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Our Lady of Laus


Portrait of Benoîte Rencurel

Short & Long Versions

This apparition story is presented in two ways: 

  • Summarized version

  • Full story that reveals what occurred in Laus. This is lengthy and may be easier to read on a computer screen.


Benoîte Rencurel, age 16, was a shepherdess in the French Alps for a neighbor's sheep flocks when she encountered Our Lady. It was May 1664, while guarding her neighbor's flocks and reciting the Rosary in the Laus valley, that a beautiful lady appeared holding a child. Benoîte offered the lady her meager sustenance, a piece of hardened bread, eliciting a smile from the mysterious lady. Expressing her desire to hold the child, Benoîte received another smile, but the lady departed without uttering a word.

For the next four months, the unnamed beautiful lady returned daily to instruct Benoîte about her mission to construct a chapel and a house for priests focussing on their work administering the Sacrament of Penance. Despite sharing this extraordinary experience with her neighbors, disbelief persisted. The girl eventually mustered the courage to inquire about the identity of the lady, to which She responded: "I am Mary, the Mother of my dear Son Jesus."


This encounter marked the beginning of a divine mission for Benôite that would continue for 54 years! Mary implored her to pray for sinners and actively engage in their conversion. Despite her humble background as a peasant, Benôite found herself instructing priests on the compassionate reception of penitents in the Sacrament of Penance. Her guidance aimed to encourage sincere confession and repentance. Embracing a deeper spiritual commitment, she joined the Third Order Dominican.

Between 1669 and 1679, Benôite received five visions of Jesus in His passion. In one of these, Jesus conveyed, "My daughter, I show myself in this state so that you can participate in My passion." For 15 years, Benôite experienced the stigmata of Christ's wombs on the Cross, enduring intense pain from Thursday evening to Saturday morning each week. Her earthly journey culminated on December 28, 1718, soon after receiving holy Communion.

The messages conveyed during the apparitions centered on themes of repentance, the significance of the sacraments, and devotion to the Eucharist. Our Lady of Laus called for a renewed commitment to prayer and the reconciliation of sinners. The Virgin Mary expressed her maternal concern for humanity and extended an invitation to seekers to approach the sacrament of reconciliation.

Following the diocesan acknowledgment of the authenticity of the visions, the original chapel was replaced by the current shrine church. The sanctuary of Our Lady of Laus became a destination for pilgrims to embrace repentance, prayer, and devotion to the sacraments.


The site became renowned for miraculous healings facilitated by the oil from the sanctuary lamps, attracting a growing number of pilgrims to Laus, with over 120,000 making the journey annually.


Benoîte (Benedicta) Rencurel was born on September 16, 1647 in southeastern France in Saint-Étienne d'Avancon. This small commune and another adjacent to it, Laus (formerly "Laux" and pronounced "low") are located in the foothills of the French Alps.


Benoîte's father, Guillaume, died when the girl was only seven years of age. Soon, her two sisters and Benoîte's mother were impoverished. At age 12, Benoîte began working full time herself to bring income into the struggling family.   

Five years later, Benoîte was a shepherdess for a neighbor's sheep flock. The girl was unschooled and could neither read nor write. However, from an early age she was pious and embraced the Catholic faith. She regularly prayed the Rosary out loud to her flock during the day. 


Sunday, May 15, 1664

Apparition of St. Maurice

After hearing a sermon from her parish priest, 16-year-old Benoîte feels a profound desire to meet the Mother of Mercy. While shepherding the flock, the girl often ate her midday meal amidst the remnants of an ancient building, which had once been a chapel dedicated to St. Maurice, a 3rd century Christian martyr.


On this day, Benoîte experienced an apparition of St. Maurice. The saint instructed Benoîte to take her flock to the valley (Vallon des Fours) above Saint-Étienne, pointing out a specific spring where she could get a drink of water. He also directed her to visit a particular valley in the mountains with her sheep, assuring her that there she would encounter the Mother of God. 

Monday, May 16

Marian Apparitions Begin 
Benoîte followed St. Maurice's instructions and brought her sheep to the Vallon des Fours. It was morning and she suddenly noticed a woman standing on a rock holding a baby. "What are you doing up there?" she asked. Do you want to eat with me?" 

The Lady remained silent and simply smiled.



Benoîte met the Lady daily at the same location thru early Fall. It was during this time that the Lady began to talk with the young woman and asked to pray for sinners and their conversion. Among here messages were: “Let yourself be reconciled!” and “Let God approach you, for this God is capable of only one thing, and that is to love.”

Soon after Benoîte shared these visions with others, the news spread quickly. The local magistrate questioned the girl about the Lady and directed Benoîte to find out the Lady's name.

Monday, August 29

The Lady revealed herself: "I am Mary, the Mother of my dear Son Jesus." The Lady added that it will be awhile before She returns. In the meantime, She desired prayers and processions to the Vallon des Fours, prompting enthusiastic participation from the villagers upon hearing Her request. 

Late September

Our Lady appeared to Benoîte in Pindreau, a different part of the valley than before. She told Benoîte : "If you wish to see me again, go to Laus. You will find there a chapel from which a beautiful perfume comes."

The next day, Benoîte goes to the nearby hamlet of Laus. She had never visited the hamlet before and did not know the location of the chapel. All the buildings look the same. But pausing at one building that looked abandoned, she inhaled a heavenly smelling perfume emitting from it. Inside the thatched-roof chapel of Notre Dame de Bon-Rencontre (translated it means "Our Lady of Happy Meeting"), she saw Mary standing on the dusty altar. Mary unveiled her plan:

"I have asked my Son for this place for the conversion of sinners, and He has granted it to me. I wish for a larger church to be built here in honor of my beloved Son. It will be the place of conversion for numerous sinners. The objective of this initiative, which will be realized rapidly, is to initiate Christians in the path of conversion, specially through the sacrament of confession. Many sinners will convert here. I will appear here frequently.  I have asked for Laus from my son... as my property until the end of time."

Benoîte had only known poverty. The idea of finding funds to build a church was incomprehensible to her. She asked the Virgin how she would find the money to accomplish such a task. 

Our Lady responded: "When the time comes to build, you will find all you need, and it will not be long. The pennies of the poor will provide for everything. Nothing will be lacking."

Fall and Winter

Benoîte began the repair work on the old chapel by herself. Soon, other villagers joined her. Every day for several months, she traveled the 2.5 miles each way from her home to the chapel. Mary appeared often with the core message being to "Pray continuously for sinners" and that She was both the reconciler for sinners as well as their refuge. Our Lady even gave the names of those sinners whom Benoîte should pray for on their behalf. 

Sometime in 1665, the Virgin directed Benoîte to forgo shepherding and devote herself entirely to ministering pilgrims and assisting the priests. 


Pilgrims begin to arrive in earnest. In the next 18 months, about 130,000 pilgrims came to Laus. Some report smelling fragrances inside the chapel, but also throughout the valley. It is believed that these divine scents manifest when Our Lady performs miracles in Laus. The lingering fragrance continues to this day, often coinciding with feasts dedicated to Our Lady, and sometimes signaling the occurrence of a specific miracle.

Another widely recognized ongoing miracle within the chapel involves the use of oil from the sanctuary lamps. Our Lady assured that the oil from Laus, when applied to the body with faith, carries Her blessings and intercession acting as a catalyst for physical and spiritual healings. This miraculous oil has gained widespread acclaim, reaching not only pilgrims in France but throughout the world.

On September 14, 1665, Father Antoine Lambert, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Embrun, harboring skepticism toward the apparitions, arrived in Laus accompanied by several esteemed priests who shared his reservations about the events transpiring there. Their primary objective was to dispel what they perceived as "sorcery," expose Benoîte as a fraud, and close down the chapel. Unexpectedly, a storm struck stranding the group in the chapel for three days. During this period, they bore witness to undeniable miracles unfolding in the modest sanctuary.

One particularly impactful incident involved a crippled, dying woman who, a part of a novena, had been attending daily Mass. Astonishingly, she stood up, walked, and experienced a complete recovery. This miraculous transformation left an indelible impression on the skeptical visitors. In the wake of this event and other miracles, Father Lambert and his fellow priests became believers in the apparition and contributed to the chapel's completion.

1666 to 1718

After renovating the origin chapel of Bon-Rencontre, it was determined that a larger church was needed to service the pilgrims. A new church was built to enclose the original church. It was completed in 1669. On the day of its consecration, Benoîte became a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. 

Sister Benoîte received the gift of reading people's consciences of those who sought her counseling. She helped to , prepare them for the Sacrament of Penance and converting their lives to Christianity. Her insights and guidance were respected by the attending priests and the pilgrims alike. The priests reported the quality of the confessions and religious conversion they witnessed were like nothing they had experienced before. 

The number of healings and conversions become more well known and attracted tens of thousands of people annually. Sister Benoîte moved to Laus in 1672 and lived there for the remainder of her life. 


Mary frequently appeared to support her. Sister reported in one such visit, Our Lady said: “Take heart, My daughter! Have patience. Do your duty cheerfully. Bear no hatred towards the enemies of Laus. Do not be troubled and sick over it if people do not profit from your advice. Do not be disturbed by temptations, visible or invisible spirits, or temporal affairs. Strive never to forsake the presence of God, for whoever has any faith will not dare to offend Him.”

One of the remarkable episodes in the life of Sister Benoîte unfolded between 1669 and 1679, during which she had a series of five visions depicting the suffering Christ. On a Friday in July of 1673, she said the persecuted Jesus conveyed to her, "My daughter, I show myself in this state so that you can participate in my Passion." Following these words, she experienced the manifestation of the holy stigmata.

From that day onward, a transformation occurred in Sister Benoîte's spiritual journey. Every week, between Thursday evening and Saturday morning, she underwent a mystical crucifixion, a communion with the suffering of Christ. This extraordinary phenomenon endured for 15 years, interrupted only briefly for two years, from 1677 to 1679. During this hiatus, Sister Benoîte provided sustenance to the laborers involved in constructing the priests' residence.

In November 1679, the mystical crucifixion resumed, finding its renewal at the Cross of Avançon. This period marked a testament to Sister Benoîte's enduring commitment to embracing the suffering of Christ and participating intimately in His Passion, illustrating the depth of her spiritual connection.

The journey of Sister Benoîte, marked by mystical experiences such as visions of angels, various saints, and even glimpses of Paradise. 

Yet, Sister Benoîte faced spiritual and physical trials, including attacks from the demonic realm and a period of isolation imposed by Jansenist-leaning priests that lasted two decades. Despite these struggles, she remained devoted, ultimately passing away "joyfully" on December 28, 1718, surrounded by the priests of the sanctuary

Our Lady promised Benoîte that her grace would always be there in the valley. More miracles of healing and conversions took place in the chapel. One of the most notable and prominent is the miracle of the fragrance which is said that the fragrance occurs when Our Lady performed a miracle in Laus. The perfume persists to this day; ordinarily it comes on feasts of Our Lady.

Another well known miracle that are still happening in the chapel is the miraculous oil from the sanctuary where Our Lady promised that the oil of Laus, if applied with faith, is a source of many physical and spiritual healings. Pierre Gaillard, Vicar General of the Diocese of Gap and a contemporary of Benoîte, said: “The good Mother told Benoîte Rencurel, at the beginning of devotion, the person who takes the oil of the Chapel and applies it on oneself, and has recourse to Her intercession, and has faith, that person will be healed.”


After Benoîte's death, François Aubin gathered more than 1,800 pages of manuscripts related to the apparition and miraculous healings attributed to Our Lady of Laus, including testimonies from eye witnesses. He gave these to the Fathers of the Holy Guard, the chaplains of the pilgrimage. During the French Revolution, at time when religious people, churches and their properties were under attack, a Father of the Holy Guard packaged these documents and hid them in an attic.


This action was forgotten by the chaplains in the years that followed. In 1818, the Oblate Fathers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary took charge of Laus and six years later they found the manuscripts. In 1850, at the request of Bishop Depéry, Bishop of Gap, the contents were classified, ordered, and copied by Father Galvin and titled: "Authentic Copy of the Manuscripts."


In 1892, Laus church was elevated to the rank of Minor Basilica.

In 1977, the work "Benoîte, la bergère de Notre-Dame du Laus" were published, written by Father de Labriolle, For the first time, the manuscripts were truly studied. Labriolle's work became part of the 1996 beatification process of Benoîte, which was reopened in 1981 by Pope John Paul II.

Papal Recognition

It was not until 2008 that Laus was officially approved as a Marian apparition. Bishop Jean-Michel de Falco Leandri of the Diocese of Gap and Embrun, wrote: “I recognize the supernatural origin of the apparitions and the events and words experienced and narrated by Benoîte Rencurel. I encourage all of the faithful to come and pray and seek spiritual renewal at this shrine.”

In the official declaration, the Church stated that the apparitions which lasted over 50 years from 1664-1718 were judged to have a "supernatural origin." The declarations specifically noted the following about Our Lady's appearance and messages in Laus:

  • Benoîte displayed humble obedience and integrity, lending credibility to her claims of seeing the Virgin Mary up to 4 times per day over many years.

  • Mary appeared to Benoîte dressed in a gray robe with a white veil. Her manner conveyed maternal love and tenderness.  

  • Messages urged penance for sin, a return to the Sacraments, and reciting the Rosary for the conversion of sinners, similar to other "Marian" apparitions.

  • Our Lady focused on the mercy and love of Christ rather than remaining angry over sins. She welcomed all visitors to come find healing and reconciliation.

  • The duration and consistency of the apparitions, plus the resulting conversions and spiritual healings, supported their judging the supernatural events as an authentic experience rather than mere imagination or fabrication.


Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI agreed with the bishop that Laus truly was a Marian apparition. The 54 years of apparitions are the longest ever approved by the Catholic Church.


The Church sanctioned Laus as a sacred site of pilgrimage. It remains known for Our Lady's message of love and forgiveness to all sinners who come seeking aid.

Beatification of Sister Benoîte

Sister Benoîte's tomb was accidentally opened in a construction project some 80 years after burial. Her body was incorrupt. In 1872, Pope Pius IX bestowed the title "Servant of God" upon Benoîte Rencurel. For unknown reasons, her cause for sainthood did not resume until 1981 under the initiative of Pope St. John Paul II. Subsequently, in 2009, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI elevated the status of the "Shepherdess of Laus" to that of Venerable.

Reports of miracles attributed to the intercession of Venerable Benoîte Rencurel have surfaced, prompting ongoing investigations toward her beatification.

Prayer to Our Lady of Laus

Queen of Laus, kind and loving Mother, hear our pious pleas. Your son always hears your prayers, and you always hear your children. O pure Virgin, ceaselessly watch over our hearts from heaven. Let no dirt tarnish the heavenly whiteness. Be our support in virtue, all-powerful Virgin, and guide our feeble steps. If we fall, Compassionate Mother, kindly embrace us in your arms. Give us shelter under your wings when the storms burst with fury, spare us from cruel agony, and may the sinner repent with true remorse. Leave us not at our last hour, but let us sleep in peace at your maternal breast. And once awakening, drawing back the veil, we will see you in the splendor of heaven. Our Lady of Laus, Refuge of sinners, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen


Our Lady of Laus is celebrated on September 27.

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