In the House of the Redemptorist Missionaries in Pagani, in Piazza S. Alfonso 1, on Saturday, 10 December 2022, at 10 a.m., the Archives of the Neapolitan Redemptorist Province will present an unpublished work by Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), one of the greatest Catholic philosophers of the 20th century, author of more than 60 books, and whose thought inspired Pope Paul VI.
The book, entitled “La Salette”, was edited and commented on by Fr Michel Corteville, the priest to whom we owe the discovery of the manuscript kept for over a hundred years in the Vatican secret archives, together with the original of the secret confided by the Virgin to Melanie Calvat. H.E. Mario Paciello, Bishop Emeritus of Altamura, wrote the afterword.
Maritain, firmly convinced of the truthfulness of the apparition and the secret revealed to the shepherdess, wrote this work in defence of the Marian de La Salette. Received by Pope Benedict XV in 1918, he presented his writing to him, receiving in return the advice to refrain from publishing it. In 1947, Maritain, then ambassador of France to the Holy See, entrusted it to the Holy Office at Pius XII’s request.
In 2021, Pope Francis authorised access to the documents concerning the period of the Pacellian pontificate. So it was that Fr Corteville, who had already had access to the secret document entrusted to Melanie, found the 496 typewritten pages.
As Fr Giuseppe Abba s.d.b. wrote, Maritain’s work is so extraordinary that ‘the reader who finds himself holding this book in his hand and reading it carefully can rightly feel that he has received a gift from Heaven’.
Don Corteville, in the book’s prologue, uses words, which in their crudeness, strike the soul of believers. In concluding his reflections, he manages to link the depictions on Melanie’s clothing, found in the Redemptorist archives, to certain facts described in Maritain’s Mémoire.
At the same time, in the halls of the convent, oozing with Redemptorist history, some of the very precious garments belonging to Melanie Calvat, the shepherdess to whom, together with Maximin Giraud, the Immaculate Virgin appeared on 19 September 1846, in the mountains of La Salette in France.
After the apparition, Melanie wandered all over Europe. In 1867 she arrived in Castellammare di Stabia, Campania. She was welcomed by Bishop Vincenzo Petagna and resided there for seventeen years.
Her confessors were some Redemptorist fathers, Alfonso Fusco (1833-1916) and Vincenzo Venditti (1819-1898), which explains why the precious artefacts were kept in the Redemptorist provincial archives in Pagani.
Various figures and burns appear on the garments, the origin and nature of which is still to be studied, but the Redemptorist historian Salvatore Schiavone (1871-1941) is not afraid to state in his manuscripts that they are burnt shirts with the image of the Souls in Purgatory.
At the conclusion of his prologue, Cortevilles writes: “La Salette is a mystery of infinite but demanding love. It is, therefore, a powerful call to conversion that Christians must witness to all. After Melanie and Maximin, Maritain’s posthumous work stimulates us for this urgent and fruitful mission; let us discover it with him”.