I – A Missionary Family of Our Lady
The brothers and sisters of the Missionary Family of Our Lady are devoted to Our Lady of the Snow. Their devotion to Our Lady of the Snow began with the foundation at Annonay of the team of Our Lady of the Snow by Father Lucien-Marie Dorne in February 1944. His “team” was not yet a consecrated Community. They recruited several young girls who desired a new way of life without knowing where to carry out their projects. Our Father had a deep devotion to Our Lady of the Snow since his scouting days. He suggested the young girls consecrate themselves to Our Virgin Mary under the name of Our Lady of the Snow to let themselves be guided and taught by Her. The 16th of June 1945 Augusta Bernard became responsible for the team of Our Lady of the Snow. She encouraged the Father to take his responsibility as the founder of a new community. To obtain the conviction he was missing, Our Father participated in the end of year retreat in Châteauneuf-de-Galaure. He had the grace to pray and to exchange with Marthe Robin and he made the decision to create a new foundation during his night of prayer on the 31st of December 1945 which concluded the retreat. Named priest of Saint-Pierre-de-Colombier on the 11th of February 1949, he built the statue of Our Lady of the Snow erected and blessed by Monsignor Alfred Couderc, the 15th of December 1946. Since then, the feast of Our Lady of the Snow of our Missionary Family is celebrated at Saint-Pierre-de-Colombier on the Saturday or the Sunday at the time of the octave of the Immaculate Conception.
II - Our Lady of the Snow of Rome
Our Father liked to recall the tradition of” Our Lady of the Snow” of Rome. the dedication of the Basilica, Saint Major Mary, built on Esquiline ,in one of the seven hills of Rome, is celebrated, each year on the 5th of August . This day, in Rome, one does not speak about “dedication of Saint Major Mary” but the Feast of
“ Our Lady of the Snow” because of the existing Roman tradition:
God wanted a Basilica built in Rome in honour of the Mother of His Son. The Roman Patrician Giovanni and his wife, in the night from the 5th to the 6th of August 358, had a spiritual experience that deeply marked them. They understood (by a dream or an appearance) that the Holy Virgin asked them to build a church in her honour in a place, which would be indicated to them by a sign. Giovanni and his wife immediately went to meet the Pope Liberius and announced to him the request of the Holy Virgin. With the Pope, they sought and found the place indicated by the Holy Mary on the Esquiline hill . A miraculous snow marked the site of the future Basilica! In memory of this miraculous snow, the Holy Virgin was named under the title of Our Lady of the Snow! We can see in the chapel of Pauline the Basilica, above the altar, the representation of the scene, which shows the Pope Liberius certifying the miraculous snow and showing the site of the church. The church indicated by heaven in honour of Our Lady of the Snow was built, and after the Council of Ephesus (431)- which proclaimed Mary, Mother of God- this church was made bigger and decorated with magnificent mosaics. The Mother of God could be honoured in Rome in the first Basilica of the world in her honour, where her name: Basilica of blessed Major Mary. But we should not forget that this Basilica Major is also the Basilica of Our Lady of the Snow. Our Father prayed, and thought for a better understanding of God’s intention with the sign of the Snow: He understood that the immaculate whiteness and bright snow was the best symbol most adapted to signify the purity of the immaculate Heart of Mary: nothing is whiter than snow!
It is important to also underline that the devotion of Our Lady of the Snow is dependent, since the council Ephesus (431), on the devotion of Mary ”Mother of God”.
III – Father Lucien-Marie, the devotion to Our Lady of the Snow and the team of Our Lady of the Snow
a) The devotion of the scouts of France to Our Lady of the Snow
Our Father a young scout, who made his scouting promise in 1926 learned to pray to the Holy Virgin under the term of Our Lady of the Snow. His stay at Our Lady of the Snow in the diocese of Viviers -also helped to develop his devotion. In 1930, at the age of 16, Our Lady of the Snow definitively “conquered” him while taking part with his scouting troop in Privas, at the blessing of the great statue of Our Lady of the Snow built by the scouts of France, at Gavarnie. He almost had a fall, which could have been fatal, on the circuit of Gavarnie. He called to Our Lady of the Snow for her help: his cane became wedged between rocks and he was saved! This experience greatly marked him. He kept great confidence and great recognition towards Our Lady of the Snow.
b) The team of Our Lady of the Snow
At Annonay in February 1944 our father founded the team of Our Lady of the Snow, then the chain of Our Lady of the Snow. This double foundation enabled him to develop the spirituality of the link of Our Lady of the Snow. By the expression the “first leader of the chain” he wanted to help people discover the maternal action of the teacher Our Lady of the Snow. The idea was not to make an individual ascension or beat records, but assemble others and then to join them to the leader of the chain, Our Lady of the Snow, our guide. Our Lady of the Snow helps us to climb the mountain, which is Christ. We must trust Her and let ourselves be guided step by step by Her. The image of the chain symbolizes the help, which Our Lady of the Snow brings us in spiritual combat. The high mountain requires the energy of endurance and self-control. The chain which wishes to succeed in its climb needs a sure and prudent guide, but also, a trainer with an ardent and merciful heart who knows how to encourage and help in the difficulties of the climb. Our Lady of the Snow, who is better than all the
most experienced guides, is the guide of this chain, She takes care with Her loving maternal heart of each member of the chain. If we do not release the link of the chain we are sure to arrive at our goal! Our Father liked this prayer: “Our Lady of the Snow, first leader of the chain, help us to rise”.
c) The small statue of Our Lady of the Snow at Annonay
With members of the chain of Our Lady of the Snow the Father and Augusta Bernard built, on August the 5th, 1945 a small statue of Our Lady of the Snow on the slope of the mount Miandon, dominating the town of Annonay. Augusta Bernard sought a statue of the Blessed Virgin as white as possible. She only found one to her taste: it had the shape of the statue of “rue du Bac”, this statue was adopted then built on the mount Miandon on 5th of August and finally blessed on the 8th of December 1945.A small sign from heaven was sent on the 8th of December: the snow which the Blessed Virgin had been asked for. That morning, however, there was no sign of the Snow, it was sunny and not cold! But later on, the sky became cloudy and about midday the snow started to fall at the beginning of the procession. Annonay was covered in a white coat while the members of the chain of Our Lady of the Snow climbed in prayer the mount Miandon. The snow stopped falling at the end of the procession. The Father and Mother Marie Augusta spoke not of a miracle but of a sign which encouraged them very much in their devotion to Our Lady of the Snow.
IV - Our Lady of the Snow at Saint-Pierre-de-Colombier
The 23rd of July 1944 the parishioners of Saint-Pierre-de-Colombier, members of the Female General Catholic Action group of France had made this wish if the village of Saint Pierre de Colombier was protected from the German down fall, they would build a statue of the Blessed Virgin. The village were indeed protected .The Germans didn’t pass through Saint-Pierre-de-Colombier, no inhabitant were killed. The Father who had been named priest of this parish on the 11th of February 1946, understood the importance of the wish in 1944 of the erection of the statue. He presented himself to a sculptor from Lyon: mr Bachini. Who accepted to work on the statue of three meters but he proposed only one model: the statue of the rue du Bac. It was without the sculptor knowing the model of the statue erected on the Mount Miandon, on August 5, 1945. The Father, who had dreamt of the form of Our lady of Fatima or of that of Our lady of the Snow of Gavarnie, concluded that the Divine Providence wanted that Our lady of the Snow be revered by our community in the form of the statue of the Rue du Bac. Our lady of the Snow is the Mother of God she is also our Mother and our Mediator of grace.
Let us quote this extract of the act of the consecration of Our lady of the Snow by our Father the 15 December 1946: “ with all our soul we want this consecration. Because in your heart is found the overflowing spiritual richness poured in to him by God not only for you but for which overflow on to us, we desire each time that we look at your image placed on our rocks, not just looking at your image we see inside of your heart full of grace to take from it the courage and the light which helps us go forward on the narrow path, stony, hilly and painful, that true disciples of Jesus must follow.” Can these words of our Father help all the families that welcome a pilgrim virgin of Our lady of the Snow!
V - The Feast of Our Lady of the Snow and our Mission
Our Father seek to develop each year the Feast of Our Lady of the Snow on the 15 of December. To allow the pilgrims who do not live in the area of Saint-Pierre-de-Colombier to take part in this Feast, it is celebrated on a Sunday between the 8 and 15 of December. With Mother Marie Augusta, they understood the importance of the development of the devotion to Our Lady of the Snow: it is her who guides and directs our mission. We have to guide and lead our friends to Our Lady of the Snow so that she may grant them of favours. We should also be the apostles of her Immaculate Heart to lead and to carry out the Olympic combat of purity. This expression - attached to our charisma and used for the first time by our Father and Mother in 1948 - reveals an important aspect of the devotion to Our Lady of the Snow : the teaching of love according to the hearts of Jesus and Mary.
The celebration of the fiftieth anniversary on December 15, 1996, presided by Monseigneur Bonfils bishop of Viviers, has marked a decisive stage in the development of the Feast of Our Lady of the Snow. This Feast was prepared by a novena of the month It took place
on Sunday December 15 as in 1946; our bishop authorizes us to celebrate the liturgy of the solemnity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. More than 1000 pilgrims participated at this Feast.
The celebration of the sixtieth anniversary on Saturday December 16, 2006, presided by Monseigneur Blondel, gave a new impulsion. The members of the Missionary Family and their friends prepared the Feast by a novena of weeks: 1300 pilgrims participated.
This Feast was a strong sign of the unit and the uniqueness of the mission of our Family: many understood that there is no a mission of such or such home but the mission of the Missionary Family of Our Lady whose Great Feast is the Feast of Our Lady of the Snow at Saint-Pierre-de-Colombier.
This Feast highlighted by many given graces the importance of the brightness of Our Lady of the Snow, “Mater and Magistra” = Mother and Mistress, Teacher of the hearts to the beautiful love, which leads us to Jesus in the spiritual rise.
The conviction of the Chapter of January 2007
“The Feast of Our Lady of the Snow should in future reside in the Great Feast of our Missionary Family of Our Lady of the Snow and all our friends. It will be the occasion to bring up to date what the Cardinal Rode told us in Rome, on October 16, 2006: “you are the Family of Our Lady “. The Father was convinced that during the Feast of Our Lady of the Snow, the Blessed Virgin received permission from God to give many “gifts“. All the Domini will have to understand that they are members of the Family of Our Lady, that does not only mean that they are members of a religious family who have a devotion to Mary which speaks about Our Lady, but moreover, they are members of a Family of whom Our Lady is the Mother, first in line, the guide who leads us to Jesus.
If they have this conviction they will prepare year after year, the Great Feast of Our Lady of the Snow and they will have in their hearts to invite all their friends to come to the foot of the statue at Saint-Pierre-de-Colombier, the place chosen by Divine Providence to be at the Centre of devotion of the Domini Family has of Our Lady of the Snow. All the other Homes, even if they are established in various countries of the world will depend on this privileged place”.
O Our Lady,|
We put all your trust in you,
in your blessed allegiance
and in your very special care
Today and every day,
we entrust our souls and our bodies in you
we entrust all our hope
and our consolation in you,
all our fears and miseries,
our life and the end of our life,
so that, through your very holy intercession,
and through your merits, may all our deeds
be conducted according to your will
and your Son’s will.
I am all yours, Mary, Holy Virgin.
All I have is yours, Mary, Pure Virgin
Be my guide in all things, Mary, Our Mother.