We Would Love
to Keep in Touch!

What are some interesting facts about the La Salette Missionaries?

Editor: This is the seventh in this series of articles based on the eight Dossiers (from February 1978 to November 1981) totaling 718 pages in this study of the La Salette Rule. In 1982, Fr. Eugene Barrette, M.S., the prime mover in this historic study, was elected the thirteenth La Salette Superior General (1982-1988). Other articles on Religious Life are available in our La Salette Online Library .

How was our formal title, Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, lost for 55 years?

A 3545 OLS HouseChapel at Balzers Liechenstein 10bLa Salette statue in our chapel in Balzers, LiechtensteinAlthough our title may seem to be a simple matter, it is worthwhile remembering that for 55 years Rome deprived us of its use. The title was given by Bishop Philibert de Bruillard (1765-1860) in his Mandate of 1852: "These priests shall be called the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette; their institution and existence shall be, like the shrine itself, an eternal monument and perpetual remembrance of Mary's merciful apparition." By title, the Bishop explicitly linked our roots to the Apparition.

In 1879, however, the Congregation presented our Rule to Rome. Then Rome granted us its "laudatory decree" and also its “observations” concerning our Rule: "In many places the constitutions mention the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the mountain of La Salette and things that are related to this. All is to be deleted. It is above all prohibited for the missionaries or members to be called Apostles of Our Lady of La Salette." Reasons?

No reasons were given by Rome, but it was understood that Rome wanted to avoid at all costs the impression that it was approving the apparition. Such approbations are given by the local Ordinary. It must also be remembered that the apparition of La Salette was experiencing a rather stormy reputation at the time. This directive resulted in the Congregation's title being changed to “Missionaries of La Salette”, since the name of the place of origin was permissible.

Read more What are some interesting facts about the La Salette Missionaries?

Fr. Jean Berthier, M.S. – A Man of Holiness and Dedication

A Passionate Missionary about his Mission

Jean BerthierFr. Jean Berthier, M.S. (1840-1908), founder of the Congregation of the Holy FamilyA missionary passionate about his mission to the service of God and the people of God: it is this passion that explains the life of Fr. Berthier. He joined the first group of Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, – a very small number – in 1862. They had pronounced religious vows for the first time only four years before, in 1858, the year when Jean Berthier entered the major seminary of Grenoble. Health problems force him to interrupt his novitiate.

In June, 1863 he went on pilgrimage to the shrine on the Holy Mountain. Among these missionaries, some believe that instead of this young Fr. be twenty-three years old, ill, is not one of them. (1).But he persevered and on September 8, 1865, he pronounced his vows as a La Salette. From then on he was fully a part of the Congregation.

He was a very active missionary in the shrine serving pilgrims, preaching missions, and as a writer. About ten days after he had made his first vows, the celebration of the anniversary of the apparition of September 19, 1846 took place at the shrine. He wrote the account published in Les Annals, a La Salette Publication. (2) Among the religious of La Salette, he was the first to write a book on Mary’s Appearance at La Salette.

The Founder of the Apostolic School

1877 First LS Apostolics 1877Class of students in 1887 at St. Joseph’s School
We can say that Fr. Berthier is at the origin of the development of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Salette in France and especially beyond France. It was indeed from the foundation by Fr. Berthier in 1876 of our Apostolic School to Corps, in the Saint Joseph house that our Institute was developed, was able to send Missionaries to Norway, then in Madagascar, and to North and South America, and elsewhere.

Read more Fr. Jean Berthier, M.S. – A Man of Holiness and Dedication

That Day and the Day After the Apparition

The fascinating portrayal of "How the News Spread" within thirty-six hours after the Apparition is here related by the facile pen of a young French writer, Fr. Yves Ferec, M.S.. The English translation of his report reads like a chapter out of Franz Weafel's, “Song of Bernadette.”

“If what you say is true, you must go and tell it to Monsieur le Curé." Baptiste Pra's voice betrayed a spark of irony which lit tiny laughing flames in his eyes: “Tomorrow is Sunday! He will tell it at Mass.”

Back from the Mountaintop to a Different World

Untitled 1Pra’s house Interior where Apparition was first retold
It was not her fault, this timid shepherd girl, if before sending her to bed her master assigned her such a task for the morrow. In that late afternoon of September 19, 1846, when she returned with her flock from the summit of Mount Gargas, she had sought refuge in the stable to milk her cows. Innocent Melanie! She quite forgot about her turbulent companion of that great day, little Maximin. Too long the hours he had spent on the quiet mountainside. The urge to cackle and rabble brooked no restraint: “Hey, Mother Caron, didn't you see a Lady on fire pass over the valley?” Thus from afar, as soon as he had sighted her, did the boy Maximin, upon returning to Ablandins, hail the shepherd girl's elderly mistress.

Soon after, the Pra household learned from his lips the great secret of that day – the most ravishing marvel of his whole life! That very afternoon, at about three o'clock, a “Beautiful Lady” had appeared up yonder, to both himself and little Melanie. This Lady was all fair, all dazzling, just as if the sun had dropped into the ravine, and she was so sweet and so alluring when she spoke to them, her eyes filled with tears, about her Son whom people on earth offended grievously.

Read more That Day and the Day After the Apparition

Popes on La Salette

Over the many years since the La Salette Apparition in 1846, many theologians, noted writers and even popes have expressed their appreciation for its message and mission. Here are but few examples for your reflection.

Pope Pius IX (1792-1878)

Untitled 1(from left) Pius IX; Leo XIII by Internet Archive Book Images; Pius X
In 1870, in a brief address to M. Similien, author of a book on La Salette, Pope Pius IX wrote:
"We rejoice that you, docile to our counsels and inspirations of your piety, have not shrunk from any work to propagate the worship of the Mother of God and to increase the splendor of the Temple dedicated to her on the mountain of La Salette."

He had declared to Bishop Ginoulhiac, Bishop of Grenoble, that it was necessary to maintain devotion to Our Lady of La Salette and said shortly before his death: "Tell the Bishop of Grenoble that I want to crown Our Lady of La Salette."

Read more Popes on La Salette

Fr. Rousselot – Mary’s Defender

Untitled 1Fr. Lionel Aubin, M.S. (1914-1969), as a young priest, author of this article
They say he was never handsome. In early infancy a victim of smallpox, the terror of mothers and the scourge of youth, he bore its lasting scar. Temporarily blind, he had but slowly recovered from this dreadful malady, not escaping entirely its hideous imprint. Pitted and extremely short in stature, he might be considered repulsive, yet those who knew him easily overlooked nature's defects, for in his grave countenance they saw reflected the kindness of Christ and the serenity of saints.

His Ministry of Teaching Other Priests

For over half a century in Grenoble's Major Seminary, his priestly heart and mind had formed other priests to continue Christ's redeeming ministry. Loudly they praised their humble professor, truly a man of God. Eloquently the learned Gury styled him an intellectual giant, while Father Auvergne, his contemporary and historian, epitomized his life in the words once applied to Barnabas by Saint Luke: "He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith."

Read more Fr. Rousselot – Mary’s Defender

La Salettes in Early 1900s

Bp. Ullathorne’s book,
published several years
after the apparition

Editor: This article simply entitled “La Salettes”, published on Oct. 26, 1901, gives a testament to our first La Salettes on the Diocese of Hartford. They were men of faith, surely making Mary’s message known in any way they could, including distributing (and selling) copies of Bp. Ullathorne’s classic book on his visit to La Salette just eight years after the apparition.

We have received from the Missionary Fathers of La Salette, Hartford, Conn., a copy of the first American edition of "The Holy Mountain of La Salette," by the well known English prelate, the Right Rev. William B. Ullathorne, O.S.B., Bishop of Birmingham from 1850 to 1887.

This book of 220 pages, with fifteen full page illustrations, treats of that mysterious apparition of the Blessed Virgin to two illiterate peasant children, Maximin Giraud and Melanie Mathieu, at La Salette, not far from Grenoble in France, on Sept. 19, 1846, which date, that year, fell on a Saturday, and the eve of the feast which celebrates the Dolors of our Blessed Mother.

The missionary priests who are now banded together in memory of this singular event have, in the Diocese of Hartford, Conn., a motherhouse for the vicariate of the United States and Canada, established in 1892, and a preparatory college; and they have branch houses at Danielson, Conn., and at Fitchburg, Mass.

Read more La Salettes in Early 1900s

La Salette’s Foundation in North America

Editor: Bp. Macaluso delivered this homily at a special Mass for the delegates to the General Chapter of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette together with the membership of the Hartford House on April 21, 2012. 
It is my particular pleasure to be with you today and to celebrate Mass for the success of your deliberations at your 2012 General Chapter being held in Willimantic, CT for the next few weeks. Part of the pleasure is that, as a youngster, my parents several times each year, would take leave of our regular parish and bring my sister and me to Our Lady of Sorrows Church for Mass, ministered by the La Salette Missionaries. We looked forward to it. 
We knew that it would mean a stirring homily and after Mass, if we had behaved, cupcakes from Michelson's Bakery around the corner. We loved and admired the La Salettes and got to know a few of them over the years but we didn't know much about the Congregation. I have learned much more about it in the past several weeks as I did research for this homily.
The first thing I have learned is that this is where it all started for your North American foundation. It is a wonderful story that I would like to repeat for you in abbreviated form. Much of it I discovered in an old commemorative booklet celebrating the Seminary's fiftieth anniversary.

Read more La Salette’s Foundation in North America