La Salette is Like a Good Virus

Editor: On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the La Salette Apparition, a La Salette priest visited the Holy Mountain and wrote his reflections upon which we can reflect.

Untitled-1(left) Fr. Alfred Hischer, M.S. (1923-2008); (right) Fr. Josef lmhof, M.S. (1894-1986)The members of our La Salette Province of Switzerland have traveled to the Holy Mountain of La Salette for 50 years. Over the years our lives certainly have changed but our gratitude for the time spent on the Holy Mountain and with the pilgrims encountered remains.

My first visit to this place of pilgrimage was on Sept. 20th, 1946. It was the day after the 100th anniversary of the Appearance of our Holy Mother. This was the first year after the end of World War II, the effects of which we saw during our journey from Geneva to La Salette.

We arrived on a wonderful evening in late fall together with two hundred La Salettes from all over the world to pay homage to our Merciful Mother. Immediately after our arrival, our Provincial Superior, Father Josef lmhof, M.S., led us to the site of the apparition. He showed us where, 100 years previous, Mother Mary had appeared. I was so impressed by this fact, that for some time this place was for me the center of La Salette.

Until 1987 I spent not less than thirty summers as a guide for pilgrims to La Salette. During this time I become enamored with this place and its pristine beauty. The more often I visited, the more I learned about La Salette – the appearance and the message. And so this lovely spot became my home.

Therefore I quite well understand the often-mentioned saying, taken in the most positive sense: "La Salette is like a good 'virus'; that is, those who catch it will never want to get rid of it." Many other people feel exactly the same way.

Over the years, my relation to and with La Salette has changed considerably. Gradually the location of the apparition became less central, as the basilica with the altar and tabernacle took became more prominent features. 

Mary Leads Us to Jesus

Untitled-2Pilgrims gather of Mass held outside, near the site of the ApparitionWhat the Church tries to teach repeatedly is once again confirmed: Mary wants to lead us to Jesus. She doesn't want anything or anybody for herself, but leads everybody and everything to Jesus. She repeats the words she first spoke at Cana: "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5).

And the more time I spent at La Salette and the more pilgrims I met from all over the world, another aspect of La Salette came to the fore. Although the altar and the tabernacle certainly did not disappear from my awareness, it was the men, women and youth coming as pilgrims with their joys and sorrows, with their anxieties and problems, yet expressing so much gratitude to Our Lady of La Salette who astonished me again and again.

I became more and more conscious of the fact that many of these lives were possible and bearable only because of the profound relationship to and faith in God that these people possessed. My encounter with these cheerful, deeply religious and unselfish human beings was always a gift for me. Often I was able to just look at them and be astonished at their unpretentious nobility and true sanctity.

I am deeply grateful for La Salette. I will always treasure the time I was able to spend there, the actual site of the appearance, the altar, tabernacle and, last but not least, the men, women and youth I met as pilgrims at La Salette – all on our way back to the Father of us all.

Untitled-3Pilgrims gather around the La Salette statue of the Assumption, after the nightly Rosary Procession
(Reprinted with permission from the La Salette Publication, SaletteInfo, 1997, pg. 3),

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