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Our Lady of Pontmain

Short & Long Versions

This apparition story is presented in two ways: 

  • Summarized version

  • Full story that reveals what occurred in 1871 in Pontmain, France. This is lengthy and may be easier to read on a computer screen.


"Our Lady of Pontmain" refers to Marian apparitions that occurred one evening in the small village of Pontmain, France, during the Franco-Prussian War. The apparitions brought a message of hope and peace to the people of Pontmain and France at large.

The appearance took place on the evening of January 17, 1871, when two young boys, Eùgene Barbedette, age 12, and Joseph Barbedette, 10, claimed to witness the Virgin Mary in the night sky. The boys described her as a beautiful lady wearing a blue gown adorned with stars, a black veil, and a golden crown. She silently smiled at them, radiating a sense of serenity and reassurance.

News of the apparition spread quickly throughout the village. As more witnesses gathered, they realized that only children were able to see the vision. All the children reported seeing the Virgin Mary holding a red crucifix in her hands. As the people prayed, the children reported that the Virgin's appearance became more vivid and animated.

Throughout the evening, the village priest, Father Michel Guerin, along with other clergy, joined the crowd in prayer. The Virgin Mary appeared to the children for three hours.

As the apparition continued, an inscription appeared in the sky, written in golden letters: "But pray, my children." The Virgin Mary did not speak audibly, but her silent message of prayer and trust in God resonated deeply with the witnesses. It was a call to turn to prayer as a means of finding solace, strength, and hope during difficult times.

The following day, the Prussian army halted their march and attacks on the French villages. The Prussian general The villagers of Pontmain interpreted this as a sign of divine intervention and protection. Subsequent investigations by the Church affirmed the authenticity of the apparitions, and in 1872, the local bishop officially recognized Our Lady of Pontmain.

A basilica, known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Pontmain, was later constructed at the site of the apparitions. It has become a pilgrimage destination and a place of prayer and reflection. The feast day of Our Lady of Pontmain is celebrated annually on January 17, commemorating the anniversary of the first apparition.

The apparitions at Pontmain hold a special place in the hearts of believers, emphasizing the power of prayer, the maternal care of the Virgin Mary, and the hope that transcends earthly conflicts. The message of Our Lady of Pontmain continues to inspire people to turn to prayer as a source of comfort and strength during challenging times.


In the small village of Pontmain, during a challenging time when the Prussian troops were closing in on Laval, a remarkable Marian apparition took place on the evening of January 17, 1871. Pontmain was inhabited by hardworking people guided by their parish priest, Abbé Michel Guérin. The Barbadette family, consisting of César, Victoire, and their sons Eùgene, age 12 and Joseph, 10, found themselves caught in the midst of the uncertainties of war.

As the Prussian threat loomed, Abbé Guérin offered prayers of hope during Mass, seeking divine intervention through Mary. That evening, as Eùgene and Joseph were helping their father in the barn, Eùgene stepped outside for a minute and noticed an area in the sky devoid of stars above a neighboring house. To his astonishment, he saw the apparition of a beautiful woman standing in the air about 20 feet from the roof. She smiled at Eugene, who called others to witness the heavenly spectacle.

Eugene said the Lady was adorned in a flowing, luminous blue robe adorned with golden stars. Her sleeves were full, extending gracefully to her hands. Her feet were in blue slippers, fastened with a golden ribbon fashioned into a rosette. Her hair was completely covered by a black veil, cascading over her shoulders and reaching down to the level of her elbow. Atop her head, a gold crown rose slightly to a peak, lacking front ornamentation except for a red band encircling the center. Her hands were extended, resembling the posture of the Miraculous Medal, though devoid of the characteristic rays of light.

The father, mother, and a neighbor saw nothing, but the boys confirmed they could see the Lady. The mother, Victoire, suggested it might be the Blessed Virgin, and they should pray in her honor. 

They then decided to summon the two religious sisters from the village school, Sister Vitaline and Sister Marie Edward. Upon Sister Vitaline's arrival, she, too, could not see the vision. However, she brought three children with her: Frances Richer, age 11, Jeanne Marie Lebosse, 9, and a third child. Both girls reported seeing the smiling and beautiful Lady, while the third child could not perceive the apparition.


Sister Marie Edward as well as Father Guérin, the parish priest, arrived but were unable to perceive the apparition. Another child, Eugene Friteau, age 6, also reported seeing the Lady. As the gathering continued to grow near the barn, a neighbor named Madame Boitin arrived holding her two-year-old, Augustine. The toddler extended her arms towards the apparition, displaying signs of joy.

As the crowd grew to about 60 people, occasionally the Lady exhibited a sorrowful expression, likely in response to certain disruptive individuals in the crowd who couldn't see anything. However, Our Lady's countenance would brighten, particularly during the prayers, hymns, and recitation of the Rosary, and Marian songs led by Father Guérin and the two sisters.


As the congregation fervently recited the Rosary, stars appeared in pairs below the Lady's feet, symbolizing the Hail Marys being offered. Subsequently, a white banner, approximately a yard wide, gracefully unfolded beneath the Lady's feet, creating a flawless rectangle. Translated from French it read: "Oh! Do pray my children, God will answer you very soon. My son allows himself to be moved."

The children reported new occurrences — a blue oval frame with candles formed around the Lady. She lifted her hands to shoulder height, extending her arms outward with elbows close to her body. Subsequently, a sizable red cross materialized in her hands. The figure of the crucified Christ on the cross exhibited a deeper red hue than the cross itself. 


A substantial white veil gradually enveloped the form of the Virgin, ascending to cover her face, and she bestowed her final smile upon the children. The apparition came to an end at around nine o'clock after a duration of about three hours.

Interestingly, during the apparition, General Schmidt of the Prussian Army, poised to invade Laval, received orders to pull back. Some Prussian soldiers claimed to see a vision near the region's border, stating, "A Madonna is guarding the country and forbidding us to advance."

Coinciding with the appearance of the Apparition above Pontmain, a few miles away he Prussian forces was poised to invade Laval the next day. He received orders to pull back. On the morning of the 18th, General Schmidt is said to have remarked, "We cannot proceed further. Over there, in the direction of Brittany (toward Pontmain), an unseen 'Madonna' is blocking the way."

Just days later, January 28, the armistice between Prussia (the German Empire) and France was signed at Versailles. The 38 soldiers from Pontmain, including the Barbadette's oldest son, returned home alive and uninjured. This answered the prayers of Pontmain families that Our Lady announced, "God will soon grant your request." The silent, hopeful message conveyed at Pontmain, led the townspeople to refer to the apparition as "Our Lady of Hope." 

Church Recognition

After a year of extensive interviews and investigations, the local bishop's canonical inquiry declared his belief in the authenticity of the apparition and that it was indeed the Blessed Virgin Mary who appeared to the children.

Pope Pius XI gave a final decision regarding the Mass and office in honor of Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain. Cardinal Pacelli (future Pope Pius XII) decreed that the statue of Our Lady of Hope be honored. On July 24, 1934, the statue in Pontmain received a golden crown. The devotion to Our Lady of Pontmain spread worldwide, and a confraternity dedicated to her was established.


The sudden stopping of the Prussian troops in sight of Laval on the evening of the apparition, as reported by General Schmidt, was considered a miraculous intervention by Our Lady of Pontmain. This event was seen as a sign, and the subsequent armistice, further solidified the connection between the apparition and historical events.

The Seers

Joseph Barbadette became a priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Years later, Joseph wrote a complete account of the Pontmain apparition. His older brother, Eùgene became a secular priest and served in the city of Laval. 

Francoise Richer made a living as a domestic servant, school teacher and governess. She died in March 1915. 

Jeanne-Marie Lebosse's father died when she was young and her mother was physically paralyzed. She was raised by her aunt, Sister Timotheus, who was director of the School of Pontmain. In 1881, she joined the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux. She died in December 1933. 


Church Construction

A basilica was built at Pontmain, consecrated in 1900, and the devotion to Our Lady of Hope received official church recognition.


The feast day of Our Lady of Pontmain is January 17, commemorating the anniversary of the first apparition.


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