (John Paul II, Motu Proprio Misericordia Dei, April 7, 2002).

This obligation is not a weight imposed upon penitents in an arbitrary manner, but rather is a means of liberation to find peace of heart again. If, through sin, we have turned away from our Heavenly Father, the sacrament of Penance allows us to return to Him, to throw ourselves in His merciful arms. Confession is thus the occasion of a loving reunion between the child and his Father. «It is not the sinner who returns to the Father to beg His forgiveness, but God who runs after the sinner and makes him return to Him,» said Saint John Vianney, the Curé of Ars. «To receive the sacrament of penance, three things are required,» added the same saint: «Faith, which reveals to us God present in the priest; Hope, which makes us believe that God will give us the grace of forgiveness; and Charity, which brings us to love God, and which places in the heart regret at having offended Him.»

Benoîte also encouraged confessors to warn penitents to come to Holy Communion only after a good confession, prepared by an examination of conscience in the light of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, «anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution» (CCC 1457).

Benoîte's job was not easy. The Virgin asked her to admonish women and girls who were leading a scandalous life which had sometimes gone to the point of infanticide, unjust or perverse men, and priests and religious who were unfaithful to their sacred vows. But the seer performed her duties well. She encouraged penitents, warned those who dared not confess their sins, and guided them to an appropriate confessor. «When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner» (CCC 1465). Benoîte especially sacrificed for sinners and prayed while they made their confessions. To atone for their sins and to obtain graces for them, she gave herself over to severe penances, to the point of jeopardizing her health.

A way to new life

However, not everyone looked favorably upon the events at Laus. Some people went so far as to attribute the apparitions to the Devil. Therefore, a new diocesan investigation became necessary. This investigation convinced the new vicar-general, Jean Javelly, of the truth of the apparitions. To those who complained that everyone was going to Laus, he replied, «Benoîte isn't the one who is causing the loss of devotion (that is, religious practice) in our Church, it's our sins which are the cause of it. With the little zeal and care that we have to maintain it, devotion has gone to the far reaches of the diocese. Rather than having it withdrawn, or doing anything to harm this good and holy woman whose virtue I am acquainted with, we must take care that devotion does not leave (the diocese of Embrun), and work together with her to keep it there, for fear of losing it altogether.» In her prayer as in her apostolate, Benoîte was constantly advised by Our Lady: «Take heart, my daughter! Have patience... Do your duties gladly... Bear no hatred towards the enemies of Laus.» Her guardian Angel instructed her as well: «When a person is joyful, everything he does is pleasing to God. When a person becomes angry, he does nothing that pleases Him.»

Between 1669 and 1679, Benoîte was favored with five apparitions of Christ Who revealed Himself to her in a state of suffering. One Friday in July 1673, the bloodstained Savior said to her: «My child, I am making myself appear in this state so that you might participate in the sufferings of My Passion.» Indeed, the Lord Jesus wished to unite to His redeeming sacrifice those very people who are its first beneficiaries (cf. CCC 618). Saint Peter warns us: Christ suffered for you in just this way and left you an example, to have you follow in His footsteps (I Peter 2:21). It was our sins that made Our Lord submit to the agony of the Cross. «Those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for He is in them) and hold Him up to contempt (Heb. 6:6)» (CCC 598). But by His death, Christ frees us from sin, and by His Resurrection, He gives us a way to new life. The sacrament of Penance reconciles the sinner with God and gives him part in the Risen Life of Christ.

«She is the reason I am losing so many souls!»

In 1684, the Laus pilgrimage was growing rapidly. Troops stationed in Gap went to Laus en masse. The soldiers, overcome by grace, confessed, changed their lives and became messengers of Laus throughout France and even abroad. However, this time of success was followed by a period of trials and obscurity. Benoîte suffered strong temptations against trust in God and chastity. The demon even attacked her physically but, taking refuge in prayer, she did not give in. One day the infernal spirit revealed the motive behind his attacks: «She is the reason I am losing so many souls,» he exclaimed. At the end of July 1692, Benoîte and the priests of Laus were forced to take refuge in Marseilles to flee the invasion of the Duke of Savoy's troops who were laying waste to the region of Gap. The civil peace was finally restored, but Benoîte continued to endure purifying trials. In fact, Father Javelly's successor, an opponent of the Laus pilgrimage, named two new persons to be in charge of the sanctuary. These priests had little zeal for the care of souls and had published from the pulpit that Laus was just a hoax. In 1700, the shepherdess was forbidden from speaking to pilgrims, and threats hung over her reputation. However, Benoîte was not without consolations—she often received visits from the Blessed Virgin and from her guardian Angel, who both comforted her. Finally, in 1711, the pilgrimage was entrusted to a new community, that of the «Pères Gardistes.» These priests showed themselves to be men of prayer who instilled in the pilgrims to Laus devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and recourse to Mary, Refuge of sinners.

After twenty years of ordeals, Benoîte could once more carry out her mission in peace. A throng of pilgrims came to her. But so many mortifications and hardships had gotten the better of her health. Bedridden for over a month, she received Holy Viaticum on Christmas Day 1718. Three days later, she confessed and received Extreme Unction, with great consolation. Around 8 o'clock that night, Benoîte bid farewell to those surrounding her, then, having kissed a crucifix, her eyes raised to Heaven, she died in peace and went to join her Spouse Jesus and Her Most Holy Mother Mary in Heaven. The cause of beatification for the Servant of God Benoîte Rencurel, introduced in 1871, was recently taken up again by the diocese of Gap. After being administered successively by the Pères Gardistes, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Missionaries of Our Lady of Laus, the sanctuary is today entrusted to the diocesan clergy, with help from a community of the Brothers of Saint John. The sanctuary of Laus is a spiritual center that, faithful to its mission, welcomes pilgrims who have come to place themselves under Mary's maternal protection and receive the sacrament of forgiveness.

Let us ask the Mother of Mercy to renew among Christians respect for and the desire to go to this sacrament, which is a privileged means, instituted by the Savior Himself, to receive God's grace and peace of soul.

Dom Antoine Marie osb.

To publish the letter of Saint Joseph Abbey in a magazine, a newspaper, etc., or to reproduce it on the internet or on a home page, permission must be requested

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4 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:12 pm



Vue de la Chapelle de l'apparition

Vue du Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Laus

Lord, you pour out blessings and lovingkindness on me before I can even ask. And you offer more than I could even conceive of asking. -King David, Psalm 21

5 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:28 pm



6 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:37 pm


JUst love the song so much! ( have no idea what event this was)

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7 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:42 pm


If any one can translate this please do. ( the words on the screen ) thanks.

8 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:04 pm


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A series of articles on
Roman Catholic

The apparitions of Our Lady of Laus between 1664 and 1718 in Saint-Étienne-le-Laus, France by Benoite Rencurel, a young shepherdess are the first Marian apparitions to be approved in the 21st century by the Catholic Church. [1] The apparitions were recognized by the diocese of the Roman Catholic Church on September 18, 1665. They were approved by the Vatican on May 5, 2008. Currently, the site where the apparitions took place receives more than 120,000 pilgrims a year.
The municipality of Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Quebec, Canada, was named after these apparitions

9 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:13 pm


Sanctuary in the Alps

Michael Matt

EDITOR, The Remnant

Nestled in a mountain pass, high in the Alps of southern France, there is a most amazing place that, like the fictitious Shangri-La, is hidden away from the rest of the world and is truly unlike anything one's ever seen. The place is a picturesque mountain hamlet that is as quaint as it is supremely restful, and as serene as it is breathtakingly beautiful. A mere handful of tiny dwellings and a perfectly charming little inn surround a basilica on a hill that overlooks a magnificent panoramic view of an immense valley that lies peacefully between the snowcapped peaks of the Alps. There is little to remind one of the technological advances of modern science about this place, and, as a matter of fact, rather than the usual din of planes, trains and motor cars to which modern man has become so accustomed, one hears only the gentle winds intermixed with the peaceful tinkle of sheep's bells, as small herds of sheep make regular use of the only thoroughfare through the hamlet. The sound of the basilica's bells clanging out their ancient reminders at regular intervals also echoes across the valley and fades into the vast expanse of the mountainous green depths; but, apart from all this, peace reigns in this strangely captivating haven of silence.

But why, one might ask, is there such a beautiful basilica located so high in the mountains to serve such a sparsely populated region? Something wonderful must have taken place here! Indeed, something wonderful did!

This place has an unreal atmosphere about it that is enhanced by an almost holy silence which whispers up and down the grassy slopes and jagged meadows of the valley that is called Vallon des Fours. Time seems to stand still there, and the traveler can close his eyes, breathe in the clear mountain air and feel as though at any moment he will be able to see into the past and into another world that exists somewhere beneath the mists of another age. Perhaps the traveler may stop and ask what this place is, and why it is that something seems to take hold of the soul there and begs one never to return again to the outside world. The answer he receives is as unusual as the place itself, for the story of this strange spot is an extraordinary one which began, in fact, once upon a time over three centuries ago in the year 1664, when a shepherd girl named Benoite walked the hamlet that is now, as it was then, simply called Laus.

It was in May of the year 1664 that the little hamlet of Laus received a most wondrous gift, a visit from a queen of unfathomable greatness, who would make of Laus a sanctuary in the Alps that would withstand the test of time and last until the very end of the world. Notre Dame Du Laus (Our Lady of Laus) appeared to Benoite Rencurel over three centuries ago and left a powerful message of hope for mankind that has been, like the hamlet of Laus itself, all but forgotten by the rest of the weary world, which balances precariously on the edge of the bedlam of the modern times that form such a striking contrast to the serenity of the place called Laus.

Those readers who participated in this year's Remnant Pilgrimage and religious Tour of France, had the rare opportunity to visit the shrine of Notre Dame Du Laus, which was, I believe, an experience that will never be forgotten. As a result of the hard work and dedication of our tradition-minded Catholic allies in France, The Remnant Pilgrimages in years past have been able to visit some of the most famous apparition shrines in the world. Wonderful places, such as La Salette, Lourdes, and Paray le Monial—places that were more spiritually invigorating and rewarding than mere words could possibly describe. And, yet, I do not exaggerate when I say that the little shrine of Notre Dame Du Laus had a greater impact on the lives of those of us who visited it than did any of the other beautiful shrines we visited. It truly is like no other place.

Most of us, however, had never before even heard of the message or apparitions of Notre Dame Du Laus. Even most Catholics in France have not heard of Notre Dame Du Laus. Why? Because our Lady's message to Benoite, aside from being filled with great hope, also had another aspect to it—an aspect that is anything but popular to the Church in the modern world. The message placed a tremendous amount of emphasis on the dangers of sin, the importance of repentance, the absolute "essential to salvation" nature of the Sacrament of Penance, and the necessity of receiving that Sacrament frequently. During the lifetime of Benoite, and for centuries after her death, Laus was a place of great spiritual healing through the Sacrament of Penance. An incredible number of Catholics from every class (peasantry, gentry, and nobility) over the centuries since 1647 found their way back onto the road that leads to salvation, as a direct consequence of the message of Notre Dame Du Laus and the sanctity of the seer Benoite, who proclaimed that message to the world.

The sanctuary at Laus is called the "Refuge of Sinners" and it is, perhaps, due to its emphasis on the evil of sin that the message of Our Lady to Benoite has been all but "swept under the carpet" of Modernism in this our new age of "enlightened," "grown-up" Catholicism.

So, what follows is the story of the apparitions of Notre Dame Du Laus and the life of the seer, Benoite. As you read it, remember the place as we have described it above and try to imagine the strange, unearthly atmosphere that surrounds the hamlet, the message and the story. And then remember this: along with the account of the apparitions of Notre Dame Du Laus, there is also a prediction which states that the extraordinary events and message of Laus would be forgotten and ignored by the world for a very long time.

However, word of Laus would re-surface, the prediction states, at a point in time when the End Times were close at hand.

But have no fear! As is the case with everything about Notre Dame Du Laus, there is also great hope close at hand; Our Lady also promised that Laus would always be a haven of safety and a refuge for sinners against any evil (spiritual or physical) that would be wrought against the world; even in the End Times, Laus, she promised, would be spared. Laus survived unscathed the hideous terrors and destruction of the ignominious French Revolution, just as it did the two world wars of our own century. For those who, in the End, can somehow journey to her special sanctuary high in the Alps, of southern France, there is Our Lady's promised deliverance from the powers of Hell. Let us hope that all those the world over who develop a devotion to Notre Dame Du Laus can somehow also reap the benefits of that special promise filled with hope that was given to the world three centuries ago through a shepherdess named Benoite by our merciful Mother—Our Lady of Laus.

Rencurel was born on 16 September 1647 to a peasant family near the village of Laus in the Diocese of Grenoble, France. Her father died when she was seven years old, and this resulted in great poverty and misery in the home of the widow. Madame Rencurel did not marry again, but devoted herself entirely to the care of her three daughters. In order to ensure that Benoite would have at least sufficient food to eat, she sent her to work as a shepherdess at the age of 12.

While looking after her sheep, Benoite loved to say her Rosary. By the time that she reached the age of 13, she took the Gospel very seriously, and when her village was in great misery due to poor harvests, she would deprive herself of food and give her bread to younger children who were starving.

On one occasion, two carters, notorious for their evil lives, attempted to take advantage of Benoite's youth and innocence. Rather than even allow them to draw near her, she risked her life by fleeing into a dangerous marsh. It remained firm beneath her feet, but when the carters attempted to follow her, they began to sink immediately and had to struggle back to dry land. Our Lady protects those whom she has selected for a great work.

In 1664, at the age of 17, Benoite was looking after her sheep in the Vallon (valley) des Fours near the village of St. Etienne (St. Stephen) when an unknown lady appeared to her. It seems that Our Lady had wished to make herself known to the shepherdess without revealing her true identity all at once. She would behave in precisely the same way to St. Bernadette at Lourdes. Benoite felt very attracted to the lady. And she returned each day to the Vallon des Fours. Our Lady wished to deepen the spiritual life of Benoite, and in order to teach her to be totally generous she asked the girl for her goat. Benoite was exceptionally attached to the animal, which she looked after almost as a pet. Despite the affection which she felt for the lady, Benoite refused to give it to her. She had not yet reached the stage of spiritual development where she was willing to renounce everything.

The unknown lady revealed her name to Benoite during the final apparition in the Vallon des Fours: "I am the Lady Mary," she told the shepherdess.

Benoite now had a great love for Our Lady and spoke to her with great sincerity. Our Lady revealed herself to the shepherdess in all her glory, resplendent in light, but without frightening her. During this apparition Benoite was scarcely able to see the face of the Blessed Virgin—so brightly was it shining.

Our Lady said to Benoite: "If you wish to see me again, go to Laus. You will find there a chapel from which a beautiful perfume comes."

The day following this apparition Benoite went to Laus and soon came upon the scent of an exquisite perfume coming from the neglected Chapel of the Bon Rencontre ("Happy Meeting"). She crept inside, and on its dusty altar she saw her beloved Lady Mary once more. She immediately offered her apron to protect the feet of the Blessed Virgin from the dust.

Our Lady now had complete confidence in Benoite and began to reveal the mission which she was to entrust to the shepherdess.

"I have asked my Son to give me Laus, and He has agreed," explained the Virgin. She told Benoite that it was her dearest wish that men should be brought to understand the love which God offered them. Benoite came to the chapel frequently during that winter (1644-1645). Our Lady continued to educate her and asked her to pray for those who lived badly, so that they would turn in repentance to her Son.

By this time, news of the apparitions had spread throughout the region, and people everywhere spoke of the visions of Benoite. In the Spring of 1665, many pilgrims came to Laus, and writings of the period testify to the fact that more than fifty sick and infirm people were cured within a few months.

It was soon discovered that cures took place frequently when pilgrims who prayed with true fervor were anointed with oil from the sanctuary lamp in the chapel. (That oil is still available in the Basilica at Laus for pilgrims who request it.)

Our Lady had asked Benoite to pray for sinners, but now she went even further and asked her to speak to them individually and to tell them to open themselves to God's forgiveness. Our Lady would beg the pilgrims to Laus to confess themselves, and thanks to her pleading many of them, both men and women, underwent a change, of heart and reconciled themselves with God in the Sacrament of Penance. Our Lady's plan had been realized, and now she said to Benoite: "I wish to have a church built here where many will be converted."

A beautiful church was built to accommodate the vast throngs of pilgrims, and it incorporated the entire Chapelle de Bonne Rencontre. The new church was called Notre Dame du Laus.

Once, during a vision, two saints were sent by Our Lady to Benoite to offer her a choice between two crowns. The first crown was of roses, the symbol of an easy and pleasant life of peace and happiness. The second crown was of thorns. It signified the renouncement of self and a lifetime of difficulties and suffering which would be encountered whenever she attempted to serve God and her neighbors. Benoite had no hesitation in choosing the second path, upon which she had already set foot, and accepted the crown of thorns offered to her by St. Catherine of Sienna.

On one occasion, while praying before a life-size crucifix, the Chris d'Avancon, the love that Benoite felt for her crucified Savior grew so profound that she longed ardently to be united with Him in the sufferings that He endured for the salvation of sinners. From that day onward, for nine years, from Thursday evening until Saturday morning, she was overcome by a painful ecstasy, in which she experienced in her own body the Passion of Our Lord.

When Benoite was 46 years old, the two priests with whom she had been working from the first years of the pilgrimage died. Their successors were two Jansenists, who inflicted a 19-year period of great suffering upon Benoite. They refused to believe that Our Lady had trusted her with a mission, and they forbade her to speak to the pilgrims, denied her Holy Communion, criticized her in public, and threatened to have her locked up.

Together with the exterior sufferings, she experienced great spiritual suffering, undergoing the most acute interior anguish. In order to make this suffering more bearable, angels were sent to give her Holy Communion.

Strengthened by the Bread of Heaven in which Our Lord gives Himself to us as food, Benoite remained faithful to her mission during this long and painful period of suffering.

On the evening of 15 August 1698, Benoite, who had identified herself so closely and so ardently with the Passion of Our Lord, was given a sublime experience of the happiness of Heaven. She saw Our Lady and the Saints participating fully in the Life and in the Joy of God. This vision captivated her both in body and in soul, and she lost all contact with the world that surrounded her. She was in ecstasy. This knowledge of Heaven, communicated directly to her intelligence, remained permanently in her mind, and imbued her with joy and certitude in the Divine Mercy despite all sufferings.

Worn out by her constant struggle against the spirit of evil, and by making herself available the pilgrims, Benoite reached the stage where she was physically unable to endure the strains of dealing with the endless crowds who wished to see her, talk to her, and touch her. She found it necessary from then on to hear Mass in a first floor oratory, away from the crowds.

Benoite died on 28 December 1718, in the 72nd year of her life. She departed form this earth in complete lucidity, her face radiant with joy. At 8 o'clock in the evening, she was reunited with the "Fair Lady" who, fifty-four years earlier, had first summoned her in the Vallon des Fours. She was buried in the basilica which had been built around the Chapel of the Bon Rencontre in order accommodate the vast crowds of pilgrims.

Although one of the lesser-known shrines of France, Laus is imbued with a special atmosphere not found in the commercialized nature of some of the better-known shrines. Laus was given by Our Lord to His Blessed Mother, and this can be sensed by all who come there. There is no souvenir shop, apart from a very modest one attached to the shrine, and the only commercial enterprise in the village is a small restaurant-bar belonging to a devout Catholic lady. It is dominated by a statue of Our Lady of Victories and was the venue for an impromptu concert of Latin hymns and popular songs sung by the 1995 Remnant pilgrims. All who come to Laus agree upon one thing—they found peace at Laus and they wish to return to that wonderful place again one day.


It is a matter of no small significance that the altar upon which Our Lady appeared to Benoite has been preserved unchanged, and that the Tridentine Mass, the only Mass known to Benoite, returned to that altar for the first time in years when it was celebrated for The Remnant pilgrims on June 7, 1995.

For, although the priests who care for the shrine at Laus today do not have permission to say the Tridentine Mass, they are sincerely orthodox and have obvious dedication and devotion to traditional Catholicism. One is left with the realization that somehow the Revolution in the Church never quite made it up into the mountains as high as Laus. Laus is being protected once again, even in our own age. There is a pre-Revolution peace that manifests itself everywhere at Laus, and it is plain to see that Catholicity reigns supreme high in the hills of Mary's special Refuge of Sinners.

Perhaps a concerted effort could be made by Catholics everywhere to make known to as many people as possible word of the Basilica of Laus, which Pope Leo XIII elevated to a minor basilica on March 18, 1893, or word of the holy seer Benoite Rencurel, whom the saintly Pope Pius IX proclaimed "Venerable Servant of God" on October 16, 1872, or word of the tremendous message of contrition, penance and hope that was revealed at the little mountaintop hamlet of Laus by the Queen of Heaven and Earth, our Blessed Mother, Mary-Notre Dame Du Laus.

Our Lady of Laus, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee!

Supplemented by French texts translated into English by Michael Davies

[This article is taken from the September 15th, 1995 Issue of THE REMNANT.]
[It is released on the Internet with the permission of THE REMNANT.]
[A subscription to THE REMNANT costs $16/year.]
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10 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:43 pm


FRANCE-APPARITIONS May-6-2008 (470 words) xxxi

Church recognizes 17th-century Marian apparitions in France

By Catholic News Service

LAUS, France (CNS) -- The Catholic Church has officially recognized 17th-century Marian apparitions to a 17-year-old peasant girl in a southern Alpine village in France.

"Three centuries have passed since Benoite Rencurel testified ... about what Christ and Mary, his mother, had revealed concerning God's love for men, as well as his infinite mercy and his appeal for conversion," Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, France, said during a May 4 Mass at the Marian basilica in the town of Laus.

"Here, as in Lourdes, as in La Salette, as in Fatima, we see Mary pursuing her mission to reveal her son and invite us to do all he tells us," he told more than 6,000 people at the Mass.

A decree recognizing the "supernatural origin of the apparitions and of facts lived and recounted by the young shepherdess" between 1664 and 1718 was read at the Mass by Bishop Jean-Michel di Falco Leandri of Gap, France.

After his appointment to Gap in late 2003, Bishop di Falco Leandri set up a panel of seven historians, theologians and psychologists to study the apparitions. In 2006 the panel's findings were sent to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which raised no objection to the recognition of the visions.

The apparitions are the first approved by the French church since apparitions to St. Bernardette Soubirous at Lourdes were officially recognized in 1862.

In his homily, Archbishop Pontier said Rencurel had first seen Mary after being guided by a strange scent near her home in Saint-Etienne d'Avancon in May 1664 and later experienced a vision of Christ bleeding on the village cross.

He added that the shepherdess had been permitted to "discern the drama of sin which injures man and disfigures humanity," as well as the mercy of God that accompanied sin.

"The greatness of Benoite lies not in her intellectual capacities, her diplomas or her fortune, or the style of her social circle, but the fact that she agreed to be chosen by the Lord to reveal the tenderness of God through Mary," the archbishop said.

"She invites everyone in a very personal way to conversion, which means to bring order and truth back into their lives, giving first place to God's love, and to take the path of humility and live truly in baptism," he said.

After four months of daily apparitions in 1664, Rencurel said Mary had asked her to build a church and house for priests. She later claimed similar visions while ministering to pilgrims and penitents as a lay Dominican tertiary in her home village. Numerous cures were later claimed by sick visitors who were treated with a special oil.

Bishop di Falco Leandri also relaunched a canonization process for Rencurel in 2003.

11 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Tue Oct 06, 2009 4:09 pm


Found this old post in Spiritdaily.com

By Michael H. Brown

The apparition approved Sunday by the Church in dramatic style in France opens a veritable treasure trove of mysticism.

Involving a young woman named Benoîte Rencurel in the diocese of Gap, the apparitions, visions, and other manifestations at Notre Dame du Laus lasted her lifetime and now bring to light a major new mystic who -- in addition to experiencing what are now approved apparitions -- displayed supernatural abilities and such piety that she was named venerable more than a century ago and may now be headed for full canonization.

As in many instances, the visionary's phenomena were inextricably attached to the apparitions themselves, blurring the line between mystic and seer.

That phenomena included stigmata (the wounds of Christ), uncanny knowledge of the future, the ability to read souls, battles with the devil, and angelic interventions, especially of the Archangel Michael.

Perhaps most poignant in the remarkable account of this apparition -- which spanned from 1664 until 1718 and will become known as "Laus" (pronounced lou, after the valley in which the visions occurred) -- are accounts describing the huge and perhaps unprecedented manifestations of delicious heavenly aromas known to mystical theologians as the "odor of sanctity."

The aroma, often recounted as a cross between lilies and roses -- but yet more delightful -- lasted for weeks at a time and covered large outdoor areas.

Noted one official, a judge named François Grimaud: "During the Easter Season of 1666, I smelled a very sweet fragrance for around seven minutes; I had never smelled anything like it in my life, and it gave me such deep satisfaction that I was enraptured." The odor continued beyond the seer's death and is still in evidence. According to one account, it was so powerful in the spring of 1690 that the Laus church was pervaded with the fragrance and "all the pilgrims attested to it."

To this day, inexplicable such aromas are said to transcend even the delightful natural scents of flowers and other flora that make this spot seem as if it was pre-ordained to be a major spiritual refuge.

"Heaven had made of it a place of exquisite beauty, lying in one of the most lovely valleys of the district, the snow-crowned mountains around being covered with vast forests and adorned with choicest flowers, together with quantities of fragrant hyssop," notes Heaven's Bright Queen, by William J. Walsh, a definitive set of volumes on historic apparitions of the Blessed Virgin.

Walsh -- known too for his studies of Fatima -- wrote in 1904 of how the Blessed Mother has left "what in all the country round has ever since been known as les parfums du Laus -- for which no natural explanation can be found."

Phenomenally, the seer was born on September 29, 1647 -- the feast day of the Archangel Michael -- amid tremendous gyrations in the Church and society at large.

Just years before, a strange light was seen near the Vatican of a flaming dragon at a time when Luther's revolution was rocking the Church, witch hunts were plaguing Europe, and ecclesiastics were battling scientists for predominance in forming human thought.

"The girl's name, Benoîte, was in itself a predestination, being the old form of bénite, or blessed," wrote Walsh.

"Once, when she was only five years old, a mysterious and beautiful Lady drew her aside as she was at play with other children, and sprinkled her with water; whilst later on, the same Lady appeared to her and her younger sister when they had missed their way on the mountain, and set the frightened children in the right path."

One day in the spring of 1664, said Walsh, Benoîte was wending her way toward a grotto hollowed out of rock when she saw a strange light and a beautiful Lady smiling at her.

It wasn't until the following August that the apparition -- which continued almost daily -- spoke to the 17-year-old shepherd woman.

Asked if she was the Madonna, the apparition had responded that "yes, I am Mary, the Mother of Jesus. My Son wishes to be specially honored in this valley."

A nearby spot was then indicated -- again, on September 29 -- by a second dazzling light and the odor of sanctity.

Angels were said to be "constant companions" to the woman, whose visions lasted for 54 years -- more even than what has transpired thus far at the famous site of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina, where, as at Fatima, the seers were poor peasants watching livestock.

And as elsewhere, Laus was the center of great ecclesiastic debate, the apparitions initially accepted by two bishops before a third attempted to dismiss them. The focus of the messages was the importance of Confession, with the Blessed Mother urging constant prayer for sinners. In another irony, pilgrimages to Laus began during 1665 on the Feast of St. Joseph. Benoîte's room is still preserved, along with a portrait of her.

"Strange as it may seem," noted Walsh, "her most bitter enemies were priests. Some of these went so far as to cast her in prison; but, after fourteen days spent in fervent prayer and without tasting food, Benoîte was released, her persecutors then declaring their doubts unfounded."

One reason they may have released her: her cell filled with the odor of a heavenly perfume.

And so there is this special charism attached to what promises to be a significant site of pilgrimage, declared as officially sanctioned by Monsignor Jean-Michel di Falco Leandri, who at a Mass at Laus Sunday said he recognized the "supernatural origin" of the apparitions -- extending tacit local approvals, which had included construction of a church, to international recognition.

The bishop, in an interview on France-Info radio, said the decision meant the Church "has committed itself in an official way to say to pilgrims 'you can come here in total confidence.'" Radio Vatican's web site said some 30 cardinals and bishops from around the world attended the Mass in celebration of the recognition.

12 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Wed Oct 07, 2009 5:57 pm


Cover Feature

The Laus Shrine

An exclusive interview with Bishop di Falco Léandri who has recently secured the Church’s recognition of the supernatural nature of the revelations given to a French girl over 300 years ago

by Renzo Allegri

The Shrine of Our Lady of Laus draws over 120,000 pilgrims every year
AT A SOLEMN ceremony celebrated on Sunday, May 4, 2008, in the Basilica of Notre Dame in Laus, the Bishop of Gap and Embrun, Monsignor Jean-Michel di Falco Léandri, announced the official approval of the Church of the Marian apparitions given to a young shepherdess, Benoîte (Benedicta) Rencurel, an event that took place in Laus, close to Avançon, in the Hautes-Alpes south of France, between 1664 and 1718.

Some 6,000 faithful and more than 20 bishops and cardinals attended the Mass at the shrine, which draws over 120,000 pilgrims each year, including the Apostolic Nuncio to France, Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli.

“I recognize the supernatural origin of the apparitions, and the facts experienced and recounted by Benoîte Rencurel. I encourage the faithful to come and pray and seek spiritual renewal at this shrine,”Bishop di Falco Léandrisaid.

The Bishop emphasised the historic nature of the announcement (the first Marian apparitions to be approved by the Church in France since the 19th century), and his words were reported by all the major newspapers and television channels in France. With this approval, the cause for the beatification of Benoîte has been speeded up.

Unique setting

The Shrine of Our Lady of Laus is situated at 900 meters above sea level amid breathtaking mountain scenery. The shrine, though still relatively unknown, has a growing body of devotees, especially among the young.

French philosopher and theologian Jean Guitton, one of the greatest representatives of modern Catholic thinking, wrote, “The Shrine of Laus is one of the most hidden and also most powerful treasures in the history of Europe”.

The apparitions began in May, 1664, when Benoîte Rencurel, an unschooled 16-year-old-shepherdess saw “a dazzling lady” standing on a rock, holding a no less beautiful child in her arms.

Benoîte had learned suffering early in life as she was born into extreme poverty, which was made worse when her father died when she was only seven. Creditors were unrelenting to Benoîte’s widowed mother, and so her children had to labour to maintain the family. Benoîte was not only a help, but a protection for her mother, who had faithfully taught her children all the traditional Catholic prayers, including the Rosary, Benoîte’s favourite devotion.

By the time Benoîte was twelve, the family was in even worse straits, so she took employment tending sheep for two masters at the same time. It was therefore in the bosom of deprivation, sacrifice and prayer that the future saint was preparing for her predestined mission.

On that day in May Benoîte had led her flock to pasture at the Vallon des Fours (Valley of Kilns), when she noticed a beautiful Lady with a child by the hand. Since they were near the limekilns, she asked the Lady if she wished to buy lime. After a while, without answering the girl’s question, the Lady disappeared, but she reappeared on successive occasions for two months, always without speaking.

After some time, the Lady told Benoîte to walk up to a plateau called “le Laus”, which is the Latin word for ‘praise’, and said to her, “My daughter, walk up to the Laus. There you will find a chapel where you shall smell a nice perfume”. The following day Benoîte climbed up the mountain crest towards the Laus and, led by the perfume, was able to find her way to the chapel. The building was dedicated to Notre Dame de Bon Rencontre (Our Lady of Happy Meeting), and was in a dilapidated condition.

The girl opened the door, and found Our Lady waiting there on a dust-covered altar. The heavenly figure said to her, “It is my desire that a new chapel be built here in honour of my beloved son. It will become a place of conversion for numerous sinners, and I shall appear here very often”.

The current Shrine of Our Lady of Laus rises where that chapel used to stand.

A mysterious perfume

For 54 years, Benoîte had apparitions of Mary, of angels, and of Christ crucified. At first they occurred on a daily basis, then less often. In 1672 Benoîte moved to Laus in a small dwelling close to the shrine that can still be visited today. The seer spent hours and hours within those walls in deep prayer and meditation, and there she received instruction from the Virgin Mary. Benoîte died in 1718, and was buried in front of the main altar of the shrine.

The supernatural, however, is still very much at home in Laus. That mysterious perfume, for example, that guided Benoîte to the original chapel, still encompasses the area. It is a delightful fragrance which can sometimes be perceived around or within the shrine, but only to a few. This inexplicable phenomenon, which has so far baffled science, can sometimes even be perceived by sceptics, and has given rise to numerous scientific examinations.

Our interview

Bishop di Falco Léandri has great devotion to the Shrine of Laus, and claims he has received a great spiritual grace from the shrine.

A learned, dynamic bishop, di Falco Léandri is a well-known figure in France. He has a degree in Philosophy, and has directed the Higher Pedagogical Institute at the Catholic Institute of Paris. He is the president of the European Episcopal Committee for the Media(CEEM),and a consultant for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (PCCS) at the Vatican.

After his instalment as bishop of Gap in 2003, di Falco Léandri immediately set to work to obtain the possibility of officially recognising the supernatural nature of the apparitions of the Virgin at Laus. He commissioned a panel of experts, which included René Humetz, a renowned French judge, to collect all the documents relating to the apparitions, and then forwarded them to the Vatican. The documents were examined in detail, after which the Vatican allowed him to declare the apparitions genuine and authentic.

We interviewed Bishop di Falco Léandri, who was only too happy to share his enthusiasm for the Laus shrine with the readers of the Messenger of Saint Anthony.

Bishop di Falco Léandri, what treasures does the Laus shrine contain for the modern visitor?

At the heart of the message given to the Venerable Benoîte Rencurel is a conversion of soul which aims to bring full reconciliation with oneself, with others, and with God. There is no clear cut distinction between these three forms of reconciliation; they are interdependent, that is, no one of them can exist without the other two. Love of oneself divorced from love of others becomes selfish and narcissistic. On the opposite end, however, love of others divorced from love of oneself tends to be suicidal, while those who believe they love God without loving others are simply lying to themselves: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen,” says Saint John in chapter 4 of his first letter.

The answer Christ gave when He was asked which was the greatest commandment of all was that we should love our neighbour as ourselves, and God above all. Many people are always preaching ‘love thy neighbour’ and ‘love God’, but almost never ‘love thyself’! Now, the measure of love which God gives us is the same measure of love we have for ourselves. To bring about self-reconciliation it is necessary to see ourselves as God sees us, and to accept ourselves as we are. This involves recognising the gifts he has given us, and also those rather unpleasant aspects of our personality. When we have done this, we are ready to accept others for what they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses.

What are the most important initiatives promoted by the Shrine?

Laus is a centre of spirituality that desires, above all, to place itself at the service of reconciliation in the broadest sense possible. Our pastoral initiatives are aimed at bringing people to a reconciliation with oneself, that is, with one’s own body, with one’s own temperament, with one’s own psyche, with one’s own family members, and finally with God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. “Let yourself be reconciled!” this is the message of Laus. “Let God approach you, for this God is capable of only one thing, and that is to love”.

The Laus Shrine is located in an area of greater natural beauty than most other Marian shrines. Do you think it will become one of Europe’s great spiritual centres, where spirit and nature embrace each other?

Every Catholic shrine has it own specific nature and specialisation, so the Laus shrine has no wish to compete with either Fatima or Lourdes, or with any other shrine. The specific nature of this shrine is that it contains the ideal conditions for a reconciliation between man and nature. It was in these mountains that Dom Chautard, the renowned monk who wrote The Soul of the Apostolate (a book which was found on Pope John Paul I’s bedside table after his death), made the experience of God’s invisible but real presence in His creation. A presence of power, immensity, tenderness and goodness beyond measure. How will we use this creation that God has given us? The Laus shrine brings home to us our responsibility as co-creators.

The revelations Benoîte received lasted for 54 years. At first they were silent apparitions, but they later became simple and brief dialogues. Do they not induce us to privilege contemplation over activity, to simply listen to His voice in the silence of our souls?

What I find particularly interesting about Benoîte Rencurel is that the apparitions urged her to commit herself in ever greater measure in her immediate social circle. She did not dream her life, she lived it to the full. The Virgin Mary was her real educator in this sense. She encouraged her, thanked her, and even rebuked her at times. Through her guidance, contemplation was constantly being transformed into action.

Most of the times the Virgin Mary gave her information about the inner psychological state of the pilgrim who approached her. She urged Benoîte to communicate certain things to the pilgrim that would not increase his or her burden, but lead them to conversion. She both revealed the dangers they were running into, and how to avoid them. The Virgin Mary never showed Benoîte a future that was unalterable. Her revelations were warnings, and gave impulses to change things for the better.

When you became Bishop of Gap you immediately set about advancing her cause. Do you think she will eventually be beatified?

The process was begun in the 19th century, and she was eventually proclaimed Venerable by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1872. The next phase, the one leading to beatification, was suspended in 1913.

Unfortunately, human sciences were not as evolved in those days as they are now. The stringent criteria which distinguish supernatural facts from historic facts were not yet developed. Fortunately, Father de Labriolle was able to set the cause in motion again, and Pope John Paul II authorised the cause to continue again in 1981.

Benoîte’s fame, rather than diminishing, is actually growing as time goes on. Laus remains a place of conversions, healings are no rare occurrences here, and the peculiar phenomenon of this shrine, that is the inexplicable perfumes, are continuing. When I became bishop of Gap I simply continued what my predecessors had initiated.

As explained in my book on Benoîte Rencurel, soon after my instalment as bishop I called a number of specialists, and asked them to study all the documents pertaining to her. The meeting room where the gathering was held had an unpleasant odour of mildew, when all of a sudden I began to smell a strong perfume similar to that emanated by holy oils. Surprised, I asked those sitting around the table if they could smell anything, but they all said “No”! When I was least expecting it, I had received this grace from Our Lady of Laus, and I was in this way led to recognise the supernatural character of the revelations given to Benoîte. I have to add that I am rather sceptical in these matters, so I find that God certainly has a sense of humour!

What peculiarities in the spirituality of Benoîte do you find most appealing?

What I admire most about Benoîte is her capacity to weave together certain virtues which appear contradictory. She is able to inspire equally those who believe in God and those who do not believe in Him. She belongs to that royal line of shepherdesses like Saint Geneviève, Joan of Arc and Bernadette who fascinate the historian. They are humble women with an ardent love of God and a free spirit who avoid the proud and dedicate their lives to a spiritual cause. What the agnostic Mark Twain says of Joan of Arc’s gaze in his book Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, can be equally applied to Benoîte’s simple language, “[She had] a glance that could convict a liar of his lie and make him confess it; that could bring down a proud man’s pride and make him humble; that could put courage into a coward and strike dead the courage of the bravest; that could appease resentments and real hatreds; that could make the doubter believe and the hopeless hope again; that could purify the impure mind; that could persuade…”


13 Re: Our Lady of Laus on Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:21 pm


Benoite Rencurel

Painting Benoite Rencurel, painted during his lifetime. This table is in the chapel behind the choir of the basilica.

Benoite Rencurel (born 16 September 1647 in Saint-Etienne snood - died on 28 December 1718 in Saint-Etienne snood) is a shepherd to whom the Virgin Mary appeared in 1664. The apparitions of Our Lady of Laus in the diocese of Gap will last 54 years, a record in the history of Marian apparitions.
Summary [masquer]
1 Biography
1.1 Birth
1.2 Childhood
1.3 Appearance of St. Maurice
1.4 Appearances of the cave "ovens" and Pindreau
1.5 Emergence of Notre-Dame de Bon-Rencontre
1.6 The evidence
1.7 The appearance of Christ on the Cross
1.8 Invasion Savoyard
1.9 years
2 The process of beatification
3 Recognition of appearances
4 Additions
4.1 Bibliography
4.2 Link external
5 Notes
[Edit] Biography

[Edit] Birth

Inside the church of Saint-Étienne-le-Laus

Plaque inside the church of Saint-Étienne-le-Laus
It is a hamlet in the Alps to Saint-Etienne-le-Laus, where only a few families lived in the seventeenth century, that Benoite Rencurel was born on 16 September 1647. It will be called the next day in the parish church.
[Edit] Childhood
Poverty Rencurel becomes deep poverty to the death of the father. Geum, then aged seven, was expelled with his family's home where she had spent her early years. It will soon earn his bread as a herder. From the age of twelve, she worked for two masters: John Roland, farmer brutal Geum converted by his gentleness and Louis Astier, good man
[Edit] Apparition of St. Maurice
In May 1664, when Benedict led his goats along a forest on Mount Saint-Maurice, an old man approached her. It appears as St. Maurice himself and announced that she will shepherd the Mother of God in a nearby valley.
[Edit] Apparitions of the cave "ovens" and Pindreau

Chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Fours

Inside the chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Fours
Confident and simple, as it will be all his life, Geum guide when her herd in another valley, stopping at the cave called "ovens" to recite the rosary. C'en here that the Virgin Mary appeared to him one day, her son in her arms. Four months until 29 August 1664, the feast of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, the beautiful appearance is renewed, each time leaving Geum in ecstasy. That day, the Virgin Mary said: "I am Lady Mary, the Mother of my Son and you will see me some time."
Late in September, after months of absence, the Virgin appears again on the other side of the valley, Pindreau. It instructs Geum Laus search of a small chapel, where float of sweet smells, to come and pray there. There she will talk and see very often.
[Edit] Apparition of Our Lady of Good Meeting

The basilica built after the application received by Geum, today the center of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Laus
The next day, Geum discovers on the Hill Laus, located on the other side of the Forward, a thatched chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Good Meeting, and he remains little more than ruins. Wonderful aromas are felt. And behold, the Virgin appeared on the altar of poor plaster on the right of the tabernacle. The gesture has Geum, this view is exquisite simplicity: "Allow me to put my deck under your feet," she said that she called her good mother: "It is bleach." The Virgin, by refusing, he smiled, then told him that a large church will be built in this place for the conversion of sinners. Geum indicates that Mary wanted to "build with a church in honor of his beloved Son and his, where many sinners and sinners to repent" Since the successive appearances for Benedict, for fifty-three years, and the faith of his statements, pilgrims flock to Laus, soon encouraged by extraordinary graces.
Geum practices in Laus mission home, prayer and penance in implementing his charisma knowledge of hearts. Hundreds of physical healings operate Laus, not including the anointing of el'huile of the sanctuary lamp, applied with faith, as the Board of the Virgin Mary.
[Edit] Testimony
The sound of his divine favors being spread around, the judges and theologians seek to ascertain their accuracy. Thus Grimaud lawyer, justice of the barony of Avançon comes to Laus on several occasions: it discovers or trickery or illusion in the wonders of the little chapel. Even better, its relationship held during the first two years of the pilgrimage, said sixty miraculous healings.
The Canon Peter Gaillard, doctor of theology, counseling and chaplain of the King, who fills Gap functions of Archdeacon, Vicar General and official of the bishop, went to Laus on 17 August 1665.
The diocesan authority of Embrun could not fail to establish an inquiry. The survey, carried out with extreme rigor, notes three times wonders undeniable. This is the first canon Antoine Lambert, director of the diocesan vicar general and official of the archdiocese of Embrun who on 14 September 1665, went to Laus, accompanied by Father Andre Gerard, later grand penitentiary in Rome . After an interrogation in which Geum can be found in default, the brilliant healing Catherine Vial gives rise to the legal finding of 18 September 1665, now preserved in the archives of Laus. The successor to Canon Lambert, Mr. Javelli is coming later in Avens Embrun and keep it in secret for two weeks of interrogation, then we see that the shepherd does not feed during this imprisonment, without appearing to suffer no .
In fall 1666, Geum returns to the Dominican Third Order, probably the day of laying the foundation stone of the basilica
The canon Gaillard, helped by the arrival in 1669 of Father Peythieu attached to pilgrimage for twenty years and Aubin's brother, hermit of Notre-Dame de Maple arrived in 1680, will write for forty-three newspapers devoted to the story of what he sees at Laus, and noting the events of the life of a shepherdess. Each new story is submitted to Benedict in order to validate it.
It is finally the Archbishop Charles Genlis, which - named in Embrun in 1672 - part in Laus. Clearly incredulous before this trip, he is there, amazed both by the strength of responses from Geum as truly miraculous protection granted to a servant in a terrible accident. He returned several times and obtained by letters patent of the king, registered on 19 December 1679, established at a seminar Laus.
[Edit] The appearance of Christ on the Cross

The cross to which Benedict had five times the vision of Christ crucufié

The chapel of the Precious Blood which is kept the Cross
In July 1673, Geum sees our Lord been crucified and she feels flooded with blood. It is suddenly stiffened, each week in the pose of crucifixion and remains from Thursday to Saturday, unable to move. This "mystical crucifixion" will last from 1673 to 1684 She is terrified, in his humility, attracted general attention to this miracle and she asked that further suffering, less visible, being provided. It is from 1689 it will suffer abuse at night and fight the devil spiritually every night until his death.
[Edit] Invasion Savoyard
The Savoyard invasion in August 1692 requires Geum to leave the Laus. She fled to Marseille for 2 months.
[Edit] Recent years

The oratory of the angel, where Benedict was transported by angels, including the night of September 16, 1701 when "the angel enlightens the whole valley of shining a torch"

The house where lived Benoite Rencurel from 1673

The Board of Geum
Then tortured by the demon, she saw the terrible years, consoled only by his appearances. On 15 August 1698, the Virgin appeared to him surrounded by angels who carry Geum to heaven then subsequently reported in her village. Reading in souls, it brings back the good fishermen, telling them the number and severity of faults they believed ignored by all. In Marseille, it shows Mr de Coulonge, then vicar-general, she knows her thoughts and doubts that he keeps listening. This crossing of the desert due to the clergy Jansenist who does not accept the events of Laus will continue in 1712 with the arrival of the fathers of St. Guard, which brings a revival of the pilgrimage. Geum died on 28 December 1718, the Feast of Holy Innocents, leaving the reputation of a saint whose life was surrounded by wonderful facts. She has lived up to 71 years in spite of severe suffering and the greatest austerities.
Geum was first buried in the cemetery of Laus, which then adjoined the church. His body was then placed in the vault today even in the choir of the Basilica

The process of beatification

Since 1865, we reported that 13 processions coming from different regions, are found both in the valley of Laus. The chapel was in that year, visited by 135 000 faithful. The rapid celebrity of the pilgrimage should also not weaken in the future. For two centuries, 100 000 pilgrims come to pray there every year and the crowning of the statue by Monsignor Depèry, became the 23 May 1855 in presence of 40 000 people
The one that served so well the glory of Notre Dame deserved to know any glory to himself. The first steps towards the introduction of his cause were made by Bishop Bernadou died Cardinal-Archbishop of Sens, then bishop of Gap. The trial began September 11, 1864.
Benoite Rencurel is the first appearance of Marian seer to see her cause of beatification introduced in court in Rome. On 7 September 1871, the Pope Pius IX declares Benoite Rencurel "Venerable Servant of God" The decree on writings was issued on 7 July 1896
On August 28, 1966, while he was at Notre Dame du Laus on the feast of St. Augustine, Jean Guitton said Benoîte Rencurel it is "one of the most hidden springs and most powerful of Europe
[Edit] Recognition of appearances

Statement of recognition of apparitions
On 4 May 2008 the French Bishop Jean-Michel di Falco officially recognizes the supernatural character of the apparitions of Mary to Benoite Rencurel. It also supports the process of beatification of Benoite Rencurel.
These are the first known appearance in France since those of Lourdes, 146 years ago

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