In 1876, Pellevoisen, a town in central France, became the site of an apparition of the Virgin Mary and an accompanying spectacular healing of Constance Estelle Faguette. Faguette had been ill for several years. She was wasting away with tuberculosis (at the time an incurable disease) and related complications and had finally reached a point that she could not retain any food. She was given the last rites and a grave was being prepared. She had been the sole means of support for her aging parents and her death threatened to reduce them to beggars.As her illness had taken its toll, she had composed a letter to the Virgin and placed it under the statue of Mary at the local church.
On the evening of February 14, as friends kept a death watch, Faguette awoke to a strange sight at the foot of her bed. A demon-like figure appeared and then the Virgin. She banished the demon and told the dying young woman not to fear. She would suffer for five more days and then be healed. The Virgin returned each evening to assure her. When she told her friends and neighbors about the apparitions, they assumed that it was the sickness talking, though many showed up on the fifth day to see what would occur. After taking Communion, Faguette announced her cure, got out of bed, put on her street clothes, and asked for food. She would live an additional 63 years.
Over the next year, Faguette had ten additional encounters with the Virgin, in one of which she was shown what is known as the red scapular, a square of red cloth with the picture of a heart pierced with a lance and surrounded by thorns. Over the next century, it would be a new item in the church's depository of pious practices. In the last apparition, Faguette was told to make the spread of the scapular her mission in life.
Following a study of the apparitions, the local bishop reported favorably, but sent the results to the Vatican asking the pope's blessing. Given a positive response, the bishop organized the Confraternity of Our Lady of Pellevoisen. The regular holding of services at Pellevoisen was only a matter of time, and soon a regular stream of pilgrims began to appear. It has also been added to the short list of approved Marian apparitions.
Beaumont, Barbara. Pellvoisen: Our Lady Reveals the Devotion to the Sacred Heart Scapular. Chulmleugh, Devon, UK: Augustine Publishing House, 1986.
Sharkey, Don. The Woman Shall Conquer. Kenosha, Wis.: Franciscan Marytown Press, 1976.