Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 69(4) November 2019


Our Lady of La Salette and The Vocation of Healthcare Workers

Helping to Take Jesus Down From The Cross

StatueIn a century of apparitions of Our Lady in France, La Salette was one of the first and most important. Our Lady appeared in 1846 in the French Alps at a place called La Salette-Fallavaux. Sitting at about 11,000 feet, the apparition site is surrounded by astounding mountains and great beauty.

Our Lady appeared to two children - Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat at a time of great apostasy and also famine. She asked for two things. That we respect God and do not work on Sundays.

Melanie was one of eight children and came from a poor family. She began working at age seven, had no schooling, knew only bits of the Catechism, infrequently attended Mass, and could hardly recite the Our Father or the Hail Mary. Similarly, Maximin, whose mother had died and who did not like his stepmother, had little religious education and no schooling. While they were tending their sheep, they saw a brilliant light, brighter than the sun. As they approached, they noticed a "Beautiful Lady" seated on a rock and crying, with her face in her hands. In tears, she stood and spoke to them in their local French dialect. She wore a headdress topped by a lucent crown with a band of roses, a dress with beams of light, and slippers edged with roses. Around her neck hung a golden crucifix:- on one end of the cross beam was a hammer and nails, and on the other, a pincer. Over her shoulders was a heavy chain.

Our Lady said, "Come to me, my children. Do not be afraid. I am here to tell something of the greatest importance." She continued, "If my people will not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son's arm. It is so heavy, so pressing that I can no longer restrain it. How long I have suffered for you! If my Son is not to cast you of; I am obliged to entreat Him without ceasing. But you take not the least notice of that. No matter how well you pray in the future, no matter how well you act, you will never be able to make up to me what I have endured for your sake. I have appointed you six days for working. The seventh I have reserved for myself. And no one will give it to me. This it is which causes the weight of my Son's arm to be crushing. The cart drivers cannot swear without bringing in my Son's name. These are the two things which make my Son's arms so burdensome.
View from apparition siteIf the harvest is spoiled, it is your own fault. I warned you last year by means of the potatoes. You paid no heed. Quite the reverse, when you discovered that the potatoes had rotted, a view from the apparition you swore, you abused my Son's name. They will continue to rot, and by Christmas this year there will be none left. lf you have grain, it will do no good to sow it, for what you sow the beasts will devour, and any part of it that springs up will crumble into dust when you thresh it.
A great famine is coming. But before that happens, the children under seven years of age will be seized with trembling and die in their parent's arms. The grownups will pay for their sins by hunger. The grapes will rot, and the walnuts will turn bad."[1]

View from apparition site 2This was indeed a serious message. The prophesied famine did indeed come true and many people returned to the faith as result of the apparition. Today there is a basilica and it is a fine place of pilgrimage. I took our family there for Easter 2005. Set amid snow covered mountains we did indeed feel close to God. Truly a sobering message!

CrucifixBut for me, the Crucifix of La Salette has be the greatest inspiration of La Salette. Its unique feature is a hammer and pincers attached to the arms of the Cross. The hammer is the tool with which we can (and do through our sins) nail Jesus Christ to the Cross. But the pincers are the tools with which (through our works of charity and other good acts) we help to take Our Blessed Lord back down from the Cross. That is our spiritual accompaniment of one of the great acts of Charity shown to Our Lord by Our Lady and St Joseph of Arimathea.

The Crucifix of La Salette is truly a model for us, in healthcare, today. Of course we must not do wrong. But we must also do and promote what is right. In this issue we report the Consecration of Physicians to the Sacred heart of Jesus [2]. As well as our work to promote Abortion Pill Reversal [2]. And efforts to protect people from the threat of euthanasia [2]. Paul Green's article [3] is a further example of great works of mercy. If we can help to bring the message of love, truth and hope to the world then we are truly helping using the pincers on the Crucifix.

The pincers are our tools
with which we help to take
Our Blessed Lord back down
from the Cross

As Our Lady said, "If people are converted, the rocks will become piles of wheat, and it will be found that the potatoes have sown themselves." She asked the children, "Do you say your prayers well, my children?" "No, we hardly say them at all," they mumbled. "Ah, my children, it is very important to say them, at night and in the morning. When you don't have time, at least say an Our Father and a Hail Mary. And when you can, say more."

On 19 September 1851, Pope Pius IX formally approved the public devotion and prayers to Our Lady of La Salette, referring to its messages of apparition as "secrets". I too am a great benificiary of Our Lady of La Salette. Along with many members of the CMA I regularly attended Mass at Our Lady of La Salette just outside Guy's Hospital as students and after we qualified.

Our Lady of La Salette... Pray for us.


  1. The dialogue recorded here was taken from "The Lady in Tears," by Msgr. John S. Kennedy in A Woman Clothed with the Sun.
  2. See In Haec Tempora in this issue
  3. Green, Paul. Darkness Visible: Responding to Patients who Claim to be Possessed (2019) Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 69(4) November. page 10