Monday, 7 November 2011

La Salette: a different view

Zero and I recently visited the shrine at La Salette. Photographs give the impression that the site of the shrine is larger than it actually is. It is located a 15 minutes twisting, climb up into the mountains, in the French Alps south of Grenoble. On the morning of our first full day, we prayed the events of the apparition by the statues that recall the events (the photograph is not mine, but taken from the page of photographs linked to above).

The second photograph (below) shows the view from outside the shrine on the morning of our return. The movement of the clouds across the front of the mountain facing the shrine made this a fascinating view to watch, with its change of mood accompanying the changes in the clouds. Believe it or not, a small aeroplane had landed and taken off again from the slope that you can see left-of-centre in the photograph, and just above the trees on the slope. The third photograph should enable you to see the sloping landing strip more clearly - look just above the sloping tree line at centre-right in the photograph. The main shoulder of hillside that you can see was, for one day of our stay, home to a flock of sheep and goats - and their shepherd who lived in a house hidden from view.

This fourth photograph (below) was taken in the side valley to the right, where you can see thin cloud along the right hand edge of the photograph above. Two things do not show up well on the photograph. Spread across the near hillside is a flock of some 100 or so sheep and goats - you can see them if you look closely. They had been brought up the valley from their sheepfold (see above) by the shepherd and his three dogs, and they continued on towards the upper left corner of the photograph to spend a day grazing on the upper most part of the mountain. The second thing that does not show up well is the sound of the alpine bells attached to the flock which, literally, filled this valley with a steady musical sound. It could have been a different century!

At the foot of the mountain, in the village of La Salette itself, there is a cemetery containing the graves of some Canadian pilgrims and aircrew. The Canadians were returning from a pilgrimage to Rome in November 1950 when their DC 4 aircraft crashed into a nearby mountain called L'Obiou (I think it might be the mountain hidden behind cloud in the second photograph above). Most of the pilgrims were older in years, and many were married couples. One can just see them having saved up for a once in a lifetime trip shortly after the end of the Second World War. The ages of the aircrew are noticeably younger.

The representation of the apparition at the entrance to the cemetery was made by students from a school in the Vosges region of France, using wreckage of the crashed aeroplane recovered from the mountain side. It was constructed to mark the 60th anniversary of the accident in 2010.

As you will see from my photographs, we were at La Salette at a most beautiful time for colours. I think we were able to see just about every possible colour of leaf as autumn seemed almost frozen at its most colourful.

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