On January 17th, 1871, in the small farming village of Pontmain, France, the starry night parted for Our Lady.
At the time, France was under serious threat. The Franco-Prussian War was in full force and the Prussian forces were marching on France.
By mid-January, the Prussian army was mere miles from Pontmain.
With the Prussian forces nearly at his village, a 12-year-old French boy named Eùgene Barbadette gazed into the starry winter night. As he looked up, he was struck by a dark patch of the sky entirely free of stars. The sight was so otherworldly that the young boy could not peel his eyes away.
Suddenly, the spot of deep, empty, black night was filled with a radiant light, which faded to reveal an apparition of a beautiful woman smiling down upon him.
The dazzling woman in the sky was clothed in a blue gown covered with golden stars, almost as if the night itself had handed over its very own stars to adorn her. Atop her head rested a regal crown that held a black veil in place.
Eùgene was soon joined by his mother, father, and 10-year-old brother. Immediately Eùgene’s younger brother, Joseph, exclaimed that he, too, could see the stunning woman in the night sky!
The Barbadette parents were bewildered. Their sons were typically very honest and forthright, yet they could not see this apparition that their sons insisted was there. Despite their inability to see, the Barabdette parents were moved by faith. Without witnessing the woman herself, Eùgene’s mother, Victoire, suggested that the mysterious woman may be the Blessed Virgin. She insisted that all pray five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in her honor.
After praying, the Barbadette family summoned the local schoolteacher, Sister Vitaline. When Sister Vitaline arrived, she cast her eyes up to the place in the sky that the boys pointed out, but all she could see was the strange gap in the starry night where no light shined.
A crowd of around 60 began to form and astonishingly, every child could miraculously see the beautiful woman, but the adults saw nothing at all. Moved by the children’s witness, the crowd began to pray the Rosary.
As the crowd prayed, the children noticed a change in the apparition. A blue oval frame with four candles, two at the level of the shoulders and two at the knees, formed around the Lady, and a short red cross appeared over her heart.
As the Rosary progressed, the figure and its frame grew larger until it was twice life-size. The stars around her began to multiply and attach themselves to her dress until it was covered with them.
Underneath the figure of Our Lady, a banner was rolled out directly onto the night sky with the words “But pray, my children.”
At this point, the Rosary had finished and the crowd, led by the local priest, had begun to sing the Litany of Our Lady. As they sang, the message on the banner changed to read: “God will soon answer you,” and shortly after, “My Son allows Himself to be moved with compassion.”
The children were beside themselves with joy at the beauty of the Lady and her smile, but her expression then changed to one of extreme sadness, as she now contemplated a large red cross that had suddenly appeared before her, with a figure of Jesus on it in an even darker shade of red.
As quickly as it had appeared, the apparition faded away, but those gathered, and the course of history, were permanently changed.
Unbeknownst to those praying with the apparition, as Our Lady appeared to the children, the Prussian General Von Schmidt was given sudden orders to halt his campaign on Pontmain.
Within 10 days, an armistice was signed between France and Prussia. The miraculous intercession of Our Blessed Mother had saved Pontmain!
The message of Our Lady to Pontmain, and to us now, is one of hope: “But pray, my children. God will hear you in a short time. My Son allows Himself to be moved with compassion.”
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