On January 17, 1871, in the darkest hour of the War of 1870, Our Lady of Hope appeared in the French village of Pontmain. In a barn in the middle of town, two boys, Eugene and Joseph Barbedette, were helping their father feed the horses. Taking a break, Eugene left the barn and saw in the sky a “Lady” dressed in a dark-blue robe sprinkled with stars. She lowered her hands in a gesture of welcome and smiled at him. His brother could also see the Lady but their father and mother could not, and called them in to supper, dismissing the apparition as nothing. After their meal the boys could still see the beautiful Lady, and a call was made to the Sisters of the school. They also could see nothing, but two little girls with them described in detail the star-studded blue robe, the dark veil, and the crown of gold.
The town began to gather around the boys and Father Guerin, Pastor of Pontmain for 35 years, arrived to conduct a prayer vigil in the snow. While the townspeople were praying, the apparition grew and became covered with and surrounded by stars. A large blue oval with four attached candles enclosed it. As the Rosary was read, the Lady became even more beautiful and increased in size as the prayer continued. The stars surrounding the apparition arranged themselves two by two at the foot of the Lady, and those which spangled her robe multiplied and the dark blue of the robe brightened.
After reciting the rosary, the people sang the Magnificat. A white banner then appeared on which letters of gold slowly appeared. The two boys deciphered the message awhich read “Pray, my children, god will answer before long. My Son lets himself be moved.”
The message produced a strong emotional reaction in the crowd. After a momentary silence the Pastor led them in the singing of the hymn “Mother of Hope”. At the end of the singing the banner disappeared. With the singing of the next hymn, “Gentle Jesus, Pardon Now Our Penitent Hearts”, the Lady saddened. A large red crucifix appeared, surmounted by a placard bearing in beautiful red letters the name “JESUS CHRIST”. The Virgin presented the crucifix to the children. Some moments later the red crucifix disappeared and a white cross appeared on each of her shoulders. As people knelt in the snow, a white veil appeared at the feet of the Virgin , slowly enshrouded her, and lifted her up. The apparition vanished when the evening prayer finished.
In this clear manifestation the Mother of God revealed herself as the “Madonna of the Crucifix” and gave the world her message of “Hope through Prayer and the Cross”.