Family, we have traveled thousands of miles across the seas to beloved France, “eldest daughter of the Church.” Our Lady has called us to bring you the best kept secret for 400 years, a Sanctuary, a Shrine to Our Lady Refuge of Sinners, a place to come to shed everything which separates you from Our Lord, which we pray will touch your heart as it has ours. Pray and listen to your heart, for this, her gift is just for you.
We’re at a small village in southernFranceat the foot of theAlps, southeast of Gap, called Laus, where Our Lady appeared to a young girl almost 400 years ago. It has only been approved byMotherChurchin 2008, and yet it has been an ongoing place of pilgrimage for the French these last 400 years! Noteworthy is the fact that this is the longest period Our Lady has appeared to anyone, in the history of her apparitions – 54 years! Also interesting is the fact that the cause for the Beatification of the visionary, Benoite Rencurel, which had become dormant almost a hundred years ago, has now become very active, due to the efforts of the Bishop of the Diocese, Jean-Michel di Falco Leandri, who has a great devotion to Our Lady of Laus.
Our Lady touched the heart of the Bishop of the Diocese of Gap and Embrun, Jean-Michel di Falco Leandri, who pushed for the official approval of the devotion to Our Lady of Laus. He had always had a great devotion to Our Lady of Laus. When we interviewed him for our television program for EWTN, he explained that because the Shrine was frequented by the faithful for so many years, his predecessors did not see the need to ask for official approval byMotherChurch. When he was consecrated Bishop of the diocese in 2004, he immediately began the work needed to open the Cause for the Beatification of Benoite Rencurel. The officials inRometold him that before that could be considered, he, as Bishop of the Diocese, should have the apparitions at the Shrine approved by the Church. There was no reason why this Shrine, which had been a place of pilgrimage for so many, including St. Peter Julian Eymard and other Saints, had not received the official blessing ofMotherChurch. He immediately put the paperwork into the works, and on May 4, 2008, the 344th anniversary of the Apparition by Our Lady to Benoite Rencurel, the Shrine was officially approved byMotherChurch.
The Bishop proclaimed that this is the first apparition of Our Lady approved by the Church in the 21st Century, and the first approved by the Church inFrancesince the 19th Century.
What first aroused our interest in this shrine began during our research of St. Peter Julian Eymard, founder of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers inParis. We found a deep love of our Mother Mary manifested in his devotion to Our Lady of Laus, a shrine we knew little about. St. Peter Julian was born near Laus, actually between Laus and La Salette, and made many pilgrimages to both these shrines during his lifetime. He was given a great deal of comfort and solace by Our Lady during times of stress. When he was a mere eleven years old, through repeated pleading, St. Peter Julian received permission from his father to make a 50 kilometer (around 30 miles) pilgrimage to Laus on foot, his only nourishment what little bread he received begging. When he arrived at the Shrine, he immediately entered the church to pour out his heart to His Heavenly Mother. He found comfort in Our Lady at this Shrine all his life. Whenever he had to face difficulties in his life and his vocation, he would make the trip to Our Lady here at her Shrine in Laus.
At the end of his life, literally days before he died, he returned to his favorite Marian Shrines. The plan had been to visit La Salette first, and then his Lady at Laus. He wrote his sisters to that effect. But after having made the trip to La Salette, his strength gave out. The rector of the Shrine at La Salette brought him back to his home in La Mure, where he died, not having accomplished his wish to go to Laus one last time.