The Cross of Mount Gargas

Untitled-1The giant slope of Mount Gargas, with its “new” cross atop this Alpine peak. It was, without doubt, the largest and most beautiful Way of the Cross in our lives. The cross on Mount Gargas, that can still be seen in the audiovisual on the Apparition, was destroyed in a storm. So the idea came to us to replace it during a family pilgrimage.

This idea spread quickly. In a short time, we made ou to La Salette on Saturday August 26, 1978, some eighty of us – pilgrims, parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and asked for a blessing for our our newly fashioned oak cross. The next day, immediately after the Sunday morning Mass, we were off, up the steep incline of Mount Gargas, overlooking the sight of the apparition.

Untitled-2The families together begin their treck up the face of Mount Gargas.The stronger of us carried the cross in turn, while others carried all accessories – cement, water, sand, and tools. The sight of the La Salette apparition was still drowned in a thick fog. But soon, as we climbed the mountainside, we stepped into an area of brilliant sunshine, illuminating the entire chain of the surrounding mountains. We instantly saw this as a symbol of our passage as a family from darkness into light.

Some of the members of this long caravan began to show some signs of fatigue so we decided to make our first stop. A sat and relaxed and took out our rosaries so we could surround the upright cross with our prayers.

We resumed the climb to the very top. Once gathered there, we made preparations for the new foundation. Soon we replaced the old warned stand with a sturdier one and placed the new high cross in its place of honor. Suddenly the clouds below parted, near the scene of the apparition, allowing us also to see the Basilica, to which the cross was oriented. Our mission was completed. We had our lunch and paused for a while to take in our panoramic surroundings.

Untitled-3The stronger members take their turn carrying the cross for a short distance as others follow closely.When it was time, we said a final prayer, and then traced our steps, proceeding carefully down the side of Mount Gargas. After a while, we returned, exhausted, to the base of this rock monolith.

As we were about to leave, a few of our group, mainly those coming for the first time, asked: Why did we gather here at La Salette? Perhaps it was the mountains that beckoned us, or the need to replace the cross. Or could it have been the need to breathe the fresh mountain air? In doing our good deed, were we perhaps distracted and forgot what happened at the very foot of Mount Gargas so many years ago?

Untitled-4At the summit, they all pitch in to remove the old foundation and form a new one.We then recounted "the fact of La Salette," the story that has been told on this spot countless times. It was a simple, direct story of what love can do. That is why the next year we invited still more people to join us on our yearly pilgrimage to La Salette, to listen carefully and put into practice the message of the Virgin to the two shepherds, the message so close to our life and our daily concerns.

Saying our goodbyes, we proceeded to make our way by several cars back home to Lyon and Saint-Just-Avray, pledging to return soon to this Holy Mountain to see once again our very own cross atop Mount Gargas, standing vigil for many years to come.

(Reprinted and edited from the La Salette French periodical, Les Annales, “La Croix du Gargas”, no. 32, Mars-Avril, 1979, pg. 32)

Untitled-5Their cross holds its vigil atop the summit for pilgrims to admire and perhaps visit.