“I am Mary, the Mother of my very dear Son,” Our Lady answered the teenage shepherdess who had asked her name. The day was Aug. 29, 1664. The place was outside Laus, a small village in France’s southern Alps. The girl’s name was Benôite Rencurel.
Earlier, in May — while praying her favorite prayer, the Rosary — she had been directed to the place by a heavenly visitor who identified himself as St. Maurice. The saint told her to go to “the valley above Saint-Étienne. That is where you will see the Mother of God.” Next day, Benôite did as directed and saw a woman with a child. The woman smiled at her. “Beautiful Lady!” Benôite called out. “What are you doing up there? Do you want to eat with me? I have some good bread which we can soften up at the fountain.” Thus began visions that would go on much of Benôite’s life.