The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century
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THE SECRET OF LA SALETTE

Maximin’s secret

“ THE BLESSED VIRGIN’S LITTLE BOY ”

BORN on August 27, 1835 into a poor family of Corps in Matheysine, Maximin was certainly not a privileged child. His father, a wheelwright by trade, did not make much of a living because he drank too much  ; his mother had died when he was only one year old. Of a playful and mischievous character, he could not stay still for an instant, always moving his arms and hands (during the apparition, whilst Our Lady was communicating Her secret to Mélanie, he amused himself throwing stones  !). Of a good heart and totally unselfish, he had, however, received no education up to the age of eleven, neither schooling nor catechism. He ran away from church if taken there by his father, and only with difficulty did he succeed in learning the Pater and the Ave Maria, in two years… Pierre Selme, who employed him as a casual shepherd, said of him  : “ He is a little innocent who has no more forethought than malice. ”

Maximin, in 1846.

Maximin, in 1846.

The event of September 19, 1846 completely overturned his life. That same evening, he gave his first account of the event before the Pra family, without really understanding all that he was saying. But when he went to bed and wanted to say a Pater and an Ave, as the Beautiful Lady had asked him, he could not remember what he had to say and he cried… From mid October he went to school with the Sisters of Providence to learn how to read and write. As he passed in the street, people would say  : “ There’s the Blessed Virgin’s little boy. ” Before long, both he and Mélanie were taken in as boarders. They stayed there about four years. It was not until May 1848 that they were able to make their first Communion together. The Superior, Sister Sainte-Thècle, very wisely kept them out of the way as much as possible, but she could not prevent pilgrims and others constantly coming out of curiosity to disturb them.

Maximin always repeated his account with the same seriousness, and his answers to the questions fired at him were always unexpected, clear and precise. Here are some of them  :

Msgr. Darboy, future Archbishop of Paris, was sceptical and asked him  : “ Look here, my boy, how is it that, knowing your ignorance of the ordinary language, the Blessed Virgin would have used it in speaking to you  ? Isn’t there something ridiculous and consequently unacceptable (sic) in all this  ? What would you say if, at this moment, I were to declaim a long speech in Greek, which you don’t understand  ? ”

What would you in your turn say, Monseigneur, if, after hearing it only once, I were repeating it everywhere, without mistake, making it understood by everybody, without understanding it myself  ?

A priest declared peremptorily  : “ You are a little liar, I don’t believe you. ”

What has that to do with me  ? My task is to tell you, not to make you believe.

– I don’t believe you have any secret.

Then why, Mister, have you come all this way to ask me  ?

– Aren’t you bored, repeating the same thing every day  ?

And you, Father, do you get bored saying Mass every day  ?

To Canon Chambon, who asked in 1847, “ If the Pope asked you for your secret, would you be obliged to tell him, for the Pope is much more than the Blessed Virgin  ? ” Maximin replied  :

– The Pope, much more than the Blessed Virgin  ?… But the Blessed Virgin is the Queen of all the saints, if the Pope does his duty well, he will be a saint, but he will still be less than the Blessed Virgin  ; if he does not do his duty, he will be punished more than others.

– But it may be the devil who has entrusted you with your secret  ?

No, for the devil has nothing to do with Christ, and the devil would not forbid blasphemy.

Finally, when they tried to catch him out by saying  : “ The Lady has deceived you  ; she predicted a famine and yet the harvest is good everywhere ”, he replied  : “ What has that to do with me  ? That is what she told me, and that is her concern. ” And at other times, he would answer as Mélanie always did  : “ But, what if people did penance  ? ”

FIRST TROUBLES

In February 1849, the death of his father came as a bitter trial for the young boy, who was now orphaned of both father and mother. Life in the Providence Convent began to weigh on him. After three successive escapes, the sisters placed him in the hands of his legal guardian in the spring of 1850. At the beginning of the month of September, he was welcomed by a rich count who pushed indiscretion to the point of offering him his castle if he would divulge his secret  ! Later, Maximin was to admit  : “ I was about to betray the secret, when all of a sudden my memory failed  ; I found it impossible to articulate a word  ; I remained dumb and I understood my fault through this warning of the Blessed Virgin. ” He returned to La Salette for September 19. He made some strange encounters on the mountain that day.

Supporters of Baron de Richemont, an adventurer who passed himself off as King Louis XVII escaped from the Tower, were convinced that the Baron in whom they believed was actually designated by name in the seer’s secret. They spoke to him about the Pretender and showed him his portrait, but Maximin simply answered that he had never heard of Louis XVII nor of Louis XVIII, but only of Louis-Philippe (it was in 1848, before the Revolution). On that September 19, these men returned to the charge and suggested taking Maximin to Ars to consult “ the saint who is able to read a person’s conscience ”. When Msgr. de Bruillard came to hear of this, he wisely forbade Maximin to step beyond the limits of his diocese, but the ban was ignored. This act of disobedience had painful consequences, as is known. We recall that on the subject of his vocation, the Curé d’Ars twice advised the seer to return to his diocese of Grenoble.

On the way back, Maximin and his fellow travellers stopped at Lyons, at the Marist noviciate in the Saint Irenaeus quarter, where Fr. Eymard would have been very willing to have the seer, but on condition that the Bishop of Grenoble gave permission. Fr. Eymard knew Maximin very well  : “ either directly or through the intermediary of their common friend, Mr. Dausse, he constantly followed, observed and kept in touch with him without ever discovering anything to make him doubt the reality of the Fact of La Salette. ” (Louis Bassette, Notre-Dame de La Salette et Saint Pierre-Julien Eymard, p. 17)

Maximin will next meet, still escorted by his “ survivantist ” friends, the famous (and false) Baron de Richemont. Finding himself faced with the impostor, he recognised him because he had already seen his portrait  ; but after having told his usual account, he confided to the person who had introduced him this quite ludicrous prophecy  : “ He must be told to cut himself off from his favourites, because his life is in danger  ! ” followed by a brief “ Let’s go  ! ” And that was all. We shrug our shoulders today, without understanding that it may simply have been said on the spur of the moment in order to avoid any indiscreet question concerning the Secret. Subsequently, we shall often see him mysteriously drawn to royalist circles, without ever revealing anything of the secret, but, by his attitude, letting it be understood that Heaven was interested in the restoration of the most Christian Monarchy.

THE WRITING OF THE SECRET

After the group had returned from Ars, Maximin entered the minor seminary of Rondeau at Grenoble. His teachers quickly realised that his unstable character made him unsuitable for the priesthood  : “ He is light hearted and a little thoughtless, but I think he has a great fund of faith ”, the superior declared with regard to him. While he was there, the anticlerical press unleashed the virulent opposition of certain clerics, reinforced by the Ars incident, which caused him to declare  : “ La Salette is now like a flower covered by mud and manure in winter, but it will emerge even more beautiful. ”

It was from Rondeau that he was taken to the Bishop’s Palace so that he might write his secret there.

“ Mr. Dausse, who accompanied him, recommended that he think very carefully about what he was going to do. The child had no worries  : ‘ I remember very well what was said to me. You will see how I write rapidly without looking for my words. ’ He spoke of other things. In the Bishop’s Palace, they went to a room on the second floor overlooking the Place Notre-Dame. A large desk had been installed in the room, provided with all the necessary writing materials. Canon de Taxis joined Mr. Dausse to supervise him. The Bishop left them together.

“ Maximin held his head in his hands, dipped his pen in the ink pot and heedlessly shook it over the parquet floor. The witnesses, observing him from afar, reprimanded him for this unseemly behaviour. He took up his pen and wrote  : ‘ On the September 19, 1846, I saw a Lady as brilliant as the sun whom I believe to be the Blessed Virgin  ; but I have never said that it was the Blessed Virgin. It is for the Church to judge whether it really was the Blessed Virgin or some other person, from what I am now going to say. In the middle of her speech, she confided it to me following this phrase  : the grapes will rot and the nuts will go bad. ’ ” (It would be after reading these few introductory lines that Pope Pius IX pronounced these words  : “ Here we have the simplicity and the candour of a child. ”)

“ Maximin showed this to Mr. Dausse, who found it acceptable, and then he got down to writing rapidly at his desk, without pause as though he were copying out a text. As soon as he had finished writing, he stood up and threw the sheet he had just written into the air. ‘ Now, he said, I am rid of that  ; I have no more secret and am like the others. People won’t need to come and ask me any more  ; they can go and ask the Pope  ; he will speak if he wants to. ’ The two witnesses saw this sheet of paper on the floor  : it was a real schoolboy’s piece of untidy work, written aslant and speckled with ink blots. The child was made to re-do it. He balked at this, but this time he wrote properly. They rang for the Bishop, who ordered Maximin to place what he had written in an envelope and to seal it. Mr. Dausse asked the Bishop to read the text for fear of sending the Holy Father something unworthy of His Holiness. The Bishop hesitated, then took this advice. Maximin then sealed the envelope, stamped with the episcopal seal. Mr. Dausse and Canon de Taxis wrote on the envelope certifying that Maximin had written and signed the contents himself, without being influenced. ” (Bassette, p. 211-212)

It is to be noted, as H. Voilin reports in La Salette, Montagne Prophétique, that in the course of writing his secret he asked them for the spelling of the word “ Pontife ” (p. 78).

Was it at Grenoble or at the Grande Chartreuse, where the young boy spent his summer holidays, that an event took place which later caused a lot of trouble, as related by Father Parent in his Vie de Maximin written in 1913  : “ The only thing that history could hold against Mary’s confidant, concerning his secret, is that he scribbled a botched up prophetic revelation some weeks later, on August 11, 1851, to please Mr. Dausse, who was bothering him. This pious layman kept this piece of writing by the little seer as a precious document. But before long, and especially before his death, the writer protested against Mr. Dausse who believed that he was in possession of the true secret, whereas he had naively received nothing more than a prophetic fantasy, like certain letters which he sometimes wrote in answer to nuns who would pester him to know the future. ” (quoted by Le Hidec, p. 81)

Maximin no doubt did not foresee the consequences of such thoughtlessness, which he probably did to get himself out of an awkward situation for fear of saying too much to his dear guardian, to whom he was sincerely and affectionately devoted. Yes, he was “ without forethought ”, just as he was “ without malice ”… As for this good Mr. Dausse, although mistaken in his good faith, he remained equitable and sound in his judgement concerning the seer. In 1879, he wrote that “ by not regulating the freedom with which all the curious had to see him, question him and hear him, Maximin’s formative years were sacrificed… a mistake that was wisely avoided in the case of Bernadette. ” (Bassette, p. 419)

A SEVERE RECALL TO ORDER

With the opening of the school year in October 1851, a new stage began in the life of Maximin  : he had transmitted his secret, and the Church, in the person of Msgr. de Bruillard, having recognised the truth of the apparition, in its turn became responsible for “ passing on the message ”. But there still remained the seer of La Salette… with his imperfections  ! After a year spent in another minor seminary of the diocese, he was entrusted to the care of a holy priest, Fr. Champon, Parish Priest of Seyssins. He stayed there for three years continuing with his studies against all odds, acquiring great merit but little knowledge…

It was the time when bad priests and malevolent journalists showered Maximin, and Mélanie too, with every kind of calumny in order to discredit the Apparition  :

“ One day, Fr. Champon went to spend a week in Lyons. On his return, some well intentioned people came to warn him  :

“ ‘ Father, you need to take precautions with your boarder. Whilst you were in Lyons, Maximin hit your sister and got hold of the parish money. With this money, he spent a whole day and night revelling in Grenoble, where he was found dead drunk in the Place Grenette in the early hours of the morning. ’

“ The Father was appalled  : ‘ That’s very serious. When did this happen  ? ’

“ ‘ Last week, while you were away  ; the individual was picked up in the Place Grenette on Wednesday morning. ’

“ ‘ Well then, I have to tell you that this story has been invented from beginning to end. Maximin accompanied me to Lyons. He did not leave me during those eight days and, on Wednesday morning, he served my Mass at Fourvière and received Communion… ’ ”

The opponents shamelessly exploited the business of Ars and the relations Maximin had had with the survivantistes. La Salette had become a “ Royalist affair ” (sic)  ! Msgr. Ginoulhiac was disturbed at this and roundly settled the question in his pastoral letter of November 4, 1854  : “ … Given Maximin’s total and absolute ignorance concerning the very existence of Louis XVII, and of these futile attempts over several years, it is plainly impossible to accept that the apparition of La Salette is the work of Louis XVII’s supporters, and that this daydream could lie at the bottom of this whole affair (…)

“ It had proved impossible to wrench the secret away from the child and to discover the prophecies the secret was supposed to contain, and of which he was informed. Fascinated or persuaded by what could be flattering for him, Maximin, who until 1851 had not even suspected the role being cast for him, ended by letting himself be infatuated by a sense of his own importance  ; and finding fellow disciples and other persons ready to listen to him, he confided these supposed oracles to them. He then committed himself even further to this path, and when we were informed of this, we had to take quite severe measures in order to pull him out of it.

“ Although these measures were deserved, this young man did not, however, appear as he has been represented in the Memorandum. The seminarian whose testimony is quoted, came to us spontaneously to declare that Maximin never pronounced in his presence the words reported nor did he profess the odious morality attributed to him  ; nor is it true, as has been advanced elsewhere, that he gained nothing from the measures we took in his regard, and that he has since made no progress in his studies, and that he has not shown himself to be hard working and reserved. ”

Note that although Msgr. Ginoulhiac judged Maximin severely – “ he let himself be infatuated by a sense of his own importance ” –, reproaching him for heedlessly allying himself with these adventurers and allowing himself to make predictions, he came to his defence for all the rest and was pleased to emphasise his progress. As for the political question, he settled it wisely and cleanly… but he had not read the secret  !

OUR LADY’S VAGABOND

In 1856, Fr. Champon entrusted his pupil to one of his brothers, a Jesuit and philosophy teacher in the seminary at Dax in les Landes, temporarily transferred to Aire-sur-l’Adour. There were numerous friendships and frequent visits, to the detriment of both work and meditation… He remained a big child, of an incorrigible mischievousness, missing his Dauphiné and with a growing feeling of his unsuitability for the priesthood. “ Although I cannot say about the future, for the moment I have this dark thought that I shall do more harm than good to the glory of God if I take the soutane ”, he wrote in March 1857 to Sister Thècle, to whom he always remained attached.

He finally returned to the country in 1858 where he was first employed at the home of the tax collector of La Tronche and then as a mechanic, before moving on to Paris, where he wandered from place to place for several months with an empty purse and a sad heart. Bad companions tried to lure him into places of debauchery, but he always saw through their intrigues and his heart remained ever pure through the special protection of his Lady, at whose feet he would often take refuge in the Church of Saint-Sulpice. A family of retired traders, the Jourdain family, took pity on this poor uprooted young man and adopted him in 1861. He stayed with them for three years, following courses at the faculty of medicine to be able to care better for the poor sick. Other benefactors were also concerned for him  : the Spanish Comte de Penlaver and the Marquise de Pignerolles. The Marquise offered him a large sum of money if he would go to Frohsdorf in Austria to meet the Comte de Chambord, legitimate pretender to the throne of France.

The historians usually skate over this mysterious interview which took place at the end of April 1865  : “ Wasted expense for an interview that could not have been less cordial ”, wrote Henri Voilin. “ For its greater good, La Salette yet again escaped from the hold of politics (sic  !). ” That is easily said, without knowledge of the seer’s attachment to the legitimate royalty, as recalled by Fr. Parent  :

“ Maximin was a loyal supporter of the Comte de Chambord. We have two proofs of this. Following the example of the Carthusians and other religious, who stamped their products with their coat of arms, he too had his coat of arms. They were suggested to him by the Comtesse de Chambord, then painted by Mr. de Grammont, who explained their meaning on February 2, 1869  : three lilies, symbol of attachment to Our Lady of La Salette, to the Pope and to the King. And in a letter dated July 24, 1874, Maximin wrote these lines  : ‘ I am still confident that our King will come… The Chamber is failing in its mission and MacMahon is failing in his duty, by not going to fetch the King and offer him what is his due, at least for the salvation of France. ’ ” (Le Hidec, p. 86)

Should we then believe the Marquis de la Franquerie when he quotes, without reference, the account of the conversation between the Pretender and the seer, written by the Comte de Vanssay, secretary to the Prince, for his family (La Vierge Marie dans l’histoire de France, p. 258)  ? Maximin is supposed to have said, among other things, that he would never ascend the throne of France, but “ It is God’s will that we keep the secret. The reestablishment of the royalty is reserved to God Himself alone ”. Perhaps that would explain the Prince’s hesitant attitude in 1873.

Maximin Giraud, zouave pontifical.

Maximin Giraud, papal zouave

From Vienna, Maximin went on to Rome, where he enlisted as a Papal zouave in the service of the Pope for the protection of his States. He was helped on this occasion by Cardinal de Villecourt, former bishop of La Rochelle and great friend of Pius IX, the apostle in France of the Immaculate Virgin and of La Salette, who gave him the necessary money to enlist, but on condition that he did not reveal his identity.

Among the zouaves, there was a future Jesuit, Henri le Chauff from Kerguenec, who had noticed this man at night prayers “ praying earnestly and looking with such affection and supplication at the statue of the Blessed Virgin ”. He easily saw through his anonymity and became his friend.

Writing about Maximin, he said  : “ In ordinary conversation, the shepherd of Corps is quite heavy, but he is not without judgement… When he speaks of the apparition, he is a different person. He must indeed be inspired by the Most Blessed Virgin, for then he is admirably clear and logical  ; the best formulated objections are a game for him and he will demolish them more easily than a child knocks down a castle of cards he has built. ”

But six months later, Maximin left the zouaves and returned to France where he rejoined his adoptive parents, his pockets more empty than ever. Calumniated by a Parisian journalist, the shepherd of La Salette replied in a pamphlet in which he declared  : “ I would be rich at this present moment, if I had cowardly and self-indulgently contradicted myself. ”

RETURN TO CORPS

In 1868, he returned for good to his native village, Corps, where he was joined by the Jourdains two years later. He refused to marry  : “ When one has seen the Blessed Virgin, he confided to a close friend, it is not possible to be attached to anyone on this earth. ” He wanted to practise a trade “ in order to earn his living in the sweat of his brow ”. These were years of general poverty and hunger which led him to that deplorable production of a liqueur which earned him as much trouble as it did discredit. Yet again, he was the victim of his naivety, cleverly exploited by a crook.

His one consolation was to go up there on the mountain, especially on the anniversary day of the apparition. “ On September 19, 1871, he told the pilgrims around the miraculous fountain the account he had begun to spread twenty five years ago to the day. Fr. Bossan, who listened to him, noted first of all that ‘ Maximin still has the tone and the bearing of a child ’ and records his final words for us  : ‘ Then the Blessed Virgin walked over there (pointing to the mound She had climbed). Having reached this height, She rose and disappeared, leaving me with all my faults. ’ ”

Two days later, the same Fr. Bossan came down to Corps to see Maximin.

– What should one say, asked the pitiless questioner, to those who accuse you and Mélanie of having faults  ?

You have to ask them what faults.

– They say that you are light-headed and inconstant.

They are not faults.

– They are not vices, but they are faults.

Like everyone else, I am not perfect.

– I have always said that you are a good Christian, because that is true… But did not the apparition produce any particular effect in you  ? the questioner asked after a few moments. I mean  : did it not bring you any particular grace to correct you and enable you to live in a holy manner  ?

I cannot say. I felt nothing particular  ; but the Blessed Virgin made me the gift of a good Christian education with the good sisters of Corps. She surrounded me with very edifying priests. Throughout my childhood and my youth I found myself in a setting that brought me to the good and deflected me from evil. Without the apparition, I could have been very far from the good God and, like many others, I could have become very bad, perhaps even a member of the Internationale, of the Commune. It was a very great grace, therefore, that was granted me to be kept in the setting where I was and to be given the religious convictions I have.

– They are certainly very great graces. But many unthinking people would like to see you a saint and not just a good Christian as you are.

Well, they are foolish. It is impossible to reason with them. The apparition and I are two different things. I was only an instrument. It doesn’t matter how long water flows through a pipe of silver or of gold, it will never become wine, not more than if it flowed through a pipe of wood or of clay. The grace of the apparition did indeed flow through my channel, but it did not change it.

– Are you convinced, his persistent questioner asked, that you were no more than an instrument in the hands of the Blessed Virgin  ?

Yes, absolutely. We were but a channel, like parrots that repeat what they have heard. We were stupid before the apparition, we were stupid after the apparition and we shall be stupid all our lives. (quoted by Jaouen, La grâce de La Salette, au regard de l’Église, p. 251)

What candour  ! Maximin had no illusions about himself, never complained of his shortcomings, but the tribulations of his unstable life faded in his eyes before the incomprehensible mystery of the Beautiful Lady having chosen him – he the poor, ignorant shepherd – as Her messenger and of having made Herself the gentle Mediatrix of so many benefits  ! However, his humility in no way impeded his firmness, especially when it came to the Secret, as he was to prove several months later.

CONTROVERSY OVER THE SECRET

In December 1871, there appeared in the bookshops a booklet entitled “ The secrets of La Salette and their importance. Latest revelations of forthcoming events. ” The author, a certain Mr. Girard, whose intentions in other respects were praiseworthy, claimed to be revealing the true text of Maximin’s secret – the text of his first draft, covered in ink blots, which the seer had to re-do.

Maximin was not slow to answer  : he denied the text in the most vigorous terms  :

“ 1).In the presence of the Bishop, of Canon de Taxis and of Mr. Dausse himself, I burned the rough copy [Maximin wrote brouillard (fog) instead of brouillon (rough draft)] of my secret; I sealed the copy with His Excellency’s arms and then placed my Secret in the hands of the Bishop to be taken to Rome. That is the truth pure and simple. Mr. Dausse, whose testimony is quoted by Mr. Girard, is still alive and can certify what I say here. I did not, therefore insist that Mr. Dausse accept the rough draft of my secret or take cognisance of it. It seems to me to be pointless to say any more on this subject.

“ 2). Msgr. de Bruillard, Mr. Gérin and Mr. Rousselot assured me that the secrets had not been violated either in the Bishop’s palace of Grenoble or during the journey to Rome, and that the Holy Father alone had broken the seal that I myself had affixed in the presence of the Bishop, Canon de Taxis and Mr. Dausse. Consequently and in the light of these proofs, the secret was not violated as far as I am concerned  ; the only one who knows it is the Holy Father, unless His Holiness has communicated it. He alone is the owner and master of this secret.

“ As for me, I shall be in the future what I have always been in this matter  : impenetrable. And if at any time I were commissioned to divulge it to the public, I would not do so without the consent of my bishop, who himself would refer to Rome. In that way, I would always be sure of being in the line of duty, as well as subject to the Most Holy Church our good Mother.

“ 3). Many people ask me whether the text quoted in Mr. Girard’s book is that of my secret. I never answer this question for reasons that are easy to guess. ”

Maximin Giraud. February 2, 1872.

And in a personal letter addressed to Mr. Girard, he wrote  : “ I have never divulged anything, not even in my hours of extreme distress or of the most irresistible temptation… I have never hesitated and have always been ready, like Thomas of Canterbury, to die rather than deliver my secret to the public  ! ”

“ AN ENVIABLE DEATH ”

His health weakened. On November 4, 1874, he made his last pilgrimage to La Salette. He was asked to tell his account of the apparition, which he did with a good grace. He held his audience spellbound for over an hour, giving proof of an extraordinary memory. It was the last time he narrated the words of the beautiful Lady in public. He then went back to Corps, to the poor dwelling where he had been born, to prepare for death with the piety of the child he had always remained. Pious women, Sister Sainte-Thècle and Madame Jourdain were at his side.

On Monday March 1, 1875, he felt his end approaching and requested the last sacraments. He piously responded to the prayers for the dying and received Holy Communion. He had difficulty in swallowing the Host and asked for some water from La Salette. He was given a few drops and then, very quietly, he died. The missionary Father of La Salette who assisted him at this last moment, declared  : “ I would like to be in his place. ”

His testament was couched in these terms  :

“ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

“ I believe in all that is taught by the Holy, Apostolic and Roman Church, in all the dogmas defined by our Holy Father the Pope, the august and infallible Pius IX.

“ I firmly believe, even at the cost of my blood, in the celebrated apparition of the Most Holy Virgin Mary on the holy mountain of La Salette, on September 19, 1846 – an apparition which I have defended in speech, writing and suffering.

“ After my death, let no one assert or say that I was ever heard to deny the great event of La Salette  ; for in lying to the whole world, he would be lying to himself.

“ In these sentiments, I give my heart to Our Lady of La Salette. ”

FIGURE OF ADAM REDEEMED

Our intention has been to tell the whole story of this poor life, wandering and unhappy, sown with contradictions and failures, thorns and briars, so misunderstood and despised, in his own time as in ours, and even eclipsed by most of today’s devotees of La Salette in favour of the life of Mélanie, which is much more sparkling, at least in appearance, for her life appears to us to be figurative  : Maximin, a son and figure of Adam, but redeemed, bearing his cross, tempted to fall again, but victorious over temptation through his humble and prayerful faith. Our Lady no doubt had Her reasons for choosing this ignorant little shepherd behind his grazing sheep – this little scatterbrain with a heart as pure and as simple as a mountain spring. He lived and died as he was born, in poverty, without any material gain from the mission he nevertheless accomplished with admirable fidelity until his death in the arms of Holy Church and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Beautiful Lady, the Reconciler  !

Deep down, his inner strength and his invincible strength came from his inviolate Secret, which shone in his heart like a burning lamp in the night. Can we reasonably draw any conclusions about its content  ? asks his biographer, Fr. Parent, quoted by Le Hidec,and he answers  :

“ Yes, if we follow certain clues. Obviously, the shepherd’s message can but confirm that of the shepherdess  ; at least it cannot contradict it. The one must complement the other, after the example of the Gospels which are in agreement over the truth despite certain apparent divergences. Furthermore, each secret must contain special prophecies of a particular character. So what would be the particular mark of Maximin’s secret  ? Principally, it would seem to proclaim the triumph of the Church and above all it would seem to designate the political saviour, referred to in so many prophecies by the popular name of the Grand Monarch. ”

We have seen how things stood regarding the return of the king, son of Saint Louis  : not this one, the supposed survivor, nor the other one, the legitimate Pretender, but another one… much later  !

“ As for the triumph of the Church, I think it is indicated by the little alpine shepherd’s eagerness to plant his wooden cross in the place called ‘ the Assumption of Mary ’, where Mary ascended, triumphant, to Heaven, whilst looking towards Rome. Pius IX, more than his two successors, was the pope who was put to the test and crucified, according to Malachy’s very just motto concerning the popes, Crux de Cruce. However, it was noticed that his brow was generally radiant with serenity and he often pronounced solemn words of confidence in a better future, which we have not yet been seen, alas  ! Now, this pious Pontiff s surprising calm is attributed to his knowledge of these two secrets of La Salette. In 1869, Maximin wrote these remarkable words to his Spanish benefactor, the Comte de Penalver  : ‘ I never weary praying for Pius IX, who is the greatest man we have in our time. He has a great love for Our Lady of La Salette, who sustains him in his difficulties and assists him in the government of the Church. He often alludes to the least of the Beautiful Lady’s public words and secrets. I do not say this to the prejudice of my secret, which I have entrusted to the Pope alone, nor am I revealing anything when I happen to speak like everyone else of one or other of the events that were foretold to me. ’ ” (p. 82-83)

Maximin, Pius IX  : what an instructive comparison between the little shepherd of Corps and the greatest pope of his century, elected in 1846, the year of the Apparition  ! Are they not both in their own way a figure of the fidelity of the Catholic Church in the thick of the cruellest trials, awaiting the certain fulfilment of the promises of their adored Lord and of His dearest Mother  !

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