Our Lady of La Salette

La Salette, France (1846)


Six thousand feet up in the French Alps, the Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have come to 11 year old Maximin Giraud and 14 year old Melanie Calvat-Mathieu while they tended sheep. Her appearance in sorrow and tears called for conversion and penance for sins.


Nov 7, 1831

Melanie Calvat-Mathieu is born in Corps, France.

Aug 26, 1835

Maximin Giraud is born in Corps, France.

Sept 19, 1846

Melanie and Maximin are out tending sheep and encounter a glowing globe of light. A beautiful weeping woman appears sitting on a rock and she relates how the offenses of men will result in calamities, including famine and disease. The woman entrusts each child with a Secret and encourages them to pray.

Sept 1846

The bishop of the diocese, Mgr de Bruillard of Grenoble, begins the official inquiry into the phenomenon.

Oct 1846

The prophecies of La Salette are widely circulated.

August 1848

Father Rousselot, Vicar General of Grenoble, and appointed reporter on the apparitions, answers twelve objections to the truth of the events in his report entitled "The Truth about the event of La Salette" was addressed to Pope Pius IX

July 3, 1851

Maximin and Melanie record the Secret given to each of them in the presence of Church officials and deliver their statement to the Bishop.

July 6, 1851

Melanie rewrites the Secret to fix a chronological error she identified in her original and re-submits her statement to the Bishop.

July 18,1851

The documentary letters are transmitted to PopePius IX by two accredited messengers, MM. Rousselot and Gérin.

Sept 19, 1851

Mgr de Bruillard publishes a pastoral letter for the fifth anniversary of the Apparition in which he affirmed that the Apparition "has within itself all the characteristics of the truth, and that the faithful are justified in believing it beyond doubt and for certain"

May 1, 1852

Mgr de Bruillard announces in a pastoral letter the erection of a shrine on the mountain of the Apparition and the institution of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, commissioned to serve the shrine.

May 25, 1852

The first stone of The Shrine of La Salette was blessed by Mgr de Bruillard. The Shrine was built near the location of the apparition at the center of a mountain ring formed by the Gargas and the Chamoux.

May 1853

Mgr Ginoulhiac, is appointed bishop of Grenoble after the reisgnation of Mgr de Bruillard.

Nov 4, 1854

The Bishop issues a pastoral letter which condemned a memorandum published in Grenoble addressed to the Pope against the judgement of 1851. Ginoulhiac additionally renews his predecessor’s doctrinal judgement in a more explicit and this time definitive way.

Aug 18,1872

700 pilgrims from Paris, later joined by other groups from Dijon, Ars and Lyons, participate in France's First National Pilgrimage and travel to La Salette.

March 1, 1875

Death of Maximin


The completed basilica was consecrated.

Dec 15, 1904

Death of Melanie


The central theme of the Virgin's messages was turn away from sin and do penance or undergo terrible suffering.

Miracles and Signs

During interrogations from the local authorities, the children were taken to the site of the apparition. A man broke off a piece of rock at the spot of the Virgin's appearance and uncovered a spring. The spring was found to have healing powers which inspired the bishop to begin an official inquiry. Twenty-three cures were attributed to the mountain spring in the first year after the apparition.

Additionally, hundreds of miraculous cures have also been reported at the Basilica of La Salette.


In December 1846, most of the popular crops were disease stricken, and in 1847 a famine hit Europe which resulted in the loss of approximately one million lives, including one hundred thousand in France alone.

Cholera became prevalent in various parts of France and claimed the lives of many children.

Description of the Virgin

"The clothing of the Most Holy Virgin was silver white and quite brillliant. It was quite intangible. It was made up of light and glory, sparkling and dazzling. There is no expression nor comparison to be found on earth. The most Holy Virgin had a yellow pinafore.

"What am I saying, yellow? She had a pinafore more brilliant than several suns put together. It was not a tangible material; it was composed of glory, and the glory was scintillating, and ravishingly beautiful.

"The crown of roses which she placed on her head was so beautiful, so brilliant, that it defies imagination. The different colored roses were not of this earth; it was a joining together of flowers which crowned the Most Holy Virgin.

"The Most Holy Virgin was tall and well proportioned. She seemed so light that a mere breath could have stirred her, yet she was motionless and perfectly balanced. Her face was majestic, imposing. The voice of the Beautiful Lady was soft. It was enchanting, ravishing, warming to the ears.

"The eyes of the majestic Mary appeared thousands of times more beautiful than the rarest brilliants, diamonds, aand precious stones. They shone like two suns; but they were soft, softness itself, as clear as a mirror.

"The Holy Virgin had a most pretty cross hanging around her neck.

"The Holy Virgin was crying nearly the whole time she was speaking to us. Her tears flowed gently, one by one, down to her knees, then, like sparks of light they disappeared. They were glittering and full of love. I would have liked to comfort her and stop her tears."

- Melanie Mathieu (1851)

The Secret of La Salette

Please note: no official approval by the Vatican has been given to contents of the Secret of La Salette.

The secret was given during the second stage of the apparition, when the Virgin Mary was standing upright and talked to the children. The secret has been written down in several versions and is the subject of much controversy.

There are at least eight preserved writings of the Secret of La Salette (3 by Maximin and 5 by Melanie) including the originals written in 1851 and the final version written in 1879. The final version has received the imprimatur of Salvatore Count Zola C.R.L., Bishop Zola of Lecce, Italy. There is one lost version written by Melanie in 1861.

In 1880 Pierre-Louis-Marie Cortet, bishop of Troyes, denounced the Lecce-imprimatured book to the Holy Office, and in turn Prospero Cardinal Caterini, secretary of the Congregation of the Holy Office, wrote back to him, to Vincenzo Maria Sarnelli, bishop of Castellammare di Stabia and to Pierre Archier M.S., superior general of the Missionaries of La Salette. The controversy ensues.

The two writings of July 1851 agree on the essential, but differ in their developments and even their tonality: the secret of Maximin is shorter, simpler, and less serious. Mélanie is concerned to be understood by the recipient, and 'not to cause him too much sorrow', as she said, but this did not prevent the tears of Bishop de Bruillard.

Maximin initially wrote his Secret at the palace of Bishop de Bruillard on the evening of July 3, 1851. He was asked to rewrite it again because of spots of ink. The soiled autograph was burnt.The Bishop affixed his own seal to it and to send it to the pope. The sealed envelope was countersigned by two witnesses at 7:00 pm.

Melanie wrote the Secret a first time, on July 3, in Corenc, at the Sisters of Providence. She sealed it at 10:00 am, and it was carried at the Bishop's House. She chose to rewrite the secret on July 6 because she believed she misrepresented the chronology of events. After Melanie hand delivered the document, Bishop of Bruillard read the document before sealing it.

Please note: no official approval by the Vatican has been given to contents of the Secret of La Salette.

Below is the text of the secret as written for written for Pius LX in July 1851 and discovered by Fr. Michel Corteville in the Vatican Archives in October 1999. Please note that this is not the final version of the secret written in 1879.

Church Approval

Mgr de Bruillard published a pastoral letter Sept 19, 1851 for the fifth anniversary of the Apparition in which he affirmed:

"We judge that the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to the two cowherds on the 19th of September, 1846, on a mountain of the chain of Alps, situated in the parish of LaSalette, in the archpresbytery of Corps, bears within Itself all the characteristics of truth, and that the faithful have grounds for believing it Indubitable and certain."

On November 4th, 1854, Mgr deGinoulhiac issued a pastoral letter which condemned a memorandum published in Grenoble addressed to the Pope against the judgement of 1851. He additionally renews his predecessor’s doctrinal judgement in a more explicit and this time definitive way.



Remember, dear Lady of La Salette, true Mother of Sorrows, the tears which thou didst shed for me on Calvary; be mindful also of the unceasing care which thou dost exercise to shield me from the justice of God; and consider whether thou canst now abandon thy child, for whom thou hast done so much. Inspired by this consoling thought, I come to cast myself at thy feet, in spite of my infidelity and ingratitude. Reject not my prayer, 0 Virgin of reconciliation, convert me, obtain for me the grace to love Jesus Christ above all things and to console thee too by living a holy life, in order that one day I may be able to see thee in Heaven. Amen