The Doctrinal Decision given by the Bishop, with the Sanction and Encouragement of the Holy See.
“We pronounce that the Apparition
of the Blessed Virgin to two shepherds, on the 19th of September 1846, on a mountain of the chain of the Alps, situated in the parish of La Salette, and in the archpresbytery of Corps, bears in itself all the marks of truth, and that the faithful may with
justice believe it to be indubitable and certain.”
(Philibert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grénoble, Sep. 19th, 1851)
of Grénoble [Philibert de Bruillard], immediately after the event of La Salette became known, in order to prevent any mal-apprehension of the real state of things, commanded his clergy, under pain of instant suspension, to abstain from preaching
the miracle, and urged upon them the greatest reserve in every way. Meanwhile no effort was spared to come at the truth. An immense quantity of statements were prepared and sent to the episcopal palace. They were written by all sorts of persons, by ecclesiastics
and laymen, the rich and the poor, the learned and ignorant. The Bishop appointed two commissions to examine these documents. Other commissions were named for interrogating the children. Others, again, were sent through the different dioceses of France, for
the purpose of collecting information regarding the various miracles reported to have occurred in connection with La Salette. Priests, laics, and especially the medical men, were carefully questioned. In fine, everything was done which prudence or piety could
suggest. The ecclesiastical commissioners drew up their report, strongly affirming the truth of La Salette. The civil authorities made also their investigation, and a strict one it was; but neither could they discover the slightest grounds for presuming that
an imposition had been practised. All bore the liveliest impress of truth.
At length, after a delay of five years, on the fifth anniversary of the Apparition,
the Bishop gave his doctrinal judgment favourably to Salette, in a pastoral letter, which had previously been submitted to the private correction of his Holiness the Supreme Pontiff. The following is a faithful translation of this celebrated document.
To the Clergy and Faithful of our diocese, health
and benediction in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dearly beloved brethren,
An event of the most extraordinary kind, and which appeared at first incredible, was announced to us five years ago, as having occurred upon one of the mountains of our diocese. There was question of nothing less than a vision of
the Blessed Virgin, which it was said had appeared to two shepherds, on the 19th of September, 1846. She was reported to have spoken to them of certain evils which were threatening her people, especially on account of the prevailing sins of blasphemy, and
the profanation of the Sunday, and also to have confided a secret to each, forbidding them to communicate it to anyone.
Notwithstanding the natural candour
of the two shepherds, notwithstanding the impossibility of a conspiracy between two ignorant children, who scarcely knew each other, notwithstanding the constancy and firmness of their testimony, which has never varied either in the presence of the civil power
or before thousands of persons, who have exhausted every art and allurement to betray them into a contradiction, or to obtain the revelation of their secret, it has been our duty, for a considerable period, to proceed but slowly in admitting, as incontestable,
an event which seemed to us so wonderful. An act of precipitation on our part would not merely have been at variance with that prudence which the great apostle recommends to a bishop, but it would also have helped to strengthen the prejudice of the enemies
of our Faith, as well as that of many who are Catholics, so to speak, only in name. Besides, whilst numbers of pious souls already believed the story with great eagerness, we were engaged in searching out every objection which might be available in case it
could not be proved. We have even hitherto risked the reproaches of which we well knew we might be the object on the part of persons who, with the best intentions, might perhaps have accused us of indifference, or even incredulity in this matter. We were not
ignorant, either, that the religion of Jesus Christ has no need of this particular fact, in order to establish the truth of a thousand other heavenly apparitions, which it is impossible to reject without disposing oneself to impiety and blasphemy in regard
of the Old and New Testament. Our silence, it is true, was not the effect of a vain fear, which might have naturally inspired us, by reason of the clamour raised throughout France by certain spirits against this fact, as against so many others affecting religion.
This silence was but to follow the admonition of the Holy Spirit itself, which teaches that he who believes quickly is but of light mind, “He that is hasty to give credit, is light of heart.” (Eccles, xix. 4) This is what has imposed upon
us the duty of the most careful prudence, principally because of our position as chief pastor.
On the other hand, we were strictly careful not to allow
ourselves to think that the Lord might not have permitted an event to happen, (who would dare to deny it?) by which He might have been glorified: for His arm is not straitened, and His power is the same today as in past ages.
At the foot of the altar, we have also often meditated on those words in which the great Apostle addressed a holy bishop whom he had ordained, “If we fail in Faith, our incredulity
hinders not God, who cannot deny Himself, from being faithful in that which He announces—if we believe not, he continueth faithful, he cannot deny himself.” (II Tim, ii. 13) “Advise the faithful of these things, and bear witness
to the truth before the Lord. Do not for that lose time, disputing in words; which serves but to pervert those who hear them.” (Ibid. 14.)
our episcopal charge made it a duty for us to wait patiently, to reflect, to implore with fervour the lights of the Holy Spirit, the number of wonderful facts which were being published went on always increasing. One heard of extraordinary cures, worked in
various parts of France, and in other countries, even far distant ones. The cases were generally those of sick persons, whose recovery had been despaired of by the doctors, or confirmed invalids, who were reported to have been restored to perfect health after
invoking our Lady of La Salette, and partaking with faith of the water of a fountain near which the Queen of heaven was said to have appeared to the two shepherds. From the first we had heard of this fountain. We had been assured that its course was intermittent,
and flowed only after the melting of the snows, or after abundant rain. It was dried up on the 19th of September: the next day it began to flow, and has continued flowing without interruption ever since. It is a water, wonderful, if not in its origin, at least
so in its effects. Accounts without number, as well of the event of La Salette as of the wondrous cures which have followed it, had already reached us, and were still coming to us from the neighbouring towns and from various dioceses, some in writing, others
printed. One of these accounts has for its author one of our venerable colleagues (His Lordship the Bishop of La Rochelle), who made a journey from the shores of the ocean to the mountain in question, and spoke and conversed with the two shepherds
in a fatherly manner during almost an entire day.
Another fact, which has appeared to us almost miraculous, is the concourse hardly credible, which has
incontestably taken place on this mountain at different times, but especially on the anniversary of the Apparition: a concourse the more astonishing, when the great distance and other difficulties which a pilgrimage of the sort presents are considered.
Some months after the event, we had already consulted our chapter and the professors of our seminary: but, in consideration of all the facts narrated above, and
many others which it would be too long to mention, we judged it proper to organize a numerous commission, composed of men of standing, learned and pious, whose duty it should be to examine and discuss the fact of the Apparition and its results. The
sittings of this commission have been held in our presence. The two shepherds, who were said to have been favoured with the visit of the heavenly Messenger, were there interrogated, separately and together; their answers have been weighed and discussed;
all the objections, which it was possible to oppose to the facts related, were freely made. One of our vicars general, who had been appointed by us to collect the different facts, had likewise the duty imposed upon him of drawing up a report on the sessions
of the commission, and of arranging the answers to the objections. The work entitled, “La véritè sur l'evénement de La Salette,” which has been executed conscientiously and impartially, and to the publication of which we gave
our approbation, is an evidence to what extent, and with what persevering attention, the examination was carried out.
Although our conviction was already
complete and without a cloud at the conclusion of the sittings of the commission, which were brought to a close on the 13th of Dec., 1847, we were still reluctant to pronounce a doctrinal judgment upon a matter of such importance. However the work of the Abbé
Rousselot received, in a short time, the adhesion and consenting voice of several bishops, and of a number of persons distinguished for learning and piety. We have been informed that this book has been translated into all the European languages. Numerous works
on the same matter appeared anew, and almost simultaneously, in different countries, published by worthy persons who had come to the scene of action for the express purpose of finding out the truth. The pilgrimage did not abate in vigour. Important personages,
vicars-general, professors of theology, distinguished priests and laymen, have made journeys of many hundreds of miles, to offer to the Virgin, powerful and full of goodness, their pious sentiments of love and gratitude for the cures and other blessings
they had obtained. These marvels were continually being attributed to the invocation of our Lady of La Salette, and we know that several amongst them are regarded as truly miraculous by the bishops in whose dioceses they have occurred. All this is placed beyond
doubt in a second volume, published by M. Rousselot, in 1850, and entitled, “Nouveaux documents sur l'événement de La Salette.” The author might have added that illustrious prelates of the Church were engaged in preaching the Apparition;
that in not a few places, and with the sanction at least tacitly given of our venerable colleagues, pious persons had caused chapels to be constructed, which were already much frequented, under the name of our Lady of La Salette—or that they caused beautiful
statues to be placed in her honour in the parish churches—that in fine, many petitions were being presented for the erection of a sanctuary which should perpetuate the remembrance of this great event.
It is well known that people have not been wanting to oppose us. What moral truth, what fact human or divine has been without such? But in order to destroy our belief in so extraordinary an event, so
inexplicable without the divine intervention, the circumstances and results of which combine so together in showing the finger of God, another fact was requisite, as extraordinary, as inexplicable as that of La Salette, or at least which might explain the
latter in a natural way; but this is what we have not met with, and we declare loudly our convictions.
We have redoubled our prayers, conjuring the Holy
Spirit to assist us, and to communicate to us His divine lights. In all confidence, we have likewise claimed the protection of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, looking upon it as one of our sweetest and most sacred duties to omit nothing which can
contribute to increase the devotion of the faithful towards her, and to testify our acknowledgments to her for the special favour of which our diocese was believed to have been the object. For the rest, we have never lost our disposition to entrench ourselves
scrupulously within the holy rules which the Church has traced out for us in the writings of learned doctors, and even to reconsider our judgment on this subject, as upon every other, if the Chair of St. Peter, the mother and mistress of all the Churches,
should think proper to pronounce judgment contrary to ours.
Such were our dispositions and feelings, when Divine Providence furnished us with the means
of enjoining upon the two favoured children the task of communicating their secret to our most holy Father Pope Pius IX. When they heard mention of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the shepherds understood that their duty was to obey. They made up their minds to
reveal to the Sovereign Pontiff a secret which they had hitherto kept with an invincible constancy, and which nothing had been able to tear from them. They wrote it down therefore themselves, each one separately: they then folded and sealed their letters,
in the presence of respectable persons, whom we had appointed to act as witnesses, and we charged two priests, in whose trustworthiness we place every confidence, to be the bearers of this mysterious message to Rome. Thus the last objection, which used to
be urged against the Apparition, fell to the ground, namely, that there was no secret, or that this secret was of no import, that it was even childish, and that the children were not willing to make it known to the Church.
“Resting on the principles taught us by Pope Benedict
XIV, and following in the path marked out by him in his immortal work on the ‘Beatification and Canonization of Saints’ (Bk. ii. ch. 1. no. 12.):
“Having before our mind the account written by the Abbé Rousselot, one of our vicars-general, and printed under this title, ‘La verité sur l’évènement de La Salette,’ Grénoble, 1848:
“Having before our mind also, ‘Les nouveaux; documents sur l’évènement de La Salette, published by the same author, in 1850;
both works having received our approbation:
“Having listened to the discussions on both sides of the question, which have taken place before us
upon this affair in the sessions of the 8th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, and 29th of November, the 6th and 13th of December, 1847:
“Having seen likewise,
or heard whatever has been said or written since this period, for or against the event:
“Considering, in the first place, that it is impossible
to explain the affair of La Salette other than by divine intervention, in whatever manner we regard it, whether in itself, whether in the circumstances connected with it, or in its object which is essentially of a religious tendency:
“Considering, in the second place, that the marvellous consequences of the event of La Salette are the testimony of God Himself, which manifest themselves by miracles, and that
this testimony is higher than that of men and their objections:
“Considering that these two motives taken apart, and with greater reason when taken
together, ought to settle the whole question, and outweigh whatever value there might be in the contrary pretensions or suppositions, with which we declare ourselves to be perfectly acquainted:
“Considering, in fine, that docility and submission to the warnings of heaven may preserve us from the fresh chastisements with which we are menaced, whereas resistance of too long a duration may expose us to evils
“At the express petition of all the members of our venerable Chapter, and of by far the great majority of the priests of our diocese:
“In order to satisfy also the just expectations of so many pious souls, belonging as well to our fatherland as to other countries, who might at length reproach
us with holding captive the truth:
“Having invoked again the Holy Spirit and the assistance of the Immaculate Virgin:
“We declare as follows:
Art. 1. We pronounce that the
Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to two shepherds, on the 19th of September 1846, on a mountain of the chain of the Alps, situated in the parish of La Salette, and in the archpresbytery of Corps, bears in itself all the marks of truth, and that the faithful
may with justice believe it to be indubitable and certain.
Art. 2. We believe that this fact acquires a new degree of certitude, by the immense and spontaneous
concourse of the faithful upon the spot of the Apparition, as well as by the multitude of miracles which have followed the said event, and a great number of which it is impossible to question without violence to the rules of human testimony.
Art. 3. Wherefore, in order to testify in a lively manner our gratitude to God and the glorious Virgin Mary, we authorize the devotion to our Lady of La Salette. We
permit it to be preached, and allow the moral and practical consequences resulting from this great event to be drawn from it.
Art. 4. We nevertheless
prohibit the publication of any particular form of prayers, hymns, or any book of devotion, without our sanction given in writing.
Art. 5. We expressly
forbid the faithful, or the priests of our diocese, ever to lift their voice in public or to write against the fact which we now proclaim, and which henceforth calls for the respect of all.
Art. 6. We have lately obtained possession of the ground favoured by the heavenly vision. We propose to ourselves to construct there without delay, a church, which may be a monument of the merciful goodness of Mary to us,
and of our gratitude towards her. We have also formed the project of establishing an hospital for the shelter of pilgrims. But these structures, in a place of such difficult access, and without resources, will demand a considerable outlay. We have counted
upon the generous assistance of the priests and people, not only of our diocese, but of France and of foreign countries. We do not hesitate to make them an appeal, which we do with the more earnestness, as already we have received numerous promises, although
still insufficient for the undertaking in hand. We beg those devout persons who may feel inclined to help us, to send their offerings to the office of the secretary of our bishopric. A commission composed of priests and laymen, is charged with the duty of
overseeing the works, and laying out the funds at command.
Art. 7. Lastly, as the principal object of the Apparition was to call back Christians to the
fulfilment of their religious duties, to the worship of God, to the observance of His commandments and those of the Church, to a horror of blasphemy and to the sanctification of the Sunday, we conjure you, beloved brethren, out of regard to your eternal and
even temporal interests, to enter seriously into yourselves, to do penance for your sins, and particularly for those you have committed against the second and third commandments of God. We conjure you, our dearly beloved brethren, become docile to the voice
of Mary, who invites you to do penance, and who, on the part of her Son, threatens you with spiritual and temporal evils, if, by remaining insensible to her maternal warnings, you harden still more your hearts.
Art. 8. We wish and ordain that this our pastoral letter be read and published in all the churches and chapels of our diocese, at the parish mass or at the community mass, on the Sunday immediately following
Given at Grenoble, under our signature, the seal of our arms, and the countersign of our secretary, the 19th of September, 1851, (fifth
anniversary of the famous Apparition).
✠ PHILIBERT, Bishop of Grénoble,
Honorary Canon, Secretary.
This magnificent pastoral letter was received with
great joy and eagerness, throughout the Catholic world. Bishops reprinted it for their own dioceses, or embodied it in their own pastorals. It was copied into nearly all, if not all, the Catholic journals in Europe, and was even published in the religious
periodicals of Rome, without correction from the severe censorship practised in the holy city. Yet Rome, with that caution and prudence which is her characteristic, did not pronounce that final decision which brings all discussions to a close. She has nevertheless
permitted us to believe in the Apparition, by authorizing the clergy, in a solemn indult, to “celebrate the remembrance of this Apparition,” by certain Masses and Offices appointed to be said on the anniversary itself, and on certain feasts. Rome
is therefore with us, having implicitly sanctioned everything that has been done by the Bishop of Grénoble all through the affair. But the best proof of the encouragement given by the Holy See to the devotions of La Salette, is the
great number of spiritual advantages granted by the Sovereign Pontiff in favour of the confraternities and pilgrimages connected with it. The list is as follows:—
I. By a Rescript of the 24th of August, 1852, the Sovereign Pontiff declared the High Altar of the Sanctuary of La Salette, a privileged Altar in perpetuity.
II. By a Rescript of the 26th of August, 1852, he grants permission to say a votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin to all priests who come to La Salette, on any day of the year except on the great Festivals and privileged Ferias.
III. By a Brief of the 26th of August, 1852, the Sovereign Pontiff grants to the members of the Confraternity of La Salette 1. A plenary indulgence on the day of
entering the Confraternity.
2. A plenary indulgence at the hour of death.
3. A plenary indulgence once a year,
the day of the principal festival of the Confraternity.
4. An indulgence of seven years and seven quarantines, four times a year, on days appointed by the Ordinary.
5. Sixty days indulgence for every work of piety or charity performed by the members.
a Brief of the 3rd of September, 1852, the Sovereign Pontiff grants a plenary indulgence once a year, to every one who visits the Church of La Salette. (Note: This Church is currently under the control of the unlawful Vatican
II sect's, "puppet government in Rome." Use extreme caution. -The Webmaster)
V. By another Brief of the same date he grants,
1. A plenary indulgence to the faithful who follow the exercises of the missions given by the missionaries of La Salette, provided they have assisted at three, at least, of the discourses.
2. Two hundred days indulgence each time they assist at one of the discourses.
a Brief of the 17th of September, 1852, His Holiness grants to ten of the missionaries of La Salette, the power to indulgence crosses, medals, and beads.
By a Brief of the same date, he gives the missionaries of La Salette the power of conferring the Scapular.
VIII. By a Brief of the same date, the Confraternity
of La Salette is erected into an Arch-confraternity, under the name of our Lady of Reconciliation of La Salette.
IX. Lastly, by an Indult of the 2nd of
December, 1852, granted at the request of the Bishop of Grénoble, the Sovereign Pcntiff gives permission to solemnize publicly the Apparition of La Salette each year, on the 19th of September, the day of the anniversary, or on the Sunday following,
by the singing of a solemn Mass and Vespers of the Blessed Virgin, in all the Churches of the diocese of Grénoble. The clergy are also authorized to celebrate the memory of the Apparition; by saying on that day the entire Office and Mass of the Patronage
of the Blessed Virgin.
Taken from: Manual of the Confraternity of La Salette, by Rev. John Wyse (Catholic Priest), 1855,
Nihil Obstat, Bishop of Birmingham, June 9th, 1855.
Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of sinners,
pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to thee.