Refuge of Sinners
First Apparition approved in the 21st Century
Of the thousands of Marian Apparitions reported since the first century only few were approved by the very cautious Catholic Church (see the other post for the criteria) and one of them is the 17th century apparition of Out Blessed Mother in Laus, France which took the church several hundreds of years to decide..and finally in the 21st century(hohum zzzzz) they did..
Benedicta Rencurel was born on September 16, 1647 in Saint-Étienne d'Avançon (in the southern French Alps), and suffered the death of her father when she was 7 years-old. She never learned to read or write and her only education came from the homilies at Sunday Mass.
One day in May of 1664, Benedicta was caring for the animals of some neighbors and praying the rosary when she saw a dazzling lady standing on a rock, holding a beautiful child in her arms. “Beautiful Lady!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing up there? Do you want to eat with me? I have some good bread which we can soften up at the fountain.” The girl’s simplicity brought a smile to the Lady’s face, but she said nothing. “Beautiful Lady! Could you give us that child? He would make us so happy.” The Lady smiled again without responding. After remaining a few minutes with Benedicta, she took the child in her arms and disappeared into a cave.
"For four months, the Lady appeared to Benedicta every day, talking to her and preparing her for her future mission. Benedicta told the woman who owned the flock that she cared for about the visions, but she did not believe her.
"One day, however, the woman secretly followed her to the Fours valley. She didn't see the vision, but she did hear Mary's voice, who told Benedicta to warn her that her soul was in danger. 'She has something on her conscience,' Mary said. 'Tell her to do penance.' The woman was deeply moved by the message, returned to the sacraments, and lived piously for the rest of her days.
"On August 29, Benedicta asked the Lady what her name was. She replied, 'My name is Mary.'
"During the winter of 1664-1665, Benedicta went up to Laus frequently, each time receiving a vision of the Blessed Mother, who told her to 'pray continuously for sinners.' News of the apparitions spread throughout the entire region. . . .
"Mary revealed herself in Laus as the reconciler and refuge of sinners, and therefore she offered signs to convince them of the need to repent. She told Benedicta that the oil from the sanctuary lamp would work miracles with the infirm if they received the anointing with faith in her intercession. . . .
"Between 1669 and 1679, Benedicta received five visions of the suffering Christ. On a Friday in July of 1673, the suffering Jesus told her: 'My daughter, I show myself in this state so that you can participate in my Passion.'
"After more than two decades of suffering and continual apparitions of the Blessed Mother, Benedicta received Communion on Christmas Day 1718. Three days later she made a Confession, received the Last Rites and around 8 p.m. said good-bye to those around her. Benedicta then kissed a crucifix and passed away peacefully.
"Today the shrine is run by diocesan clergy with the assistance of a community of the Brothers of St. John who are dedicated to promoting the Sacrament of Reconciliation."
According to a biography of Blessed Benedicta, published by Magnificat in 2001, Our Lady "formed" Benoite "gradually in view of her future mission. The pious young girl was still uncouth, quite stubborn, and readily impatient. Before the Virgin Mary personally revealed her name, she initiated Benoite in the role she was to play all her life: to work at the conversion of sinners through prayer, sacrifice, and — a special vocation — exhortation, for God had granted her the charism of reading hearts.
"Consequently, she was often given the heavy task of correcting souls and disclosing their sad condition to them. When needed, she would remind them of their forgotten or hidden sins and urge them to purify themselves of them."
After news of the apparitions spread throughout the region, and crowds began to gather at Laus, the Blessed Mother told Benoite to gather every evening at church to sing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
"Throughout the winter of 1664-1665," the Magnificat continued, "in spite of the four kilometers that separated the village of Saint-Etienne from the Laus chapel, Benoite went up to it every day. And there she often saw the Virgin. Our Lady told her, 'Pray continually for sinners.' Oftentimes, she would name those she wanted her to pray for. In this way the Virgin was forming Benoite for her mission, which was to help priests in the ministry of Confession and the conversion of sinners. As of 1665, the Blessed Virgin asked her to stop tending flocks in order to devote herself to her mission.
"The Virgin had told Benoite, 'I asked my Son for Laus for the conversion of sinners, and He has granted it to me.'
"The words of the Mother of God were fulfilled. As news of the continuing apparitions spread, the number of visitors to Laus continually increased. Graces and blessings poured down upon souls; people came by the hundreds and then thousands to pray in the poor chapel. Cures of all kinds abounded and sinners were converted in great numbers. On March 25, 1665, less than a year after the first apparition, an immense crowd came to the once-deserted chapel. That same year, on May 3, Feast of the Holy Cross, 35 parishes converged there, each walking behind its particular banner. Altars and confessionals had to be set up outdoors to satisfy the piety of the people. Priests from the area came to lend a hand to Fr. Fraisse, the pastor of Saint-Etienne, and hear the many Confessions . . .
"The little Laus chapel, where more and more wonders were being wrought, could scarcely hold 10 or 12 people. It became absolutely necessary to replace it with a bigger church. The construction and the financing of that church constitute part of 'the wonders of Laus.'
"Although there were no resources at all, construction was undertaken with great enthusiasm. It was above all the poor, the little people, who took up the challenge, made doubly difficult by often-impassable access roads. The people of the area and the many pilgrims who went up to Laus would take one or more stones from a stream and carry them to the construction site; even the children brought some of their own.
"Everyone wanted to donate something, whether materials or money. It took a year to gather all the necessary materials . . . [T]he construction was built according to the indications our Lady had given Benoite. To the great credit of those in charge, the chapel of Notre-Dame de Bon Rencontre was incorporated into the structure and became the choir of the new church.
"An early historian wrote, 'The Church of Our Lady of Laus was built to the singing of psalms and hymns. The hands of the poor gathered its materials, donations dug its foundations, Providence raised its walls, and confidence in God. The earliest historians of Laus are unanimous in reporting the sweet, heavenly fragrance of the place; they mention it as a public occurrence to which a great number of people attested. These fragrances were sometimes so intense that their odor spread from the chapel all over the valley."
Her Message (against abortion included)
During the following winter, the winter of 1665, Our Lady instructed Benoite to use the oil from the sanctuary lamp to anoint those who came to Laus seeking healing and if they apply it with faith and recourse to her, they would be healed. Indeed, numerous reports of miracles and healing were reported--61 cures in the following months.
Our Lady was also making known that Laus be a place of conversion having told Benoite that "I asked my Son for Laus for the conversion of sinners, and He granted it to me." While Benoite had already been sacrificing and praying for sinners, Our Lady now asked her to exhort sinners to go to confession. This was tremendously difficult for Benoite, seeing herself as too unworthy and not being convinced that Our Lady had asked her to do it since she had asked so gently. She describes this saying, "The Mother of God commands me to do it in such a mild manner that I don't believe She absolutely wants it. And when I fail, my good Mother corrects me without getting angry. So because of the shame I feel on admonishing others, I often wait for a second command, and then I obey." Our Lady encouraged and admonished her saying, "Take heart, My daughter! Have patience . . . Do your duty cheerfully . . . Bear no hatred towards the enemies of Laus . . . Do not be troubled and sick over it if people do not profit from your advice . . . Do not be disturbed by temptations, visible or invisible spirits, or temporal affairs . . . Strive never to forsake the presence of God, for whoever has any faith will not dare to offend Him."
Our Lady specifically asked Benoite to encourage the conversion of women leading impure lives and those who had had abortions. She instructed the visionary to also encourage priests who ministered at the shrine to welcome sinners and pilgrims with charity and warmth. For this reason, Our Lady of Laus became known as the Refuge of Sinners and a place of reconciliation.
To further this grace she was bestowing through her maternal presence at this shrine, she granted Benoite the gift of reading souls which Our Lady encouraged her to use to help people truly recognize their sins. She found it most difficult to reproach the souls that Our Lady asked her to, but when she delayed in her task, Our Lady delayed her visits. She helped them see sins or faults they may not have even been conscious of. Yet, because she was so kind, most people she encountered were very grateful and resolved to amend their lives. She not only had to guide the pilgrims who came so they could truly cleanse their consciences, but she also had to be quite demanding on the priests themselves who ministered to them. She often saw the state of their soul while they celebrated Mass--either surrounded in light or tarnished--and she would warn those whom she saw as 'tarnished'.
She warned them about holding grudges, their imprudence in their questions when hearing confessions, and their negligence in their duties. She required from everyone simplicity and purity of soul, humility and a firm will to improve.
In 1668, Benoite moved to a little house near the shrine so she wouldn't have to walk the five kilometers from her house to the shrine each day--the path she had been walking already for four years.
Beginning in 1672, a twenty-year period of great persecution against Benoite and the apparitions at Laus began. After many of the priests who had supported her, especially Fr. Lambert who had been the Vicar of the diocese, passed away, other priests in positions of authority who denied the authenticity of the apparitions took advantage of the opportunity. A sign was soon posted on the door of the shrine forbidding that Mass be celebrated or that any public devotion take place there. Our Lady told Benoite "Remove that paper... and let Mass be said here as it was before." She was obeyed. It was also during this time that Benoite was kept under house arrest for 15 years, only being permitted to attend Sunday Mass. Benoite was even threatened with excommunication along with any priest who celebrated Mass in the chapel.
Between the 1669 and 1679, Benoite also received five visions of Christ Crucified. On one of these occasions, July 7, 1673, Christ told her ""My daughter, I am showing Myself to you in this condition so that you may participate in the sorrows of My Passion." From that moment on, every Thursday evening through Saturday morning for 15 years, she experienced in her own body the Passion and Crucifixion of Our Lord. This caused further ridicule and suspicion from those who were already critical of her and the apparitions. This agony ceased only from 1677-1679 when she was serving food to the workers who were building the house for priests that Our Lady had requested, though they resumed again in November, 1679. Yet while this experience attracted the ridicules of some, it also attracted the veneration of others which was equally as painful for her humility. She pleaded with the Blessed Mother, "May my sufferings be even more cruel if such is God's good pleasure, but let them be less visible!" The Blessed Virgin appeared to her the following Saturday and responded to her petition, "You will no longer have the Friday sufferings, but you will have many others.
Benoitte final years
In July of 1692, everyone who assisted at the shrine, including Benoite, and much of the population around Laus had to flee because of the invasion of the Duke of Savoy. Upon their return, the bishop appointed two priests who were highly suspicious of the apparitions and were less than zealous for souls--not embodying the charity that Our Lady requested towards sinners and penitents. They even preached on the falsity of the apparitions from the pulpit.
During this period as well, she suffered many attacks of the devil. Among these attacks were strong temptations against trust in God and chastity and even physical attacks against her person. False 'visionaries' also arose to contradict what Our Lady was trying to accomplish through her apparitions in Laus. One day the devil revealed the reason for his anger and his incessant attacks exclaiming, "She is the reason I am losing so many souls." She remained faithful despite the attacks and temptations of the enemy.
Finally in 1712, the bishop came around and entrusted the pilgrims flocking to the shrine to the care of a community of priests, the Pères Gardistes, who were described as "a deeply religious group of sound doctrine, moved by an ardent desire for the apostolate." They endeavored to meet Our Lady's request, bringing the pilgrims to the intercession of Our Lady and the devotion to the Sacred Heart which was beginning to be propagated. Even with the pilgrims now in good hands, Benoite still suffered the torments of the devil through which she remained faithful to Our Lady. For a moment when Our Lady stopped visiting for a period to purify her, Satan cried out, "She has forsaken you . . . You will no longer have any recourse but in me!" Benoite replied, "Oh, I would rather die a thousand times forsaken by Mary, than forsake Her for a single moment!"
The apparitions would continue for the rest of Benoite's life -- for almost 54 years. Six years after the arrival of the Pères Gardistes at the shrine, Benoite fell ill and was bedridden with a very high fever. On Christmas Day of 1718, she asked to receive Holy Viaticum and asked for forgiveness for any bad example she may have given during her life, at which moment Our Lady appeared again leaving a sweet scent in the room. Three days later, she received the last rites at 3:00 PM. The priests who had been serving in the shrine for the last six years were begging the Lord for "two years more" with her, but she knew her time to return home had come. The priests asked for her blessing as her sons, she hesitated in her humility, but then ceded, saying, "It is up to our good Mother to bless you," she said while she raised her hand from her bed, not wanting to refuse them this consolation, and she said to them, "I give it to you most willingly, good Fathers."
She said goodbye calmly, seeming quite happy and not experiencing agony. At around 8:00 PM, she asked her goddaughter to pray the Litany of the Child Jesus and she passed away quietly at the age of 71.
Laus France today..
"one of the most hidden and powerful shrines of Europe."
The shrine of Our Lady of Laus, which has not dramatically changed over the past three centuries, attracts some 120,000 pilgrims each year. The Catholic philosopher Jean Guitton called it "one of the most hidden and powerful shrines of Europe."
Since the apparitions were formally recognized as legitimate by the diocesan bishop when Blessed Benedicta (beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1984) was 18, the special mission of the pastors assigned to Laus has been to promote the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to emphasize the importance of receiving Communion in the state of grace.
Among the specific assignments our Lady gave to Blessed Benedicta was to admonish the young women in the region to live chastely, and to stop aborting their babies. Blessed Benedicta was also told to admonish the "unjust wealthy" and the "perverse."
read more: Church recognises Marian appearances in French Alps 
OUR LADY OF LAUS, FRANCE OUR LADY OF LAUS, FRANCE Reviewed by Francisco Nascimento on 12:17 Rating: 5

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