|A series of articles on|
|Dogmas and doctrines|
|Expressions of devotion|
|Key Marian apparitions|
Venerable Benoîte (Benedicta) Rencurel (1647–1718) was a shepherdess from Saint-Étienne-le-Laus, France who is said to have seen apparitions from the Virgin Mary beginning from 1664 through 1718. The apparitions became known as Our Lady of Laus, and the site receives thousands of pilgrim visits a year. On 4 May 2008, Bishop Jean-Michel di Falco of the Diocese of Gap, officially recognized the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Benoite Rencurel at the sanctuary of Laus in the area of Hautes-Alpes, France.
Benoîte Rencurel was born on September 16, 1647, in the little town of Saint-Etienne d'Avançon, in the southern Alps. Her parents lived modestly from the works of their hands. Her father, Guillaume Rencurel, died when Benoîte was seven years old. For the widow and her daughters, this death would lead to material destitution. There was no school in Saint-Etienne d'Avançon, so Benoîte never learned to read or write. At the age of twelve, Benoite found work as a shepherdess.
In a homily during a Mass at the Marian basilica in the town of Laus, Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, France, said that Rencurel had first seen Mary after being guided by a strange scent near her home in Saint-Etienne d'Avancon in May 1664 and later experienced a vision of Christ bleeding on the village cross.
During the apparitions, the Blessed Mother asked for a church and a house for priests to be built, with the intension of drawing people to greater conversion, especially through the sacrament of penance. The holy site now draws 120,000 pilgrims annually. Numerous physical healings have also been associated with the site, especially when oil from a lamp is applied on the wounds according to the directives the Virgin Mary gave to Rencurel.
At the Shrine in Laus, Benoite Rencurel is said to have had the gift of reading hearts and many people came to ask her advice, so much so that she had to attend mass through a small window in the gallery of the Church to escape the crowds who sought to overwhelm her. She claimed to receive visions of Jesus in His passion from 1669 to 1679. She died on Christmas Day 1718.
The very modern message of Benoite, Bishop di Falco stated, is "to live heart to heart with God in prayer, enter deeper into conversion where we are reconciled with ourselves, with others and with God, and live your mission where your life is, in everyday community and joy."
- "Church Approves French Marian Shrine", Zenit, May 15, 2008
- Dom Antoine Marie osb. Abbey of Saint-Joseph de Clairval, 21 July 2003
- "Our Lady of Laus", Catholic Tradition
- "Church recognizes 17th-century Marian apparitions in France", Catholic News Service, May 6, 2008
- Mann, Stephanie A. "Who Is Our Lady of Laus?", Our Sunday Visitor, March 28, 2014
- Wooden, Cindy,"Pope advances sainthood causes of 11, including Italian nun", Catholic News Service, April 3, 2009
- Sanctuary of Laus — Official Website
- Forgotten Heritage, Episode 4, "Laus, France: Sacrament of Penance"