Benoîte: “Lovely Lady, what are You doing here? Did You come to buy some plaster?” “Would You be so kind as to give us this child? He would delight us all!” “Would You like to eat with me? I’ve got some good bread; we can dip it in the spring.”
The Lady smiled again and continued letting her enjoy Her presence, going in and coming out of the cavity in the rock, approaching Benoîte and moving away from her. Then, when evening came She took the Child in Her arms, entered the grotto and disappeared. The following day and for the next four months, Benoîte contemplated on that site the Joy of the Angels and the Ornament of Heaven. The shepherd girl’s face was transfigured right from the start; she shared her happiness with everyone in cheerful simplicity.
Then, after two months of silence, She made her Her pupil and began to speak in order to teach, test and encourage her. Putting Herself on the level of the mountain girl’s uneducated mind, the Queen of Heaven condescended to familiarities that would surprise us if we did not know that Mary’s goodness is boundless.
One day our tender Mother invited Benoîte to rest by Her side, and the weary child went peacefully to sleep on the hem of the Virgin’s mantle.
Another time, doing as mothers do to teach prayers to their children, She had her repeat, word by word, the Litany of Loreto, then enjoined her to teach it to the girls of Saint-Étienne and go to church with them every evening to sing it there. With the sweetness and patience of a mother, She formed her gradually in view of her future mission.
The pious young girl was still uncouth, quite stubborn and readily impatient. Before the Virgin Mary personally revealed Her name, She initiated Benoîte in the role she was to play all her life: to work at the conversion of sinners through prayer, sacrifice, and a special vocation exhortation, for God had granted her the charism of reading in hearts. Consequently, she was often given the heavy task of correcting souls and disclosing their sad condition to them. When needed, she would remind them of their forgotten or hidden sins and urge them to purify themselves of them. A striking conversion, among many others, occurred to give credit not only to the Apparition, but to the seeress’ clairvoyance as well.
Benoîtes employer, Mrs. Rolland, a woman who had no interest whatsoever in religion, wanted to see for herself what was going on at the site of the apparitions. One day before dawn she went in secret to the grotto, entered before Benoîte, and hid behind a rock. Benoîte arrived, and a few moments later she saw the Beautiful Lady.
Virgin Mary: “Your mistress is over there, hiding behind the rock,” “Tell her not to curse with the name of Jesus, because if she keeps it up there will be no paradise for her: Her conscience is in a very bad state; she should do penance.”