A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Our Lady of Pellevoisin

By Elizabeth Charlton

A request to Marist Archives is answered after 29 years!

In 1988 we received a request asking whether the Marists still had a special devotion to, or a connection with Our Lady of Pellevoisin. At the time, Fathers Maurice Mulcahy, Frank Rasmussen, Kevin Roach and Pat Abbott had all replied in the negative.

While working on another project, I came across a reference to Pellevoisin. Remembering this early request, I went back to have another look. It had been based on a letter published in La semaine religieuse du Diocèse de Bourges in 1893. With today’s ease of email communication, I received a copy from the Diocesan Archives in Bourges.

The letter, written by Fr Placide Huault sm to an unnamed Marist confrere, had been published on Saturday 8 April 1893. Fr Huault (1859-1909) was on the staff at St Mary’s Scholasticate Meeanee from 1891 to 1903 where he taught Philosophy and was Master of Novices.

Photo: http://www.pellevoisin.net

A statue of Notre Dame de Pellevoisin had been sent by this unnamed confrere in 1892 and was placed in the scholasticate chapel. Armed with this information, I turned to our photograph collection for shots of the chapel. Two photographs were found with the statue of Our Lady of Pellevoisin in view.

With the move to Greenmeadows, the statue continued to preside, first in the House chapel and later in the stone chapel. Its location in the chapel was severely damaged in the 1931 Napier earthquake and because of this we assume the statue was destroyed. When the chapel was rebuilt, a statue of Mother and Child was placed in the sanctuary.

Fr Huault notes that knowledge of Our Lady of Pellevoisin was already in New Zealand well before his arrival. Fr Michael Grogan sm (1843-1912), then Parish Priest of Napier, had received a scapular of the Sacred Heart and a brochure on the apparitions from an Irish contact.

The New Zealand Tablet had also run some pieces about the apparitions and the confraternity in 1885.

Estelle Faguette (1843-1927), a servant to the de la Rochefoucauld family, received visions of Mary on her deathbed in 1876 in the village of Pellevoisin, near Tours in France. As promised by Our Lady, Estelle recovered and had a further two series of apparitions that same year. Soon after the last apparition, the Archbishop of Bourges, Monseigneur de la Tour d’Auvergne, received Estelle positively, at which meeting Estelle presented him with a copy of a scapular Mary had requested her to make known. The Archbishop authorised the making and distribution of the scapular. He also established the Confraternity of Our Lady of Pellevoisin – All Merciful Mother. Canonical inquiries followed. In 1894 Pope Leo XIII made the Confraternity into an Honorary Archfraternity. Estelle met twice with the Holy Father in early 1900. A few months later, the Congregation of Rites issued a decree granting approval to the Scapular of the Sacred Heart.

The official website for Our Lady of Pellevoisin is in French:

However, Reverend Dr Gareth Leyshon has produced material regarding Pellevoisin in English: http://www.drgareth.info/pel_index.htm

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