Editor: This article was originally presented at the First International Encounter of La Salette Laity, held on the Holy Mountain of La Salette from Sept. 1-10, 2011. It was translated from Portuguese to English by Fr. Norman Butler, M.S. This is the second of three articles.
La Salette is an event and a message full of symbols.
The globe of light that surrounds Mary and the children;
The tears that constantly flow from the eyes of the Beautiful Lady and vanish as they fall into the intense light radiating from the crucifix she wears;
The chains that form a border to her shawl, symbols of oppression and of rejection of the fraternity and solidarity offered by her Son Jesus.
There are roses that accompany the chains of her shawl, and surround her head and her shoes, symbols of love, of new life so that creation no longer needs to suffer birth pangs but can become a paradise of brothers and sisters.
Each year hundreds of Catholic pilgrims converge on the Southern community of Pointe Michel on September 19th to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette, dubbed “the village feast.” The celebration is the culmination of a nine-day Novena which began with Mass presided over by our bishop and many concelebrating clergy, along with people from all over the island.
St. Luke’s Parish Church in Pointe Michel, Dominica, in the Caribbean Islands, was declared the National Shrine, and dedicated to Our Lady of La Salette by Bp. Arnold Boghaert in 1983. Having recently completed extensive renovations, it is a beautiful place of worship and a center of devotion and prayer to Our Lady of La Salette.
La Salette devotion in Dominica goes back to early February of 1872 when Fr. Desiré Clément Ardois returned from France with a beautiful statue of Our Lady as she appeared to the two little shepherd children, Maximin and Mélanie on September 19, 1846 in La Salette in France. As he was the parish priest of Pointe Michel, he had a small side chapel added to the parish church where he displayed the statue for veneration by the faithful.
Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.
Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.
Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”