Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

September 20

Blessed Maximin Giraud

Visionary of La Salette

Blessed Maximin Giraud
Blessed Maximin Giraud
O.D.M. pinxit

Yesterday was the Feast of the great Apparition of the Mother of God at La Salette in the Alps of eastern France. The Prophetess and Mother of the Latter Times, sent from Heaven, chose for one of Her auditors a young boy eleven years old, Blessed Maximin Giraud, who was a child like all the rest until he saw and heard the Lady in the circle of light. Later he himself wrote a description of Her apparition, in a brochure entitled My Profession of Faith concerning the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette. Maximin became a papal guard or zouave for a certain time, then undertook studies in medicine, but decided he could do greater good for souls by remaining at the disposition of those who were asking him to come and relate his story, to narrate the remarkable day of 1846 when he saw and heard the Lady more brilliant than the light which surrounded Her.

If My people refuse to obey, She said to the children, I will be forced to release the hand of My Son. By these words She made Herself known as the Mother of God. Maximin's account of the episode is lengthy, but we will reproduce a portion of it as the best introduction to its author, who after many trials and hardships, including extreme poverty, would finally die in 1875, in Corps, France, near the mountain of the Apparition, which he could see from his window.

With Melanie Calvat, a young shepherdess four years older than himself, Maximin had taken his herd to the extreme heights of a mountain near Corps, in the diocese of Grenoble. After their lunch the young shepherds went to watch their animals for a moment, on the far slope of a hill. Maximin wrote that as they were returning:

Melanie stopped, her staff fell from her hands. Frightened, she turned to me and said, Do you see that great light over there?' Yes, I see it,' I answered; but pick up your staff.' And then I brandished mine, threatening, If it touches me I will give it a good blow!' This light, before which that of the sun seemed to pale, then appeared to open up, and we saw within it the form of a Lady more brilliant yet. She had a white headdress, brilliant, silvery, like transparent gold, high and round at the top, slightly inclined in front... The features of Mary were pronounced and Her face heavenly, of an admirable whiteness and beauty, expressing gentleness and kindness, and bright with a marvelous light...

They heard Her voice from more than 50 feet away, telling them to come forward and not be afraid; She was there to announce great news to them. The public message of La Salette foretold chastisements for France if Her people did not cease to profane the Day of the Lord, to take His Name in vain and mock religion. All of those chastisements were realized in the following years: The potatoes turned to dust, the nuts were bad, and the grapes spoiled. And worst of all, little children died in the arms of their parents of a sickness which caused them to tremble — a sickness never before seen.

Maximin then tells how, when the Lady gave each of them a secret, the other visionary became deaf and heard nothing at all. She finally spoke again to both of them, saying that if the people were converted, the very stones and rocks would become wheat, and potatoes would be found sown in the ground. And She asked them if they said their prayers well. She had other reproaches to make for the impiety of the people, and told them to pass Her message to all Her people. He narrates that when he talked of this to the lady who employed Melanie, My words — a second sun and the Lady on fire — made her think I had lost my mind.

The two visionaries did not see each other again for three months but continued to narrate individually what they had seen. Maximin, in the succeeding days and years, was severely questioned, without ever becoming angry or revealing his secret to the curious who used every imaginable means to try to obtain it. Aren't you afraid of forgetting the secret? he was asked. If I forget it, the Blessed Virgin will be able to make me remember it again, said Maximin. The Lady you saw was just a luminous, bright cloud. But a cloud does not speak, he answered. Sir, people today mock La Salette, but it is like a flower that in winter we cover with fertilizer and mud, and which, in the spring or in summer, comes up again from the ground, more beautiful.

The history of La Salette and its secrets is not yet complete. Blessed Melanie published her Secret in 1858; by it the Blessed Virgin calls for the Apostles of the Latter Times to assemble, foretelling great chastisements before a time of peace can arrive with and through the renewal of the Church.

Maximin Giraud, Berger de La Salette, by Henri Dion (Éditions Résiac: Montsurs, 1988).