HAPPY FEAST DAY!
A blessed feast of OUR LADY of the MIRACULOUS MEDAL to you.
On November 27, 1830, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Catherine Labouré in her Daughters of Charity convent in Paris, asking that a medal be cast according to the pattern which Our Lady displayed, and promising that all who wear this medal will receive great graces.
The famous and dramatic story of the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne in 1842 is a forceful example of how Our Lady keeps Her promises. He was a Jew, whose older brother Theodor (while Alphonse was still a child) had converted to the Catholic Faith and had become a priest. Alphonse grew up hating the Church for the rift that it had thus occasioned in his family. But when he was twenty-eight years old and traveling in Rome, he accepted a dare from one of his companions, who was a zealous Catholic, to wear a Miraculous Medal around his neck and pray the Memorare.
The Blessed Virgin appeared to Alphonse and without speaking a single word made him understand his situation – his sins, and the beauty of the Catholic Faith. His conversion was as swift as those which Our Lady had worked in Mexico through Her image of Guadalupe – Alphonse immediately knew the faith and wanted Baptism. Alphonse became a Catholic priest himself, and founded a religious order devoted to the conversion of the Jews.
O Mary conceived without sin, Pray for us who have recourse to Thee!
The Miraculous Medal
by Fr. Joseph I. Dirvin, C.M.
In 1830 the Blessed Mother appeared three times at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul on the rue de Bac in Paris. She manifested Herself to the humble postulant Sister (now Saint) Catherine Labouré. Here is how the Saint described the encounter when the Medal of the Immaculate Conception was revealed:
“Her feet rested on a white globe … I saw three rings on each of Her fingers, graduated in size, the largest one near the base of the finger, one of medium size in the middle, the smallest one at the tip set with gems of proportionate size, some larger and others smaller … the larger gems emitted greater rays and the smaller gems smaller rays that streamed upon the white globe at Her feet. I could not express . . . what I saw, the beauty and the brilliance of the dazzling rays … An oval frame formed round the Blessed Virgin. Within it was written in letters of gold: ‘Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee’ … At this instant the tableau seemed to turn, and I beheld the reverse of the Medal; a large M surmounted by a bar and a Cross; beneath the M were the hearts of Jesus and Mary, the one crowned with thorns, the other pierced by a sword. Twelve stars encircled the whole. Then a voice said to me; ‘Have a medal struck after this model. All those who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for those who wear it with confidence.'”
The front of the Medal represents Mary Most Holy standing on the earth, Her foot crushing the head of the serpent, and Her hands outstretched in a gesture of motherly compassion to all who ask Her assistance. The prayer reflects Her title as the Immaculate Conception defined infallibly twenty-four years later on Dec. 8, 1854 by Venerable Pope Pius IX in his encyclical Ineffabilis Deus. The rays of light from Her hands symbolize the graces She is eager to bestow on those who wear Her Medal and pray to Her.
Within two years, having been given the approval of the Archbishop of Paris, the first medals were made and distributed in France. Immediately blessings began to shower down on those who wore it and it quickly became known as the ‘Miraculous Medal’. In just a few years, millions were being distributed. No sacramental of the Church had made such an impact on the Church since the Rosary had routed the Albigensians and the Turks. It works miracles literally and seems to specialize in the impossible, the conversion of the hardened sinner, the care of the hopelessly ill. With the exception of the Holy Cross, no other Christian symbol was ever so widely multiplied, or was ever the instrument of so many marvelous results.
Graces given to Those Who ask for Them
Our Lady said to St. Catherine, “Come to the foot of the altar … There graces will be shed upon all, great and little, who ask for them. Graces will be especially shed upon those who ask for them.”
Some of the graces that St. Catherine suggested that people should ask of God included: The grace of a cheerful disposition, the grace to recognize and accept the trials of everyday life as blessings from God; to be contented with one´s state in life; to understand and appreciate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and especially ‘to love God as much as Our Lady wants me to’.
St. Catherine Labouré, Intimate with the Mother of God
St. Catherine Labouré, who stated that she saw Mary “in flesh and bone” and had the privilege of kneeling at Her knee and resting her hands in Our Lady´s lap, a favor not granted to any other seer, was born during the ringing of the Angelus on May 2, 1806. Her earthly mother died when she was only nine years old. She was witnessed to have embraced a statue of the Mother of God and saying “Now you will be my Mother!” and fostered a lifelong desire to see Our Lady. It was the constant petition of her prayers and she was serenely confident it would be realized.
St. Vincent de Paul visited her in a dream when she was eighteen and she entered the order he had established on January 22, 1830 at the age of twenty-three. St. Catherine considered the apparitions in proper perspective, not as a personal favor to herself (though in a sense they were) but rather as a general boon to mankind. She only considered herself as “an instrument” and she made her confessor promise to keep her identity secret, a secret kept even from her fellow religious for forty years.
St. Catherine also had the gift of prophecy, and one of her prophecies yet to be realized concerns a great triumph of Our Lady: “Oh, how wonderful it will be to hear, ‘Mary is Queen of the Universe … ‘ It will be a time of peace, joy and good fortune that will last long; She will be carried as a banner and She will make a tour of the world.”
The simple and powerful heaven-sent prayer of the Miraculous Medal is usually said three times together: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.”