Mélanie Calvat and Our Lady of La Salette—Pt. 3 The Secrets of La Salette

Our Lady of La Salette
Statue of Our Lady of La Salette at the site of the Apparition.

CJS.Org Introductory Remarks: 

This is the third part of a series of entries at this site telling the story of Mélanie Calvat and Our Lady of La Salette. Here are the parts so far:

There is also a very personal review of a haunting biography of Mélanie Calvat here.

We now take up the continued story of Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, in a third part of our account, taken from The Blessed Virgin in the Nineteenth Century: Apparitions, Revelations, Graces by Bernard St John.

Now, when this book was published in 1904, the secrets as given by Maximin and Mélanie to Pope Pius IX were not yet generally known.

However, these secrets as originally written down were discovered and published in 2002. These are now published below, following Bernard St John’s text.

Still, it needs to be said that a lengthier version of Mélanie Calvat’s secret has long been available.

This alternate, longer version had been published in the 1870s, for Mélanie Calvat had understood that the Blessed Virgin gave her permission to release it after 1858.

This publication of Mélanie’s secret was to stir great controversy and bring her very great suffering indeed.

All of this we hope to consider in further parts of this series, wherein we will follow Melanie’s story till her death in 1904 and also publish a very lengthy account by herself, not only of the secret, but also of the apparition.

However, before all of this, we continue first with Bernard St John’s 1904 account of Mélanie, Maximin giving the secrets to Bl. Pius IX (For this great Pope was raised to the status of ‘Blessed’ in the year 2000). And then as stated, we offer the recently discovered versions published in 1902.

And to be clear, it is only with our fifth part that the extended secret will be offered and its difficult nature examined somewhat, once Melanie’s history has been more fully considered. Now we continue from Bernard St John—RB

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Bernard St. John on the Secrets

To return to the body of our subject. Owing to the increase of opposition to the devotion of La Salette, consequent on Maximin’s visit to Ars, Cardinal Bonald, Archbishop of Lyons, thought it time to interfere.

He proposed that the secrets of which the two voyants claimed to be in possession should be laid before Pius IX. The Pope having been communicated with on the subject, Cardinal Bonald wrote shortly afterwards to M. Rousselot to the effect that the reputed secrets of La Salette should be revealed to His Holiness.

When Mélanie and Maximin, hitherto impervious to all arguments on the subject, understood that the Church had a right to command in such matters, they consented to reveal their respective secrets to the Pope, but to him only, stipulating at the same time that the letters containing these secrets should be sealed by them and given into the hands of His Holiness by the persons whose task it would be to convey the missives to Rome.

Accordingly, shortly afterwards, on a day in July, 1851, Mélanie and Maximin were to be seen writing at separate tables in a room in the Bishop’s palace at Grenoble. Four witnesses were present, but at a distance from the writers, two of these being vicars-general of the diocese.

The girl, by this time nineteen, while writing, asked the meaning of the word infailliblement. She was told that the sense of the word depended on that of other words going before it. Arrivera infailliblement, she said. Presently she asked the meaning of the word souillé. The sense of that, too, she was told, depended on the context. Ville souillée, she replied. Her last question was as to the spelling of the word antichrist.

The boy, as he wrote, asked how to spell the word Pontiff. His letter was divided into paragraphs, each numbered. All we know of it is that it began thus: “Very Holy Father, September 19th, 1846, there appeared to me a lady (une dame). People say it was the Blessed Virgin. You will judge from what follows.”

Of Mélanie’s letter nothing is known. The Bishop entered, spoke a few words to the boy and the maiden, and blessed them both.

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The letters being by this time finished and closed, Mgr. Brouillard sealed them with his arms and gave them into the hands of his vicars-general, M. Melin and M. Rousselot, who were about to proceed to Rome as his delegates in order to lay the documents in question before the Holy Father.

M. Rousselot’s account of what took place in Rome relative to this subject is of historic value. He said that Pius IX, before perusing the letters, said: “I must read these with a clear head,” and that the Pontiff then went towards the window to have more light.

“They write with the candour and simplicity of children,” were His Holiness next words.

According to M. Rousselot, as the Pope read, his lips became contracted and his cheeks as if inflated. Having read to the end, he exclaimed: “It is question of calamities that threaten France. But France is not the only culprit. Germany, Italy, and the whole of Europe are likewise deserving of chastisement. I fear open impiety less than I do indifference and human respect. It is not without cause that the Church is called militant. You see here her captain.” Pointing to his breast, the Holy Father thus designated himself.

[Again: The interested reader will find the secrets below. First we continue from Bernard St John’s text.]

Bl. Pius IX as he was represented and revered in his time.

He continued, addressing M. Rousselot and alluding to that priest’s recent work on La Salette: “I have had your work read by Mgr. Frattini, Promoter of the Faith, who tells me that he is pleased with it, that it is a good book, and that it breathes truth throughout.”

Alluding to Mgr. Frattini, M. Rousselot says: “On my first visit to him he told me that, having attentively read my books on La Salette from beginning to end, as it was his duty to do, he saw no drawback to the Bishop of Grenoble’s erecting a chapel of imposing dimensions on the site of the Apparition, or to as many ex voto offerings of gratitude being affixed to the walls of the building thus erected, as there are miracles recorded in my books.”

About the same time, Cardinal Lambruschini, Prefect of the Congregation of Rites and Minister of his Holiness, said to M. Rousselot: “For some time past I have been familiar with the affair of La Salette, and as a bishop, I believe in it. Moreover, I know the secrets of Mélanie and Maximin, the Pope having made me acquainted with them.”

Thus the journey to Ars, which had at first seemed fraught with evil, was already productive of good. The fact of the secrets of La Salette not having been revealed, had up to that time deterred the Bishop of Grenoble from formally pronouncing on the question of the Apparition.

Now, this canonical decision of his was not to be long in forthcoming. In the form of a pastoral letter, which had been submitted to Rome for approval, it was read for the first time from the pulpits of the diocese of Grenoble, November 10th, 1851. In it Mgr. Brouillard declared that the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to the two little cowherds at La Salette, a mountain of the Alpine chain, was characterized by all the conditions of truth. He consequently authorized devotion to Notre-Dame de La Salette …

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A few months later, Mgr. Bruillard took a further step. In May, 1852, he issued a pastoral letter relative to the laying of the foundation stone of the commemorative building on the site of the Apparition, which in the beginning had been alluded to as a chapel, and which in the end was to assume the proportions of an imposing church.

After tracing in brief lines the history of the Apparition, the bishop said that henceforward La Salette, as a site of pilgrimage, would be to the Christian world a “Sion’s fortress” “a city of refuge.”

He said too that a body of missionaries was about to be instituted, who were to be known as Missionaries of Notre-Dame de la Salette, whose very existence, as well as the building, with the erection of which they were then concerned, would serve as a perpetual remembrance of the merciful Apparition of the Blessed Virgin on the spot. The Bishop of Grenoble was, at that time, eighty-five years of age.

The ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new building took place on the 25th of the same month, and drew together some twenty thousand persons. Numbers of women were in white, and numbers of men in the garb of penitents. All the previous night crowds had been gathering to the spot. Bands of pilgrims sang as they drew near.

Masses at Mount Gargas commenced at one o’clock in the morning and continued, so that by the time the rising sun had flushed the Alpine heights around, three thousand persons had communicated at improvised altars. When day light shed splendour on the scene, the Bishops of Grenoble and Valence, in presence of a reverent multitude, laid the foundation stone of the future church of Notre-Dame de la Salette.

In a pastoral letter relative to the occasion Mgr. Bruillard said: “Seldom since the beginning of Christianity has a bishop been called upon to proclaim the truth of an Apparition of the august Mother of God. Happiness of this kind has been granted us by Heaven.”

It had been known in certain circles that Pius IX. was favourable to the cause of La Salette. A succession of Papal Briefs and Rescripts was about to make this truth public. By a Rescript of August 24th, 1852, His Holiness declares the High Altar of the church of La Salette a privileged one in perpetuity; and by another, dated two days later, he grants permission to all priests who go to La Salette to say a votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin on any day of the year, great festival days and those of the privileged feriae excepted.

By a Brief of the same date the Sovereign Pontiff grants to members of the Confraternity of La Salette, three plenary indulgences on certain conditions; by another Brief, dated September 3rd, 1852, a plenary indulgence once a year to all who shall visit the church of La Salette; and by another, also dated September 3rd, 1852, a plenary indulgence on certain conditions to the faithful who take part in the exercises of the missions preached by the missionaries of La Salette.

There were three more Papal Briefs in the same month, two conferring spiritual powers on the missionaries of La Salette, and one raising the Confraternity, founded by Mgr. Bruillard soon after the Apparition, to an Archconfraternity, under the title of that of Our Lady of Reconciliation of La Salette.

A great and crowning favour on the part of Rome had yet to come. It came in the form of an Indult of December 2nd, 1852, granting permission to solemnize each year September 19th, the anniversary of the Apparition, in all the churches of the dioceses of Grenoble; or to celebrate the same the following Sunday by a solemn Mass and the singing of the Vespers of the Blessed Virgin.

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Afterword: The Secrets of La Salette

We now turn to the recent 2002 publication of the original versions of the secrets, published by Fathers René Laurentin and Michel Corteville in their 2002 book ‘Découverte du secret de la Salette’:

Taken together, we will see that the secrets taken on an almost apocalyptic hue, particularly when combined with the later version given by Melanie (to be published in the fifth part of this series).

But for the moment, here is a translation of the text of the secret given by the Virgin Mary to Maximin Giraud, as written down in a letter to Pope Pius IX in 1851.

On September 19, 1846, we saw a beautiful Lady. We never said that this lady was the Blessed Virgin but we always said that it was a beautiful Lady. I do not know if it is the Blessed Virgin or another person. As for me, I believe today that it is the Blessed Virgin.

Here is what this Lady said to me:

If my people continue, what I will say to you will arrive earlier, if it changes a little, it will be a little later.

France has corrupted the universe, one day it will be punished.

The faith will die out in France: three quarters of France will not practice religion anymore, or almost no more, the other part will practice it without really practicing it.

Then, after [that], nations will convert, the faith will be rekindled everywhere.

A great country, now Protestant, in the north of Europe, will be converted; by the support of this country all the other nations of the world will be converted.

Before all that arrives, great disorders will arrive, in the Church, and everywhere. Then, after [that], our Holy Father the Pope will be persecuted. His successor will be a pontiff that nobody expects.

Then, after [that], a great peace will come, but it will not last a long time. A monster will come to disturb it.

All that I tell you here will arrive in the other century, [at the latest in the year two thousand.]*

Maximin Giraud (She told me to say it some time before.)

My Most Holy Father, your holy blessing to one of your sheep. Grenoble, July 3, 1851.

[Note: * I have placed these words in brackets, having received report of an alternate version in the French, which may read differently. I am currently investigating.]

Here is the text of the secret given by the Virgin Mary to Mélanie Calvat, as written down in a letter to Pope Pius IX in 1851:

Secret which the Blessed Virgin gave me on the Mountain of La Salette on September 19, 1846.

Mélanie, I will say something to you which you will not say to anybody: The time of the God’s wrath has arrived!

If, when you say to the people what I have said to you so far, and what I will still ask you to say, if, after that, they do not convert, (if they do not do penance, and they do not cease working on Sunday, and if they continue to blaspheme the Holy Name of God), in a word, if the face of the earth does not change, God will be avenged against the people ungrateful and slave of the demon.

My Son will make his power manifest! Paris, this city soiled by all kinds of crimes, will perish infallibly.

Marseilles will be destroyed in a little time.

When these things arrive, the disorder will be complete on the earth, the world will be given up to its impious passions.

The pope will be persecuted from all sides, they will shoot at him, they will want to put him to death, but no one will not be able to do it, the Vicar of God will triumph again this time.

The priests and the Sisters, and the true servants of my Son will be persecuted, and several will die for the faith of Jesus-Christ.

A famine will reign at the same time.

After all these will have arrived, many will recognize the hand of God on them, they will convert, and do penance for their sins.

A great king will go up on the throne, and will reign a few years.

Religion will re-flourish and spread all over the world, and there will be a great abundance, the world, glad not to be lacking nothing, will fall again in its disorders, will give up God, and will be prone to its criminal passions.

[Among] God’s ministers, and the Spouses of Jesus-Christ, there will be some who will go astray, and that will be the most terrible.

Lastly, hell will reign on earth. It will be then that the Antichrist will be born of a Sister, but woe to her! Many will believe in him, because he will claim to have come from heaven, woe to those who will believe in him!

That time is not far away, twice 50 years will not go by.

My child, you will not say what I have just said to you. (You will not say it to anybody, you will not say if you must say it one day, you will not say what that it concerns), finally you will say nothing anymore until I tell you to say it!

I pray to Our Holy Father the Pope to give me his holy blessing.

Mélanie Mathieu, Shepherdess of La Salette,

Grenoble, July 6, 1851.


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It should be noted that the text above has been very, very minimally edited – mainly to break up long paragraphs for easier reading from a computer screen. Nothing of any substance whatsoever has been altered. Also to help navigate through this series, we offer:

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