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Notre-Dame du Dimanche
(Our Lady of Sunday) - June 8

Margaret C. Galitzin
Auguste Arnaud entered the world on March 12, 1843, the son of a simple farmer of Saint Bauzille de la Sylve, a small village of 600 inhabitants in the Canton of Gignac, France. While he was still a young child, his mother suffered a fall, and her health worsened until she was half-paralyzed. Instead of attending school, Auguste assisted his mother until she died. He was 18 years old, and he felt the loss keenly.

village of saint bauzille de la Sylve

The village of Saint Bauzille de la Sylve
in Southern France

In 1867 Auguste married and had several children. But good fortune did not follow the famer, who could not make ends meet with his own small farm, so he took on work with the owner of a large vineyard in the area. With this excuse, often he would work several hours on Sunday mornings in his own small vineyard.

Auguste was an upright and simple soul, and more often than not he would return to the village to attend a later Sunday Mass. However, all were not that conscientious. It had become the custom for many laborers to work on Sunday instead of going to Mass and observing the rest.

The first apparition of Our Lady

On Sunday, June 8, 1873, Auguste, age 30, sat down to rest and smoke his pipe after working several hours on his vines. Suddenly he saw a Young Woman several yards in front of him. She was dressed in white gown with a fringed belt. Upon her head, shrouded with a luminous veil, was a type of vicar-shaped crown; her hands were crossed on her chest.

notre dame du dimanche

‘I am the Virgin Mary. You have the disease of the vine’ – that is: You are working on Sunday

Startled, he stood and asked: “Who are you?”

She replied: “I am the Blessed Virgin. Do not be afraid. You have the disease of the vine. You have abandoned Saint Bauzille (patron saint of the parish church whose feast day is May 20th but the general custom had developed to postpone its celebration until the closest Sunday). You must celebrate it the day upon which it falls.”

Then, she gave him several instructions:

“You must go in procession to Notre Dame de Gignac (Our Lady of Graces, a nearby shrine). Next Sunday you must go in procession to St. Anthony (of Egypt’s hermitage) and hear Mass there. You should place a cross with a Virgin’s image at the foot of your vineyard. You will come here every year in procession. All the people of Gignac, Monellier and the city of Lodéve should join you. Go to tell this to your father and to your priest right away.

“Do all of this and in a month I will come to thank you.”

Then, the Lady ascended toward the heavens and gradually disappeared from view.

Auguste immediately returned to his home to tell his father what had happened. The two men went straightaway to speak to the parish priest, Fr. Coste, who received them coldly and was skeptical about the apparition.

auguste Arnaud

The simple farmer Auguste Arnaud at age 51

On leaving, Auguste Arnaud said to his priest:

“I will not try to force you to believe everything I have just told you. The Blessed Virgin really appeared to me - and I know that I saw her for truly I saw her as I see you and I heard her speaking to me as I hear you speaking to me. Well, the Blessed Virgin ordered me to come and tell you... and I am glad I did it.

"And if I do everything she ordered me to do, I know that she will come back to thank me as she promised.”

The next day, the simple farmer had a wood cross made and placed on the spot indicated by Our Lady. But the priest refused to bless the cross.

Then, on June 12 he and family members made a pilgrimage to the hermitage of St. Anthony. On June 22, a Sunday, they went to Notre Dame de Grâce in Gignac. And on July 4, he replaced the wood cross with an iron cross that he had ordered in Montpellier.

The second apparition & the miracle

One month later, on July 8, 1873, Auguste Arnaud left early to work in his vineyard. Around 400-600 persons – some believers, some scoffers, other just curious – were there to see if the Virgin Mary would return as she said, for the news of the apparition had spread rapidly. Arnaud was calm and confident that Our Lady would return, for he had done everything she had asked.

Shortly after he began to cultivate the vines, Arnaud dropped his pickaxe, threw his hat to the ground, and raised his arms toward a person above him whom only he could see. The Blessed Virgin was in front of him, this time in a gold garment; her hands were joined in prayer and she held a Rosary.


Our Lady raised him up and he ‘flew’ across the vineyard

Then the crowd saw Auguste rise up in the air about a foot above the ground and move at a high speed over the vineyard – about 45 feet – toward the foot of the cross the Virgin Mary had directed him to place there. Everyone present witnessed this miraculous flight.

Speaking in the simple French dialect of the people, Our Lady, who stood above the cross, told him: “You must not work on Sunday.“

She continued: “Blessed is he who believes, and unblessed he who does not believe. You must go to Notre-Dame de Gignac in procession. You will be happy with your whole family.”

Our Lady then moved the Rosary she was carrying to her left hand and blessed the crowd with her right. Afterward, she said “Let them sing hymns.” Then she disappeared.

The crowd intoned the Magnificat.

These were the miracles at the foot of the Cross, which became a place of pilgrimage.

The Church approves the apparition

The people of the area began to visit the site, leaving candles, flowers, Rosaries. Many unexplained healings and conversions occurred.

Moved by the reaction of the people and the simple faith of Auguste, Fr. Coste went to the Bishop de Cabrières, who set up a commission to examine the apparition. Auguste was questioned, along with 18 witnesses who had seen the miracle of his levitation and flight through the air. All related the same phenomena: A cloud appeared in the air, Auguste threw down his pickaxes and his hat, raised his eyes and arms up, and then moved with the speed of lightning towards the cross.

Our Lady of Sunday

Statues were placed on the two sites where Our Lady of Sunday appeared

Bishop de Cabrières appointed a commission of inquiry and in 1876 the Church recognized the authenticity of the Apparitions. In 1880, a Chapel was built in honor of the Blessed Virgin, whom the people called Notre Dame du Dimanche, Our Lady of Sunday, which became a pilgrimage site.

Continuing his life as a wine-grower, Auguste became a fervent Catholic with a strong devotion to Our Lady. He never tried to enrich himself and always observed the Sunday rest. He died on February 8, 1936, at the age of 92 after receiving Extreme Unction and intoning the hymn “I will go see her one day!"

tombstone of arnaud

 His tomb faces the statue
of the first apparition & chapel

He is buried at the site of the Apparitions; his funerary monument faces the Virgin of the second Apparition and reads: "At the feet of the Virgin whom he so loved and so faithfully served, here rests while awaiting the blessed Resurrection the body of Auguste Arnaud, piously asleep in the peace of the Lord on February 8, 1936, at the age of 92. RIP.”

A pilgrimage and a Mass take place every year on June 8 and July 8, the dates of the two apparitions. This year of 2023 is the 150th anniversary of the apparition.

It is a very simple apparition. Our Lady appeared and worked a marvelous miracle remindful of the stories in the Golden Legend. Today the Chapel and two statues remain in the village of Saint-Bauzille-de-la-Sylve, but fewer and fewer give her the honor and respect she received in the past.

What remains also is the Virgin's simple message, also being forgotten and set aside, which is this: Do not work on Sundays. It was a message not just for Auguste Arnaud, but for the village, for all of France, for the whole world. Let us heed the message of Notre Dame du Dimanche – Our Lady of Sunday – and give to God the glory he merits on the day of rest He established for mankind.

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