17th century Marian Apparition approved in France

With a tip of the biretta to te Cafeteria:

From the IHT

A Roman Catholic bishop said Sunday that the church has officially recognized that the Virgin Mary appeared to a teenage shepherd girl in the French Alps starting in the mid-1600s.

The announcement marks the first time the church has recognized apparitions of the Virgin Mary in France since those in southwestern Lourdes 150 years ago, the diocese of Gap and Embrun said.

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.

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.’" The recognition process involved a panel of experts including two theologians and an investigating judge, he said.

Radio Vatican’s Web site said some 30 cardinals and bishops from around the world were expected for the Mass in Laus, to attend the "celebration" of the recognition.

Officials at Notre-Dame-du-Laus church say that after four months of daily apparitions starting in May 1664, the Virgin Mary asked Rencurel to build a church and a house to receive priests.

The sanctuary, which was founded by Rencurel, today welcomes some 120,000 pilgrims a year, at times providing healing oils based on a method that the Virgin Mary was said to pass on to the shepherd girl, the officials said.

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  1. Theodorus says:

    The link here http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/laus.htm provides a beautiful story of the apparition of Our Lady of Laus.

  2. Matt Q says:

    Wonderful! A hidden treasure uncovered, and a great blessing for France, the Church’s eldest daughter though estranged. ;) Hopefully this will increase faith in France and the rest of the Church. The messages of this apparition should be studied and incorporated into the life of the Faithful as much as Lourdes and Fatima. What a great thing for everyone.

  3. This is a blessing for the Church in France, which has been through much. Hopefully this is apart of the re-building of the Church in France..The eldest Daughter of the Church needs it, we need is as a whole. May the messaeges that came from Our Lady of Laus be an inspiriation as Fátima and Lourdes.

  4. Ray from MN says:

    If this 54 year long series of apparitions in France is indeed true, I would imagine that critics of the Medjugorje apparitions who say that the Blessed Mother had never appeared so many times over such a long period might have to re-evaluate their argument.

    Wouldn’t the Vatican have the official say over a Marian apparition?

  5. Cerimoniere says:

    Isn’t this the place where the first CIEL Colloquium was held?

  6. Jordanes says:

    Uh oh, Ray said the “M” word. . . (It doesn’t seem like these alleged apparitions bear much if any resemblance to the alleged Medjugorje apparitions, nor do the lives of the alleged Medjugorje visionaries bear any resemblance to the lives of Blessed Benoite or St. Marie Bernard of Sr. Lucia.)

    Wouldn’t the Vatican have the official say over a Marian apparition?

    No, it’s the local ordinary who has the official say. If that is not enough, then the bishops of a province or even a conference can be called upon to investigate and render a verdict. If that is not enough, the case can be referred to Rome.

    The IHT article isn’t clear just what this approval entails. The local ordinary seems to have expressed his approval, so it would appear that the case was not referred to a higher authority for investigation. (I’m not casting doubt on the alleged apparitions or questioning the local ordinary’s authority — I am just observing that the news report isn’t very clear about just who did the approving. It seems to have remained a local, diocesan investigation. I’d like to find out what is meant by “the Church has approved . . .” and read the formal decree. Hopefully that information will be coming out shortly. I believe that with the Our Lady of Laus apparitions, there has long been some sort of “unofficial” recognition, in that, despite the existence of opposition from various church authorities, the Church never issued any judgments against the alleged apparitions (unlike Medjugorje), even if she had not formally approved them.

  7. Stephen says:

    The Church has never issued any official document against Medjugorje. Pope Benedict prayed in front of a statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje for one hour on his holiday in the Alps last July(as reported by vatican Radio).Pope John Paul also expressed his belief in the apparitions as shown in letters he wrote to polish friends which were published after his death (including that he went “spiritually” to Medjugorje every day).
    The cardinal archbishop of Sarajevo has stated in recent weeks that the bishops of Bosnia have no authority over the matter-he stated that he is waiting for Rome to give further instructions.I personally have been there and found a profound spiritual atmoshere which I have not experienced anywhere else. There is far too much garbage spoken about Medjugorje-lies in fact, but that is the devil for you!

  8. Anna says:

    “Benoite Rencurel”

    Can someone please write her name phonetically in English so that I know how to pronouce her name correctly?
    Thank you!!!

  9. CK says:

    Wouldn’t the Vatican have the official say over a Marian apparition?

    It is always left up to the local bishop…his decision speaks for the Church…except in very, very rare situations when the Vatican decides that it must step in. This was and is the case with the M-word apparition site.

    In fact, one local bishop has in the past okayed a private revelation making it worthy for following, etc. only to have a later bishop question it or put it on hold or wish to investigate something more. And that is often due to the fact that all that is connected to the private revelation is not as yet over.

  10. Jordanes says:

    Stephen claimed: The Church has never issued any official document against Medjugorje.

    Except for the official judgment of the bishops of former Yugoslavia that there is no evidence that the alleged apparitions are supernatural – a judgment not yet overturned by Rome or any other church authority, and a judgment such as was never issued regarded the Laus apparitions. Negative judgments can be reversed or modified, of course. (As for the rest of your claims, true or not, I suspect Father Zuhlsdorf would prefer this discussion not get sidetracked into another Medjugorje debate.)

    Anna, I’m not sure how Blessed Benoite’s name is pronounced, but I believe it’s something like “BenWAH Ron-coo-REL.” A native French-speaker will chime in soon enough, though. (Or you could always just call her “Benedicta,” which is the Latin version of Benoite.)

  11. Paul Mac says:

    You’re right about the pronunciation, Jordanes, except that as the feminine form, enoite, ends in an “e”, the “t” is pronounced. So “ben-WAHT ron-coo-REL”. The placename, surely, would be “lohss”.

  12. Habemus Papam says:

    This is interesting. There are several local Marian Shrines arount the Lourdes area, all of them pre-dating the Apparitions at Massabielle. All have a similar message; build a Church, come here in procession, miraculous healings. Bernadette was familiar with some of these shrines (eg. Betharram) all part of her cultyre and distinctly different from those so controversial today.

  13. elizabeth mckernan says:

    Paul Mac is correct about the pronunciation of Benoite. It is a feminine form of Benoit – Benedict – so without the ‘t’ would be a masculine first name. However, regarding the place name while watching the French news on Sunday evening I noticed that the place name was pronounced as in the English word ‘Low’ by the announcer. This does not mean he is right as the locals may indeed pronounce the ‘s’ – only someone in the area would be able to say which of the pronunciations is correct.

    The French still cannot agree on whether it is Chamonix with an ‘x’ or without an ‘x’ pronounced!

  14. Malta says:

    many claim that Medjugorje can’t be true because it has been going on decades, yet this apparition lasted over 50 years.

  15. elizabeth mckernan says:

    Habemus Papam mentions the shrine at Betharram near Lourdes. There is a large Stations of the Cross there one or two of which can be seen from the train when approaching Lourdes. Nearby is the church in which is exhibited the body of a local saint.

    Sadly it now seems to be deserted except for the occasional coachload of tourists on the way back from visiting the underground caves at Betharram. These are truly spectacular and well worth visiting particularly on a very hot day as it is very cool inside.

    Betharram as a shrine today seems to have been forgotten – completely overshadowed by neighbouring Lourdes.

  16. Martha says:

    The first thing that crossed my mind in reading this, was “Oh, no–this will fuel the false hopes of Medjugorjites!

    With respect to our Holy Father’s reaction to “M”, he is reported to have been surprised (This was a couple of years ago.)at the continued credulity of people.

  17. Stephen says:

    just to clarify,you stated an official judgement had been made”against”Medugorje. That is not true. The Zadar declaration (1991) affirmed that is was not possible as yet to say whether or not something supernatural was occuring in Medjugorje. The official position is that catholics are free to believe. Mr Navarro Vals made that clear a few years ago when he was the vatican spokesman.

  18. Stephen says:

    so if Pope Benedict really said that(which i dont believe for a minute)then obviously he would have to inculde Pope John Paul II among the gullible? Cardinal Dias in an address to the Legion of Mary in May 2007 specifically mentioned Medjugorje as a marian shrine.

  19. Jane M says:

    I did a little hunting on this question last night and didn’t keep track but here’s how it came out. There was initial opposition to the apparitions, then a period of great acceptance, then one of persecution of Benoite Rencurel, finally, acceptance again before she died. Her special charism was to see into people’s hearts (like Padre Pio) and call them to confession. The confessors at the site were encouraged by her, or scolded if they were insufficiently loving to their penitents. Benoite has been declared both Venerable and Blessed, one of those in 1871. When the cause came up again in 2003 the Vatican declared that it had never approved the site and started an investigation. Which has now been concluded. Favorably.

    If you do any googling you will find some SSPX commentary on her also. Just saying.

  20. Habemus Papam says:

    Elizabeth, although I’ve been to Lourdes several times I’ve only gone once to Betharram. I recommend it to anyone going to Lourdes as St.Bernadette went there herself, walking the few miles from Lourdes. There is a tradition that the Rosary she used during the Apparitions was bought at the Shrine of Betharram and certainly when considering her vocation she went there to consult Michel Garicoits, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Betharram and the Saint you mention. His feat-day is May 14th.

  21. ALL: Medjugorje is an off limits digression in this entry and officially a rabbit hole.  Comments about Medjugorje will be deleted after this.

  22. “Comment by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf — 5 May 2008 @ 8:57 am”

    Deo gratias.

    A phenomenon that took over half a century could take at least three centuries to investigate. It is usually the responsibility of the local bishop. The result of this inquiry is good news for the “Eldest Daughter of the Church.” If anyone knows of a website dedicated to Laus, could they please post it here?

  23. Habemus Papam says:

    See the first post in this thread for a link to Our Lady of Laus.

  24. Thanks, CK and HP. Too bad there’s not an “English” button.

  25. I have to admit…I don’t necessarily find this as positive news. Between Fatima & Lourdes, I believe we have all that is needed as far as apparitions go.

  26. roger b. says:

    Thank you Greg! I totally agree with you, although I do like Our Lady of
    Guadalupe and Knock too.

  27. Jacques says:

    I am amazed it took such long a time for the official recognition. I believed it was already given since at least one century.
    ND du Laus is a lovely place in the northern part of Provence about 1 hour and half by the highway from Marseille via Aix-en Provence plus half an hour by road after the highway’s exit. The mountains are not so high, the climate is pleasant and the sun shines more than elsewhere in France.
    The correct pronunciation in French is “Lo” bcs the endind “s” is omitted.
    “Laus” means this is a place where one can find and take flat and large stones to be used for covering the roofs like very rustic tiles.
    Coming from the hot beaches of the Cote d’Azur this may be a spiritually and physically refreshing one day journey. In winter skiers may find fine ski resorts less than 50 km from this place.
    Come and enjoy without moderation.

  28. Maureen says:

    Re: “enough” apparitions

    Folks, there have been hundreds and thousands of apparitions to saints. This is not a particularly unusual phenomenon. The whole prophecy – miraculous healing — build a church thing is just a subset of the sorts of apparitions there’ve been.

    Anything that involves prophecy or miraculous healing promises is going to get investigated by the Church, because it requires a little more vigilance to make sure the faithful aren’t getting dragged into something misleading or dangerous. The Church doesn’t have to investigate Mary making visits to individuals without any big message.

  29. CK says:

    Re: “enough” apparitions

    In another apparition Our Lady is said to have remarked that, due to the times, she would appear in every house if necessary. And sometimes, with all the “appearances” on walls, trees, windows, doors, ceilings, one might think she’s certainly trying!

  30. Mark says:

    Although the actual apparitions may have just been approved, on May 23rd 1855 Blessed Piux IX had the statue of Our Lady of Laus crowned by a Papal Legate, and Pope Leo XIII declared the Church a minor Basilica; so there has been some Papal recognition of the actual Shrine of Our Lady of Laus for quite a while.

  31. CK says:

    Some more interesting facts?:


    [This article is taken from the September 15th, 1995 Issue of THE REMNANT.]

    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.


    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. (end times, before era of peace, not end of world)

    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.

  32. roger b. says:

    After reading the article from Remnant, I’ve changed my tune,
    Our Lady of Laus is good news.

  33. Jordanes says:

    Catholic News Service is reporting on this now, and they explain just how the recognition came about and what it entails:


    On some website or other, I saw a statement that said Blessed Benoite’s sainthood cause had stalled on procedural grounds (whatever that means) in the early 1900s, but in 1981 a decree from the Congregations for the Causes of Saints enabled it to be restarted (which it was in 2003, judging from the reports this week).

  34. Wolfram says:

    This event is indeed significant. In another Marion connection, there is a possibility that the Warning, a al Edmund Campion et al, may occur on the 14th of this month. Remote thought that chance maybe, it affords a good opportunity for repentance via adoration, confession, etc.

    Deus lo Vult!

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