Catholic Dictionary




Shrine of Our Lady of Hope, thirty miles from Laval, in the northwest corner of Mayenne in France. The Germans had taken Paris in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and were on their way westward. Laval expected capture. On the eve of January 17, 1871, a vision of Our Lady appeared in the sky. She was visible for several hours to Joseph and Eugène Barbedette, aged ten and twelve. A Sister teaching at a nearby orphanage brought some children, who also saw the Lady, but the Sister did not. Babies clapped their hands when the vision appeared, but the mothers saw nothing. At the suggestion of the priest they all knelt and prayed. The smiling Lady appeared with a scroll unrolled near her feet, and a message on it read, "Pray, children, God will hear you. My Son allows Himself to be moved by compassion." The next day the news reached them that the Germans had withdrawn at the moment the Lady disappeared. Miracles sealed Our Lady's appearance. A large basilica marks the place of the vision, and a statue in it was made according to the children's description of what Mary looked like.