Celestial Apparition at Pontmain
On the evening of January 17, 1871, ten-year-old Joseph Barbadette and his twelve-year-old brother Eugene were helping their father, Ceasare, in the barn.
Eugene walked to the door to look outside. Immediately he called his brother and father to "Come, look!", because as he looked at the star studded sky, he noticed one area which was almost devoid of stars, above a neighbouring house.
Then suddenly in that dark patch of sky, he saw a vision of a beautiful lady smiling at him.
She was wearing a blue gown covered with sparkling golden stars, and a black veil under a golden crown.
His father, his brother, and a neighbour who had heard the commotion came to look. Jospeh said that he could see the beautiful lady, but the adults could see nothing.
Eugene's mother came out to look also, but she could not see anything. She was puzzled because her children were normally very truthful.
She thought that it was possible that the beautiful Lady was Our Lady, so suggested that they all pray five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys.
As it was now after 6.00 pm and time for supper, the boys were ordered inside, but were soon allowed to come out again.
They could still see the beautiful Lady, and so they sent for the school teacher of this small village, Pontmain, in France. Sister Vitaline arrived, but she could not see anything either, so she went to bring three small children from the school, to see their reaction. As soon as they arrived, the two girls aged 9 and 11 could see the beautiful Lady, and described her the same way the boys had, but the youngest child could not see anything.
By this time, a crowd of some 60 people, incldung the Parish Priest, Father Michel Guerin, had now collected at the site. None of them could see anything, so they began parying the Rosary. The children then cried out that something new was happening in that celestial vision.
A blue Oval frame formed around the Lady, with two unlit candles at her shoulder height, and two more at her knee height, and a small red cross appeared over her heart.
As the Rosary continued, the figure and the surrounding frame, grew larger unil they were twice the size as at first. Stars from the surrounding sky dislodged themselves, and affixed themselves to her dress, until it was covered with them.
As the Magnificat was being prayed, all four children creid out "Something else is happening."
The children could see a broad streamer unrolling beneath the Lady's feet, and letters appearing on it, which eventually read "But pray, my children"
Father Guerin led the singing of the Litany of Our Lady, and during this new words appeared "God will soon answer you."
And then a final message appeared, confirming that the beautiful Lady was indeed the Blessed Virgin Mary. "My Son allows Himself to be moved."
The children were ecstatic at the beauty of the Lady and her beautiful smile, but then her expression changed to one of great sadness, as she now beheld a large red cross that suddenly appeared before her, with a figure of Jesus on it in an even darker shade of red.
One of the stars then moved around and lit the four candles, the Crucifix vanished from sight, and the group began praying their night prayers.
While the prayers were being recited, the children told those present that a white veil was rising up in front of the Lady's feet, and gradually hiding her from their sight.
At about nine o'clock, after almost three hours of this miraculous apparition, it was all over and the sky returned to its usual night-time appearance.
The following March, a canonical inquiry into the apparition was held and the local Bishop questioned the children in detail. The inquiry continued later in the year, with the children being further questioned by theologians, and undergoing medical examinations.
The Bishop was satisfied with all the evidence obtained, and in February 1872 declared his belief that it was the Blessed Virgin Mary who had appeared to the children at Pontmain on that eveing in January 1871.
Joseph and Eugene both became priests when they grew up, and of the two young girls who also witnessed the apparition, one became the housekeeper to Father Eugene, and the other became a Nun.
A large Basilica was built at Pontmain, and was consecrated in the year 1900.