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In 1871, France was being devastated by the Franco-Prussian war. The Prussians were close to the town of Laval when on the evening of January 17, Eugene Barbedette and his brother Joseph saw an apparition of our Lady. A crowd gathered but only children could see the apparition, not adults. After the town gathered praying and singing, she told them that “God heard their prayers and fears and would answer their needs.” That same day, the Prussians halted their advances when their commander encountered an “invisible Madonna barring the way.” In May that same year, a peace treaty was signed. The local Bishop approved the apparition in 1872 and in 1908 the church was dedicated as a Basilica to Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain.