|Front entrance of La Salette
Shrine Church with Stations
lining the steps on both sides
When we think back to the very humble beginnings of the La Salette Apparition in 1846 and its great expansion over the next century and a half or more, we don’t expect that those who visited the Holy Mountain – and there were thousands of pilgrims each year – would, in turn, bring the La Salette devotion, in accordance with Mary’s wishes, to “all her people.” Yet this is true; many pilgrims spread the message and devotion to the Weeping Mother of La Salette.
Many years ago…
An example of this is the early establishment of a small La Salette Shrine in the hill country of Kodaikanal, in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, east of Karala. It has been home to the Shrine of Our lady of La Salette (here spelled “La Saleth”) for over 150 years.
The shrine is situated on a mountain which is 7,000 feet above the sea level. It gives an panoramic view of the neighboring mountains. The La Salette Shrine was the first Catholic church in Kodaikanal and was funded by a generous donation of a Belgian woman who wanted to thank Our Lady of La Salette for the cure of her daughter.
|(l to r) Facade of the church; interior
with La Salette statue on right of sanctuary
The cornerstone for this shrine was laid by a French missionary, Fr. Louis St. Cyr, S.J., in 1863 and the shrine was dedicated on Easter Sunday of 1866. The shrine stands as a wonderful example of Tamil French architectural excellence.
The interior of the shrine is quite attractive. It is decorated with graceful statues of Our Lady of La Salette above the altar as well as the statue of St. Joseph. These statues were given by the Bishop of the Grenoble Diocese in France. The noteworthy and the decorative paintings on the windows inside the church were drawn by a French noblewoman named Madame Coile.
For the La Salette Centenary in 1947…
In honor of the centenary of the shrine, the shrine church was expanded and La Salette Pilgrim Hall was built. In addition, the outside Way of the Cross was constructed, a large La Salette Grotto on the right side of the Shrine was completed and a pilgrim office was added. For the anniversary celebration, a Centenary Arch was built at the entrance of the shrine grounds.
|For La Salette Festival on Aug. 15th
the church exterior is encased in lights
The shrine is a gathering place for the poor, weary or needy people. Our Lady of La Salette is seen as a universal mother giving solace and comfort to all pilgrims of all religions. It is a Shrine of blessing that offers on its holy ground a remedy for the many ills of its fervent pilgrims. It is visited by countless tourist and offers peace and solace for all.
The Feast of Our Lady of La Salette is celebrated on a very grant scale every August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary with an evening service including lights of the Shrine Church and surroundings.
The La Salette Tower has the statue of the La
Salette Assumption (center) with Maximin and
Melanie (on left) and a Religious Article Store
beneath (photo: John George Photograhy).