There has always been controversy over the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at La Salette on September 19, 1846, and in particular over the secret parts of the message of Our Lady. But that controversy came to a head in 1999, when Abbé Michel Corteville discovered the original letters of the two visionaries, addressed to Pope Pius IX in 1851, which had been buried in the Vatican archives for decades. Critics of the various versions of the Secrets of La Salette, published by the seers Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud in later years, felt vindicated when they learned that the original versions were quite short. Their triumph was short-lived, however, as Abbé Corteville soon published a thorough and scholarly study of the Apparition and Message of La Salette, which demonstrated that the visionaries intentionally revealed their secrets by degrees—the later versions being logical amplifications of the earlier. The entire story of this controversy, which has been much overshadowed by the controversy over the Third Secret of Fatima, is both fascinating and complex.
As was mentioned in Part IV of this Series, Melanie sent her entire Secret to Pope Pius IX in September of 1858. This manuscript remains lost in the Vatican Archives.
Released from her exile in England, Melanie wrote out the Secret again in Marseille in 1860. The manuscript was reportedly destroyed by the Bishop there; but a copy survived, which was published by Abbé Bliard with the imprimatur of the Archbishop of Naples in 1873. Excerpts of this version were included amongst the short works of the lawyer M. Girard of Grenoble, who received for them the autograph blessing of Pope Pius IX.
Melanie found refuge in Italy, and produced her final version of the Secret, together with a full account of the Apparition, in Castellammare in November of 1878. The following year this version received the imprimatur of the Bishop of Lecce, and Melanie sent a copy to Pope Leo XIII.
The following is the account of the Secret from this final version. The words in italics were not included in the copy of the Marseille version:
"Melanie, what I am about to tell you now will not always be a secret; you may make it public in 1858.
"The priests, ministers of My Son, the priests, by their wicked lives, by their irreverence and their impiety in the celebration of the holy mysteries, by their love of money, their love of honors and pleasures, the priests have become cesspools of impurity. Yes, the priests are asking vengeance, and vengeance is hanging over their heads. Woe to the priests and to those dedicated to God who by their unfaithfulness and their wicked lives are crucifying My Son again! The sins of persons consecrated to God cry out towards Heaven and call for vengeance, and behold vengeance is at their door, for there is no one left to beg mercy and forgiveness for the people; there are no more generous souls; there is no one left worthy of offering the spotless Victim to the Eternal for the sake of the world.
"The chiefs, the leaders of the people of God have neglected prayer and penance, and the demon has obscured their intelligence; they have become wandering stars which the old devil will drag along with his tail to make them perish. God will allow the old serpent to place divisions among those who reign, in every society and in every family. Physical and moral agonies will be suffered; God will abandon mankind to itself and will send chastisements which will follow one after the other for more than thirty-five years.
"Society is on the eve of the most terrible scourges and of the gravest events; mankind must expect to be ruled with an iron rod and to drink from the chalice of the wrath of God.
"May the Vicar of my Son, the Sovereign Pontiff Pius IX never leave Rome again after 1859; may he, however, be firm and generous, may he fight with the weapons of faith and love; I will be at his side. May he be on his guard against Napoleon: his heart is duplicitous, and when he wishes to make himself pope as well as emperor, God will soon draw back from him; he is the eagle who, always wanting to ascend further, will fall on the sword he wished to use to force his people to be raised up.
"Italy will be punished for her ambition in wanting to shake off the yoke of the Lord of Lords; and so she will be left to fight a war, blood will flow on all sides; churches will be locked up or desecrated; priests and religious will be hunted down, and made to die a cruel death. Several will abandon the Faith, and the number of priests and religious who will separate themselves from the true religion will be great; among these persons there will even be bishops.
"May the Pope guard against the performers of miracles; for the time has come when the most astonishing wonders will take place on the earth and in the air.
"In the year 1864, Lucifer together with a large number of demons will be unloosed from Hell; they will abolish the Faith little by little, even in those consecrated to God; they will blind them in such a way, that, unless they are blessed with a special grace, these persons will accept the spirit of these wicked angels; several religious houses will entirely lose the Faith and many souls will be lost.
"Evil books will be abundant on earth and the spirits of darkness will spread everywhere a universal relaxation of all that concerns the service of God; they will have great power over nature; there will be churches built to serve these spirits. Some people will be transported from one place to another by these evil spirits, even some priests, for they will not have been guided by the good spirit of the Gospel which is a spirit of humility, charity and zeal for the glory of God. Some will make the dead and the just arise. (That is to say that these dead will take on the form of just souls who had lived on earth, in order to more easily lead men astray; these so-called resurrected dead, who will be nothing but the demon in their forms, will preach another Gospel contrary to that of the true Christ Jesus, denying the existence of Heaven *see note below); that is also to say, the souls of the damned. All these souls will appear as if united to their bodies. Everywhere there will be extraordinary wonders, as the true Faith fades and the false light illuminates the world. Woe to the princes of the Church who think only of piling riches upon riches to protect their authority and dominate with pride.
"The Vicar of my Son will have much to suffer, because for a while the Church will be delivered up to a great persecution; it will be the time of darkness; the Church will be in a frightful crisis.
"The holy Faith of God having been forgotten, each individual will want to guide himself and be superior to his peers. They will abolish civil and ecclesiastical authority; all order and all justice will be trampled underfoot; only homicides, hate, jealousy, lies and dissension will be seen—without love for country or family.
"The Holy Father will suffer a great deal. I will be with him until the end and receive his sacrifice.
"The wicked will make several attempts on his life without power to shorten his days, but neither him nor his successor... will see the triumph of the Church of God.
"Civil governments will have one and the same plan, which will be to abolish and do away with every religious principle, to make way for materialism, atheism, spiritualism and every sort of vice.
"In the year 1865, there will be seen the abomination in the holy places; in convents, the flowers of the Church will putrefy and the demon will make himself like the king of hearts. May those in charge of religious communities be on their guard regarding persons they must receive, because the demon will make use of all his malice to introduce persons abandoned to sin into religious orders, for disorders and the love of carnal pleasures will be spread all over the earth.
"France, Italy, Spain, and England will be at war; blood will flow in the streets; Frenchman will fight Frenchman; Italian will fight Italian; a general war will follow which will be appalling. For a time, God will cease to be mindful of France and Italy because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is no longer known. The wicked will make use of all their malice; men will kill each other, they will massacre each other even in their homes.
"At the first blow of His thundering sword, the mountains and all nature will tremble in terror, for the disorders and crimes of men have pierced the vault of the heavens. Paris will burn and Marseilles will be engulfed; several cities will be shaken down and swallowed up by earthquakes; people will believe that all is lost; nothing will be seen but murders, nothing will be heard but the clash of arms and blasphemy.
"The righteous will suffer greatly; their prayers, their penance and their tears will rise up to Heaven and all of God’s people will beg for forgiveness and mercy and will plead for My help and intercession. And then Jesus Christ, in an act of His justice and His great mercy towards the just, will command His Angels to have all His enemies put to death. Suddenly, the persecutors of the Church of Jesus Christ and all those given over to sin will perish and the earth will become like a desert. And then peace will be made, and man will be reconciled with God; Jesus Christ will be served, adored and glorified; charity will flourish everywhere. The new kings will be the right arm of the holy Church, which will be strong, humble, pious, poor, zealous and the imitator of the virtues of Jesus Christ. The Gospel will be preached everywhere and mankind will make great progress in the Faith, for there will be unity among the workers of Jesus Christ and men will live in fear of God.
"This peace among men will be short-lived; twenty-five years of plentiful harvests will make them forget that the sins of men are the cause of all the troubles which come upon the earth.
"A forerunner of the Antichrist, with his troops gathered from several nations, will fight against the true Christ, the only Savior of the world; he will shed much blood and will want to annihilate the worship of God to make himself be looked upon as a God.
"The earth will be struck by calamities of all kinds (in addition to plague and famine which will be wide-spread); there will be a series of wars until the last war, which will then be fought by the ten kings of the Antichrist, all of whom will have one and the same plan and will be the only rulers of the world. Before this comes to pass, there will be a kind of false peace in the world; people will think of nothing but amusement; the wicked will give themselves over to all kinds of sin; but the children of the holy Church, the children of the Faith, my true imitators, will grow in the Love of God and in all the virtues most precious to me. Blessed are the humble souls guided by the Holy Ghost! I shall fight at their side until they reach the fullness of years.
"Nature demands vengeance because of man, and she trembles with dread at what must happen to the earth stained with crime. Tremble, earth, and you who make profession of serving Jesus Christ and who, on the inside, only adore yourselves, tremble, for God will hand you over to His enemy, because the holy places are in a state of corruption; many convents are no longer houses of God, but the grazing-grounds of Asmodeas and his like. It will be during this time that the Antichrist will be born of a Hebrew nun, a false virgin who will communicate with the old serpent, the master of impurity, his father will be B… ; at birth, he will spew out blasphemy; he will have teeth, in a word, he will be the devil incarnate; he will scream horribly, he will perform wonders, he will feed on nothing but impurity. He will have brothers who, although not demons incarnate like him, will be children of evil; at the age of twelve, they will draw attention upon themselves by the gallant victories they will have won; soon they will each lead armies, aided by the legions of Hell.
"The seasons will be altered, the earth will produce nothing but bad fruit, the stars will lose their regular motion, and the moon will only reflect a faint reddish glow; water and fire will give the earth's globe convulsions and horrible earthquakes which will swallow up mountains, cities, etc.
"Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist.
"The demons of the air together with the Antichrist will perform great wonders on earth and in the air, and men will become more and more perverted. God will take care of His faithful servants and men of good will, the Gospel will be preached everywhere, and all peoples and all nations will get to know the truth.
"I make an urgent appeal to the earth; I call on the true disciples of the living God Who reigns in Heaven; I call on the true imitators of Christ made man, the only true Savior of men; I call on My children, My true devotees, those who have given themselves to Me so that I may lead them to My Divine Son, those whom I carry in My arms, so to speak, those who have lived in My spirit, finally, I call on the apostles of the latter times, the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have lived in scorn for the world and for themselves, in poverty and in humility, in scorn and in silence, in prayer and in mortification, in chastity and in union with God, in suffering and unknown to the world. It is time for them to appear and fill the world with light. Go and reveal yourselves to be my cherished children; I am at your side and within you, provided that your faith is the light which shines upon you in these unhappy days. May your zeal make you hunger for the glory and the honor of Jesus Christ. Fight, children of light, you, the few who can see; for now is the time of times, the end of ends.
"The Church will be in eclipse, the world will be in dismay. But behold Enoch and Elias will come, filled with the Spirit of God; they will preach with the might of God, and men of good will will believe in God, and many souls will be consoled; they will make great progress through the virtue of the Holy Ghost and will condemn the diabolical errors of the Antichrist. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth! There will be bloody wars and famines, plagues and infectious diseases; it will rain with a fearful hail of animals; there will be thunderstorms which will shake cities, earthquakes which will swallow up countries; voices will be heard in the air; men will beat their heads against walls, they will call for death, and on another side death will be their torment; blood will flow on all sides. Who will be the victor if God does not shorten the length of the test? On account of the blood, the tears and prayers of the just, God will relent—Enoch and Elias will be put to death; pagan Rome will disappear; the fire of Heaven will fall and consume three cities; all the universe will be struck with terror and many will let themselves be led astray because they have not adored the true Christ living amongst them. It is time; the sun is darkening; only the Faith will survive.
"Now is the time; the abyss is opening. Here is the king of the kings of darkness; here is the Beast with his subjects, calling himself the savior of the world. He will rise proudly into the air to go to Heaven; he will be stifled by the breath of the Archangel Saint Michael. He will fall, and the earth, which will have been in a continuous series of changes for three days, will open up its fiery bowels; and he will be plunged for all eternity with all his followers into the everlasting chasms of Hell. And then water and fire will purge the earth and consume all the works of men's pride and all will be renewed; God will be served and glorified."
* It has been reported that Melanie, in a letter to Abbé Émile Combe dated October 7, 1899, attempted to clarify the words which appeared in parentheses—which she said were her own. She explained that the "so-called resurrected dead" would not be truly resurrected persons, but only the false apparitions of dead persons, conjured up by demonic spiritualists in order to deceive the living. She explained more clearly that it would appear that persons known to have been evil were in heavenly glory, and persons known to have been good were suffering and denying the true Faith. She also made it clear that the "transportation" of persons would be very rare.
In a series of letters to Abbé Félicien Bliard, beginning on December 26, 1870, Melanie made it clear that she had seen and felt, rather than heard, much of what she had related in the Secret, and that it was impossible to put everything fully into words, as she wrote:
The Holy Virgin spoke all the words, either of the secrets, or of the rules, but I could only guess or penetrate the rest of what she said in words: a great veil was lifted, events were uncovered to my eyes and to my imagination as She spoke all the words and a great space was opened before me; I saw events, the changes in the operation of the earth, and the unchanging God in His glory watching the Virgin, who lowered Herself to speak to two peasants...
There are people who would prefer that the Holy Virgin would not speak so much. It is a shame they are so stingy toward a poor shepherdess who desires with all her heart that the whole world could see and understand what she saw and understood for half an hour, so that everyone would be converted... And those people who say that the Holy Virgin does not speak much, would have well understood and better understood that which books teach, if there are such that teach that the words of Heaven are not just words: that is to say, the person who listens does not stop at the letter, at the word; rather each word is developed, and the future action takes place in the present, and is seen thousands of times more than the things the ears hear. One is raised to a height which is not Heaven, and maybe one does not really change place; but one sees and hears everything, one understands without saying anything, and one forgets oneself entirely. And unintentionally one enters into the spirit of the scenes which are exposed: that is to say, if it is a sorrowful scene, one is sorrowful, if it is joyful, one feels the joy. One sees the conspiracies that are made; one sees the kings of the earth, each of whom has several guardian angels: one sees them agitated, doing things, undoing things; one sees the jealousy of some, the ambition of others, etc., etc.: and all this from a single word that falls from the lips of Her who makes Hell to tremble—the Virgin Mary. Yes, if these people had once seen someone from Paradise, they would not say that the spirit who speaks to them, did not say so much; but rather they would say that it is impossible to say all that they know. I am greatly ignorant; but if I were one of the most learned, I could not write anything concerning the things from above, because the expressions of the most wise do not attain to the shadow of the truth of the expressions used in the speech of Heaven. The language from above is a movement of the soul, from the desires of the soul, the impulses of the soul; and the bright eyes of the soul understand.
So I think that if, here below, we wanted to explain such things, we could not do it. And me especially, poor vile dust, yet I was born to speak of such things. Let us love the good God with all our heart: behold, that is our science and our wealth. Oh! one should be a fool of love for Him, Who has first been a Fool of love for us...
I find it very difficult to explain something which has no comparison. If, for example, I would wish to explain how I saw the most Holy Virgin, how I understood Her words, how I saw executed what She said in words, how I saw the whole world, how I saw the Eye of the Eternal; it was a scene in action: I saw the blood of those who were put to death, and the blood of the Martyrs; but the love of such a sweet Virgin came upon me, it surpassed everything else, it made me melt; I did not think any more, I did not have the power of reflection; I was intelligent enough when I spoke, but I did not speak with words; and when the sweet Virgin walked away, She did not need to tell me to follow—certainly not; I did not know that I existed, I did not think I had feet to walk with; I was drawn; I was fixed to such ravishing beauty—Mary! ...So I say, if I wanted to explain everything, I would never, never arrive at the whole truth...
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