THE APPARITION OF PELLEVOISIN, 1876
Estelle Faguette, lady’s maid to the Countess Arthur de La Rouchefoucauld, became very ill in Paris in May, 1875. She was admitted to hospital there, and the doctors diagnosed her illness as an advanced case of consumption. She was also suffering from a tumour which she had had for ten years. The doctors said there was no hope for her. Estelle was thirty-two years old at the time.
THE DOCTORS SAID THERE WAS NO HOPE FOR HER
A short time later, she was moved to a house owned by her employers in Pellevoisin in the diocese of Bourges.
In September, 1875, Estelle wrote a letter to the Blessed Virgin. A new shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes had been erected near Pellevoisin. She asked a friend to take her letter to the shrine and hide it in the stones at the feet of the Virgin’s statue.
For a long time she could not resign herself to the thought of dying. “It’s not fair,” she said to herself. “God can’t take me now. I’m the only support of my mother and father and little orphan niece. How would they get along without me?”
AFTER A LONG STRUGGLE WITH HERSELF, SHE WAS ABLE TO MAKE AN ACT OF COMPLETE RESIGNATION
After a long struggle with herself, she was able to make an act of complete resignation. “My God,” she prayed, “in expiation of my sins, let me suffer. Behold, I am ready; strike as it shall please You; only give me courage, patience, and resignation to Your holy will. If groans escape from my lips, receive them as prayers from my heart to Yours.”
On February 10, 1876, the doctor said she had only a few hours to live. When told that she could keep nothing in her stomach, he said, “It is useless to torture her for the short time she has to live.”
SHE SEEMED TO BE IN HER LAST AGONY
She was still alive on Tuesday, February 15, although she was expected to die momentarily. That morning she told the priest that the Blessed Virgin had appeared to her during the night and that she would be either dead or cured by the following Saturday. The next day she told the priest that she had seen the Virgin again and that she would be cured Saturday. On Thursday morning she emphatically repeated the statement to the priest and to several other people.
On Friday night she seemed to be in her last agony. The priest wished to hear her confession, but she said she would wait until the next day when she would be well. He was very uneasy about this, but he left without hearing her confession.
“YOU HAVE EDIFIED US BY YOUR COURAGE AND RESIGNATION”
On Saturday morning she told the priest that she felt as if she had been cured but that she could not move her right arm. She had lost the use of it four or five days earlier. The priest gave her Holy Communion.
“MAKE THE SIGN OF THE CROSS WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND”
Then he said to her: “My poor Estelle, you have edified us by your courage and resignation. Be full of confidence now, and to prove to us that what you have said is not an illusion, make the Sign of the Cross with your right hand.”
Estelle raised the hand, and the seven or eight people present saw her make the Sign of the Cross without the least difficulty.
Later that day she got up, dressed herself, ate a meal, and talked happily with her friends. The consumption was gone. The tumour, which had grown larger during her illness, had disappeared completely. The doctors who had been attending her said the cure could not have come from natural causes.
Estelle lived for many years after that and never had a relapse. In fact, her health remained better than it had been before her illness.
“DO YOU NOT SEE THAT SHE WEARS MY LIVERY?”
The next day Estelle wrote her account of the five apparitions. On the night of the 14th, she says, she was trying to get some rest “when suddenly the demon appeared at the foot of my bed. He was horrible and at once began to make grimaces at me. Scarcely had I seen him when our Blessed Lady appeared on the other side at the corner of my bed. She wore a pure white woolen veil, which fell in three folds. I can never describe how beautiful she was. Her features were regular, her colour white and rose tint, rather pale. Her large gentle eyes reassured me somewhat but not completely.
“The demon, perceiving the Blessed Virgin, drew back, dragging the curtain and the iron rod of my bed. This increased my terror which became unendurable. I crouched down in bed. He did not speak but turned his back to me.
“The Blessed Virgin said to him sharply: ‘What brings you here? Do you not see that she wears my livery, and that of my Son?’ He disappeared gesticulating. Then she turned to me and said gently, ‘Fear nothing; you are my daughter.’ Then I remembered that from the age of fourteen I have been a child of Mary. I now felt less fear.
She said to me gently: ‘Have courage; be patient; my Son will allow himself to be prevailed upon. You will suffer five days longer in honour of the five wounds of my Son. On Saturday, you will be either dead or cured. If my Son restores you to life, I wish you to publish my glory.'”
Our Lady told Estelle the next night that she was to be cured on Saturday. “If my Son has allowed Himself to be prevailed upon, it is because of your resignation and your patience.” Then our Lady reproved Estelle for the faults she had committed during her past life. They had seemed to be very small faults when she committed them, but now she saw that any sin is big in the eyes of God.
“I would have longed to cry out for pardon, but could not; my grief overcame me… Oh, how sad I felt.”
The next night our Lady reassured Estelle. “By your resignation you have expiated your faults… I am all merciful… Your good works and fervent prayers have touched my mother’s heart. Among others that little letter you wrote to me in September. What moved me were the words: ‘See the sorrow of my parents. If I fail them they are on the eve of begging bread. Remember, then, what you suffered when your Son Jesus was stretched out upon the Cross.'”
The fourth appearance was very much like the first three.
Estelle asked our Lady on the fifth if she should change her state in life. “One can be saved in every state,” was the answer. “Where you are, you can do a great deal of good, and you can publish my glory. What afflicts me most is the want of respect shown by some people to my divine Son in Holy Communion and the attitude taken for prayer, when at the same time the mind continues occupied with other things. I say this for people who pretend to be pious.”
After our Lady disappeared that night, Estelle was cured.
WHAT BEAUTY! WHAT SWEETNESS!
On July 1, Estelle was kneeling in front of the fireplace when our Lady appeared for a sixth time. “What beauty! What sweetness! The ends of her cincture nearly reached the hem of her dress. She was all in white and remained standing… When I first saw her, she had her arms stretched out and from her hands there fell drops like rain. She looked at something fixedly, then taking one of the tassels of her cincture, she raised it to her breast on which she crossed her hands. She smiled, and, looking at me, said: ‘Be calm, my child; have patience; you will have sorrows, but I will be with you.'”
The following night, our Lady said that the Heart of her Son bears so much love for her “that He cannot refuse me any requests.” She also said, “I have come especially for the conversion of sinners.”
On July 3, our Lady returned, but her visit was short. She did not come again until September 9. “For a long time, the treasures of my Son have been open,” she said. “Let them pray.” Here Estelle said she was given to understand that Jesus had shown, through St Margaret Mary, the glory and the power of the devotion of His Most Sacred Heart.
The Blessed Mother raised a small piece of woolen cloth which she wore on her breast. Estelle saw a red heart on it.
(to be continued)
From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954