Fondly dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Church of Our Lady of La Salette, a poetry in limestone, stands as an hyphen between the green hills and the blue sky at Kodaikanal Hills. This church is one among the many magnificent mansions of Mother Mary in India.
Located in the Kodai hills, this church draws hundreds of devotees towards our Blessed Mother. An imposing French structure with exquisite architecture, Kodai La Salette has an arresting
facade with its domineering entrance. Enshrined in the central niche of the sanctuary is the statue of Our Lady of La Salette, serene with her eyes looking towards earth, her hands joint in prayer, her appearance gentle and divine. The teardrops in her eyes, the face looking towards the world, the divine serenity and aura of love – all convey a simple message: God still loves us!
The Church was put up by Father Louis Saint-Cyr in 1863-66 with the approval of Msgr. Alexis Canoz, Vicar Apostolic of Tiruchinopoly, in thanksgiving for Saint-Cyr’s cure from the deadly ‘Malagasy Fever’ contracted at Bourbon in Madagascar while he was a visitor there. The Statue
of Our Lady of La Salette and Saint Joseph were gifted by the Bishop of Grenoble.
The Statue of the Saint Michael, the Archangel is from Fr. Michael Fesserd.
The Stations of the Cross were drawn by an Italian missionary.
Windows paint-worked by Mrs. Fonclair, a French Noble Lady’s Daughter.
Donation for the Church, Sacristy and Belfry was from D’oultramont, a French Noble Lady.
Church of Our Lady of La Salette has always been and will remain immortal as a transcendent,
unique, spiritual centre for the spiritual upliftment of the people. People flock here
throughout the year from different parts of the world.
The Shrine is the sub-centre of the Parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Munjikkal
in the Archdiocese of Madurai.
a teardrop in the sand of time…
an immortal message of faith, hope and love…
an eternal ‘yes’ to God… ‘n’ to humanity…
History of the Apparition
La Salette, a small town of 200 people about 50 miles south of Grenoble, was the site of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1846. The Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette remains a minor place of pilgrimage today. On September 19, 1846, about 3:00 in the afternoon, two children beheld a vision of the Virgin Mary.
A shepherdess of 15 named Mélanie and a shepherd boy of 11 named Maximin were tending cows on a mountain about three miles distant from the village of La Salette when both of them beheld in a resplendent light a "beautiful lady" seated and crying.
The children described the lady as wearing a long white dress, slippers decorated with gold buckles and roses, and a headdress capped with roses. Speaking alternately in French and in their native dialect, she gave them a message which they were "to deliver to all her people."
The lady continued to weep and warned, "If my people refuse to submit, I will be forced to let go the arm of my Son. It is so strong and so heavy, I can no longer hold it back." She complained of the loss of faith in the area, the desecration of the Sabbath, and the profanation of her Son's name, saying, "This is what makes the arm of my Son so heavy."
The lady went on to speak of hope of divine mercy if the people amended their lives, and encouraged the children to say their prayers regularly. "You should say them well, at night and in the morning, even if you say only an Our Father and a Hail Mary when you can't do better. When you can do better, say more." Finally, before disappearing she communicated to each of the children a special secret.
Mélanie and Maximin told the villagers what they saw, and the story caused quite a sensation. Several investigations, interviews and reports were performed. Philibert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, appointed a commission to examine the reports. The commission concluded that the reality of the apparition should be admitted. Soon several miraculous cures took place on the mountain of La Salette, and pilgrimages to the site began.
The miracle, needless to say, was ridiculed by free-thinkers, but it was also questioned among the faithful, and especially by ecclesiastics. There arose against it in the Dioceses of Grenoble and Lyons a violent opposition, aggravated by what is known as the incident of Ars.
In response, Bishop de Bruillard declared the apparition of the Blessed Virgin certain, and authorized the cult of Our Lady of La Salette, on November 16, 1851. On May 1, 1852, the bishop published a decree announcing the construction of the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette on the mountain and the founding of the religious order Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.
This act subdued, but did not suppress, the opposition, whose leaders retaliated with violent attacks on the reality of the miracle of La Salette. They even asserted that the "beautiful lady" was a young woman named Lamerliere, which story gave rise to a widely advertised suit for slander.
Despite the ongoing opposition, the first stone of a great church was solemnly laid on the mount of La Salette, on May 25, 1852, amid a large assembly of the faithful. This church, later elevated to the rank of a basilica, was served by the Missionaries of La Salette. In 1891 diocesan priests replaced these missionaries, driven into exile by persecuting laws.
As mentioned above, the Blessed Virgin confided to each of the two children a special secret. These two secrets were sent by the children in 1851 to Pope Pius IX on the advice of Bishop de Bruillard. It is unknown what impressions these mysterious revelations made on the pope.
Maximin's secret is not known, for it was never published. Mélanie's secret was published in its entirety in a brochure which she herself had printed in 1879 at Lecce, Italy, with the approval of the bishop of that town. A lively controversy followed as to whether the secret published in 1879 was identical with that communicated to Pius IX in 1851, or in its second form it was not merely a work of the imagination.
As Rome uttered no decision, the strife was prolonged between the disputants. Most of the defenders of Mélanie's text suffered censure from their bishops. St. John Vianney recanted his initial belief in the authenticity of the apparition after meeting Maximin, but later renewed his belief after receiving two favours through the intercession of Our Lady of La Salette.
Neither of the child visionaries led particularly saintly or religious lives after the apparitions. Maximin Giraud fell under the spell of unscrupulous people who used him for his notoriety. He led an unhappy and wandering life, taking a variety of odd jobs. After returning to Corps, his native village, he died on March 1, 1875, at the age of 39.
Mélanie Calvat attempted to live as a Carmelite nun a few times, but eventually returned to the secular world. She began to espouse her own prophecies and mystical dogmas and unsuccessfully tried to develop a personal following. She died at Altamura, Italy, on December 15, 1904, where she was buried under a marble column with a bas-relief of the Virgin escorting the shepherdess into heaven.
George P.K., Salethumaatha Sarithai (The History of Our Lady of La Salette), Dindigul: Beschi College, 1990.