Our Lady of Pontmain
In 1871 Virgin Mary appeared again in the small village Pontmain in the west of France. It was a time of Franco – Prussian war and many were afraid the Prussian army was approaching and the next battles were expected at the nearest town Laval, some 50 km away. Still, the rural peasants were following their daily duties.
On the winter’s evening of January 17, 1871 in Pontmain, two small boys, Eugene and Joseph Barbadette, 12 and 10 years old, were helping their father at the barn to prepare food for their horses. At some moment Eugene Barbadette somehow stopped at the barn’s doorway and turned his gaze upwards to the clear winter sky lit by thousands of stars.
In one spot there were almost no stars, but suddenly Eugene saw there a figure of Lady appearing. This is how he later described his vision:
Right in the air, some 7-8 meters above the house of their neighbour Augustine Guidecoq appeared a Lady of extraordinary beauty, young like about 18 or 20 years old and very tall. She was dressed in a garment of deep blue colour. Golden stars in pentagonal form were covering her dress, all of the same size, and brilliant, but without emitting rays. They were not very numerous, and seemed to be scattered over the blue without regard to method. The blue garment was ample, showing certain strongly marked folds, and without girdle or compression of any kind from neck to the feet. The sleeves were ample and long, falling over the hands.
On the head was a black veil half covering the forehead, concealing the hair and ears, and falling over the shoulders. Above her head was a golden crown, resembling a diadem, higher in front than elsewhere, and widening out at the sides. A red line, from five to six millimetres wide, encircled the crown at about the middle. The hands were small and extended toward us as in the ‘miraculous medal,’ but without emitting rays. The face was slightly oval. To the freshness of youth was added the most exquisite delicacy of feature and of tint, the complexion being pale rather than otherwise. The Lady was smiling and looking down to people like a true mother.
Eugene called his dad and brother Joseph to see this amazing view. Joseph could see the Lady as well, but their father didn’t see anything unusual, except 3 stars around that place. They called their mother Victoire to see, but she didn’t see anything either. At her suggestion, the family knelt and prayed five Our Father’s and five Hail Mary’s.
The parents decided there is nothing worthy to see and told kids to get in the house for a supper. But after a meal boys still could see the mysterious Lady in the sky. Their mother asked: “How tall is the Lady you see?” – “Just the height of Sister Vitaline,” boys replied. The parents called Sister Vitaline, the local school teacher to come and see. Sister Vitaline also could not see anything, but she thought may be Our Lady is seen only by children. She invited two small girls to come, Francoise Richer and Jeanne-Marie Lebosse, aged nine and eleven. Without any prior knowledge they immediately started to describe the Lady exactly the same way Barbadette brothers had done before.
Soon many other people arrived, Father Guerin and many others from local parish and their neighbours, together some 8 adults. Others could not see the Lady, but saw three bright stars at the place, which usually were not seen there. As Father Guerin arrived, a small red cross appeared over Our Lady’s heart. Gradually Our Lady’s apparition started to change. An oval frame in dark blue colour around the figure appeared, darker than the garment of Our Lady itself. Four candle holders were attached inside of that frame, two near the bottom sides and two near the top sides. Each holder held an unlighted candle. The four children all were telling these details and the people were talking amongst them about what was happening.
Soon after this the children suddenly reported that the Lady has stopped smiling and were looking sad now. People knelt down and started to pray Rosary. In a while Lady smiled again and her form started to grow rapidly. “- She is now twice as big as sister Vitaline!” children reported. The blue frame around the Lady extended in proportion. The other stars of the sky appeared to move aside, rearranging themselves outside the frame but beneath Her feet.
When people finished Rosary prayers the kids saw a white banner spreading above the roof of the neighbour’s house, at the feet of Our Lady and large letters one by one being written on that banner. They recognized a letter M, than A and finally there were written a phrase in French:
Mais priez, mes enfants (“But pray, my children”)
Children were reading it aloud. As people were continuing to sing Litanies to Virgin Mary, the second line of inscription showed up:
Dieu vous exaucera en peu de temps (“God will hear you soon.”)
When people started to sing the Salve Regina the third line manifested:
Mon fils se laisse toucher (“My Son allows Himself to be touched”)
Everyone around felt very heartily touched hearing the Lady of Pontmain addressing “My Son...”
The Lady was still for a while with people. At one point again a red crucifix appeared near Our Lady and the body of Jesus Christ on the cross was clearly seen. A bright star suddenly rose from beneath the Ladies’ feet; it lit first the lower candles, than the upper and stopped above the Ladies head.
At the end of apparition the Lady assumed a form with stretched hands similar like on Miraculous Medal, but with a red cross on each of her shoulders. Then the Lady of Pontmain dissolved in the night sky. The whole apparition lasted over three hours, between 6pm to 9pm in evening.
About the same time when the apparition happened, Prussian army was a few miles from the nearby city Laval, but suddenly stopped without apparent reason. General Schmidt is reported to have said on the morning of the 18th: "We cannot go farther. Yonder, in the direction of Brittany, there is an invisible Madonna barring the way." After this occurrence the war was practically over. Ten days later, on the 28th of January, the armistice was signed at Versailles and Prussian army retired.
On February 2, 1872, the Bishop of Laval, after careful research and canonical investigation, officially approved the apparition to be of supernatural origin: “We approve that the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, truly appeared on the 17th of January 1871, to Eugène and Joseph Barbedette, Françoise Richer and Jeanne-Marie Lebossé in the hamlet of Pontmain.”
Our Lady of Pontmain is also known as Our Lady of Hope.
Prayer to Our Lady of Pontmain
Most gracious Virgin Mary, by your apparition at Pontmain, you remind us of the importance of prayer, you fortified in our hearts the hope and trust in God, and you gave us peace. Listen now with favour to our fervent prayers, so that peace may be restored in our hearts, in our families, in our country and in all nations: Peace, the fruit of justice, truth and charity. Inflame in our souls the wish to live fully our Christian faith, without any compromise, in all circumstances of our life. Help us to understand our brethren and to love them in God from the depth of our hearts. Amen.