The Catholic Southern Front

Our Lady of Valverde (Acireale, Sicily) and Our Lady of Laus (South France)

 

 

Our Lady of Valverde and Our Lady of Laus

 

 

In 1565 soldiers on their way to Malta to assist the Knights of Malta against the Ottoman Siege invoked the help of Our Lady of Valverde at her Sanctuary in Sicily, Valverde, Acireale. In Malta these same soldiers operated the cannon which would decapitate both the indomitable pirate Dragut Rais and one of the Pasha’s Commanders. Our Lady of Valverde had originally converted an Islamic assassin in Sicily.

 

 

La primitiva chiesa venne costruita con molta probabilità nella seconda metà del XIII secolo attorno ad un’edicola che conteneva un’icona della Madonna.
Nella seconda metà del 1500 la chiesa fu ampliata e la navata venne ad assumere le attuali dimensioni; in tale periodo fu costruito quasi tutto il campanile. Oltre che dalle tre date incise nella chiesa (due, 1559 e 1578, si leggono nelle paraste laviche del campanile; la terza, 1564, in una trave del soffitto), i lavori della fabbrica ci sono testimoniati dalle richieste dei consoli della chiesa al vescovo perché potessero raccogliere nella diocesi di Catania elemosine per “compliri la frabica di detta ecclesia”.
Il terremoto del 1693 fece crollare il tetto, ma le mura resistettero: così l’icona della Madonna riuscì a salvarsi. Delle strutture murarie portanti soltanto quelle absidali subirono danni irreparabili, tanto che quando venne avviata la ricostruzione si preferì tagliare l’intera abside così che oggi il presbiterio termina con una parete retta.
La ricostruzione portò altre modifiche. Infatti venne chiuso lo spazio tra il transetto sinistro ed il campanile: la chiesa acquistò un’irregolare navatella a sinistra, con un suo ingresso.
Nei primi decenni del ‘700 la facciata della chiesa ebbe a subire una sostanziale modifica: infatti ad essa si sovrappose quella porticata del convento degli Agostiniani Scalzi; il campanile allineato al vecchio prospetto venne inglobato nella nuova struttura a portico.
All’ingresso del Santuario c’è un portale in pietra bianca databile agli inizi del ‘700. L’opera d’ispirazione tardo romanica è sormontato in alto dallo lo stemma dei principi Riggio. Il portale incornicia un portone di bronzo modellato da Giacomo Petralia ed inaugurato nel 1980.
Il prospetto laterale presenta come unico elemento decorativo un interessante portale in pietra bianca realizzato nel 1694. Nella ricorrenza del XVI centenario della conversione di S. Agostino, nel 1987 è stata inaugurata la porta di bronzo realizzata dallo scultore Salvatore Adamantino.
Varcato l’ingresso principale, ci si avvede subito che la soluzione planimetrica del santuario risente delle difficoltà costruttive più o meno legate alle sue origini: basti guardare la posizione decentrata dell’icona della Madonna, centro ideale della chiesa, la diversa ampiezza dei settori della navata centrale, il taglio del presbiterio, la piccola irregolare navata di sinistra.
Procedendo lungo la navata maggiore, le cui 10 artistiche vetrate costituiscono un armonioso racconto di luce, troviamo a sinistra l’altare della Madonna del Rosario, quello della Madonna del Carmine, un’elegante porta in legno (della fine del ‘700) che immette nel vano antistante la sacrestia ed infine l’altare dedicato a S. Nicola da Tolentino con una tela di ignoto del 1706.
Nella parete destra della navata si trovano l’altare della Sacra Famiglia e il monumento sepolcrale di Luigi Riggio Branciforte e della moglie Caterina Gravina.
Dopo il monumento Riggio si apre l’arcata che di fronte si conclude con il pilastro su cui è addossato l’altare della Madonna di Valverde.
Decentrato rispetto alla navata principale, ma situato nel punto in cui si incrociano gli spazi interni più ampi della chiesa, l’altare finisce per captare subito l’attenzione di chi entra: a ciò concorrendo motivi di fede, impianto architettonico, ricchezza decorativa. Realizzato in marmi policromi finemente intarsiati, esso è preceduto da un’artistica balaustra.
Al centro dell’altare, protetta da una porticina in argento sbalzato, è l’icona della Madonna. La Vergine seduta sorregge con la destra nel suo gembo il Bambino che poggia su un cuscino, mentre con la sinistra tiene un piccolo volatile. Gesù a sua volta carezza con la sinistra l’animale ed alzando la destra atteggia le dita nel gesto della benedizione.
Il dolce volto della Madonna è quello di una florida fanciulla siciliana (a riguardo diventano emblematici il velo della testa ed i capelli lisci spartiti al centro). Le sue movenze, l’andamento fluente del suo vestiario (velo bianco, manto celeste, veste rossa con cintura alla nazarena) più che richiamare moduli bizantini sembrano rifarsi a motivi prerinascimentali.
Il Bambino che indossa una tunichetta bianca sembra meno toccato da interventi: il volto conserva nell’ovale incorniciato da capelli inanellati un che dell’originaria aristocratica bellezza che si è perduta nell’espressione della Madonna.
Lo stato di conservazione del dipinto lascia un pò a desiderare. Il terremoto del 1693 ha prodotto nell’intonaco una lunga fessura che partendo in prossimità della testa dell’angelo di sinistra scende tagliando le aureole della Madre e del Figlio. L’umidità poi ha causato danni in varie parti, cancellando il volto dell’angelo di destra. I chiodi, piantati in passato per sostenere i preziosi oggetti votivi, hanno prodotto screpolature nelle vesti della Madonna e del Bambino ed in più punti l’intonaco è saltato.
Oltrepassato l’altare della Madonna, la navata grande termina con l’altare di S. Agostino la cui tela data “1710”. Il presbiterio presenta nelle pareti laterali due recenti dipinti di Salvatore Adamantino, in quella di fondo drappeggi scompartiti da lesene (in basso) ed una Madonna con Bambino in trono tra angeli musicanti nella parte alta.
Passando alla navatella laterale sinistra, si trova l’altare del Crocifisso decorato con colonne tortili. Al centro è Gesù in croce con ai lati dipinti ad olio, l’Addolorata, la Maddalena e S. Giovanni Evangelista.
Le due palle di ferro che oggi pendono a sinistra del suddetto altare sono le testimonianze del ringraziomento dei soldati delle galee siciliane, devoti della nostra Madonna. Lanciate dagli spalti cristiani dopo aver invocato il nome della Madonna di Valverde, furono esse nel 1565 a ferire mortalmente il comandante turco Dragut che assediava Malta.
A destra dell’altare del Crocifisso un piccolo ingresso immette nella cappella del Sacro Cuore, nella quale ai nostri giorni nel periodo natalizio si appresta un grande presepio mobile.
Il convento degli Agostiniani scalzi si può considerare a tutti gli effetti un’appendice del santuario. L’edificio, il cui prospetto principale dà sulla piazza del Santuario (da notare nella parasta d’angolo le tre braccia laviche che venivano utilizzate per sostenere bandiere e stendardi), forma insieme alla chiesa un grande quadrilatero con all’interno un ampio cortile. La parte più antica del fabbricato risale agli inizi del ‘700, mentre l’ala attacata al presbiterio della chiesa è stata portata a termine nel 1955.
II cortile (“atrio interno”) si presenta interamente porticato solo nell’ala che è prospicente la piazza. Qui sono al primo piano le celle dei padri agostiniani, disposte ai lati di un corridoio che porta alla cantoria. L’ala, meridionale e quella orientale in passato ospitavano il noviziato ed il probandato oltre che il refettorio e la cucina.(Matteo Donato)

 

 

 

  

La Madonna e il brigante

Le truppe Normanne, alleate di quelle Bizantine, ma indignate per l’ingiusta ripartizione del bottino tolto agli Arabi nella prima battaglia, si ritirano nella loro contea di Aversa.
Un soldato però, un certo Dionisio, forse ligure di origine, attratto dall’amenità e ricchezza del luogo, e più ancora per la cupidigia di facili guadagni, rimane nell’isola e si dà ad una vita di brigantaggio, appostandosi nel folto del bosco che costeggia la via che da Catania porta all’antica Aci, in prossimità della sottostante Vallis viridis.
Questa zona diventa teatro dei suoi furti, delle sue aggressioni ed assassinii. Ma proprio qui lo attende la Madonna, Madre di misericordia!
Un pio cittadino di Catania di nome Egidio, dovendo recarsi ad Aci, pur temendo il pericolo, ma fiducioso nella protezione della Madonna, della quale è gran devoto, si mette in viaggio.
Ha già percorso un buon tratto di strada, quando all’improvviso, dal folto della boscaglia gli piomba addosso l’assassino che con il pugnale alzato lo minaccia di morte.
All’improvviso una voce, da un globo di luce, si fa sentire. “Dionisio, Dionisio, non toccare il mio devoto!”. A quella voce il brigante trattiene il braccio, si guarda attorno, poi alza lo sguardo in alto: “Deponi quell’arma – si sente ancora dire – e cessa questa vita di brigantaggio”.
A queste parole Dionisio rientra in se stesso, comprende in un baleno la mostruosità della sua vita, riconosce il suo errore, scaglia lontano l’arma omicida e si prostra ai piedi della vittima, chiedendo perdono. È il primo miracolo: Egidio è salvo e Dionisio è convertito!
La Madonna appare in seguito a Dionisio che piange i propri peccati nella caverna dove abita, lo conforta esortandolo ad avere fiducia nella bontà e nella misericordia di Dio: si presenti al sacerdote per ottenere il perdono ed inviti sacerdoti e fedeli di Aci a salire processionalmente sul colle di Valverde.

 

Acqua per costruire e per guarire

Maria avrebbe indicato, con un prodigio, il luogo dove desiderava che si costruisse una chiesa con i soldi acquistati con la violenza. Quando, alcuni giorni dopo, la devota processione del clero e del popolo di Aci giunge sul colle, uno stormo chiassoso di gru volteggia nel cielo e si posa sul posto dove ora sorge il Santuario: è il segno che Maria desidera avere lì la sua casa!
I lavori per la costruzione della primitiva cappella iniziano subito con grande fervore, ma procedono assai lentamente per la mancanza di acqua. La fede di Dionisio si rivolge ancora una volta alla Madonna che interviene ordinando di picconare alla base della roccia che forma la grotta dell’antico brigante. Ne scaturisce una polla d’acqua che non solo permette il proseguimento dei lavori di costruzione della cappella, ma diventa ben presto fonte di guarigione per molti ammalati.
I lavori, iniziati nel 1038 sono ultimati due anni dopo, nel 1040, ma la chiesetta rimane ancora priva di un segno della presenza di Maria.

L’immagine miracolosa

Una notte di agosto, mentre è assorto in preghiera, Dionisio è colpito da un raggio di intensa luce e da una nube nella quale vede la Madonna attorniata da Angeli. Quando la nube si alza, e la luce scompare, una bellissima immagine di Maria è impressa sulla ruvida parete di un pilastro della chiesa.
La Madonna appare «Seduta su di una scranna a larga spalliera, vestita con tunica rossastra a fregi d’oro, stretta ai fianchi con cintura alla nazzarena. Un candido velo le copre il capo, lasciando vedere gli abbondanti capelli, che par si possano contare a uno a uno sulla spartitura della fronte.
Un manto, dal color celeste scuro, ricco di trine d’oro, le copre con grazia le spalle e le ginocchia, dandole un’espressione di maestosa dignità, il volto è di una bellezza di cielo: guance vermiglie e piene, breve la fronte, naso profilato, bocca pronunziata e ridente, occhi neri, vivacissimi, che fissano, parlano, conquidono, innamorano.
Con la destra sorregge il Figlioletto Gesù, dal volto di una ingenuità affascinante, dai capelli inanellati, bellissimo, vestito di una tunichetta bianca, sciolta al seno: le siede in grembo poggiandosi su di un cuscinetto verde-rosso a fregi d’oro. Con la manina destra benedice gli astanti guardandoli amorosamente, e con l’altra carezza una piccola gru, che timidamente si nasconde nella mano sinistra della Vergine bella. In alto due angioletti sorreggono un aureo triregno sul capo di Maria, quasi dicano che Essa è la Regina della Vallis Viridis fortunata e dell’Etna maestoso».1

      Don Mario Morra SDB

RIVISTA MARIA AUSILIATRICE 2005-1
VISITA
 Nr.

 

http://www.donbosco-torino.it/ita/Maria/calendario/04-05/01-Catania_Madonna_Valverde.html

 

ORIGINE

Il Santuario di Valverde (CT), uno dei piu’ antichi della Sicilia, ha una tradizione degna di attenzione. Nel giugno del 1038, un viandante, di nome Egidio, salendo per l’altipiano dell’antica «Vallis Viridis», si vide sbarrare la strada da un brigante, Dionisio. Questi, brandendo una spada, stava per ucciderlo; ma una voce lo fermò: Dionisio, deponi quella spada… cambia vita.

Era la Vergine Maria. Dionisio si convertì ed Egidio fu salvato.

Era avvenuto un doppio miracolo. Tre volte ancora la Vergine apparve al brigante convertito. La prima per invitarlo ad organizzare un pellegrinaggio verso il luogo che avrebbe indicato per il Santuario da costruire; la seconda per il miracolo dell’acqua necessaria per ultimare la costruzione del Santuario.

Nell’ultima avvenne il prodigio sul pilastro. Ci dice la tradizione che la notte del sabato precedente l’ultima domenica dell’agosto 1040, mentre Dionisio, nel Santuario ormai ultimato, pregava intensamente, gli apparve, per la quarta volta, la Vergine Madre di Dio. Questa, circondata da angeli e da una luce soavissima, gli manifestava la sua bonta’ e la sua misericordia.

L’indomani, alle prime luci dell’alba, non appena Dionisio si riebbe dalla visione, un prodigio apparve ai suoi occhi: la celestiale visione era rimasta impressa su di un pilastro del Santuario. Da quel momento Valverde diventava meta continua di pellegrini che, fino ad oggi, con fede e amore, tengono vivo il ricordo di cosi’ grande dono.

 

AVVENIMENTI DEGNI DI MEMORIA

1296 – * Consacrazione del Santuario alla presenza del re Federico II.

11.1.1693 – * Forte terremoto in cui rovinò il Santuario, fatta eccezione del “pilastro” con l’immagine della Madonna.

5.4.1694 – * Possesso Canonico del Convento “S. Maria di Valverde” da parte degli Agostiniani Scalzi.

26.4.1697 – * Affidamento «pleno jure» della Parrocchia agli Agostiniani Scalzi. Il decreto fu firmato in ginocchio, davanti l’altare della Madonna, da Mons. Andrea Riggio, Arcivescovo di Catania.

22.8.1971 – * Nuova incoronazione della Madonna di Valverde dopo il furto sacrilego del 31 agosto 1970.

24.8.1990 – * Inizio dell’«Anno di Grazia» (Anno Mariano)

24.8.19908.12.1991) indetto dal Papa Giovanni Paolo II nel nostro Santuario, a ricordo del 950° anniversario dell’Apparizione della Vergine Maria a Valverde.

http://www.santuariodivalverde.it/fede.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

CONCLUSION

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.]
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Refuge of Sinners
France————–1666 


ITUATED 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-

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tienne. 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-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—– 

—–a special vocation—–—–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, Fran

çois 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’Avanç 

çois 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’Avanççois 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’Avanç

on.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-

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tienne. 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-

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tienne 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-

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tienne, 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 Franç 

Étienne, Judge FrançÉtienne, Judge Franç

ois 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 Fran

 

çois 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! . . .

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—-—-

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 Avan

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on 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 Avan

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on.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 P

 

 

ères 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 P

 

 

ères 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.

 

 

 

 

http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/laus.htm

 

 

 

http://www.notre-dame-du-laus.com/

 

 

 


 
__________________________________________________

APPROVED APPARITION

ACCENTS ‘ODOR OF SANCTITY’

AND OPENS MYSTICAL TREASURE

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 Saint Etienne d’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.

That recognition again accents the dominance of France in Marian apparitions.

Almost beyond accurate reckoning are the hundreds of spots in France where the Blessed Mother has appeared to peasants or shepherds. Among the most famous: Lourdes to the south, the Miraculous Medal apparitions in Paris, the Sacred Heart revelations in Paral-le-Monial (these involving Jesus), historic apparitions at a now-famous spot in Chartres, and the Rosary revelations to St. Dominic in Prouille, as well as LaSalette, which occurred two centuries later in the same region of Grenoble and is a short distance to the north.

France also lays claim to one of the very earliest apparitions of Mary at Le Puy, which occurred in the first century (A.D. 47) in the southwestern part of the country. The only older apparition of Mary is believed to be her appearance several years before to the apostle James at Zaragossa, Spain.

Often, it is said, Our Lady of Laus was accompanied by the Infant Jesus and many times Benoîte beheld the Divine Child in the sacred Host. The title Mary is called here is “Reconciler and Refuge of Sinners.”

In her later years, Benoîte made pilgrimages to the valley barefoot even in snow that caused her feet to freeze on at least twenty occasions.

“There, at the foot of the Alpine relic of piety, Benoîte received celestial favors which God deigns to accord to His most cherished servants,” said Walsh in a book made available at the Marian Library in Dayton, Ohio.

“And each week, from Thursday at four o’clock until Saturday at nine, Benoîte lay on her bed, her arms extended in the form of a Cross, her feet crossed one on the other; her whole body, says an old document, ‘as rigid as an iron bar.'”

After some time she received the stigmata, but when crowds arrived she pleaded with the Lord to make it invisible.

It was on Christmas Day in 1718 that she was told she had just three days to live; and on the morning of the feast of the Holy Innocents, she announced she would die that evening.

Today, a marble tablet covers her tomb — which was opened in 1788 when a workman accidentally dropped a heavy stone on it, allowing stunned witnesses to record that a wound opened on the corpse’s cheek and issued fresh blood.

In 1854 the coffin was reopened and while Benoîte’s habit was found intact, the rest of her body was skeletal. On September 7, 1871, she was declared venerable.

“She remained perfectly conscious till the last moment,” wrote Walsh, “and she whose life agony had been so awful knew no agony at the hour of death.

“Before prayers were finished the angelic soul of Benoîte had passed peacefully away, into everlasting happiness.”

[resources: The Last Secret]

[see also: Report: Mary predicted Laus would come to light in end times]

  E-mail this link directly

http://www.spiritdaily.com/laus1.htm

 

After 300+ years, but perhaps with a message for today? One of the predictions made by Our Lady of Laus (France), was that the message given there would reappear near the “End of Times” Refuge of Sinners is approved by the French bishops, from the International Tribune:

Speaking at Mass in Laus in remarks broadcast nationally on France-2 television, Monsignor Jean-Michel di Falco Leandri said he recognized the “supernatural origin” of the apparitions to 17-year-old shepherd girl Benoite Rencurel starting in 1664 and running through 1718.


What is the message given to the young shepherd girl way back then? Michael Matt from The Remnant shares the story:

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…

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.

 

 

 


One thinks of Pope Benedict’s Enclyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) when one reads the last paragraph.

 

 

St Brigitta of Sweden

 

Christ’s strong words to the bride against present-day knights, and about the proper way of creating knights, and about how God gives and bestows strength and help to them in their actions.

 

I am one God together with the Father and the Holy Spirit in a trinity of persons. None of the three can be separated or divided from the others, but the Father is in both the Son and the Spirit, and the Son is in both the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit is in both. The Divinity sent its Word to the Virgin Mary through the angel Gabriel. Yet the same God, both sending and being sent by himself, was with the angel, and he was in Gabriel, and he was in the Virgin prior to Gabriel. After the angel had delivered his message, the word was made flesh in the Virgin. I, who speak with you, am that Word.The Father sent me through himself together with the Holy Spirit into the womb of the Virgin, although not in such away that the angels would be left without the vision and presence of God. Rather, I, the Son, who was with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the virginal womb, remained the same God in the sight of the angels in heaven together with the Father and the Spirit, ruling and sustaining all things. However, the human nature assumed by the only Son lay in the womb of Mary. I, who am one God in my divine and human natures, do not disdain to speak with you and thus manifest my love and strengthen the holy faith.

Although my human form seems to be here before you and to be speaking with you, nonetheless it is truer to say that your soul and your conscience are with me and in me. Nothing in heaven or on earth is impossible or difficult for me. I am like a powerful king who comes to a city with his troops and takes up the whole place, occupying all of it. In like manner, my grace fills all of your limbs and strengthens them all. I am within you and with out you. Although I may be speaking with you, I remain the same in my glory. What could possibly be difficult for me who sustains all things with my power and arranges all things in my wisdom, surpassing everything in excellence? I, who am one God together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, without beginning or end, who assumed a human nature for the sake of the salvation of humankind, the divine nature remaining intact, who suffered, rose again, and ascended into heaven, I am now truly speaking with you.

I told you earlier about the knights who were once most pleasing to me because they were bound to me by the bond of charity. They bound themselves by their oath to offer up their body for my body, their blood for my blood. This is why I gave them my consent, why I joined them to myself in a single bond and a single company. Now, however, my grievance is that these knights, who ought to be mine, have turned away from me. I am their Creator and redeemer as well as their helper. I made a body with all its limbs for them. I made everything in the world for their use. I redeemed them with my blood. I bought an eternal inheritance for them with my passion. I protect them in every danger.

Now, however, they have turned away from me. They hold my passion for naught, they neglect my words that should delight and nourish their soul. They despise me, preferring with all their heart and soul to offer up their body and let it be wounded in return for human praise, to shed their blood for the sake of satisfying their greed, happy to die on account of worldly, devilish, empty speech. But still, although they have turned away, my mercy and justice is upon them. I mercifully watch over them so that they may not be handed over to the devil. In justice I bear with them patiently and, if they would turn back again, I would welcome them joyfully and gladly run out to meet them.

Tell that man who wants to put his knighthood at my service that he can please me once again through the following ceremony. Anyone who wants to be made a knight should proceed with his horse and armor to the churchyard and leave his horse there, since it was not made for human pride but in order to be useful in life and in defense and in fighting the enemies of God. Then let him put on his cloak, placing its clasp to his forehead, similar to what a deacon does when he puts on his stole as a sign of obedience and holy patience. In like manner, he should put on his cloak and place the clasp to his forehead as a sign both of his military vows and of the obedience undertaken for the defense of Christ’s cross.

A banner of the secular government should be carried before him, reminding him that he should obey his worldly government in all the things that are not against God. Once he has entered the churchyard, the priests should go out to meet him with the banner of the church. On it the passion and wounds of Christ should be depicted as a sign that he is obliged to defend the church of God and comply with her prelates. When he enters the church, the banner of the temporal government should remain outside the church while the banner of God should go before him into the church as a sign that divine authority precedes secular authority and that one should care more about spiritual things than temporal things.

When Mass has been said up to the Agnus Dei, the presiding officer, that is, the king or someone else, should go up to the knight at the altar and say: ‘Do you want to be made a knight?’ When the candidate answers, I do,’ the other should add the words: ‘Promise to God and to me that you will defend the faith of the Holy Church and obey its leaders in all the things pertaining to God!’

When the candidate answers ‘I do,’ the other should place a sword in his hands, saying: ‘Behold, I place a sword in your hands so that you may not spare even your own life for the sake of God’s church, so that you may crush the enemies of God and protect the friends of God.’ Then he should give him the shield and say: ‘Behold, I give you a shield so that you may defend yourself against the enemies of God, so that you may offer assistance to widows and orphans, so that you may add to the glory of God in every way.’ Then he should place his hand on the other’s neck, saying: ‘Behold, you are now subject to obedience and to authority. Know, then, that you must carry out in practice what you have bound yourself to by your pledges!’ After this, the cloak and its clasps should be fitted on him in order to remind him daily both of his vows to God and that, by his profession before the church, he has bound himself to do more than others to defend the church of God.

Once these things are done and the Agnus Dei has been said, the priest celebrating the Mass should give him my body in order that he may defend the faith of the Holy Church. I will be in him and he in me. I will furnish him with help and strength, and I will make him burn with the fire of my love so as to desire nothing but me and to fear nothing but me, his God. If he should happen to be on a campaign when he undertakes this service for my glory and the defense of my faith, it will still benefit him, provided his intention is upright.

I am everywhere by virtue of my power, and all people can please me by an upright intention and a good will. I am love, and no one can come to me but a person who has love. Therefore I do not order anyone to do this, since in that case they would be serving me out of fear. But those who want to undertake this form of knightly service can be pleasing to me. It would be fitting for them to show through humility that they want to return to the true exercise of knighthood, inasmuch as desertion from the profession of true knighthood occurs through pride.”

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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