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  • Fat Virgin Mary in the Lost Provinces September 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    In 1871 Prussia (on its way to becoming Germany) seized by force and then won by negotiation Alsace and Lorraine, an act that secured their Rhine territories and that arguably led to two world wars: the lost provinces would cost millions of lives. ‘What flag flies over Strasburg?’ asks a nineteenth-century politician returned from the dead  in the mid twentieth century; it was a reasonable question. Here is a charming yarn about an apparition of the Virgin Mary from the early days of the conquest, Dun Cour, 21 Sep 1872, 3. One bit of necessary background first. The decision to expel Jesuits from the region was actually part of Bismarck’s Kulturkampf. The actions were not limited to Alsace and Lorraine, but they were felt particularly in the conquered regions especially among the French-speaking Catholic populations there.

    A miracle-monger in the annexed province of Alsace has come to grief, and nearly lost his life in a singular manner. The Jesuits, furious at their expulsion from Germany, resort to all sorts of devices to persuade the ignorant that their enemies are threatened with the wrath of heaven. For some days past, shortly after sunset, a phantom bearing a white flag, appeared in the village of Chantenois [Châtenois, pictured], near Strasbourg. Rumour ran that the ghostly visitor was the Virgin Mary, who had come to rouse the people to fight for the Jesuits. So great was the excitement that a detachment of dragoons was despatched from Strasbourg to occupy Chantenois. The Virgin nevertheless appeared at the usual time, but a matter-of-fact sentry challenged the apparition, and receiving no answer, after three ‘sommatians,’ fired upon it. He brought down his game, and instead of ghost it proved to be a very fat cure. The ecclesiastic, roaring lustily from painful wound, was put into a cart and carried off to Strasbourg Hospital Three other priests, suspected to be his accomplices, were subsequently arrested.

    Beach has recently been researching fake ghost stories. Is it possible that there are also a whole series of fake Virgin Mary stories out there waiting to be dug up? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com As to this sorry example and the plump priest… It would be interesting to know how he convinced his congregation that he was a woman or was a minced gait and a white sheet enough? The white flag might suggest that he was always seen at a distance until he strayed into the range of a German soldier.

    30 Sep 2015: Invisible writes ‘You can’t do much better for fake Virgin Mary yarns than this site. And there is this short version of one of my favorite fake apparitions.
    The French speculator in miracles has come to grief. Last Spring two young girls of a small town in the department of the Meuse asserted that they saw the Virgin Mary in an apple tree. This was looked upon as a miracle, and the field in which the apple tree stood was closed, and a chapel was erected on the ground. Thousands of people went on a pilgrimage to the wonderful apple tree, and bought photographs of the Virgin in the tree as she was seen by the little girls. The clergy finally warned the people against the imposition, and investigation showed the whole scheme as the trick or maneuver of two sharp speculators who proposed to trade on the credulity of the ignorant people of the district. A well-known actress [!!] had stood for the photograph in a dress supposed to be suitable to the occasion, and the whole story was an invention of the speculators. The principal was sentenced to imprisonment for three years and the Sheriff took possession of the property about the apple tree. Territorial Enterprise [Virginia City, NV] 14 March 1878: p. 2
    You can find a list of modern-ish apparitions here under the Apparition Information Index, with the disposition of each: “No decision,” “Negative” or “Yes” to the supernatural character of each.