Venerable Benoîte Rencurel (29 September 1647– 28 December 1718) was originally from Saint-Étienne-le-Laus, France. She experienced apparitions from the Virgin Mary in the Avance River valley beginning from 1664, which lasted through her death in 1718.
The apparitions became known as Our Lady of Laus, and the sites of the apparitions receive over 100,000 pilgrims who visit them each year.
On 4 May 2008, Bishop Jean-Michel di Falco Léandri of the Diocese of Gap and Embrun, officially recognized the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Benoîte Rencurel and urged the faithful to come to the sanctuary of Laus in the Hautes-Alpes, France.
Historical Context – End of the Wars of Religion
The apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Laus renewed the Catholic Faith among a people who had experienced generations of violent religious struggles. Laus was the first “modern” apparition of Our Lady in Europe.
Benoîte Rencurel lived during the relative peace following the end of the “Thirty Years War” between Catholics and Protestants. Following the Protestant Reformation in 1517, most of Europe was at war for generations over religion. In 1648, shortly after Benoîte’s birth, the wars of religion ended in Europe through the Peace of Westphalila.
Our Lady appeared in France as the country began to shine throughout Europe during France’s “Great Century” of increasing power, prestige and influence. This was also the period of Louis XIV’s reign as the “Sun King” at Versailles. Coincidentally, the initial expansion of the château of Versailles began in 1664, the same year that the apparitions of Our Lady began in the Valley of the Kilns.
Benoîte Rencurel was born on 29 September 1647 (a document in Marseilles gives her date of birth as 26 September 1647), in the little town of Saint-Étienne d’Avançon (renamed in 1913 as Saint-Étienne-le-Laus), on the south banks of the Avance River, in the southern French Alps.
In English, “Benoîte” means “Blessed.” In official Church documents, Benoîte is usually called by the Latin version of her name, “Benedicta”, although she never used that name.
Her parents, Guillaume Rencurel and Catherine Matheron, were simple people who owned only a few parcels of land and lived modestly from the works of their hands. Benoîte was the middle child, and had 2 sisters, Madeline and Marie.
In March 1649, when Benoîte was 18 months old, she was found with her head so firmly lodged in the small-animal hatch of a stable door that she was in danger of suffocation. She was safely removed in time only by dismantling the old door. This event was recorded in the notarial acts of Mr. Aubert of Saint-Etienne.
There was no school in Saint-Etienne d’Avançon, so Benoîte never learned to read or write. Her sole lessons were being taught her prayers by her family.
Benoîte’s father died when she was 7 years old. For the widow and her daughters, his death would lead to miserable poverty when even the few goods in their house were taken by the father’s family.
Benoîte’s childhood home remains in Saint-Etienne. Following a devastating fire in Saint-Etienne, it was re-built in 1850 by Bishop Jean-Irénée Depéry of Gap. It was further totally restored in 2015. The commune of Saint-Etienne, which owns the building, currently operates the home as a museum.
At age 11, at the spring of Font-Claire, mid-way between Saint-Etienne and Chausses-Noires, two men driving mules encountered Benoîte tending the family flock. These men intended to assault her. Presciently able to see their evil intentions, Benoîte fled into the marsh near the Avance River, which at that season was deep enough to drown her. The men followed her, but began to sink into the marsh, while she was able to escape across it. This episode is captured in the Tableau 2 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
At the age of 12, Benoîte found work as a shepherdess to support her family working for a master named Mr. Jullien. Upon departure from her home, she asked her mother only for a Rosary. The next year, she began to tend the flocks for Louis (and after Louis’ death, the Widow) Astier, and for a man named Jean Rolland, who had a renown bad temper. When Benoîte received her pay of 1 piece of bread per day from the Widow Astier, because of the famine at that time in the countryside of the Dauphiné, Benoîte secretly gave the bread to the six Astier children, and she ate only every other week when working for Mr. Rolland. This fact is captured in Tableau 1 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
She remained working as a shepherdess until just after her 17th birthday, which contributed to her eventual unofficial title, the “Shepherdess of Laus”.
Enticement to See the Mother of Mercy
One Sunday, Benoîte’s parish priest, Rev. Jean Fraisse, eloquent preached to his parish about the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary, showing the people the many ways that Her indescribable kindness merited for Her the title of “Mother of Mercy.” “She is all good, all merciful, all compassionate towards poor sinners! How could she not be our mediator? The little lamb lost in the middle of a herd calls its mother by plaintive bleating, and runs to her when it hears her voice.” Hearing those words, Benoîte formed a secret desire in her heart to meet the Blessed Virgin.
Encounter with Saint Maurice (April / May 1664)
At the end of April or early May, 1664, while she was tending her flocks, Saint Maurice appeared to Benoîte on the eponymously named Mont-Saint-Maurice, located just to the west of Saint-Etienne d’Avançon. Saint Maurice told Benoîte that the next day she should “go into the valley which is above Saint-Etienne, where you will see the Good Mother of God.” The locals called the designated place the “Valley of the Kilns” because they fired plaster there. This encounter is captured in Tableau 3 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
Encounters at the Valley of the Kilns (May – August 1664)
The following day, Benoîte took the flock into the Valley of the Kilns, a valley that lies on the mountain above Saint-Etienne d’Avançon. As soon as Benoîte arrived, she saw a “Beautiful Lady” in one of the grottos located there, carrying a “child of extraordinary beauty”. Benoîte greeted her by asking: “Beautiful Lady, what are you doing here? Do you want to buy some plaster?” Benoîte offered to share her meal with the Beautiful Lady. The Beautiful Lady remained silent throughout. This initial encounter is captured in Tableau 4 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
From May through 29 September 1664, the Beautiful Lady appeared daily to Benoîte in the grotto. After 2 months, the Beautiful Lady began to speak to Benoîte, teaching her prayers and forming her conscience towards detachment and patience. Benoîte generally remained at the grotto from dawn to dusk each day. The flock grazed on the arid land in the Valley of the Kilns and yet became fatter than any other flock in the village. Sometimes, the Beautiful Lady would watch the flocks and sent Benoîte to pray in the church in Saint-Etienne. As the summer unfolded, the people of Saint-Etienne were alerted to these happenings. Benoîte asked the curé, Rev. Fraisse, for permission to teach the Litanies of the Blessed Virgin (which the Beautiful Lady had taught Benoîte) to the girls of Saint-Etienne in the church in the evenings, which Rev. Fraisse granted.
At the beginning of August 1664, having heard of the apparitions, François Grimaud, a judge of Avançon, went to Laus to interrogate Benoîte. He told Benoîte to ask the Beautiful Lady whether she was the Mother of God and if she wanted a church built there. When Benoîte asked the questions, the Beautiful Lady did not answer the first, but responded to the second that she had “chosen a much more pleasant place” for the church. On 28 August 1664, the Beautiful Lady told Benoîte to request permission Rev. Fraisse to have the girls of Saint-Etienne come in procession the next day to the Grotto of the Kilns, singing the Litanies of the Blessed Virgin.
On 29 August 1664, the girls of the parish of Saint-Etienne, accompanied by the curé, Rev. Fraisse, Judge Grimaud, and the men, women and other children of Saint-Etienne, went in procession to the grotto as requested. Benoîte stood at the grotto and the Beautiful Lady told her: “I am Mary, Mother of Jesus. You will not see me again here, nor for some time.”
For the next month, the Beautiful Lady did not appear to Benoîte at all. Eventually, Benoîte stopped going to the grotto in the Valley of the Kilns and began to pasture her sheep in other fields.
Encounter at Pindreau (September 1664)
On the morning of 29 September 1664, Benoîte’s 17th birthday, as Benoîte was walking her flock along the southern bank of the Avance River, she saw a bright aura of light on the opposite side of the Avance River. It was Our Lady, who appeared to Benoîte at Pindreau, on the northern banks of the river. Benoîte scrambled to meet her, riding her large goat across the Avance River. In the brief conversation, Our Lady told Benoîte to go to Laus, which was located higher on the same side of the mountain. There, Benoîte would find a small chapel by following the smell of sweet perfumes. Our Lady told Benoîte that they would meet again at that chapel. “There you will speak to me and see me very frequently.” This encounter is captured in Tableau 5 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
Encounters at the Chapel of Good Encounter at Laus (September 1664-December 1718)
After searching for most of that day, Benoîte finally found the Chapel of Good Encounter at Laus, then a run-down hut, which was emanating a strongly perfumed smell. Inside, Our Lady was waiting for her on the dusty altar, and Benoîte offered her apron to clean the spot. During the length of an extended conversation, the Blessed Virgin shared Her plans for the place. “I asked My Son for Laus, and He granted it to Me,” the Blessed Virgin told her, also telling Benoîte that She wished a church to be built there. When Benoîte noted the destitution of the Chapel, and the poverty of the locals, the Blessed Virgin replied simply: “in a short time nothing will be missing from here . . . I want to have built in this place a great church with a building for a few resident priests. . . .Many sinners, men and women, will convert here. It will be the length and width as necessary and as I want it. You will see me here very frequently.” When Benoîte again protested that there was no money for these plans, the Mother of God responded: “Do not worry, when it will be necessary to build, we will find everything necessary. . . The copper coins of the poor will provide everything, nothing will be lacking.” This initial encounter is captured in Tableau 6 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
Through the fall and winter of 1664-1665, Benoîte and the girls of Saint-Etienne made daily trips to the Chapel of Good Encounter to speak with the Blessed Virgin. During this time, Benoîte began to refer to the Mother of God as her “Good Mother”, a term still widely used at Laus. The news that the Mother of God was continuing to appear to Benoîte Rencurel, at Laus, soon spread throughout the area.
Benoite’s Ministry at Laus (1665-1718)
In early 1665, with winter over, many parishes began to come to Laus in procession. On 19 March 1665, the first large congregation of pilgrims came to Laus to celebrate Saint Joseph Day. The Feast of the Annunciation, 25 March, also witnessed a large congregation come to Laus. In April 1665, Benoîte welcomed a congregation from the parish of Lazer (located a distance of 40 kilometers from Laus). Among these pilgrims, a man with “totally ruined” feet who had made the long journey on crutches suddenly found himself cured. Numerous other spiritual healings and miracles were recorded as occurring at Laus during this time, including 6 miracles on 15 August 1665 and the miraculous cure of Catherine Vial on 18 September 1665. An example of these healings is captured in Tableau 7 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
For the first few years of the pilgrimage, Benoîte continued to live in Saint-Etienne and walk the 2 miles each way (including crossing the Avance River) each day to get to Laus, in order to minister to the pilgrims who came there.
Every day she was in Laus ministering to the pilgrims, where she used her spiritual gifts (described below) to help people encounter their innate, real and urgent desire to be fully reconciled with God. Often, she would guide the pilgrims to the door of the confessional. Her ministry to pilgrims is captured in Tableau 8 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus. Because she led the people towards God, she was nicknamed the “Shepherdess of Laus”.
Guided by her confessor and spiritual director, Rev. Pierre Gaillard, the Vicar-General of Gap, in October 1666, at the time the cornerstone was laid for the permanent Church at Laus, she became a Third Order Dominican as part of her ministry to the pilgrims of Laus.
In 1673 or 1674, Benoîte took up permanent residence at Laus. Except for her 1-month involuntary exile in 1692, she remained the rest of her life in and around Laus.
On 4 December 1678, the Good Mother appeared to Benoîte accompanied by Saint Barbara and Saint Catherine of Sienna, one of whom wore a crown of flowers and the other a crown of thorns. “My daughter,” said the Good Mother, “if you would like to wear a crown in Heaven, you must wear a crown of thorns on earth.” This episode is captured in Tableau 9 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Lauss.
Church Investigations and Approvals of Benoîte Rencurel’s Activities and the Devotion at Laus (1665, 1669 and 1671)
The first inquest of Laus was conducted by Rev. Antoine Lambert, the Vicar-General of Embrun, who came to Laus in September 1665. After witnessing the miraculous cure of Catherine Vial on 18 September 1665, Rev. Lambert gave Diocesan approval to Benoîte’s actions and the events at Laus. He also authorized the Church to be built at Laus.
The second investigation was conducted by Rev. Jean Javelli, the successor to Rev. Lambert, in 1669, when he summoned Benoîte Rencurel to the episcopal palace in Embrun and retained her there for a fortnight. While held a virtual prisoner for 2 weeks, Benoîte endured nearly-constant questioning and unbroken observation (including having a female servant constantly accompanying, and spying, on her). At the end of this period, the authorities noticed that Benoîte had neither eaten or drank anything the entire time. Faced with her spotless conduct and miraculous sustenance, Rev. Javelli also gave Diocesan approval to Benoîte’s actions and the events at Laus.
The third inquest was conducted by Archbishop Charles Brûlart de Genlis of Embrun, who came to Laus in 1671, as an outspoken sceptic. Nearly instantly upon his arrival at Laus, the Charms of Laus laid hold of him. After praying for 45 minutes, he announced that he had never been in a chapel as holy as the Chapel of Good Encounter. After one of the Archbishop’s domestic servants had a tragic fall that should have killed him – but remained totally unhurt – the Archbishop was convinced that he had just witnessed a miracle. Later that day, after questioning Benoîte for several hours, the Archbishop gave his approval to Benoîte’s actions and the devotion at Laus.
Benoite’s Mystical Crucifixions (1669-1684)
In July 1669, while working in a wheat field adjacent to the Chapel, Benoîte felt irresistibly drawn to the Cross of Avançon, following the sweetest aroma she ever sensed. Arriving there, she saw Jesus crucified upon the cross, covered in blood and with an expression of indescribable suffering. Angels attended Him in silent adoration at His feet. Benoîte was devastated at the sight of Her Savior suffering. Jesus told her: “I let you see me in this condition so that you can participate in the sorrows of My Passion.” This episode is captured in Tableau 10 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
That is exactly how she suffered, in an experience dubbed the “mystical crucifixions”. From Thursday evening around 4:00 PM through Saturday morning around 9:00 AM, Benoîte experienced the mystical crucifixions every week. She was immobile on her bed, body stretched out and rigid as an iron rod, arms outstretched, one foot upon the other, her fingers slightly bent but stiff and immobile. She did not have any wounds visible to most people, although she showed her confessor nail holes in her feet.
The mystical crucifixions were suspended, as her Good Mother told her, for approximately 2 years while the residence for the priests at Laus was being built (1672-1674), to allow Benoîte to feed and care for the workers who had come to Laus.
In November 1674, following the completion of the priests’ residence, Benoîte was again irresistibly drawn to the Cross of Avançon by the sweetest smell. There, she again saw Jesus crucified, and in an even more miserable condition than before. Benoîte was emotionally devastated for 6 months from that vision. And, following that vision, Benoîte’s mystical crucifixions resumed, even more painfully than before. They now started at noon on Thursdays and lasted until noon on Saturdays.
When Bishop de Genlis of Embrun traveled to Laus in 1684 to try to cure Benoîte of these symptoms, believing she suffered from epilepsy, the Good Mother arranged that the mystical crucifixions should end. Learning the mystical crucifixions were to end, Benoîte begged her Good Mother to send her even more cruel, but hidden sufferings. Shortly thereafter, she began her long period of physical and spiritual battle with the Demon.
Spiritual and Physical Battles with the Demon (1670, 1684/9 – 1717/8)
By that time, Benoîte had already had a taste of the immense struggles in battling the Demon. In July 1670, the Demon had started the physical and spiritual battles, when the Demon held Benoîte as his prisoner, on her back in a wheat field adjacent to the Chapel for two continuous weeks, hidden among the tall blades. The Demon was trying to kill her by totally depriving her of food, water and sleep, and torturing her soul. He prevented her from speaking or making any movements, so no one could detect her presence there. She was near to death when Rev. Barthélémy Hermitte accidentally discovered her in the wheat field and rushed to perform an exorcism, which caused the Demon to lose his grip on her. She was nearly dead from the struggle, and spent several weeks recuperating. A year after this incident, Benoîte began the mystical crucifixions. It is possible that she may have been working in the same wheat field the following July when she was attracted to the Cross of Avançon.
Starting between 1684 (after the end of the mystical crucifixions) and 1689, and lasting for approximately 20 to 30 years, Benoîte engaged the Demon in nearly-constant spiritual and physical battle. The exact dates of the spiritual combat are a mostly a mystery because Benoîte, in her humility, did not widely disclose the details of the events. However, we have some details because Benoîte’s mother (who for some years slept in the same house as her), heard, on at least one occasion, a “fierce and formidable voice” from Benoîte’s bed chamber that almost caused her to die from fright. The next day Benoîte’s mother alerted Benoîte’s spiritual director, who extracted some details from Benoîte.
It appears that the Demon physically attacked Benoîte repeatedly, often holding her a prisoner and torturing her. Often, the Demon would attack in the night, beating her mercilessly in her bedchamber. On other occasions, the Demon would carry her off into the wilds of the French Alps – often in the cold of winter, dressed in her bedclothes – to leave her in savage conditions and poor weather to fend for herself.
During one point in 1689, in revenge for helping a possessed man confess and become healed, the Demon physically seized Benoîte, carried her high in the air and dropped her from the top of a tall mountain. The trip down the mountainside almost killed her, but she was consoled when she heard her Good Mother’s voice tell her: “Courage, My daughter!” On 16 September 1701, the Demon again seized Benoîte and carried her to “the Rock” (the steepest point of the rocks that separated Laus from la Bâtie-Vieille, also known as the “Eagle’s Nest”) to physically abuse her. The Demon left her there, hanging precariously between Heaven and earth. Chroniclers guessed that her Guardian Angel rescued her eventually. After she was released in the middle of that very dark night, an Angel illuminated the surrounding mountains with a huge torch to help guide her way home. The Angel also taught Benoîte what she must do to heal her physical wounds.
Diabolically, as Benoîte described, some of the worst portion of this torture was due to the fact that the Demon usually started his attacks without any warning signs – often when she had just fallen asleep — severely frightening Benoîte at the onset of each episode.
It appears that these Demonic attacks occurred for much of the rest of her life. On Pentecost in 1717 or 1718 (the year is not certain), Benoîte received a 4-hour long beating from the Demon that irreversibly caused a marked decline in her health, leading to her eventual mortal sickness and death.
Exile to Marseilles (August 1692)
On 2 August 1692, the troops of the Duke of Savoy invaded the Dauphiné. Having been warned by her Guardian Angel a month in advance, Benoîte and the priests and others at Laus made a timely escape carrying most of the treasures of the Sanctuary for safekeeping. The Savoy troops occupied Laus, looted the few remaining treasures (including the Church bell) and burned the house where the priests lived, but they did not significantly damage the Church or Chapel. Benoîte and her companions spent the month in Marseilles, where she visited many religious houses to encourage zeal among the nuns and priests. After the Savoy troops withfrew at the end of August, Benoîte and her companions returned to Laus to rebuild.
Benoîte’s Unofficial Suppression / Eclipse of Laus (1693 – 1712)
About a year after the exile to Marseilles and just after the time that Rev. Barthélémy Hermitte died (likely in August 1693), Bishop de Genlis appointed replacements priests to Laus who held a special affinity for Jansenism, a version of predestination which denied that confession could reconcile and save souls; this belief was exactly contrary to the Devotion at Laus, the Throne of the Refuge of Sinners. As such, these priests rejected the notion of reconciliation inherent to the mission of the Sanctuary. Priests with these Jansenist sympathies, and active antagonism against Benoîte and the Devotion, remained at Laus until 1712, the period called the “Eclipse of Laus.”
Although she was not officially suppressed, due to her obedience to orders of the priests at Laus, she was effectively banned from her public ministry. During the Eclipse of Laus, these priests refused to confess Benoîte, to allow her to take Communion or to enter the Church except on Sundays during Mass. They also forbid Benoîte from speaking to any pilgrims (and for about 4 months at one point from speaking to any visiting priests). To end the Devotion at Laus, these priests also actively plotted to kidnap Benoîte and cloister her against her will far from Laus. To those pilgrims who asked about Benoîte when she was absent due to being barred from talking to the pilgrims, these priests openly scorned her as a “dreamer” and “crackpot.” These Jansenist priests also actively discouraged pilgrims from coming to Laus, refused to confess some pilgrims and were overly rigorous in the confessions of others, driving some pilgrims to despair. These priests told the people to call the Mother of God by the name “our Sister.”
If you consider that the Demon was also attacking her during this time, combined with this unofficial suppression, you can imagine that this was a very dark period of Benoîte Rencurel’s life.
Despite these temporal sufferings, during the Eclipse of Laus, Benoîte experienced several mystical consolations. On 15 August 1698, her Good Mother took her on an extended tour of Heaven. This event is captured in Tableau 12 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus, Twice during her suppression, the Angels appeared to Benoîte to give her Communion: on 2 August 1700, the feast of Our Lady of the Angels and of the Portioncule, two Angels gave Communion to Benoîte. Also, on 16 December 1705, the feast of Saint Adelaide (apparently Benoîte’s patron saint), the Angels again gave Communion to Benoîte. The Angels communing Benoîte is captured in Tableau 11 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
On 8 September 1712, Archbishop de Genlis of Embrun appointed the priests of the Missionaries of the Holy Guard to the care of Laus, replacing the Diocesan priest (with their Jansenist tendencies), thereby ending the Eclipse of Laus and Benoîte’s unofficial suppression. For the next six years until her death, Benoîte ministered again to the pilgrims who came to Laus.
Benoîte’s Death (28 December 1718)
On 28 December 1718, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Benoîte Rencurel died at Laus in the odor of sanctity. This event is captured in Tableau 13 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus. She was buried inside the Church at Laus, at the foot of the Chapel of Good Encounter.
Papal Acknowledgements of Benoîte’s Activities and the Events at Laus (1667, 1854, 1892, 2008)
In addition to the 3 inquests in the 17th century by the Bishops of Embrun, the following approvals also occurred.
Between April and December of the year 1667, Rev. Pierre Gaillard, the Vicar-General of Gap, traveled to Rome and discussed the events at Laus with Pope Clement IX. The Pope received Rev. Gaillard, acknowledged favorably the events at Laus and granted numerous indulgences towards the Sanctuary at Laus.
On 6 April 1854, Pope Pius IX authorized the statue of Our Lady of Laus to be crowned, and also granted certain indulgences towards Laus. On 23 May 1855, Bishop Jean-Irénée Depéry of Gap performed the coronation. This event is captured in Tableau 14 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
On 18 March 1892, Pope Leo XIII elevated the Church at Laus to the rank of Minor Basilica.
On 4 May 2008, at a Mass celebrated with the Apostolic Nuncio of France, Bishop Fortunato Baldelli, several other Bishops and Cardinals, Bishop Jean-Michel di Falco Léandri, Bishop of Gap and Embrun, published the decree that recognized as supernatural of the events at Laus with the words: “. . . I recognize the supernatural origin of the events lived and related by Benoîte Rencurel that took place between 1664 and 1718. I encourage the faithful to come to pray and to seek spiritual renewal at this Sanctuary.” This event is captured in the “unofficial” Tableau 15 in the Basilica of Our Lady of Laus.
Unique Charismas of Laus
- The Oil of Laus. The Blessed Virgin told Benoîte Rencurel that those who, with faith, anoint their bodies with oil from the lamp that burns in Chapel, would be healed. The oil from the Sanctuary lamp is known as a “divine pharmacy”. A little of its oil has been shown to provide an effective remedy against a wide range of human infirmities. There is only one condition required for the oil to heal: itmust be applied with the faith that moves mountains.
- The Sweet Aromas of Laus.
- The Ease of Confessions at Laus.
Benoîte’s Spiritual Gifts
- Reading Consciences: Benoîte had the ability to see the condition of a person’s conscience. She was able to see all of the sins a person had committed. Some persons would ask her to examine their conscience to help them determine if there were any unforgotten sins to confess. Others had their conscience involuntarily read, to help spur them to conversion. Once she was asked how she could read the conscience of people, and Benoîte responded: “I see inside a conscience like one sees in looking in a mirror – everything at once.”
- Smelling sinfulness on a soul: Often, Benoîte would be able to tell by smell if someone’s soul was in a state of unconfessed mortal sin.
- Communing with the Angels: Benoîte was privileged to see and speak frequently with her Guardian Angel, and other Angels also. Often these Angels would bring her messages from her Good Mother.
- Helping Sinners Reconcile with God: Benoîte’s charisma included the ability to help people acknowledge their desire to fully reconcile their lives with God.
Benoîte’s Cause for Sainthood (1864 – Present)
In 1864, Bishop Victor-Felix Bernadou of Gap opened Benoîte Rencurel’s cause for Sainthood. On 7 September 1871, Pope Pius IX authorized the process to continue, and bestowed upon her the title “Servant of God”. During the upheaval of the Third Republic in France, the Bishops of Gap failed to pursue the canonization process. In early 1890, Bishop Prosper-Amable Berthet of Gap re-initiated the canonization process, which was re-approved by Pope Leo XIII on 17 August 1894.
On 29 May 1913, Benoîte’s canonization process was suspended by Pope Pius X because the file did not contain enough contemporary testimony about Benoîte Rencurel. On 31 July 1981, Pope John Paul II lifted the suspension on the canonization process of Benoîte Rencurel.
On 3 April 2009, Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of Benoîte Rencurel and authorized her to be called “Venerable”.
In February 2011, Bishop Jean-Michel di Falco Léandri of the Diocese of Gap and Embrun, met with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome who informed him that only one item remained for canonization: the recognition of an unexplained cure obtained miraculously by the intercession of Benoîte Rencurel.
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