Our Lady of Pontmain

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Our Lady of Pontmain

Statue of Our Lady of Pontmain holding the cross.
Location Pontmain, France
Date Janurary 17, 1871
Witness Francoise Richer, Jeanne-Marie Lebosse, Joseph and Eùgene.
Type Marian apparition
Holy See approval 1932 by Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII.
Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain.

Our Lady of Pontmain is a title given to the Virgin Mary who is believed to have appear at Pontmain, France. She is also known as Our Lady of Hope and Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain. In French she is called Notre-Dame de Pontmain.

Background[change | change source]

The Franco-Prussian War (War of 1870) was the culmination of years of tension between the two nations, which finally came to a head on 19 July 1870, when Emperor Napoleon III of the second Empire declared war against Prussia. From the first days of the war, defeat followed defeat. By January 1871, Paris was under siege, two-thirds of the country was in the power of the Prussians, and they were advancing.

History[change | change source]

Stain glass depicting the apparition of the Lady.

On the evening of January 17, 1871, the two boys, Joseph and Eùgene, were helping out their father in the barn when the eldest, Eùgene, went out of the barn to look at the sky. As he gazed at the stars, he noticed one area practically free of stars above a neighbouring house. Suddenly, he saw an apparition of a beautiful lady smiling at him; she was wearing a blue gown covered with golden stars, and a black veil under a golden crown. Then, his father, brother, and a neighbor came out to look and Joseph immediately said he too could see the apparition although his father and neighbor could see nothing. His mother, Victorie, came out but she too could not see anything, although she was very confused because her sons were usually truthful. The mother suggested that the woman was the Virgin Mary and that all of them should say five Our Fathers and five Hail Mary in her honor.

Stain glass depicting the Lady surrounded by the oval blue frame and the four candles.

It was about a quarter past six and the boys were ordered in for supper. The boys went outside again when they were allowed, and the lady was still in the sky. Upon hearing about this apparition, The local schoolteacher, Sister Vilatine, went outside to look, but she too could not see the lady. Sister Vilatine then called three young children from the school. When the three children arrived, they immediately said that they could see the lady. The youngest child said she could not see the lady. The adults in the crowd which had grown to about 60, including the priest could still see nothing and began to say the rosary.

Stain glass depicting the Lady singing with the letters on the bottom.

The children started to exclaimed that something new was happening. A blue oval frame with four candles, two at the level of the shoulders and two at the knees, was being formed around the Lady, and a short red cross had appeared over her heart. As the rosary progressed the figure and its frame grew larger, until it was twice life size; the stars around her began to multiply and attach themselves to her dress until it was covered with them. As the Magnificat was being said the four children cried out, "Something else is happening." A broad streamer on which letters were appearing unrolled beneath the feet of the Lady, so that eventually the phrase, "But pray, my children," could be read. Fr. Guérin then ordered that the Litany of Our Lady should be sung, and as this progressed new letters appeared, making the message, "God will soon answer you." As they continued to sing, another message was formed, one that removed any doubt that it was the Blessed Virgin who was appearing to the children; "My Son allows Himself to be moved."

Stain glass depicting the Lady holding the red cross.

The children were filled with joy at the beauty of the lady and her smile. Her smile then changed to an expression of sorrow. A red cross appeared before her, with a figure of Jesus on it with an even darker shade of red. One of the stars then lit the four candles that surrounded the figure, as the crucifix vanished and the group began night prayers. As these were being recited, the children reported that a white veil was rising from the Lady's feet and gradually blotting her out, until finally, at about nine o'clock, the apparition was over.

The Description of the Lady[change | change source]

Years later, Joseph Barbadette, who later afterwards became a priest of the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate recounted:

She was young and tall of stature, clad in a garment of deep blue, ... Her dress was covered with brilliant gold stars. The sleeves were ample and long. She wore slippers of the same blue as the dress, ornamented with gold bows. On the head was a black veil half covering the forehead, concealing the hair and ears, and falling over the shoulders. Above this was a crown resembling a diadem, higher in front than elsewhere, and widening out at the sides. A red line encircled the crown at the middle. Her hands were small and extended toward us as in the 'miraculous medal.' Her face had the most exquisite delicacy and a smile of ineffable sweetness. The eyes, of unutterable tenderness, were fixed on us. Like a true mother, she seemed happier in looking at us than we in contemplating

The Miracle after the apparition[change | change source]

In the meantime, late that night of the 17th January, General Von Schmidt of the Prussian Army who was about to run over Laval towards Pontmain, received orders from his Commander not to take the city.

On 23 January 1871, the long-hoped for Armistice was signed. The promise, "God will soon grant your request", of Our Lady of Hope had been fulfilled. Soon all the thirty-eight conscripted men and boys returned home unscathed.

On the evening of the ever-memorable 17 January 1871, the Commander of the Prussian forces, having taken up his quarters at the archiepiscopal palace of Le Mans, told Msgr. Fillion, Bishop of that diocese: "By this time my troops are at Laval". On the same evening, the Prussian troops in sight of Laval stopped at half-past five o'clock, about the time when the Apparition first appeared above Pont-Main, a few miles off. General Schmidt is reported to have said on the morning of the 18th: "We cannot go farther. Yonder, in the direction of Brittany, there is an invisible Madonna barring the way."