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Notre-Dame-de-Celles (Celles, Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées, France)

Commemorated on Third Sunday of July, May 28
Notre-Dame-de-Celles (Celles, Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées, France)
n 1686, a curious happening shook up the village of Celles in the region of Ariege, near Foix: four women violently beat a priest. The priest took the case to court and obtained justice. On May 28, 1686, between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, a young peasant boy named John Courdil was coming back from the fields reciting the rosary. He suddenly saw a white pigeon in front of him. As the bird got closer to the boy's farm, near a fountain, it changed into "a six or seven-year old girl dressed in white" (statement of July 21, 1686). In his second statement (July 28, 1686), John said that he first saw the pigeon "three times in front of him," then the girl just "five or six feet from him." John was afraid and he tried to flee. "Do not be afraid, my child," he heard a voice say, "I am the Holy Virgin." He knelt down, the apparition did the same. "Warn the people to change their lives and make eight processions so that the people convert. Otherwise, all is lost [...]. Continue to serve your father and your mother as you have always done."
 
The apparition added that the four women responsible for the public disorder must do penance. She asked John to leave his spade near the fountain where she assured him that the water would be good. When he came back to recuperate it, he would find a "sign" on the end of the handle. John ran quickly home to the farm and asked his brother and sister to go back and retrieve his spade. The youngsters found it "standing straight up with three cross-shaped oak leaves coming out of the top of the handle." The four women made reparation for their wrongs and people went in procession to the place of the miracle. In early July, the Virgin appeared a second time to John, in his bedroom. "You did what I asked you to do well, and the fountain will be good; the people have corrected themselves well," she told him. A commission of inquiry has identified twenty-eight cures from the water of the fountain. In October 1686, a second inquiry mentioned seven new cases. The chapel of Pla-Rouzaud was built by the poor villagers and blessed on September 8, 1695 by Monsignor de Verthamon. The renown of the shrine Our Lady of Celles spread widely and attracted believers from the entire region and even from Spain. The pilgrimage, which takes place to this day at the restored shrine on the third Sunday of July, is marked by evangelical simplicity and Marian humility.
 
Source: Dictionnaire des Apparitions, Laurentin, Fayard 2007

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