An all but unknown 19th-century mystic received dramatic revelations that were stunningly similar to those at the famous apparition in LaSalette, France, but with this twist: her messages came before (as well as during and after) those far better known messages.
The locutions in question -- to an obscure Discalced Carmelite in the French city of Tours named Sister Mary of St. Peter -- were recorded from 1843 to 1847 and -- like LaSalette (exactly) -- focused on the sins of dishonoring the Sabbath and using the Lord's Name in vain.
It was on September 19, 1846, that two children, Mélanie Calvat and Maximim Giraud, tending a cow near the top of a mountain in the French Alps, near Corps, encountered the Blessed Mother. Mary appeared in a globe of light and sat on a rock with her face in her palms, weeping over the sins of mankind.
"I gave you six days to work," the Blessed Mother said, in that Church-approved apparition. "I kept the seventh day for myself, and no one wishes to grant it to me. This is what weighs down the arm of my Son so much. Those who drive carts cannot speak without putting the Name of my Son in the middle."
As a result -- because of this use of Jesus' Name as a swear word, she warned -- the potato crop would be ruined and there would be disease as well as famine.
Precisely this occurred beginning later that very same year as an historic failure of potatoes caused more than a million deaths in northern France and across the English Channel in Ireland (where it was known as the Great Potato Famine).
It was years before, however -- on August 26, 1843 -- that Sister Mary, the mystic in Tours, who had grown up in a devout family, and had early brushes with death, received a similar revelation when there was a "terrible storm during which I felt the Justice of an angry God as I had never before felt it in my life.
"Kneeling, so that my forehead touched the ground, I ceaselessly offered our Savior, Jesus Christ, to His Eternal Father, for the expiation of my sins and for the needs of the Holy Church. I spoke to Him about the incident of the storm. I asked Him to tell me the reason why I felt so strongly on that day the roused anger of His Eternal Father.
"My Name is everywhere blasphemed," Jesus allegedly responded, showing her that such misuse of His Name nullified His redemption and cursed Him to His Face. "There are even children who blaspheme!" the sister heard in locution.
"Our Lord then made me visualize the act of blasphemy as a poisoned arrow continually wounding His Divine Heart," recounted the nun in an autobiography that received the imprimatur of Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York as well as a Nihil Obstat. "After that He revealed to me that He wanted to give me a 'Golden Arrow' which would have the power of wounding Him delightfully, and which would also heal those other wounds inflicted by the malice of sinners."
To repair this outrage, said the religious, the Lord prescribed a prayer of "reparation" that He promised would have special power. On November 10, 1843, Christ also asked for a novena aimed at this same cause.
"Our Lord inspired me at this time to compose certain prayers of reparation in the form of a chaplet, or a small Rosary," she wrote in this fascinating work that has only now come to our attention. "This chaplet is made up of thirty-three small beads, on which is recited thirty-three times the prayer, 'Arise, Oh Lord, and let Your enemies be scattered, and let those that hate You flee before Your Face,' and also six large beads on which are recited the ejaculation, 'My Jesus, mercy,' followed by the doxology, 'Glory be to the Father, etc.'" Sister Mary said Jesus appeared to her in an interior vision and showed precious stones on a fine gold chain as He presented her with a similar chaplet. The devotion brings to mind the Divine Mercy novena devised a century later by Saint Faustina Kowalska in Poland.
But the most electrifying aspect continues to be the warnings on using His Name in vain and violation of the Sabbath.
Two weeks after the aforementioned revelation, Sister Mary said the Lord "seized possession of the powers of my soul" and caused her to hear the following words: "The whole earth is covered with crimes and the violation of the first three of the Ten Commandments of God has aroused the anger of My Father. The crimes that fill up the cup of wickedness are blasphemies against God's Holy Name and the profanation of Sundays. These sins have reached the very Throne of Almighty God, and they have provoked His wrath which is about to strike everywhere unless His Justice be appeased. Never before have these crimes reached such a peak."
That was more than a century and a half ago.
It is daunting to think of how widespread misuse of the Lord's Name has grown in our own time -- amplified by methods of mass communication, including TV, radio, the internet, and at the theatre -- where nearly no modern movie goes by without using the Name of "God" or "Jesus" as a curse word.
"My soul is terrified at what Our Lord has just made me hear during prayer this morning, charging me with the duty of transmitting His message to my superiors without any fear of being deceived," she wrote in her autobiography, The Golden Arrow, which we will be making available. "He said He was incensed with anger against our nation, and that He has sworn in His Wrath to avenge Himself if reparation to the honor of His Divine Father were not made for all the blasphemies of which the people are guilty, making me hear that He could no longer remain among men who, like vipers, were tearing at the entrails of His Mercy."
That was in December of 1843. Sister Mary was 27 at the time. She was later to win the support of her bishop, and died in the odor of sanctity in 1848. Her mission: spreading that remarkable cause of reparation. "Yes, I will grant pardon once more, but mark my word: once!" Jesus responded in regard to her plea to spare France. "And since this crime of blasphemy extends over the whole nation, and since it is public, I demand that Reparation be extended to all the cities of the nation, and that it be public. Woe to those cities that will not make this reparation!"
Woe indeed: other fierce storms were to descend, causing, in one case, an overflowing of the River Loire that the nun described as "so frightful and so unprecedented" that such "had not been seen in centuries."
"The whole city of Tours was in imminent danger as terror and confusion gripped the citizens," she wrote. "Everywhere people acknowledged that an Omnipotent Hand was wielding the elements at will and even those persons who professed hardly any religious belief whatsoever now openly admitted that it was only through a miracle that the whole city of Tours did not perish."
The cause, she said, again: "profanation of Sunday, as Our Lord Himself told me, yet this principal fact was and continues to be ignored" -- again too, as in our time, if not far more so.
Foretelling another disaster that was soon to befall France, the Savior said, "Imagine what will be the state of things in this country when soon My powerful Arm will shake this throne and overthrow him who is now seated thereon." The following week -- December 2, 1847 -- He said, "The executioners crucified Me on Friday but Christians crucify Me on Sundays."
On February 20, 1848, it was made known to Sister Mary that the crisis of which He spoke -- the "rumbling storm" -- was close at hand: that the Lord "has strung His bow and He is about to discharge His arrows," in the words of these locutions, which garnered the support of her bishop.
Almost immediately after this communication came word of a serious revolution in Paris that shook the very foundations of French government and all of Europe, sending King Louis Philippe fleeing with his family into exile (after eighteen years of secure rule). "The Lord told me that in consequence of the initial efforts made to establish somewhat the Work of Reparation, our country which was to be almost entirely destroyed by the darts of His Justice would now only be partly punished by the terrible flames of His Anger," wrote Sister Mary in this revelation that preceded the far better known Divine Mercy ones. "Oh, how I long entreat all the bishops to establish the Work of Reparation in their dioceses."
To console Him, she also was given a devotion to His Holy Face and led to know that daily glorifying the Holy Name of God was crucial.
It was through the Holy Face -- in our time, best represented by the Shroud of Turin, in hers, the "Veil of Veronica" -- that she said His anger is appeased. "You cannot comprehend the malice and abomination of this sin," Jesus had said in 1848, referring to blasphemy. "If My Justice were not restrained by My Mercy, indeed, it would instantly crush the guilty. In fact, all creatures, even those that are inanimate, would avenge this outrage against their Creator's Majesty, but I have eternity in which to punish the guilty."
That uncannily parallels LaSalette, where -- referring to neglect of Sunday and use of profanation -- the Blessed Mother intoned, "These are the two things which weigh down the Arm of my Son so much." And alluding to the potatoes, she said, "They will continue to go bad; at Christmas there will be none left."
[resources: The Golden Arrow]