On Mélanie Calvat: Sr Mary of the Cross: Shepherdess of La Salette by Fr Paul Gouin (Review)

La Salette
Sister Mary of the Cross, Shepherdess of La Salette

As these words are typed, we are in process of publishing a series of entries on Mélanie Calvat, the first of which can be found here.

O Mélanie Calvat! How maligned you were, how very much you suffered.

For while it happened that the Church fully approved your astonishing vision of 1846 on the holy mountain of La Salette (that holy mountain I can never forget) …

After 1846, it also happened that you went through all manner of trials, as well as further mystical and visionary experience.

And the Church neither condemned all this later experience, nor gave it the same seal of approval, as it did the Apparition on that holy mountain.

Certainly it seems that much of what you did and what you stood for later on, did attract the support of holy figures, including though not limited, to Leo XIII, Bl. Pius IX and Saint Annibal Marie de Francia.

Yet, you also earned the enmity of many in high ecclesiastical positions, in France especially.

And the Catholic world has long been divided between those who rejected Mélanie Calvat on the one hand and on the other hand, a small alternative stream of people those who continued to venerate Mélanie …

My Video on Our Lady and Catholic France—Article Continues Below

In between these two extremes, stand many who are simply bewildered and confused.

Now the vast subject of this controversy is too much for us to enter into at this particular point.

And alas! – most of the literature regarding that alternative stream which venerates Mélanie Calvat is only available in French.

However, we can point the reader to the one major exception, which exists to this lamentable situation.

And this little notice is more of a ‘pointer’ and less of a review.

The major exception we have in mind, is an out-of-print English translation of an original French text: Sister Mary of the Cross, Shepherdess of La Salette by Father Paul Gouin.

And the book is clearly a labour of love, written by a French priest who devoted nearly his entire adult life to uncovering the strange story of Mélanie Calvat, Sheperdess of La Salette …

Yes here is a labour of love written by a French priest who, like ourselves, was deeply troubled by the fate of Catholic France.

For all around the Abbé Gouin, it appeared the faith was being extinguished in France.

And so the Abbé Gouin began to search for answers as to why.

And his search would take him on a journey of forty years of research into the Mystery of Mélanie Calvat (later Sister Mary of the Cross) and La Salette.

Or as a certain F. Corteville explains in a preface to this book:

Abbé Paul Gouin [in] 1911 to 1914 … visiting his parish … remarked a distressing “dechristianisation”.

What is its fundamental cause? Warned by the reading of Celle qui pleure (The One who cries) by Léon Bloy, he thinks that practical atheism which is propagated everywhere is due to the withdrawal of divine graces which make sterile the apostolate.

Why? One has refused to practice the Rule of the ORDER OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, dictated on the 19th September 1846 by the VIRGIN MARY on the Mountain of LA SALETTE … [Emphasis in original].

Yes, Abbé Gouin understood that twilight world that haunts my soul: the twilight of Catholic France.

France caught in a degeneration, whereby the light of the Faith would become ever dimmer and dimmer, resulting indeed in widespread ‘practical atheism’.

The book of Abbé Gouin’s is precious to me. For it not only illumines Mélanie Calvat, but those terrible French times in which she lived, in which she struggled with all her might in the dying twilight of the Church in France (and in similar, though less extreme, situations in Italy as well).

Dear Reader, this is as I say, less of a review, and more of a pointer, a marker.

It is mainly a pointer to the best source we know in English for those who should like to study the mysterious matter of Sister Mary of the Cross and La Salette. We should also mention that in addition to examining the later life of Mélanie Calvat, Father Gouin’s book also contains an in-depth exploration of her extraordinary childhood visions …

But this is just a little pointer for now, a very personal marker.

Speaking very personally then …

We are haunted, haunted by the fate of Catholic France.

We are haunted by how it happened that after a mighty renaissance of Catholic Faith in mid-Nineteenth Century Catholic France, that Faith began to enter a twilight, as early as the 1880s or 1890s.

Yes, the Twilight of Catholic France began as early as that, as tremendous forces of oppression were brought to bear on the Faith by a secular republic, which did everything in its power to extinguish it (e.g. exiling priests and religious from French soil, expropriating the property of the church to the State, etc) …

We cannot, we will not go into all of this now.

The interested reader will find an ongoing tapestry of pieces at this website relating to the destruction, the extinction of Catholic France.

This little pointer is just one more piece in that tapestry (Many more can be found here under the label: Catholic France).

And we will continue no doubt to add to this tapestry of that which haunts our souls, my beloved Kim and myself.

Meanwhile, if any English speaking reader cares to join us, we say to them: in this lonely English text on Sister Mary of the Cross, one will find not only testimony to a great and remarkable soul: Mélanie Calvat, but one will also find much which points to the twilight of Catholic France and the forces now working everywhere for the twilight of the Faith …


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7 responses to “On Mélanie Calvat: Sr Mary of the Cross: Shepherdess of La Salette by Fr Paul Gouin (Review)”

  1. Cheryl-Helene Thomso Avatar
    Cheryl-Helene Thomso

    As a new Catholic, baptised and confirmed in Quebec City in 2009 at the age of 58, I left English Canada to move permanently to a French-speaking area of the province of Quebec in 2011. I also wasted most of my adult life in a false religion, ‘Born Again Full Gospel Pentecostalism,’ and was a ‘Bible college’ graduate and legally ordained woman preacher/evangelist in the province of Ontario (1996). The history of Quebec, as a land especially chosen and blessed by our Holy Mother and St. Joseph, is particularly poignant, as many religious came here fleeing persecution in France. I was amazed today, July 20th, to find your essay on dear Melanie Calvat, as in the past week, I have been researching her story, rather frustrated at the lack of information available. I will try to obtain the Gouin book. Please feel free to write or email: Cheryl-Helene Thomson, P.O. Box 337, St-Medard, QC, G0L 3V0 Canada; or email me at this address: [email protected]

    1. roger Avatar

      Dear Cheryl-Helene,

      Your words here in reference to ‘dear Mélanie Calvat’ and much more are some of the most moving I have had at this site.

      All the more so, as I suspected relatively few would notice this particular post of mine, which has such personal importance for me.

      Much moves in me in response to your words. I have never been to Quebec, but have long been deeply interested in her long-held piety and devotion prior to la Révolution tranquille …

      Were I an Anglo-Canadian myself, I can safely say I would want to make exactly the choice you have made in relocation. Even if I have never been there, it is one of the places I most hope to see before I die.

      I also hear with joy the profound metanoia you have been through.

      And as for dear Mélanie Calvat …

      Yes the paucity of literature in English is lamentable.

      I am hoping I can find time to rectify that a little in the months/years ahead.

      I seem to be engaging in a long term commitment to studying the French books regarding her. I cannot help but hope that she will be one day recognised as a Saint and I cannot help but feel irresistibly drawn to her.

      So I hope in time to say much more.

      For although I cannot yet commit to it, the idea is very with me of offering English translations at this site of some her letters etc.

      Finally as some people reading this weblog can attest, I can be a very slow correspondent … terrible really … but I thank you for your addresses.

      It may take me a little time, but I will be in touch.

      For once more, I am really very deeply moved and grateful to receive your sharing of yourself and your journey here and your connexion to dear Mélanie …

  2. […] this regards, this book review concerning La Salette may also be helpful. – RB. /* This entry was posted in Tridentine Archive and tagged Catholic France, Our Lady. […]

  3. […] For that the reader must look elsewhere. The best book in English is Sister Mary of the Cross: Shepardess of La Salette by Father Paul Gouin, which we have reviewed here… […]

  4. […] « The Story of St. Bernadette and Lourdes – Part I: The First Apparitions On Mélanie Calvat: Sr Mary of the Cross: Shepherdess of La Salette by Fr Paul Gouin (Review) &raquo… […]

  5. Amanda Scully Avatar
    Amanda Scully


    The text about the Virgin of Salette is lengthy. It is not usual for the Virgin to say more than a few words. Little was said to Saint Bernadette. A smile was given to St Therese who is loved and present with others. the content is complex and negative. It is not something a normal mother would say to a child. Melanie was young and uneducated. The text cannot be correct. I urge you to revisit the text with a critical approach. I urge you to take the text out of circulation and expunge it.


    Amanda Scully.

    1. roger Avatar

      Amanda, I regret I am only responding after a long delay. I am unsure which text you mean – although I think I can say it does not feature in the blog above.

      I am changed forever by my experience of La Salette, as I have indicated.

      I am aware, of course, of the Virgin’s usual brevity. However the sum total of words at Fatima is considerable too …

      A very huge topic for a comments box. Ideally, I would like to say more in a blog post sometime. All I can say here is again, I have been profoundly and forever affected by my time at La Salette and experiences subsequent which relate to that.

  6. Kevin Avatar

    I read this post with great, great interest. There is a tragic dearth of information on La Salette available in the English language, and even less on the saintly (though so cruelly maligned, mistreated, and misunderstood) Melanie Calvat. This book of Fr Paul Gouin (a copy of which I have long sought in vain to acquire) absolutely deserves to be made widely available – as well as another book, also sadly out of print, Melanie: And the Story of La Salette by Mary Alice Dennis.

    Please, Mr. Buck, of there is ANYTHING you can do to make these two books available to the general public, either by republishing them (Angelico Press??) or serializing them on your blog (would that breach copyright? I just don’t know), I beseech you, do it! Our Lady would surely reward you.

    O Melanie, pray for us!

    1. roger Avatar

      I hear your beseeching with understanding. Alas, I would breach copyright. All I can think to do is pass this onto two publishers I know, one whom I think more likely than Angelico. I will try that one first. The Gouin book is far, FAR superior to my mind than the Dennis one. But I agree with you Melanie Calvat was very special and terribly maligned. I had the grace of visiting La Salette once – it was very special, seeming to evoke a pronounced sense of solemnity in those who visited and very different to other Marian sites I know. There is something about that at this website here, I think.

      I might add I have a non-working scanner that I need to get sorted. But feel so overwhelmed I am unlikely to take care of this for quite some time. But if you have no luck in “quite some time” you might jog my memory and just maybe …