Estelle Faguette, lady's maid to the Countess de la Rochefoucauld, was dangerously ill in Paris at the end of May, 1875. At that time she was thirty-two years of age, and was obliged, owing to her health, to leave her situation. Through the influence of her mistress she obtained admission into a hospital under the care of the Augustinian nuns, on the Rue Cudinot. Towards the end of July, as her master and mistress were returning home, they had her brought to their country residence, the Chateau of Poiriers, near Pellevoisin, Indre, Diocese of Bourges. She was then very ill. Dr. B—, who had been her medical attendant for several years declared, in the month of August, "that, besides the internal diseases under which she was suffering, her lungs were also affected," adding to Madame de la Rochefoucauld, "this poor girl is totally unfit for service; she is dying slowly." Then he wrote a prescription and went away, saying, "You must not forget that she is in consumption." To all appearances, indeed, the poor girl was "dying slowly," as the doctor had declared. In the beginning of September, after having commenced alone several Novenas, she made, as she called it, "her will." A small grotto in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes had just been erected in the park at Poiriers, so Estelle wrote a letter to the Blessed Virgin, and, as she was unable to take it herself, she asked Mademoiselle Reiter to place it at the feet of Her statue, concealing it well under the stones. We shall see later on the wonderful way in which this letter turned up again.
On the 18th of December, after a severe attack, during which she was again given over by the local doctor under whose care she had been for several years, she received the last sacraments with the greatest resignation. Her employers, before leaving for Paris, at the end of January, 1876, had her removed with the greatest care to a house belonging to them at Pellevoisin (see image below), where her parents came to mind her. On the 8th of February another severe attack followed, and on the 10th she could not possibly get much worse. Another doctor was sent for, but the moment he saw her he declared she had only a few hours to live. As he was told that she could not keep down any nourishment, he replied: "It is useless to torture her for the short time she has to live." She was in great agony, but perfectly conscious and resigned to die.
On Sunday evening, the 13th of February, she asked the Curé of Pellevoisin to write to Madame de la Rochefoucauld, begging of her to have a candle lit for her intention at Notre Dame des Victoires, and another before the altar of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Jesuit Church on the Rue de Sèvres. These tapers were lit at the Shrines of Mary on the following day, Monday. On Tuesday morning Estelle told the parish priest that she had seen the Blessed Virgin during the night, and that she would be either dead or cured on the following Saturday. The priest said a few kind words, but he thought she was only laboring under a delusion. The next day she told him that she had once more seen the Blessed Virgin, and that she would be cured on the following Saturday. "Yesterday," replied the priest, "you told me you would be dead or cured. What will you tell me tomorrow?"
Estelle knew by his words that the priest did not believe her, and she said so to him. On Thursday morning she again declared that she would be cured on Saturday, but this time so emphatically and with such extraordinary details, relating to circumstances known only to herself and the priest, that he was astounded, and no longer wished to remain the only depository of this prediction. He persuaded the dying girl to relate all she had seen to several persons whose discretion could be depended on, and she obeyed him willingly.
On Friday night, about ten o'clock, Estelle seemed to be in her last agony. She was completely exhausted, and could scarcely breathe. The priest recommended her to receive the Sacrament of Penance once more, although she had done so eight days previously, but she replied most emphatically that she preferred to defer her confession till the next day, as she would then be cured. The clergyman was very uneasy about her, but, as his house was not far away, he returned home, making Estelle's mother promise him that should the slightest change in her condition take place, she would send for him immediately. The Curé returned the next morning. Estelle told him that she felt as if she had been cured, but that, as yet, she could not move her right arm, the use of which she had lost five or six days previously, it having become greatly swollen and quite numb. She then related the vision she had had during the night, and the priest went to say Mass, promising to come back and bring her Holy Communion. Being unable to make the Sign of the Cross with her right hand, Estelle used to make it with her left; so the Curé said to her before leaving the room: "The Blessed Virgin is all-good and all-merciful; if She wished it She can, indeed, restore you to your health, but to prove to us that all you have said is not an illusion, as soon as you shall have received Holy Communion, try to make the Sign of the Cross with your right hand. If you succeed, it shall be a proof that the Blessed Virgin intends to cure you."
He returned soon after and gave her Holy Communion. There were seven or eight persons present at the time. As soon as she had received the Sacred Host the priest knelt down for a moment, but, standing up again immediately, he approached the bed, and said in a voice trembling with emotion: "My poor Estelle, you have edified us by your courage and resignation; be now full of confidence, and to prove to us that all you have said is not an illusion—make the Sign of the Cross with your right hand." Estelle instantly raised her right hand and, before all present, made the Sign of the Cross without the least difficulty. "Begin again," said the priest, his voice still trembling, and again she obeyed, making a large Sign of the Cross, crying out: "I am cured! I know and feel that I am cured." A murmur of admiration passed through the room; a smile of joy illumined the faces of all present, the first sunbeam, so to say, seen in that chamber of death for at least a month. Each one left it now, acknowledging with the prophet, that they had seen wonders. It was Saturday, the 19th of February, 1876, about eight o'clock in the morning.
The same day Estelle rose, dressed herself without any help, partook of some food in the presence of several persons and talked gaily with all around. The tumor from which she had suffered for eleven years had entirely disappeared. It had grown much larger during her illness, and had been rubbed with ointment repeatedly during that time. The last doctor who had attended her was summoned on the 28th of February. He appeared thunderstruck on seeing her, but did not hesitate to declare her perfectly cured, and that her marvelous recovery could not have been the result of any natural means. On being informed of it, Dr. B— also declared, "That there was in this cure, when considered with the various symptoms he had remarked during the course of Estelle's illness, something sufficiently extraordinary to upset all medical previsions, and that the whole case should be considered as quite exceptional."
From the time of her miraculous cure, Estelle had not the slightest relapse or any other indisposition; in fact, she enjoyed much better health than before her illness. On the following days she began, through obedience, to write the recital, which is here published:
ACCOUNT OF THE MIRACULOUS CURE OF ESTELLE
THE FIRST FIVE APPARITIONS
During the nights of Feb. 14—19, 1876; written on Feb. 21 & 26, 1876.
Pardon me, O my God, if I write these lines; I do so in a spirit of obedience, and if they tend to the glory of Thy Blessed Mother, I shall be only too happy. Grant, O my God, that this act of obedience may help to expiate my sins.
During the nine months that I was ill I suffered much, not only in body, but also in mind. I can never describe all my heart endured. I could not resign myself to die, and leave behind me my father and mother and a little orphan niece I had reared—for all of whom I was the only support; still, every hour of the day I repeated: "My God, may Thy holy will be done." Then again, realizing the approach of death, my heart would revoke the words uttered by my lips. I got no rest, either night or day.
God is a good Father, but He must have all or nothing. The three last attacks of my illness took place with scarcely any intermission. He made use of them to recall me to His service. As I suffered intensely, my master and mistress did everything in their power to get me some relief. They called in again the doctors who had declared that I was incurable. I heard them say: "She cannot recover. She will die during one of these spasms." I owe a great deal of my resignation to my mistress, for she often said to me: "My poor Estelle, you have been in so much suffering for such a length of time, it would be far better for you if God took you to Himself, for there is every reason to believe you can never recover." Then I would reflect over her words. I would weep and say: "What will become of my parents?" The day that I received Extreme Unction I became more calm and, after Holy Communion, I repeated several times: "My God, Thou knowest better than I what is good for me; do with me as Thou pleasest; only enable me to make my sacrifice generously." This time I spoke from the very depths of my heart, and God heard my prayer.
When the attack was over I felt a little better, and hope began to revive in my heart, but it was not destined to remain there long. After a few days I was worse than ever. This time, however, I was no longer dissatisfied; my only wish was to die well, and in my greatest suffering I often said: "My God, in expiation of my sins, let me suffer. Behold, I am ready, strike as it shall please Thee; only give me courage, patience, and resignation to Thy holy will. If groans escape from my lips, deign to receive them as prayers from my heart to Thine." After a few days I grew weaker still; I could no longer pray. The Blessed Virgin interceded for me, and it is with sincere gratitude and profound humility that I relate the favors I have received through Her intercession, and after all my ingratitude She ought to have abandoned me rather than have favored me so highly. Let all who read these lines be convinced of one truth: that it was not on account of any merit of mine that the Blessed Virgin obtained my cure from Her Divine Son. Far from it; it was that many might know we have a good Mother who watches over us and intercedes for us. What return can I ever make to Her for all She has done for me?
For five successive nights I gazed upon the same enchanting vision. On the night of the 14th to the 15th, that is to say between Monday and Tuesday, I was very ill. I am not quite sure whether I was asleep or not at the time of the vision. I was trying to get some rest, when suddenly the demon appeared at the foot of my bed. He was horrible, and at once began to make grimaces at me. Scarcely had I perceived him when Our Blessed Lady appeared on the other side at the corner of my bed. She wore a pure white woolen veil, which fell in three folds. I can never describe how beautiful She was! Her features were regular; Her color, white and rose-tint, rather pale. Her large, gentle eyes reassured me somewhat, but not completely; for the demon, perceiving the Blessed Virgin, drew back, dragging the curtain and the iron rod of my bed. This increased my terror, which became unendurable. I crouched down in my bed. He did not speak, but turned his back to me. Then the Blessed Virgin said to him sharply: "What brings you here? Do you not see that she wears My livery, and that of My Son?" He disappeared, gesticulating. Then She turned to me and said gently: "Fear nothing; you are My daughter." Then I remembered that from the age of fourteen I had been a "Child of Mary." I now felt less fear. She said to me gently: "Have courage, be patient; My Son will allow Himself to be prevailed upon; you will suffer five days longer, in honor of the five wounds of My Son. On Saturday you will either be dead or cured. If My Son restores you to life, I wish you to publish my glory." I was so taken by surprise that I quickly replied: "But how can I do it? I who am so insignificant, I know not what I can do.” Immediately I saw between Her and me a slab of white marble, which I recognized as an ex-voto. I said to Her: "But my good Mother, where shall it be placed? Is it in Notre-Dame des Victoires at Paris, or at Pellevoisin?" She did not give me time to finish the word Pellevoisin. She replied: "At Notre-Dame des Victoires they have sufficient proofs of My power, whereas at Pellevoisin they have none. They require a stimulus." She then remained a few minutes silent. I cannot explain what I felt. I trembled, and yet I was very happy. I promised Her to do all that was in my power for Her glory. She then said to me: "Have courage; I wish you to keep your promise." And then all disappeared. I continued gazing a long time, but saw nothing more that night.
The second night the demon reappeared, and again I was overwhelmed with fear. He remained, however, a little farther away from me. Almost at the same time the Blessed Virgin appeared, and said to me: "Do not be afraid; I am here. This time My Son has allowed Himself to be prevailed upon. He grants you life. On Saturday you will be cured." I replied all at once: "But my good Mother, if I had my choice, I would prefer to die, now that I am well prepared." Then the Blessed Virgin said to me, smiling: "Ungrateful one, if My Son restores you to life, it is because it is necessary for you. What has He given to man on earth more precious than life? In restoring you to life, do not believe you will be exempt from suffering; no, you will suffer; you will not be free from sorrow. This is what makes life meritorious. If My Son has allowed Himself to be prevailed upon, it is on account of your resignation and your patience. Do not, by the choice you now make, deprive yourself of it. Have I not told you if He restores you to life you will publish My glory?" The white marble slab was there, and beside it as much fine white paper as equaled it in thickness, which seemed a great quantity. I tried to lift up a few sheets of the paper, but I could not do so. The Blessed Virgin looked at me with a smile while I was doing so, but then saying, "Look at your past life," Her face grew sad, though still retaining its sweetness of expression. I am still covered with confusion at the faults I have committed, although to my own eyes they appeared only slight ones. But I will be silent about what the Blessed Virgin said to me on this subject. I shall merely say that She reproved me severely, as indeed, I deserved. I would have longed to cry out for pardon, but could not; my grief overcame me; I felt stunned. The Blessed Virgin looked kindly at me, and then, without speaking again disappeared. Oh, how sad I felt.
The third and fourth nights I again saw the demon, but he kept so far off that I could scarcely distinguish his gestures. The third night the Blessed Virgin said: "Come, take courage, my child." As She spoke, Her reproaches of the preceding night recurred to my mind. I felt terror and I trembled. She again reproved me about other matters, but so sweetly that I felt reassured. Then She said: "All this is passed. By your resignation you have expiated these faults." Then She pointed out to me some good works I had performed. They were, indeed, very few beside my faults. The Blessed Virgin perceived my trouble, for She said to me: "I am all-merciful, and the Mistress of My Son. These good works and some fervent prayers have touched My maternal heart. Among others, that little letter you wrote to Me in the month of September. What moved Me most was the phrase, 'See the sorrow of my parents. If I fail them they are on the eve of begging their bread. Remember, then, what Thou didst suffer when Thy Jesus was stretched out upon the Cross.' I have shown that letter to My Son. Your parents have need of you; for the future try to be faithful. Do not lose the graces which are given to you, and publish My glory."
The fourth night resembled the preceding ones, and each night I again saw all the words She had said to me previously. This night, however, it appeared to me that She remained a shorter time with me. I wished to ask Her for graces, but could never do so. I was so confused by the rapidity of my thoughts, I read in my mind the words which the Blessed Virgin had reported to me: "Fear nothing, you are My daughter; My Son is touched by your resignation." Her reproaches for my faults when She said: "I am all-merciful, and the Mistress of My Son." These words: "Take courage, be patient and resigned, you will suffer; you will not be exempt from sorrow; try to be faithful. I wish that you should publish My glory." All these and several other things passed rapidly before me, but how, I cannot explain. I both saw and heard perfectly, however. How came it that while Our Blessed Lady was there looking at me, She who is so good and gentle, that I always felt unable to ask Her anything? She disappeared, as on the preceding nights, repeating: "You will publish My glory." I once more tried to ask Her how, but had not time. She replied as She left me: "Make every effort."
The fifth night, from Friday to Saturday, was not altogether the same. The Blessed Virgin did not remain at the foot of my bed. She approached to the middle of my curtains. My God, how beautiful She was! She remained a long time silent and motionless standing, in the midst of a clear vapor. If it be only a dream, why cannot it last forever? After a long time She looked at me. She reminded me of my promises. I once more saw the marble slab, but this time it was no longer white. In the four corners there were golden rosebuds. In the highest part a golden heart emitting flames transpierced with a sword, and surrounded by a crown of roses. These words were inscribed on it: "I called upon Mary in anguish and pain; From Her Son She obtained for me health once again. Estelle F. 19th of February, 1876."
I promised Her again to do all in my power for Her glory. She said to me: "If you wish to serve me be simple, and let your actions correspond with your words." I asked Her if in order to serve Her it were necessary to change my state of life. She replied: "One can be saved in every state. Where you are you can do a great deal of good, and you can publish My glory. What afflicts Me most is the want of respect shown by some people to My Divine Son in Holy Communion and the attitude taken for prayer, when, at the same time, the mind continues occupied with other things. I say this for people who pretend to be pious."
After these words She resumed Her smiling look. I asked Her if I should repeat what She had said immediately. The Blessed Virgin answered: "Yes, yes; publish My glory, but before doing so, await the advice of your confessor and director, for people will endeavor to entrap you. They will treat you as a visionary, as a person of disordered imagination, as a fool, but pay no attention to all that; be faithful to Me; I will assist you." I gazed long upon Her; my eyes would never weary of beholding Her, but at length She disappeared gradually from my sight. Never had I seen anything so beautiful. By degrees She vanished, till only the soft light which had surrounded Her remained. This, too, soon faded away, and all disappeared. At this time I suffered fearfully, while my heart beat so violently that I thought it would leap out of my bosom. I was in great pain, but I recollect holding my Rosary in my left hand, having lost the use of the right.
I offered my sufferings to Almighty God. I did not know that they were the last of that illness. After having rested a little, I felt quite well. I asked what time it was; it was half-past twelve in the morning. I felt that I was cured, with the exception of my right arm, the use of which I did not regain until after I had received Holy Communion. Oh, what thanksgiving do I not owe to Thee, my good heavenly Mother! My heart can never thank Thee sufficiently. Supply Thyself all that is wanting to me—Estelle.
SIXTH APPARITION—SATURDAY, JULY 1, 1876
It is in Thy presence, O my God, that I relate the visit I received last night from Thy Blessed Mother, notwithstanding my nothingness and my sins. May it tend to Thy glory.
When I knelt to say my prayers, my mind, as usual, reverted to the visions I had seen in February. Immediately afterwards I took up a book to read a few lines, as I did not wish to go to bed late, for I had been forbidden to do so. It was a quarter-past ten o’clock. I was on my knees before the fireplace, when all of a sudden I saw the Blessed Virgin, surrounded by a soft radiant light, as She had formerly appeared, only this time I saw Her whole figure from head to foot. What beauty! What sweetness! The ends of Her cincture nearly reached the hem of Her dress. She was all in white, and remained standing. Her feet seemed to be on a level with the floor, which was apparently somewhat lower than usual. When I first perceived Her, She had Her arms stretched out, and from Her hands there fell drops like rain. She looked at something fixedly, then taking one of the tassels of Her cincture, She raised it to Her breast, on which She crossed Her hands. She smiled and, looking at me, said: "Be calm, my child, have patience; you will have sorrows, but I will be with you." The tassel of Her cincture, which She held, fell from Her hands; it passed quite close to me. I said nothing. I could not speak. I felt too happy. The Blessed Virgin remained a little while longer, then She said to me: "Courage, I will come again." She then disappeared very slowly, as She had done in the month of February. Why have I not been able to follow Thee, my good Mother? But Thou wilt come again?—Estelle. (Written on July 2. This vision took place on the eve of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, which was also that year the eve of the Consecration of the Basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes.)
SEVENTH APPARITION, SUNDAY, JULY 2, 1876
Since I am to publish Thy glory, I will now, through obedience, relate Thy visit this past night.
I went to bed at half-past ten o'clock. It cost me something to retire to rest, as I had seen the Blessed Virgin the night before, about the same hour. I fell at once into a profound sleep. I awoke at half-past eleven, aroused myself thoroughly, got up, and partly dressed myself, to see what time it was. I thought I had slept much longer. Seeing what time it was, I hoped to see the Blessed Virgin before midnight. I knelt down and said half the Hail Mary. The Blessed Virgin stood before me. I could not finish the prayer. I was too happy. She appeared the same as She did last night: the drops of rain falling from Her hands, and, as She stood there, in a soft halo of light, there was, in the background, a wreath of roses surrounding Her. She remained thus for some time. Then She crossed Her hands upon Her breast. Her eyes were fixed upon me. "You have already published My glory." Then She confided to me a secret which I cannot reveal. "Continue to do so. My Son has also some souls attached to Him. His Heart bears such love for Mine that He cannot refuse Me any requests. Through Me He will touch the most hardened hearts. Continue." She looked most beautiful as She spoke. I was able to ask Her something. I remembered the pile of papers I had seen on the 15h of February; so I said to Her: "My good Mother, what must be done with this paper?" "It will serve to publish this recital in the manner several of My servants think it ought to be done. There will be much opposition; but fear nothing—be calm." Then I wished to ask Her for something else; that is to say, for a proof of Her power, but I felt embarrassed; I did not know how to express myself. At last I said: "My good Mother, for Thy own glory, if Thou dost please—" She understood me and, with a loving smile, replied: "Is not your cure one of the greatest proofs of My power? I have come especially for the conversion of sinners." And, while She was speaking, I was thinking of the various ways in which She might manifest Her power. She replied to my thoughts: “It will be seen later on.” She remained with me a good while longer, and then slowly disappeared. The wreath of roses remained after She was gone; then gradually faded away, together with a surrounding halo of light. I remained on my knees for a short time, then returned to bed. It was half-past twelve o'clock. I slept but little during the rest of the night; and it is only through obedience that I have written these lines. All for Thy glory, my good Mother; thanks for Thy favors. May Thy Divine Son also be touched by these small efforts which it has been in my power to make, in order to publish Thy glory—Estelle. (The first part of this account was written soon after the Apparition, at one o’clock in the morning; the rest of it in the morning of July 3.)
EIGHTH APPARITION, MONDAY, JULY 3, 1876
Last night I saw again the Blessed Virgin. She appeared the same as She did the other night; but She only remained five minutes. She reproached me gently: "I would wish that you were still more calm. I will not disclose to you the day nor hour on which I intend to return. You require repose. I will remain only a few minutes." At this moment I desired to express my wishes to Her. She said to me, with a smile: "I have come to end the Feast." She remained a few moments longer, then went away, as She did on the other nights. It was not yet midnight—Estelle. (Written on July 4, 1876. July 3 was the Feast of the Coronation of Our Lady of Lourdes.)
NINTH APPARITION, SEPTEMBER 9, 1876
(On the Saturday within the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, it being also the eve of the Holy Name of Mary.)
Since Thou dost ask that I should publish Thy glory, my good Mother, it is solely in order to please Thee that I am about to write Thy words.
For several days I have wished to revisit the room in which I had been cured. At length, on the 9th of September, I have been able to do so. I was finishing the Rosary when the Blessed Virgin appeared. She was the same as on the 1st of July. Before speaking to me, She looked around in silence, then She said: "You deprived yourself of a visit from Me on the 15th of August; you were not sufficiently calm. You have indeed the French character, wishing to know all without learning anything, and to understand everything before knowing it. I would have come to you yesterday, too; again you deprived yourself of it. I was waiting for this act of submission and obedience from you." At that moment I understood perfectly that if I had not been submissive and obedient I would have deprived myself of ever again beholding Her. She paused; then said: "For a long time the treasures of My Son have been open. Let them pray." Saying these words She raised the small piece of woolen cloth which She wore upon Her breast. I had always seen this, but without knowing what it meant; for hitherto it was always pure white. As She took it up I perceived a red Heart, which appeared distinctly in relief. I thought all at once that was a Scapular of the Sacred Heart. She said to me, holding it up: "I love this devotion." She paused, then added: "It is here I will be honored." (This vision took place about a quarter to three in the afternoon; it lasted seven or eight minutes.)
TENTH APPARITION, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 1876
(Feast of the Holy Name of Mary)
The 10th of September the Blessed Virgin came at nearly the same hour. She made no delay, saying: "Let them pray. I show them the example." While speaking She joined Her hands, then disappeared. The bell for Vespers rung out at the same moment—Estelle. (The Blessed Virgin wore the Scapular She had revealed on the previous day, and also in each of the succeeding Apparitions.)
ELEVENTH APPARITION, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1876
(Octave of the Nativity of Mary)
On the 15th of September, with the permission of my mistress, I went to pray in my room. What a happiness for me! Why cannot I spend my life there? I went there twice, but it was only on the second occasion that I saw the Blessed Virgin. It was then a quarter to three o'clock. She appeared as usual, Her arms stretched out, drops of rain falling from Her hands; She remained a long time silent before speaking to me. She looked about in every direction, and then told me some things which refer only to myself. "I will remember the efforts you have made to be calm. It is not only for your own sake I ask this, but also for that of the Church and for France. In the Church there is not the calm I desire." She sighed and shook Her head, saying: "There is something else, then." She paused; She did not tell me what it was, but I understood immediately that there was some discord. Then She continued slowly: "Let them pray and let them have confidence in Me." The Blessed Virgin looked sad, as She added: "And France, what have I not done for her? How many warnings, and yet she refuses to listen! I can no longer restrain My Son." She appeared deeply moved as She said: "France will suffer." She laid particular emphasis on these words. Then She paused once more and continued: "Courage and confidence." At that moment the thought occurred to me, if I say this it is likely no one will believe me. The Blessed Virgin understood me, for She replied: "I have arranged all beforehand. So much the worse for those who may not be willing to believe you. Later on they will recognize the truth of My words." Then She gradually disappeared. O my good Mother, there is still time, Thy encouraging words will increase our confidence and love for Thee. Thou art "all-merciful and Mistress of Thy Son." Thou hast said: "The treasures of My Son are open." Ah! if it pleases Him to try us still more, and to punish us as we deserve, at least we shall have the consolation of drawing from this inexhaustible source, which issues from His Sacred Heart. This devotion, which Thou dost love, my good Mother, I will speak of it as much as I possibly can; and Thou wilt permit that my good will to please Thee may serve for Thy glory—Estelle.
The Scapular was now revealed; the mission of Estelle became public, and it is worthy of remark that henceforth witnesses were present at every succeeding Apparition. Mlle. Blanche de Tyran had followed Estelle into her room. The following is an abridgment of her deposition:
Estelle began to say the Rosary, kneeling almost in the middle of the room. She had said about a decade and a half, when Mlle. de Tyran, who had remained about two feet away from her, no longer heard the words, the sound of her respiration, nor the slightest noise of her beads moving. Estelle remained thus on her knees about three-quarters of an hour, perfectly motionless, her hands joined and slightly extended. At the end of that time she drew a long, sorrowful sigh, seemed to wipe away her tears, and asked Mlle. de Tyran if she had not seen the Blessed Virgin. The latter, placed a little distance behind her, could not see her eyes, but saw quite plainly the deep flush on her cheeks. Estelle then described to her the Scapular of the Sacred Heart, and told her some of the details of the vision.
TWELFTH APPARITION, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1876
(Feast of All Saints)
Thou hast not spoken to me, my good Mother; yet, nevertheless, for Thy glory I will describe the visit with which Thou has deigned to favor me today. For the last fifteen days, notwithstanding all my efforts to refrain from desiring to see the Blessed Virgin again, I could not succeed in doing so, and at the very moment I resolved most firmly not to think of it, my heart would leap within me at the thought of beholding Her. Today, at last—November 1—I once more saw this good heavenly Mother. She appeared as usual, with Her arms stretched out and wearing the Scapular She had shown to me on September 9. As usual, also, She gazed intently on something I could not see, then looked around on all sides. She did not speak, but at last, casting Her eyes on me, with an expression of the greatest kindness, She disappeared. Oh! if I could only follow Thee, my good Mother. This is always my first thought when I see Her. Today, immediately after the departure of Our Blessed Lady, when I looked around the room, everything appeared dark to me. What grief I felt; my God, what dost Thou wish me to do? I am ready. Do with me what Thou dost wish. And as for Thy most Holy Mother, who is so good and merciful, what does She require from a poor creature like me? What am I to do? Speak, O most Holy Mother! I renew the promise I have made before Thee. I will do all that depends on me for Thy glory—Estelle.
This Apparition took place about half an hour after midday. It lasted only a few minutes. Mlle. de Tyran was present and she relates that when she had seen Estelle enter the room, she followed her, accompanied by Madame de La Rochefoucauld. After about a quarter of an hour they both left it together, but Mlle. soon returned and found Estelle in the same fixed, motionless state as she had been when she saw her on September 15. This lasted only a few minutes, but she remarked afterwards to Madame de La Rochefoucauld that Estelle must assuredly have seen the Blessed Virgin.
Estelle was depressed that evening, because she had not heard the Blessed Virgin speak, as on former occasions. Monsieur le Curé, in order to ascertain her opinion, said that perhaps it was a farewell visit, that it was true the Blessed Virgin had not spoken, but that She seemed to indicate by Her Scapular that it be propagated. Estelle replied: "I do not know if I shall see the Blessed Virgin again. This does not appear to me like a farewell visit, but I think I shall see Her again."
THIRTEENTH APPARITION, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1876
About half-past two o'clock I went to my room to say my Rosary, and when I finished it I saw the Blessed Virgin. She looked as beautiful as ever. As I gazed upon Her I reflected how unworthy I was of Her favors, that so many others were more deserving of them than I, and could do so much more to publish Her glory. Then She looked at me and smiled, saying: "I have chosen you." Oh how happy I felt! What goodness in Her look, and what mercy! She wore Her Scapular; how beautiful it was! She paused a moment, and then continued, smiling: "I choose the little ones and the weak for my glory." Again She paused, then said: "Courage! the time of your trials is approaching." Then She crossed Her hands upon Her breast and disappeared. All for Thee, my good Mother—Estelle.
This vision lasted a quarter of an hour, according to the testimony of Sister Marie Theodosie, the superioress of the nuns, who was present at the time. She states that she entered the room with Estelle, who knelt to pray, but not in her usual place. After a few minutes the sister went back to the church, where she remained about ten minutes, after which she returned to Estelle. The noise she made on entering the room did not disturb Estelle, who was then kneeling in her usual place, and whose state of ecstasy she remarked, as she approached within two feet of her, so that she might clearly see her face and watch her eyes. Her face was calm; her eyes fixed. The sister could not hear her breathe; however, she saw her respiration, but her lips did not move. She remained during the whole time perfectly motionless. At the end of the vision she heaved deep sighs and the sister saw her wiping away her tears. Notwithstanding the announcement of her trials, Estelle was cheerful and even joyous after the Apparition. This was remarked by all who saw her on that and the following day.
FOURTEENTH APPARITION, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11
Yesterday, on Saturday, I again beheld the Blessed Virgin. I went to my room to pray, having felt for several days previously an impulse to do so which I could not account for. I even wished to set out in the morning so that I might have more time, but God had now His designs; I could not go until the afternoon, and it was about four o'clock when I reached my room. I had finished my beads and said a Memorare, when the Blessed Virgin appeared. She looked as usual; Her arms were stretched out and She wore the Scapular. How beautiful it is, and how prominent it appears on Her breast! When She appeared She remained silent for some time. Then She looked at me, and told me something for myself alone. She also said to me: "You have not lost your time today; you have worked for me." (I had made a Scapular.) She smiled and added: "It will be necessary to make many more." She paused for some time and afterwards became somewhat sad, and said to me: "Courage." Then She disappeared, crossing Her hands upon Her breast. Have pity on me, my good Mother—Estelle.
Five persons were witnesses of Estelle's ecstasy during the Apparition, which lasted twenty minutes. Mlle. de Tyran was present during the whole time; also three sisters, Sr. Marie de Jesus, Sr. St. Chrysostom and Sr. St. Angelique, and Mlle. Thersile Salmon during the last five minutes. Mlle. de Tyran deposed to the same fixed look and immobility of body during former ecstasies. The mother of Estelle, making some noise, came into the room to speak to Mlle. de Tyran, but Estelle did not appear to hear her. She had been on her knees, in her usual place, for ten minutes, when the first four persons mentioned above entered the room. They were talking, and one of them lit a taper quite close to Estelle. They heard noise outside, but Estelle was insensible to everything. They all state that the eyes were fixed without any movement of the eyelids. At the end of the vision Estelle raised her hand as if to grasp or follow something. She heaved a deep sigh and big tears rolled down her cheeks. She remained a few moments longer motionless, and appeared quite astonished at seeing a taper lit and five persons close beside her. As Estelle had been seen by Mlle. de Tyran, first saying her Rosary, and then some other prayers, she did not remain less than forty minutes altogether on her knees.
FIFTEENTH APPARITION, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1876
(Feast of the Immaculate Conception)
Some hours have now elapsed since my return from Pellevoisin, and I have not as yet recovered from my emotion. I have once more seen the Blessed Virgin, and I shall never again see Her on earth. She told me so. No one can possibly understand what I feel; yet I am ready to sacrifice everything for the glory of Her who has bestowed so many favors on me. Her promises will console me. I shall not see Her again; but She will speak to my heart. O my good Mother, grant that I may be docile to Thy voice, and that I may never wander from the path Thou hast marked out for me. Thou hast said to me: "I will assist you." I trust in Thee—Thou wilt never abandon me. I shall then, for Thy glory, relate with the greatest confidence, Thy last visit to me.
This day after High Mass, I once more beheld my sweet Mother. She was more beautiful than ever. She was encircled by a wreath of roses, as in the month of July. When She appeared, She remained for some time without speaking. Then She said: "Recall to mind all My words." At that instant all that She had said since the month of February recurred to my memory. The following words in particular: "You know well that you are My daughter. I am all merciful, and Mistress of My Son." Her complaints when She said: "What afflicts Me most is the want of respect shown by some people to My Son in Holy Communion, and the attitude which they assume in prayer when the mind is occupied by other things." Then the words of the month of July: "His Heart has so much love for Mine, that He cannot refuse My requests. Through Me He will move the most obdurate. I am come in particular for the conversion of sinners." Then those spoken in the month of September: "The treasures of My Son are open; let them pray." And, when showing Her Scapular, She said: "I love this devotion." These remarkable words: "It is here I will be honored." For France: "I recommend calm, not only for thee, but for the Church and for France." Then the words spoken in November: "I have chosen thee. I choose the little ones and the weak for My glory." Besides these words, there were several other which I will keep secret. All this passed rapidly. The Blessed Virgin continued looking at me steadily. She said to me: "My child, remember My words. Repeat them often; they will strengthen and console you in your trials. You will see Me no more." Then I exclaimed: "What will become of me without Thee, my good Mother?" The Blessed Virgin replied: "I will be invisibly near you." At the same instant I saw in the distance, to the left of the Blessed Virgin, a crowd of persons of all classes, who threatened me and made angry gestures at me. I felt a little frightened. The Blessed Virgin smiled and said: "You have nothing to fear from these." The Blessed Virgin held Her Scapular with both hands. She was so encouraging that I said to Her: "My good Mother, if thou wouldst only give me this Scapular." The Blessed Virgin did not appear to hear me, but She said: “Arise and kiss it.” Oh how quickly I stood up! The Blessed Virgin bent towards me, and I kissed it. It was for me a moment of delight.
Then the Blessed Virgin, raising Herself up again, said, referring to the Scapular: "You will go yourself and see the Prelate. You will present to him the model Scapular you have made. Tell him that he is to help you with all his power, and that nothing will be more acceptable to Me than to see this livery on each of My children, and that they all endeavor to repair the outrages received by My Divine Son in the Sacrament of His Love. See the graces I will bestow on those who will wear it with confidence, and who will assist you in propagating it." Whilst speaking thus the Blessed Virgin stretched out Her hands and from them there fell an abundant rain, in each drop of which I seemed to read such graces as piety, salvation, confidence, conversion, health; in a word, all sorts of graces more or less favored. Then the Blessed Virgin added: "These graces are from My Divine Son; I take them from His Heart; He can refuse Me nothing." Then I said to Her: "My good Mother, what should be on the other side of the Scapular?" She replied: "I reserve it for Myself; you will submit your thought and the Church will decide." I knew that this good Mother was about to leave Me now, and I felt deeply grieved. She gently ascended, still looking at me and saying: "Courage! Should he not be able to grant your request, and should any difficulties arise, you will go further. Fear nothing, I will assist you." She went half way round my room, and disappeared a short distance from my bed. My God, how grieved I felt! Thanks, my good Mother; I will do nothing without Thee—Estelle.
(This vision took place about half-past twelve. It lasted more than a quarter of an hour. Fifteen persons were witnesses during a greater or less portion of the time, as they did not come into the room all together.)
The following is a resumé of their depositions:
Sr. Marie Theodosie, the superioress of the nuns; Sr. Ste. Emerance, and Mlle. de Tyran saw Estelle for a quarter of an hour. She was already motionless as in the preceding ecstasies, when they perceived her immobility. All three saw her a few minutes afterwards stand up in a great hurry, approach the mantelpiece, which on that day had been transformed into an altar for the reception of the Children of Mary, stretch out her trembling hands, place them on a bouquet of roses in the center of the altar, and then raise herself up as if to grasp or take hold of something. All three saw her also advance her head and lips as if to kiss something. Her gaze was fixed, but her lips were moving. During the rest of the time her lips were motionless as her eyes. A few minutes previously the superioress of the nuns and Sr. Ste. Emerance had seen her looking towards the angle of the wall next to the window. Had it not been for the breath which issued from her mouth, she might have been taken for a corpse.
Mlle. de Tyran left the room to call Madame de La Rochefoucauld, her two daughters, Solange and Louise and Mlle. Simonet, their governess. As they came in a hurry they made a great deal of noise, but Estelle was insensible to it. She remained standing, her hands crossed, and her eyes fixed upon something before her. Mme. de La Rochefoucauld, approached until she was within two feet exactly in front of her. She made a noise moving the chairs, but Estelle did not appear to perceive it. At the same time the superioress went to call the Curé, who came at once, followed by Mlle. de Menon, Mlle. Salmon her sister, and the superioress. Estelle was still standing. A few moments after, all saw her turn her head, but without moving her eyes or her eyelids, towards her bed, which was almost in the middle of the room. The Curé, standing between her and Mme. de La Rochfoucauld on the same level, looked at her nearly full in the face. She turned suddenly, seeming to follow something with great eagerness, her countenance was greatly flushed. A few moments after she knelt down. Questioned that evening as to whether she was aware of having stood up and touched the roses, she replied that she did not know anything about it, but that she must certainly have stood up, as the Blessed Virgin had ordered her to do so. As for touching the roses, she did not understand what was meant by it. Several persons went to pray in the room during the evening, and there was great emotion at Pellevoisin.
ESTELLE'S LETTER TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Estelle asked her friend Mlle. Reiter, early in September of 1875, to place a letter, begging for a cure, at the feet of the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in Poiriers. This letter was found untouched a few days before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1876, by a workman who had been employed to repair the Lourdes Grotto at Poiriers. Through some negligence, it was not sent to Madame de La Rochefoucauld, who was at Pellevoisin, until December 9, the day after the last Apparition. Strange coincidence, it would seem, that, as Our Blessed Lady wished the marble slab to be placed at Pellevoisin, She also wished to return the letter there, as if to say: "They believed that all was over when this letter was sent to Me; but all will not end until I shall have given it back again."
While no formal approval has been granted acknowledging the authenticity of the Apparitions at Pellevoisin, either by the local Archbishop of Bourges or by the Holy See, nevertheless numerous relative acts of approval have been given, including recognition of Mary's Scapular request, which encourage belief in these Apparitions.
Two Canonical Inquiries (1877, 1878) were conducted to investigate the Apparitions. In the first, 56 witnesses were questioned (55 favorable, 1 indecisive) and in the second all the witnesses were favorable. Mgr. de La Tour d'Auvergne, the Archbishop of Bourges, died in 1879 before he had time to conclude the second Inquiry. However, a Confraternity was erected in honor of Our Mother All-Merciful of Pellevoisin.
On December 20, 1892, Pope Leo XIII, by a Motu Proprio, granted indulgences to encourage pilgrimages to Pellevoisin. In May of 1894, the same Pontiff raised the Confraternity to the status of Archconfraternity.
In January of 1900, Pope Leo XIII received Estelle in audience. As a result of this interview, His Holiness promised to approve the Scapular of the Sacred Heart. On April 4 of the same year, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued this approval.
The Countess Arthur de La Rochefoucauld; Born Marie-Luce de Montbel; 1835-1920;
Arranged the Chamber of the Apparitions of 1876 into a Chapel in response to the words of Mary: "It is here I will be honored."
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