“Our Lady of St. Bauzille-de-la-Sylve”
HERAULT, FRANCE (1873)
Auguste Arnaud, age 30, was a regular participant in Holy Mass on Sundays. He was a father of two, having been married for six years, and a respected member in his community. And he worked on Sundays.
On Sunday, June 8, 1873, the Feast of the Holy Trinity, he attended Holy Mass and then went to work in his vineyard to tend the vines. After working for two hours, Auguste sat down to rest, eat his packed lunch, and smoke his pipe. Suddenly, he saw before him a beautiful young woman dressed in white. She wore a white veil that reached to her feet. She had a fringed belt and a tall crown. He jumped to his feet and asked, “Who are you?”
“I am the Blessed Virgin. Do not be afraid.”
Auguste was reassured by her words and listened with great emotion as she continued,
“You have the disease of the vine. You left St. Bauzille. We must celebrate his feast on the day it falls. Next Thursday you must go in procession to St. Anthony and hear Mass. In a fortnight you must go in procession to Notre Dame, to the Canton of Gignac, Montpellier, and the city of Lodeve. You must place a cross here, changing it later to another. Come in procession each year. Go tell your father and your pastor all of this. In a month I will come to thank you.”
At that, Blessed Mary rose vertically into the air and gradually disappeared. Auguste left the vineyard immediately for home, where he excitedly told his father what he had seen. When they went together to tell the village priest, the priest met their remarks with coldness and skepticism. He found it hard to believe that the Virgin Mary would make that effort just to tell one man not to work on Sundays.
But Auguste remained inspired to perform his mission given to him by the beautiful Lady. He had a carpenter build a wooden cross which he then placed in the vineyard where Mary had indicated. It was just a temporary one as the Virgin had asked for a wrought iron version with her image in the middle in his next effort.
On June 12, he and his family visited the chapel of St. Anthony. On June 22, he made it to Our Lady of Grace in Gignac. He made it to all the places that she had requested. On July 4, he finally replaced the wooden cross with the wrought iron one and set it on a stone pedestal.
Believers, skeptics, and the curious all gathered on July 8, 1873, in his vineyard for the predicted second appearance of Mary. Auguste’s wife worried about what might happen if the Virgin failed to appear and this crowd of five hundred would become disappointed and perhaps angry. But Auguste had plenty of faith and no fear at all.
After a few minutes, Auguste removed his hat and raised both arms high in the air. He seemed transfixed by what he was able to see, while everybody else saw nothing. With his arms still raised, he was suddenly carried with uncommon speed by some invisible force to the cross about forty yards away. He prayed silently while gazing at the Blessed Virgin, dressed now in gold and holding a rosary in her right hand. In a sweet voice:
“Do not work on Sundays. Blessed is he who believes and unhappy the man who does not believe. You must go to Our Lady of Gignac in procession with your whole family.”
She slipped the rosary to her left hand and, raising her right hand high, she blessed Auguste and the whole crowd. Before disappearing, she spoke one more time:
“Let us sing hymns.”
Auguste turned to the crowd and, in a low voice, told them to sing. The crowd began singing the Magnificat. After this day, many visitors frequented the area, leaving many flowers, candles, rosaries, and ex-votos. The activity interested the local bishop to the point of appointing a Commission of Inquiry. After witnesses were questioned and the committee filed its conclusions, the bishop recognized the authenticity of these appearances by Mary with a proclamation in 1876.
A chapel was built near the site and cared for by nuns. Auguste Arnaud died on
February 8, 1936, at the age of 92. He was buried in this chapel where his tomb reads:
“At the feet of the Virgin he so loved and so faithfully served, here lies in wait for the blessed resurrection the body of Augustus Arnaud, piously asleep in the Lord’s peace.”