Throughout the centuries, the faithful have looked to Christ for hope in times of trouble and uncertainty. Christ offers hope to the hopeless, brings light to the darkness, and redeems a world that has been stained by sin. The Catholic tradition is full of accounts of how the Blessed Mother has helped bring the faithful to a deeper trust in Christ, urging them to remain steadfast and rely on His provision.
Today we reflect on the devotion of Our Lady of Hope, meditating on how the Blessed Mother encouraged the believers of Pontmain to have faith in God’s plans – and how that legacy continues to bring hope to believers around the world today.
The History of the Devotion of Our Lady of Hope
According to tradition, Mary appeared to six children in the village of Pontmain, France, on January 17, 1871, amidst the Franco-Prussian War. As Prussian troops approached the village, the Blessed Mother told the children and the townspeople to pray, assuring them that the conflict would end. Following her instruction, the townspeople and their pastor congregated at the site of the apparition and prayed. After three days, the Prussian troops withdrew, and within a week, the war came to an end. Every man from Pontmain who had enlisted came home safely.
In 1900, the shrine church in Pontmain was consecrated and entrusted to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Half a century later, the Oblates brought the devotion of Our Lady of Hope to the United States and established a similar shrine at their mission house at Lake Champlain, New York, in 1953.
Our Lady of Hope at the Basilica
Here at the Basilica, this Marian devotion is honored in the Chapel of Our Lady of Hope. Fashioned with Italian white Carrara and Fior de Pesco marble, it is ornamented with bronze sculptures of Mary and two angels. Carved into the façade of the altar are the words of Our Lady of Hope, “Pray my children.”
Prayer to Our Lady of Hope
O Mary, my Mother, I kneel before you with heavy heart. The burden of my sins oppresses me. The knowledge of my weakness discourages me. I am beset by fear and temptation of every sort. Yet I am so attached to the things of this world that instead of longing for Heaven I am filled with dread at the thought of death.
O Mother of Mercy, have pity on me in my distress. You are all-powerful with your Divine Son. He can refuse no request of your Immaculate Heart. Show yourself a true Mother to me by being my advocate before His throne. O Refuge of Sinners and Hope of the Hopeless, to whom shall I turn if not you?
Obtain for me, then, O Mother of Hope, the grace of true sorrow for my sins, the gift of perfect resignation to God’s Holy Will, and the courage to take up my cross and follow Jesus.
But above all I pray, O dearest Mother, that through your most powerful intercession, my heart may be filled with Holy Hope, so that in life’s darkest hour I may never fail to trust in God my Saviour, but by walking in the way of His commandments I may merit to be united with Him, and with you in the eternal joys of Heaven. Amen.
Basilica Guide and Tour Book, Dr. Geraldine Rohling
Light a Candle at the Basilica
In honor of Our Lady of Hope, we invite you to light a candle today at the Basilica. Vigil candles burn in the chapels throughout the Upper Church and lower crypt level of the National Shrine. Each candle represents the faith of the supplicants and their fervent prayers entrusted to the intercession of the Blessed Mother.