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Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:
On September 19, 1846, two children in the French village of La Salette saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Eleven-year-old Maximin Giraud and his friend Mélanie Matthieu (some sources say she was fourteen, others fifteen) saw a beautiful woman inside a glowing sphere of light. The woman, who was weeping and wore a crucifix around her neck, spoke to the children and told them of her sadness at the sins of humanity. She expressed her sorrow that the faithful were not observing Sunday as the Lord’s day, urged the children to pray morning and evening, and warned of an impending epidemic of disease as well as the failure of several kinds of crops. She also gave the children private messages, telling them to share them only with the pope.
Maximin and Mélanie reported the apparition to their parish priest, and word got out around the town. A dry spring at the apparition site began to flow again, and several people were cured in the waters. The local bishop began an investigation, and in 1851 the apparition was named worthy of belief. The prophecies about the failed crops and epidemics did come true in the years following the vision, which also helped lend credibility to the apparition.
It’s worth noting that the apparition at La Salette, like all apparitions judged “worthy of belief,” fits into the category of “private revelation.” Belief in these apparitions is not a required part of the Catholic faith. The Church offers an implicit invitation to reflect on these apparitions and see how they might speak to our own faith lives.