The Marian Minute – Our Lady of Happy Meetings

This apparition consists of a happy meeting of two saints and a 17 year-old shepherdess Benoite (Benedicta) Rencurel. This took place in a little village of St Etienne d’Avancon in France at the foot of the Alps. The first saint Benedicta met was the 3rd century martyr St. Maurice who warned Benedicta about the villagers’ envy for her flock and encouraged her to go down to a Grotto. There Benedicta encountered a second saint: the Virgin Mary, who appeared holding her infant Son. Benedicta did not know who it was, but still extended charity and offered her bread to the Lady. Although the Lady did not accept her request, she showed great kindness to Benedicta and met with her daily for several months. On August 29, she told Benedicta that her name was Mary.
Mary directed Benedicta to the nearby valley of Laus where she found an old chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Bon Rencontre (translated as Our Lady of Happy Meetings or Good Encounter) that was in bad shape. She told Benedicta that she wanted it to be rebuilt into a place of Eucharistic adoration for the conversion of sinners. Furthermore, she wanted a house to be established where priests could reside and minister to the sinners who would come seeking healing and reconciliation with God. That healing came in the form of spiritual healing, but also miracles of physical healing. It was ultimately a miracle of physical healing that convinced the Vicar General of the authenticity of the apparitions.
Our Lady continued appearing at the chapel until 1718. Benedicta was a poor girl who had lost her father at age 7 and had been tending sheep since age 12. With our Lady’s personal attention, however, and obedience to the mission she was given, Benedicta grew in holiness. She was declared Venerable in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI, just one year after the apparitions were officially approved by the Holy See. We learn from this Happy Meeting of several saints, how much attention God invests in a small, remote village, in order to bring renewal and holiness to His beloved children.