The Apparition Chapel at Paris has a website which can be viewed in English, Español, Francias, Italiano, or Portugués. We suggest, when you have the time, view the website ... and enjoy!
"Is this indeed the Chapel of the rue du Bac?" How to guess that the very unremarkable entrance of 140 and its narrow passageway lead to a sanctuary welcoming each year two million pilgrims? Why are they coming in increasing numbers? Pilgrims of all ages, circumstances, races, in an unremitting tide, increasing in size, stop each day in this place for a period of peaceful contemplation, to participate in a Mass, or simply to pray in silence. At the foot of the altar are found as well as the mother of a family the young West Indian, the businessman as well as the nun, the elderly lady in her wheel-chair, the unemployed young man, the Tamil family... The majority of the pilgrims who visit give to the sanctuary, therefore, common countenance, representative of the entire world. The prearranged assemblage of youths of all persuasions, of retreatants, the ill, of movements and services within the Church following each other all year long.
They come from France, Belgium, Great Britain, but also from Canada, Poland ... On entering the Chapel, the pilgrims are astonished by its unusual effulgence, its fresco and brightly colored mosaics, and, above all, by an undoubted atmosphere of tranquility. The statue of Saint Vincent de Paul and the reliquary of Saint Louise de Marillac, Founders of the Daughters of Charity, recall to mind also that this Chapel is that of the Motherhouse of their Community. But why has this Chapel in the heart of Paris become a principal spiritual place welcoming nearly two million people each year? It is because in 1830, as the Immaculate Conception, Mary appeared there to Catherine Labouré, a young Sister of Saint Vincent de Paul.
"Come to the foot of this altar," "pray," "entreat," "wear the Medal" ... these words spoken by Mary at the time of her three apparitions to Catherine are addressed to all the people of God. At the rue du Bac, Mary, full of grace, welcomes everyone, arms outstretched, radiating the wisdom of "God' Love." This light, shed abundantly, illuminates each one and bestows the grace to enter with Mary and Catherine into the joy of experiencing God. In this Chapel millions of pilgrims are united heart to heart in prayer. Mary leads them into a true colloquy.
Like Catherine, each one can lay down at the foot of the altar the burden often too heavy to bear: loneliness, sufferings, accumulated problems. Near their Mother, seated, kneeling, arms crossed, alone or in a group, all express their anxieties and problems. They are certain that Mary takes an interest in their life as she had been concerned about the life and crosses of Catherine. Mary, Mother of mankind, abandons no one, and she sets up in each the overtures to the neighbor as different as might be by age, health, social condition, language, and race. Here some find again the pathway composed of prayer, the Holy Eucharist, reconciliation, brotherhood by discovering the gentleness, tenderness, the patience of God, His maternal affection. The Chapel of the rue du Bac has become, little by little, a place of prayer, pilgrimage, and a pastoral center which is concerned to place the specific message of Mary within biblical and eccelesial tradition.
Translated from the French by Rev. John W. Carven, C.M.