Before the apparition,
La Salette was an unknown hamlet lost in one of those giant crevices of the French Alps. Early on September 19, 1846, the two children climb the slopes of the Mount Sous-Les-Baisses, each urging four cows up the mountain. Contrary to their habits, the two children lay down on the grass and fell asleep. The September sun was relaxing and the sky was cloudless. The chattering brook highlighted the mountain stillness. These were quiet moments.
Mélanie woke up with a start and shook Maximin! “Mémin, Mémin, get up! Let's go look for our cows. I don't know where they are!” Near the small brook on one of those stone benches there was a globe of fire. A woman appeared within the light; she was sitting, her head in her hands, her elbows on her knees, in deepest grief.
The Lady rose slowly. The children had not moved. She spoke to them in French: “Come near, my children, do not be afraid. I am here to tell you great news.” They approached the Lady. The beautiful Lady spoke to the two shepherds. “She wept all the while she spoke to us”, said Maximin and Mélanie later. “We listened. All our attention was on her.”
Mary's message to the two children at La Salette was the warning of a mother concerned over her wayward children. She complained: “If my people refuse to submit, I will be forced to let go the arm of my Son” and more specifically: “Those who drive the carts cannot swear without using my Son's name...they labor all day Sunday...there are none who go to Mass...when they do not know what to do, they go to Mass just to make fun of religion...” She warned: “If the harvest is ruined, it is only on account of yourselves...If you have wheat, you must not sow it. Anything you sow the vermin will eat...A great famine is coming...” She promised: “If [my people] are converted, rocks and stones will turn into heaps of wheat, and potatoes will be self-sown in the fields...” She pleaded: “Well, my children, make this known to all my people...”
All had been said. The Lady climbed the narrow path that led out of the ravine. The Lady looked toward heaven, then gazed down to the southeast. Slowly she seemed to “melt away” within the light. The bright light vanished. The children did not know who had appeared to them on the mountain. The next day, Sunday the children were escorted to the pastor. Before Mass he listened to the story and was visibly shaken. On Monday the mayor himself interrogated Maximin at Corps and was won over by Maximin's self-assurance, his candor and tenacity His testimony fully agreed with that of Melanie.
Mary’s apparition at La Salette is a modern-day reminder of an ancient truth: that Mary constantly intercedes for us before God; that she is the Reconciler of Sinners, calling us back to the message and way of he Son, Jesus.
The La Salette Missionaries are founded upon the reconciling message and mission of this Apparition of Mary. Their congregation numbers about 1,000 priests and brothers as well as 200 La Salette Sisters serving in over twenty countries around the world.