In 1871, France was at war with German, and not faring well. Paris was besieged, and most French villages, Pontmain among them, were starving. It was winter, many of the village men had been called to fight, and a typhoid epidemic had spread throughout the town. There was little hope left in the villagers’ hearts, and despair had overrun the small town of approximately 500.
It was at this time, when things were bleakest and most hopeless that Our Blessed Mother appeared to four school children: Eugene and Joseph Barbedette (12 and 10, respectively), Jeanne-Marie Lebossé (age 9) and Françoise Richer (age 11).
During Phase 2, as a crowd gathered and began praying, a blue oval with four unlit candles appeared surrounding the Blessed Virgin. A small red cross appeared over her heart. Mary, however, as described by the children, appeared sad. As the prayers of the crowd that was gathering increased in strength, the vision slowly expanded in size, with dazzling stars appearing. A banner unfurled between the edges of the oval, with the following words appearing one by one:
“But pray, my children. God will answer you very soon. My Son lets His Heart by touched.”
During the second phase, a man in the crowd announced that the German troops were advancing toward the village, leading to further prayer and hymns. The Blessed Mother, during Phase 3 raised her hands toward the sky, fingers gently keeping time to the hymns being sung. She appeared to speak, but was not heard. Her face, which had smiled during the communication of her message, again appeared sad.
During Phase 4 of the apparition a red cross appeared in Mary’s hands, bearing the words “Jesus Christ” written in white and a figure of Christ in red. A star moved in the sky, lighting each of the four candles, and then resting above the Blessed Virgin’s head. She sadly tilted the cross toward the children.
In Phase 5, the red cross disappeared, and in it’s place, two white crossed appeared on each of Our Holy Mother’s shoulders. A white veil at her feet slowly rose, shrouding her from view, until only her golden grown remained. And then, that too, disappeared. The vision had lasted all evening, with the townsfolk praying in the cold until nine o’clock in the morning. At that, all went home, their minds clear and at peace.
The German troops, mere kilometers from the town ceased their forward motion that evening at around 5:30, about the time when the Apparition first appeared above Pontmain. The General leading the troops is reported to have said the following morning: "We cannot go farther. Yonder, in the direction of Brittany, there is an invisible 'Madonna’ barring the way." The armistice ending the war was signed only days later.
O Lady of Mental Peace, Mother of Tranquility and Mother of Hope, look upon me in this time of my weakness and unrest. Teach my searching heart to know that God’s Love for me is unchanging and unchangeable; and, that true human love can only begin and grow by touching His Love. Let your gentle peace which this world cannot give be always with me. And, help me to bring this same Peace into the lives of others. Our Lady of Mental Peace, Pray for us. Amen.