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Our Lady of La Salette and Saint Joseph Catholic Church

Parish Priest: Canon Michael Cooley
Melior Street, London SE1 3QP
020 7407 1948


Walk with Me Prayer

Lord God, our light and our salvation,
we praise you for your gifts of life and faith.

We thank you for the desire
that you have planted in our hearts,
our yearning to see your face.

Help us to meet you in prayer,
to walk in your ways,
and to speak to others of our joy
and consolation in your presence.

Give us faithfulness in this present life
so that we may come to know
and praise your beauty,
with all our brothers and sisters,
in the life to come.

We make this prayer through
Christ our Lord.


The Apparition and the message of Our Lady of La Salette

The apparition of La Salette happens on September 19th 1846 on Saturday at 3 o' clock in the afternoon of a beautiful, clear autumn day, the Virgin Mary appeared to Maximin Giraud, age 11, and Melanie Calvat, age 14, on a mountain near the town of La Salette, some 1800m high in the French Alps.

The two children had first met the day before while tending cows on the slopes. After their meagre lunch at midday; they were overcome by fatigue and fell into a deep sleep. Suddenly Melanie awoke and, not seeing the cows, called to Maximin: Memin, come and see where the cows might have strayed. They quickly climbed the hill in front of them and with relief saw the cows grazing on the opposite side of the knoll.

Returning to pick up their knapsacks, the two children stopped in their tracks when they saw a very bright light blazing over the bench of stones where they had sat for lunch. The radiance parted and revealed a woman seated on the stones, her elbows on her knees and her face buried in her hands. They realized at once that she was weeping. They were frightened but the Lady rose and reassured them:

"Come near, my children, don't be afraid. I am here to tell you great news".

They hurried to her side while she took a few steps towards them.

Over a shining white dress the Lady wore a full length golden apron. Along the border of her white kerchief were roses of all colours and on a fine gold chain a crucifix more radiant than anything else in the vision. On the left of the crucifix hung a miniature hammer and on the right, pincers. Her headdress was white and crowned with a diadem of roses of many hues. Her shoes were sparkling white with a square gold buckle. Around each slipper were tiny roses that were not crushed as she stood and walked on the tips of the blades of grass.

The Lady was so resplendent in light that the noonday sun faded in comparison. Her face was exceedingly beautiful yet profoundly sad. Tears fell down her cheeks all the while she spoke. With rapt attention the children listened to the Beautiful Lady:

If my people refuse to submit, I shall be forced to let go the arm of my son. It is so strong and so heavy. I can no longer hold it back.

How long a time I have suffered for you! If I want my Son not to abandon you, I must plead with him without ceasing. And as for you, you pay no heed! However much you pray, however much you do, you will never be able to repay the pains I have taken for you.

I gave you six days to work; I kept the seventh for myself, and they will not give it to me. This is what makes the arm of my Son so heavy. And then, those who drive the carts cannot swear without bringing in my Son's name. These are the two things which make the arm of my Son so heavy.

If the harvest is ruined, it is only on account of you. I let you know last year with the potatoes. You paid no heed. Instead, when you found the potatoes spoiled, you swore, and brought in my Son's name. They are going to continue to spoil, and by Christmas this year there will be none left.

The Beautiful Lady had been speaking French but Melanie, not knowing the French word for potatoes, turned towards Maximin to ask him if he knew what pommes de tere meant.

The Lady interrupted: Don't you understand, my children?

Let me find another way to say it.

Then speaking in their local dialect, she continues: If you have wheat, you must not sow it. Anything you sow the insects will eat, and whatever does come up will fall into dust when you thresh it.

A great famine is coming. Before the famine comes, children under seven will be seized with trembling and they will die in the arms of the persons who hold them.

The rest will do penance through the famine, the walnuts will become worm eaten, the grapes will rot.

The Lady then confided a separate secret to each of the children. Although each child noticed her lips moving, neither of them heard what was being said to the other. Having entrusted these secrets, she continued:

If they are converted, rocks and stones will turn in to heaps of wheat, and potatoes will be self-sown in the fields.

Then she asked: Do you say your prayers well, my children?

Hardly ever, Madame.

Ah! My children, you must say them well, at night and in the morning, if you were to say only an Our Father and a Hail Mary, when you can't do better. When you can do better, say more.

In the summer only a few somewhat elderly women go to Mass, the rest work on Sundays all summer long. In the winter, when they don't know what to do, they go to Mass only to make fun of religion. In Lent they go to the butcher shop as dogs do.
Have you ever seen wheat gone badly, children?

No, Madame.

But you, my son, surely you must have seen it once with your father in the field of Coin. The owner of the field told your father to go and see his spoilt wheat. And then you went, and you took two or three ears of wheat in your hands, you rubbed them together, and it all crumbled into dust. On your way back home when you were no more than a half-hour away from Corps, your father gave you a piece of bread and said to you: Here, my son, eat some bread while still have it this year, because I don't know who will eat any next year if the wheat continues this way."

Oh, yes. I remember. Just then, I didn't recall.

Well, my children, you will make this known to all my people.

Then she crossed the brook, walked slowly to the top of the hill and rose more than a metre in the air. There she turned and gazed in the direction of Rome and said once again:

Very well, my children make this known to all my people.

Then she vanished. The light alone remained but in an instant it too disappeared.

That evening the children returned home and told their masters what they had seen and heard. Soon, the whole town wanted to hear the story and the children were to tell it again and again.

After five years of careful study and investigation the Bishop of Grenobe, in whose diocese the event had taken place, gave his approbation in a formal declaration, which stated, in part: We judge that the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to two shepherds, September 19, 1846, on the mountain in the French Alps, in the parish of La Salette ... shows all the signs of the truth and the faithful have grounds for believing it indubitable and certain.

The first Catholic Mission at London Bridge - Webb Street, the Chapel, dedicated to Our Lady and Saint Patrick - was opened by Bishop Nicholas Wiseman on the 20th March 1848. A new site for a church had to be found before Webb Street and its chapel were overtaken by the enlargement of the railway station. The church in Melior Street, a few yards away, was opened on the second of May 1861, and dedicated to Our Lady of La Salette and Saint Joseph.

At the spot where Maximin and Melanie saw the lady weeping there is a statue, a large basilica and accommodation for pilgrims. At Melior Street of London, United Kingdom, we have a statue, a beautiful church and a parish house.

The message from Our Lady of La Salette has not changed: "Find a place for God in your life, otherwise things will get out of hand".

Pope John Paul II wrote about La Salette on 6th May 1996.

"The message of La Salette was given to two young shepherds in a period of great suffering. People were scourged by famine, subjected to many injustices. Indifference or hostility toward the Gospel message worsened. As she appeared, bearing upon her breast the likeness of her crucified Son, Our Lady showed herself to be associated to the work of salvation, experiencing compassion for her children...

La Salette is a message of hope - a hope sustained by the intercession of her who is the Mother of all peoples... The arm of Mary's Son will not weigh upon, will not condemn, the people who walk humbly in the pathway of the Lord. Christ will take the outstretched hand into his own and lead to new life the sinner reconciled by the grace of the Cross...

At La Salette, Mary clearly spoke of the constancy of her prayer for the world: she will never abandon the people created in the image and likeness of God, those to whom it has been given to become children of God. May she lead to her Son all the nations of the earth".

Pope John Paul II
May 6, 1996


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