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Le Laus, France (1664)

   
History

Traditionally Approved

40 - 999 1400 - 1499
1000 - 1099 1500 - 1599
1100 - 1199 1600 - 1699
1200 - 1299 1700 - 1799
1300 - 1399 1800 - 1899

Vatican Approved
Bishop Approved
Coptic Approved
Approved for Faith Expression
Apparitions to Saints
Unapproved Apparitions

Our Lady of Happy Meetings

       
  Our Lady of Guadalupe  

Summary

Benoite Rencurel, a poor shepherdess, was born in 1647. The Virgin Mary started appearing to her in 1664 and continued visiting her throughout the rest of her life. Rencurel died in 1718.

During the apparitions, the Blessed Mother asked for a church and a house for priests to be built, with the intension of drawing people to greater conversion, especially through the sacrament of penance. The holy site now draws 120,000 pilgrims annually. Numerous physical healings have also been associated with the site, especially when oil from a lamp is applied on the wounds according to the directives the Virgin Mary gave to Rencurel.

       

Timeline

Sept 16, 1647

Benoite (Benedicta) Rencurel is born in Saint-Étienne d'Avançon (in the southern French Alps).

1654

Benedicta's father dies. The family suffers financial difficulties with creditors.

1659

Benedicta's family was in even worse straits, so she took employment tending sheep for two masters at the same time.

May 1664

Benedicta encounters an elderly man, St. Maurice, who tells her to take her flock of sheep to the valley above Saint-Étienne where she will see the Mother of God.

May 1664

Benedicta was caring for the animals of some neighbors and praying the rosary when she saw a dazzling lady standing on a rock, holding a beautiful child in her arms. “Beautiful Lady!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing up there? Do you want to eat with me? I have some good bread which we can soften up at the fountain.” The girl’s simplicity brought a smile to the Lady’s face, but she said nothing. “Beautiful Lady! Could you give us that child? He would make us so happy.” The Lady smiled again without responding. After remaining a few minutes with Benedicta, she took the child in her arms and disappeared into a cave.

 

For four months, the Lady appeared to Benedicta every day, talking to her and preparing her for her future mission. Benedicta told the woman
who owned the flock that she cared for about the visions, but she did not believe her. One day, however, the woman secretly followed her to
the Fours valley. She didn’t see the vision, but she did hear Mary’s voice, who told Benedicta to warn her that her soul was in danger. “She
has something on her conscience,” Mary said. “Tell her to do penance.” The woman was deeply moved by the message, returned to the
sacraments and lived piously for the rest of her days.

Aug 29, 1664

Benedicta asked the Lady what her name was. She replied, “My name is Mary.”

1664-1665

During the winter, Benedicta went up to Laus frequently, each time receiving a vision of the Blessed Mother, who told her to
“pray continuously for sinners.” News of the apparitions spread throughout the entire region.

September 14, 1665

Father Antoine Lambert, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Embrun and most unsympathetic towards the apparitions, 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.

Sept 18, 1665

The apparitions were officially recognized by the diocese and that fall, construction began on a small church to receive the hundreds of pilgrims coming to visit.

Oct 7, 1666

On the 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."

1669-1679

Benedicta received five visions of the suffering Christ. On a Friday in July of 1673, the suffering Jesus told her: “My
daughter, I show myself in this state so that you can participate in my Passion.” She received the seals of mystical union with Christ, the holy stigmata. Every week from that day on, she suffered a mystical crucifixion between Thursday evening and Saturday morning. This weekly crucifixion lasted fifteen years, with a two-year interruption from 1677 to 1679, when Benoite served food to the workers who were building the priests' residence; in November 1679, the mystical crucifixion was renewed at the Cross of Avançon.

1672

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. 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."

1712

The direction of the Pilgrimage was entrusted to some good priests, called the Pères Gardistes, "a deeply religious group of sound doctrine, moved by an ardent desire for the apostolate."

Dec 28, 1718

After more than two decades of living lived as a hermit on the site of the apparitions and suffering and continual apparitions of the Blessed Mother, Benedicta received Communion on Christmas Day 1718. Three days later she made a confession, received the last rites and around 8p.m. said goodbye to those around her. Benedicta then kissed a crucifix and passed away peacefully. She died in the odor of sanctity.

1855

Pope Pius IX celebrated the coronation of the Virgin Mary at the hand of the Cardinal of Bordeaux.

1872

Pope Pius IX declared her a "Servant of God."

1893

The church in Laus was raised to the rank of a minor basilica

July 31, 1981

Reopening of Benedicta's beatification process by Blessed Pope John Paul II

May 4, 2008

Bishop Jean-Michel de Falco of Gap officially approved the apparitions: “I recognize the supernatural origin of the apparitions and the events and words experienced and narrated by Benedicta Rencurel. I encourage all of the faithful to come and pray and seek spiritual renewal at this shrine."

April 3, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtue of Benoite (Benedicta) Rencurel proclaiming her 'Venerable'.


Messages

Click here to read the messages of Le Laus.

Mary revealed herself in Laus as the reconciler and refuge of sinners, and therefore she offered signs to convince them of the need to repent. She told Benedicta that the oil from the sanctuary lamp would work miracles with the infirm if they received the anointing with faith in her intercession.

Benedicta took the mission she received from Mary seriously and dedicated herself to preparing sinners to receive the sacrament. She encouraged the two priests at the shrine to receive penitents with charity and kindness in order to help them convert.

Mary asked Benedicta to admonish women and girls about living lives of scandal, especially those who commit abortion. She also encouraged priests and religious to be faithful to their vows.


Miracles and Signs

Benita also had appearances of Christ and received the stigmata of his passion. She lived as a hermit in the place of the apparitions and became a teacher of spiritual life for all. Until the end of his life he continued to have apparitions of Mary and died in the odor of sanctity.


Shrine

During the apparitions, the Blessed Mother asked for a church and a house for priests to be built, with the intension of drawing people to greater conversion, especially through the sacrament of penance. The holy site now draws 120,000 pilgrims annually. Numerous physical healings have also been associated with the site, especially when oil from a lamp is applied on the wounds according to the directives the Virgin Mary gave to Rencural.

The Catholic philosopher Jean Guitton called it “one of the most hidden and powerful shrines of Europe.”

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Laus (French)


Approval

On September 14, 1665, Father Antoine Lambert, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Embrunand most unsympathetic towards the apparitions, 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.

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

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

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

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

Benoite thanked him humbly and promised to pray according to his intentions. Father Fraisse, the pastor of Saint-Étienne, Judge François Grimaud and Father Pierre Gaillard were also questioned. The Vicar General, instead of closing down the oratory, made a detailed inventory and wrote out a lengthy report of his pastoral visit. He had planned on leaving that evening, but heavy downpours obliged him to remain for two more days. The Blessed Virgin had arranged it thus, so that he would witness a striking miracle. A well known woman of the area by the name of Catherine Vial had been suffering for the past six years from the contraction of the nerves in her legs: they were both bent backwards and seemed bound to her body, and no effort could separate them. Her case had been declared incurable by two eminent surgeons. Having come to Laus with her mother to make a novena, she was a pity to behold, crouched all day long in the chapel. Around midnight on the last day of the novena, she suddenly felt her legs relax and begin to move. She was cured. The next morning she entered the chapel under her own power while the Vicar General was saying Mass. Her presence caused quite a stir as the people exclaimed, "Miracle! Miracle! Catherine Vial is cured!"

Moved to tears, Father Lambert had a hard time finishing his Mass. Father Gaillard, who was serving, wrote, "I am a faithful witness of all that occurred." And the Vicar General declared, "There is something extraordinary occurring in that chapel. Yes, the hand of God is there!" Father Lambert questioned the woman who had been cured and wrote out an official report of the miracle. Then he had everyone enter the chapel to sing the Te Deum and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, and he named two young priests as chaplains at Laus: Father Jean Peytieu, who would die of exhaustion at the age of forty-nine after twenty-four years of ministry totally dedicated to souls, and Father Pierre Gaillard, who exercised an exemplary ministry there for fifty years as director of the pilgrimage. Father Barthelemy Hermitte was named to serve as their assistant, which he did for twenty-eight years until his death. The Vicar General concluded by authorizing construction of the church as the Blessed Virgin had requested.

-------

During a Mass on May 4, 2008, attended by Roman Curia officials, Bishop Jean-Michel de Falco of Gap noted these are the first Marian apparitions to be approved in the 21st century by the Vatican and the Church in France. He called it the most singular event to take place in France since the apparitions of Lourdes in 1862.

“I recognize the supernatural origin of the apparitions and the events and words experienced and narrated by Benedicta Rencurel. I encourage all of the faithful to come and pray and seek spiritual renewal at this shrine,” the bishop said.

“Nobody is obliged to believe in apparitions,” he continued, “even in those officially recognized, but if they help us in our faith and our daily lives, why should we reject them?” he asked.

In this homily Mass broadcast throughout the country by France-2 Television, the bishop said, "344 year ago, Our Lady chose to address a simple shepherdess to open the way of penitence and conversion, to invite pilgrims to reconcile themselves with the world and with God."

Read official Church statements about the apparitions at Le Laus.


Prayer


Queen of Laus, kind and loving Mother, hear our pious pleas. Your son always hears your prayers, and you always hear your children. O pure Virgin, ceaselessly watch over our hearts from heaven. Let no dirt tarnish the heavenly whiteness.Be our support in virtue, all-powerful Virgin, and guide our feeble steps. If we fall, Compassionate Mother, kindly embrace us in your arms.Give us shelter under your wings when the storms burst with fury, spare us from cruel agony, and may the sinner repent with true remorse.Leave us not at our last hour, but let us sleep in peace at your maternal breast. And once awakening, drawing back the veil, we will see you in the splendor of heaven. Our Lady of Laus, Refuge of sinners, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Amen


Prayer for the beatification of Benoîte

Father, full of tenderness and mercy,
your son gave us Mary as mother.
At his request, he gave the Laus to make it the refuge of sinners.
Your servant Benoîte welcomed pilgrims and took them to the source of forgiveness and reconciliation.
We pray with confidence that she would soon be beatified and thus the Laus shines a new light, it touches more hearts and always lead more sinners to Thee.
At his intercession, deign to grant me the grace that I ask for your mercy to the praise of your love and your glory.

Amen.

Books

R. de la Briolle, Benoite, la bergiere de Notre Dame du Laus, Saint Etienne du Laus, 1967, 304 p.;

R. de la Briolle, Histoire critique du pelerinage Notre Dame du Laus et de la vie de Soeur Benoite Recurel, Laus, 1977, 4 volumes mimeographed.

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

 
   
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