Apparition of Pontmain - 1871

by Amyobala Key

Statue of Pontmain Apparition Basilica at Pontmain, France   

It was winter and the year was 1871. France was embroiled in a brutal war with Prussia and its allies, led by the infamous Otto von Bismarck. The French were losing. It was January 17th, 1871, eleven days before Paris was to fall to the enemy. On this cold and snowy night, Cesar Barbadette and his two young sons, Eugene, age 12, and Joseph, age 10, were feeding the animals in their barn. The eldest son, Auguste, was off fighting in the war. Their mother, Victoire, was back in the kitchen, preparing their meal. It was late evening, and Eugene walked toward the door to look out at the starry sky. As he did, he noticed that one portion of the sky, above a neighbor's house, showed few stars, as if obscured. He was astounded to see the Apparition of a smiling woman, some say with arms outstretched. She wore a dark blue gown that was covered in golden stars. She also wore a golden crown beneath a black veil and blue slippers with gold ribbons.

A neighboring woman noticed the boy staring at the sky, and asked him what he was looking at. He asked her to look up to the sky and tell him what she saw. She saw nothing. He then described to her the Apparition. When Eugene's father and brother came over, only his 10 year-old brother, Joseph, acknowledged that he could see the beautiful woman. The adults, including their mother, Victoire, saw nothing. As her sons were known to be truthful, their mother suggested that it might be the Virgin Mary, and encouraged them to pray. They sent for the local school teacher, a nun, Sister Vitaline. She was equally unable to see the Apparition. But three young children from school were called for, and when they arrived the older children immediately saw the lady. They were Francoise Richer, age 11, and Jeanne Marie LeBosse, age 9.

By this time a crowd of about 60 adults had arrived, including their parish priest, Abbe Michel Guerin. The Apparition began to change, now appearing with an oval frame, accompanied by four candles (two at the level of the shoulders and two at the level of the knees). Then a short red crucifix appeared over the lady's heart. The image expanded, the frame growing larger, until it was twice life-sized. The stars around the lady increased in number and attached to her robe, eventually covering it.

Children see the apparition Children see the apparition

Momentarily, the event which appeared almost staged, changed again, with a broad streamer unrolling beneath her feet. Letters began to appear, stating: "But, pray, my children."

When Father Guerin instructed that the Litany of Our Lady should be sung, new letters appeared, with the message: "God will soon answer you." The final message thereafter appeared: "My Son allows Himself to be moved." The Lady's countenance then changed from a smile to sadness, as a large red cross appeared before her, along with a figure of Jesus and a darker shade of red. One of the stars lit the four candles. A white veil rose from the lady's feet, obscuring her. By the third hour, the Apparition was over.

Two months later, a church inquiry, followed up a year later, resulted in satisfaction that the Apparition had been real and that it had been the Blessed Virgin who had appeared to the children.

On July 2, 1949, after more examination by committees, the Sighting was approved, and a small chapel was erected at the site.

Of the children, it has been reported that, when they grew up, Joseph and Eugene Barbadette both became priests, Francoise Richer became Eugene's housekeeper, and the younger girl, Jeanne marie LeBosse, become a nun. But it has also been reported that the four children all married and had their own families (an inconsistency with the earlier report.)

Note: We may never know the true events, as the reports suggest that the entire event was a thoroughly staged appearance. As far as some suggestions that the Apparition had assisted with ending the war between France and Prussia, it appears more likely, that after Paris fell a few weeks later, and the Armistice was signed a few months after that, that the appearance of the Apparition was merely coincidental. Images with banners at the feet that display words of faith and wisdom appear to be a style of the times, and many of the details appear added after the fact. It is hard to say exactly what the children witnessed and what was suggested to them by the zealous adults.

The Apparition appears The Barbadette brothers Village of Pontmain

Our Lady of Hope Apparition Clothed in Sun Pontmain Apparition Pontmain Apparition


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