Devotion to Our Lady of Hope is one of the oldest Marian devotions, dating back to the first shrine erected to her in France in the year 930. Centuries later, on January 17, 1871, Our Lady of Hope appeared in the French village of Pontmain when it was threatened by Prussian armies during the War of 1870. Around 6:00 that evening, two small boys named Eugene and Joseph Barbedette saw Our Lady in the sky above a barn. Dressed in a dark blue robe sprinkled with stars, with a gold crown on her head, our Heavenly Mother lowered her hands in a gesture of welcome and smiled. The boys’ called their parents, the parish priest and a convent full of sisters, but only they and two young girls could see the apparition. The pastor called the whole town together to pray the Rosary with the children and as the villagers prayed, the apparition grew steadily larger. When they finished the Rosary and began singing the Magnificat, a white banner suddenly appeared in the sky with large gold letters slowly forming the words:
“PRAY, MY CHILDREN. GOD WILL ANSWER BEFORE LONG. MY SON LETS HIMSELF BE MOVED.”
At about the same time as the apparition was occurring in Pontmain, the Prussian troops stopped dead in their tracks as they came in sight of the tiny village. The Prussian General was reportedly unable to advance and told his troops: “We cannot go farther. Yonder, in the direction of Brittany, there is an invisible Madonna barring the way.” Three days later, he surrendered his army. What message could be more consoling to hearts in the midst of hardship and tribulation than the tender promise of Our Lady of Hope: “Pray, my children; God will soon answer your prayers.”
Our Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of Divine Love and Our Lady of Hope prevented devastating events from happening. Can you remember a time when you received her intercession in this way? Look at Our Lady’s words to the people of Pontmain. How is she speaking to you today through them? Journal your thoughts, insights and reflections.