On January 17, 1871, Paris was under siege at the height of the Franco-Prussian war. In the small hamlet of Pontmain, twelve-year-old Eugène Barbedette looked up at the winter sky and saw an apparition of a beautiful woman wearing a blue gown covered with golden stars and a black veil under a golden crown. He called to his family. Only his ten-year-old brother, Joseph, could see the apparition, but his mother suggested they start praying Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Soon other people gathered. Two other young girls could also see the vision while many of the other people gathered saw three stars forming a triangle.
The children saw a banner unfurl under Our Lady which read “But pray, my children. God will hear you in time. My Son allows Himself to be touched.” The crowd began to sing hymns. When they sang “My Sweet Jesus”, Mary’s face expressed profound sadness and a red crucifix appeared in her hands with the words “Jesus Christ” above it. When they sang “Ave Maris Stella”, the crucifix vanished. Two small white crosses appeared on her shoulders before Mary disappeared behind a cloud. The vision lasted about three hours.
That same evening, the Prussian forces unexpectedly stopped their advance. The armistice was signed January 23, 1871. The local bishop approved the apparition on February 2, 1872, and the shrine was consecrated in October 1900.
Our Lady of Hope, you instructed us to pray. Help us not to grow weary of prayer, even when it seems our prayers go unanswered. Help us always to have hope.
Mary always encourages us to pray, even when it seems all hope is lost. Say an extra prayer today for a seemingly hopeless situation.