Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Pontmain, France, known more popularly as Our Lady of Hope. Appearing to six children on January 17, 1871, the Blessed Virgin encouraged them to persevere in prayer in order to obtain Heaven's help against an army of invaders.
In August 1870, less than six months before, the Prussian Army under Kaiser Wilhelm I had begun its military expansion into France and was closing in on Pontmain, having already invaded Paris just two days after Christmas. The villagers feared for their lives. Father Guerin, the parish priest, had instructed the children to pray to Our Lady for help.
About 5:00 p.m., young Eugene Barbadette was outside helping to feed the animals when he spotted a lady in the sky. He stood entranced by the vision of a tall lady wearing a long blue robe with gold stars, a black veil, and a gold crown. Later in the evening, he would see her holding a red Crucifix with the words "JESUS CHRIST." Soon his 10-year-old brother Joseph and their father joined him, but only Joseph could see the apparition. (This is common in nearly all approved apparitions of Our Lady, who most often chooses to appear to poor, country children who are pure in mind and body. Even the local teaching sisters could not see her.)
As the evening of January 17th deepened into night, the villagers prayed and sang hymns, even though they could not see anything out of the ordinary. As they did so, the children reported that a written scroll with gold letters was unfolding at Our Lady's feet with the following words, one sentence at a time:
"Mais priez mes enfants, Dieu vous exaucera dans peu de temps. mon Fils se laisse toucher."
"But pray, my children. God will hear you in a little while. My Son allows Himself to be moved."
And He did. While the people prayed, unbeknownst to them the Prussian general was receiving orders at that hour to withdraw. Thankfully, ten days later an armistice was signed officially ending the Franco-Prussian War. Some might say this is just a coincidence, but this isn't the first time the Blessed Virgin has obtained military victories for her children.
To read the full story of Our Lady of Pontmain, go here to Catholic Straight Answers.
Let us ask Our Lord in these very difficult times to give us the grace to grow in the saving virtue of hope and to remember that ultimately the best weapon we possess against evil in all its forms is prayer. Let us also remember that one of the greatest gifts we have received from God is His sweet mother as our heavenly advocate.
"But pray, my children.
God will hear you in a little while.
My Son allows Himself to be moved."
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