La Salette and Pope Francis

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Bp. Angelo Roncalli – eventually
elected as Pope John XXIII in
1958 – visited the Holy
Mountain and addresses the
pilgrims from the entrance of
the Basilica

As Catholics, we are part of the Church Universal and we have connections.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we can call up the Pope any time we want. Although recently Pope Francis has shown himself to be quite approachable, even to the point of his making personal phone calls to some people who wrote to him about certain personal matters. Just imagine – receiving a telephone call and the person calling us says he is Pope Francis! This certainly shows that the Pope is sincerely interested in his people.

It is not a commonly known fact that within the Catholic Church, the veracity of special events such as apparitions are not decided upon by the Roman Pontiff but rather by the local bishop of the area in which the apparition happened. That is the way the La Salette Apparition was accepted by the Catholic Church – through the final approbation of Bp. Philippe de Bruillard on Sept. 19, 1851.

The next significant connection of the La Salette Apparition with “official Rome” was on April 18, 1879, when the La Salette Congregation was given Pontifical status “ad experimentum”, thus listing it in the officially accepted Catholic Congregations.

In that same year, on August 20, our Church on the Holy Mountain in France was consecrated and raised to the dignity of a Minor Basilica. The following day, Hippolyte Guibert, OMI, Archbishop of parish and Papal Legate, solemnly crowned the statue of the Virgin Reconciler in the newly consecrated Basilica.

 

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Pope Francis greets Fr. Manuel dos Reis
Bonfim, M.S., a Brazilian La Salette
and Director of the Holy Mountain in France

Over the years the La Salette Missionaries have asked many popes to visit our Shrine on the Holy Mountain but for various reasons, no invitation was accepted.

During the centenary celebration of the La Salette apparition, on Aug. 15, 1946, the Papal Nuncio, Bp. Angelo Roncalli – eventually to be elected as Pope John XXIII in 1958 – visited the Holy Mountain.

Pope Francis Invited to La Salette

During the October 12-13, 2013 Marian Days, with its theme: “Blessed is she who believed!”, all the Rectors of Marian Shrines were invited to meet together with Pope Francis at the Vatican. On that occasion the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima was brought and displayed at Mass in St. Peter’s Square. After Mass Fr. Manuel dos Reis Bonfim, M.S., a

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Pope Francis embraces Fr. Manuel dos Reis
Bonfim, M.S. after Mass in St. Peter’s Square

Brazilian La Salette and presently Director of the Holy Mountain, had a particularly warm interview with the Pope Francis. Fr. Bonfim took the opportunity to officially invite the Pope to visit the Shrine of La Salette in France. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

Just recently our La Salette General Administration petitioned the Vatican that the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette, Sept. 19, be placed on the Liturgical Calendar of the Catholic Church, connecting us more closely with the other feasts and appearances of Our Lady.

We pray that Pope Francis may accept this invitation and bless us with his presence at the site of Mary’s merciful apparition at La Salette.

  

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(left) Bp. Roncalli says Mass on front steps of the Basilica on the Holy Mountain; (center) Bp. Roncalli walks by the La Salette statue of Mary’s Assumption; (right) Bp. Roncalli follows the Solemn Procession around the winding path at the foot of Mount Gargas.