Laus, France: Our Lady of Laus Shrine
In Southeast France near the popular ski resort of Gap, and not too far from the Sanctuary of La Salette, lies the town of Laus (Saint-Étienne-le-Laus). Laus was an important city during the middle ages and part of the popular pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It was also the site of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the 17th Century.
About the apparitions in Laus:
It is a story reminiscent of Fatima, La Salette and other apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In May of 1664 Our Lady appeared to a 17-year-old shepherdess called Benedicta in the small village of Saint-Etienne-le-Laus. Benedicta drove her neighbor’s flock up to a spot where she suddenly encountered an old and venerable man, appearing as a bishop of the early Church (he was, in fact, Saint Maurice). He said: “My daughter, what are you doing here?”
“I’m watching my sheep, praying to God, and looking for water to drink.”
“I’ll get some for you,” replied the elderly man. And he went to the edge of a well that Benoite had not seen.
“You’re so beautiful!” she said. “Are you an Angel, or Jesus?”
“I am Maurice, to whom the nearby chapel (in ruins at that time) is dedicated . My daughter, do not come back to this place. It is part of a different territory, and the guards would take your flock if they found it here. Go to the valley above Saint-Étienne. That is where you will see the Mother of God.”
“But Sir, She is in Heaven. How can I see Her there?”
“Yes, She is in Heaven, and on earth too when She wants.”
She did indeed meet a a beautiful woman there, although she was not sure at first who it was. The Lady came back every day for four months.
The Blessed Mother continued these appearances for 54 years. For those who criticize the continuing apparitions at Medjugorje, this might give them pause.
These apparitions appear not to have drawn much attention over the years until around the 20th century when word of them began to spread outside of France.
A small chapel was built near where Mary appeared. Mary revealed herself in Laus as “the Reconciler and Refuge of Sinners”, and therefore she offered signs to convince them of the need to repent. She told Benedicta that the oil from the sanctuary lamp would work miracles with the infirm if they received the anointing with faith in her intercession.
Benedicta encouraged people to pray for sinners and to receive the sacrament of Penance frequently. Mary asked Benedicta to admonish women and girls about living lives of scandal, especially those who commit abortion, the unjust wealthy and the perverse.
She also encouraged priests and religious to be faithful to their vows.”Between 1669 and 1679, Benedicta received five visions of the suffering Christ. On a Friday in July of 1673, the suffering Jesus told her: “My daughter, I show myself in this state so that you can participate in my Passion.”
Benedicta received Communion on Christmas Day 1718. Three days later she made a confession, received the last rites and around 8:00 p.m. said goodbye to those around her. Benedicta then kissed a crucifix and passed away peacefully.
About the Shrine of Our Lady of Laus:
The local Bishop approved these apparitions the following year, but it was not until May 4, 2008 that Laus was officially given Shrine status. On that date, Bishop Jean-Michel de Falco of Gap officially approved the apparitions in the presence of Cardinals and representatives of the Vatican: “I recognize the supernatural origin of the apparitions and the events and words experienced and narrated by Benedicta Rencurel. I encourage all of the faithful to come and pray and seek spiritual renewal at this shrine.”
Over 100,000 pilgrims visit the site each year. As you can see from the photos, the shrine at Laus is much like the one at La Salette: it features a hotel, retreat center, dining facilities a campground and outdoor chapel.
Some pilgrimage groups include Laus in their tours of France, but most do not. Therefore most pilgrims coming here from other countries are independent travelers.
Traveling to Laus:
There is no direct train service–Gap is the nearest town served by rail. If you are traveling from Paris, you can take the high-speed TGV from Paris to Gap (changing in Marseille) or a direct train. Of course you can get there from many other cities as well. If you make arrangements in advance the Shrine will arrange to pick you up in Gap (cost around 11 Euros). Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
It is also a bit difficult to find on some maps, so be sure you have good directions before heading out here. It is, however, definitely worth the effort once you get there.
Address: Notre-Dame du Laus, 05130 Saint-Étienne-le-Laus, France
GPS coordinates: 44° 31′ 10.6320” N, 6° 9′ 4.7304” E
Tel: (+33) 04 92 50 30 73 Fax : (+33) 04 92 50 90 77
Click here for the official website of the Shrine of Our Lady of Laus (in French). There is a full program of spiritual activities and other useful information.
As mentioned before, you might wish to combine your visit here with LaSalette…another apparition site that is only about 40 miles from Gap.
1. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Laus. Photos with permission.