The Miraculous Medal
The Miraculous Medal, also known as the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, is a medal originated by Saint Catherine Laboure following a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many Catholic Christians around the world (and some non-Catholics) wear the Miraculous Medal, which they believe if worn with faith and devotion will bring them special graces through the intercession of Mary at the hour of death. It is often worn together with the Brown Scapular. Such items of devotion are not charms and should not be construed as being either "magical" or superstitious (two conditions which are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church) but serve as constant physical reminders of devotion.
Saint Catherine Laboure stated that on the night of July 18, 1830, she awoke upon hearing a voice of a child calling her to the sisters' chapel (located in the Rue du Bac, Paris), where she heard the Blessed Virgin Mary say to her, "God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace to do what is necessary. Tell your spiritual director all that passes within you. Times are evil in France and in the world."
On November 27, 1830, Catherine reported that the Blessed Mother returned during evening meditations. She displayed herself inside an oval frame, standing upon a globe, wearing many rings of different colors, most of which shone rays of light over the globe. Around the margin of the frame appeared the words Marie, coneue sans peche, priez pour nous qui avons recours vous (in English, O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee). As Catherine watched, the frame seemed to rotate, showing a circle of twelve stars, a large letter M surmounted by a cross, and the stylized Sacred Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns and Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. Asked why some of her rings did not shed light, Mary reportedly replied, "Those are the graces for which people forget to ask." Catherine then heard Mary ask her to take these images to her father confessor, telling him that they should be put on medallions, and saying "All who wear them will receive great graces."
Catherine did so, and after two years' of investigation and observation of Catherine's normal daily behavior, the priest took the information to his archbishop without revealing Catherine's identity. The request was approved and medallions were designed and produced through goldsmith Adrien Vachette. Those who wore the medal felt that they had received great blessings, and the medal came to be referred to as the "Miraculous Medal". They proved to be popular, and the medals spread worldwide.
One of the most remarkable facts recorded in connection with the Miraculous Medal is the conversion of a Jew, Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne of Strasburg, who had resisted the appeals of a friend to enter the Church. Alphonse Ratisbonne consented, somewhat reluctantly, to wear the medal, and being in Rome, he entered, by chance, the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte and beheld in a vision the Blessed Virgin Mary exactly as she is represented on the medal; his conversion speedily followed.
The chapel in which Saint Catherine experienced her visions is located at the mother house of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. The incorrupt bodies of Saint Catherine Laboure and Saint Louise de Marillac, a co-founder of the Daughters of Charity, are interred in the chapel, which continues to receive daily visits from Catholic pilgrims today.
Pope John Paul II used a slight variation of the reverse image as his coat of arms, the Marian Cross, a plain cross with an M underneath the right-hand bar (which signified the Blessed Virgin at the foot of the Cross when Jesus was being crucified).
Born May 2, 1806(1806-05-02)
Fain-les-Moutiers (Cote-d'Or), France
Died December 31, 1876(1876-12-31) (aged 70)
Honored in Roman Catholicism
Beatified May 28, 1933 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized July 27, 1947 by Pope Pius XII
Feast 25 November
Attributes Miraculous Medal
Saint Catherine Laboure (May 2, 1806 December 31, 1876) (born Zoe Laboure) was a sister of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and a Marian visionary who relayed the request from the Blessed Virgin Mary to create the Miraculous Medal worn by millions of Christians, both Roman Catholic and non-denominational.
Early life She was born in the Burgundy region of France to Pierre Laboure, a farmer, and Louise Madeleine Gontard, the ninth of 11 living children. Catherine's mother died on October 9, 1815, when she was just nine years old. Her father's sister suggested that she care for his two youngest children, Catherine and Tonine. After he agreed, the sisters moved to their aunt's house at Saint-Remy, a village nine kilometers from their home.
As a young woman she became a member of the a nursing order founded by Saint Vincent de Paul. She was extremely devout, of a somewhat romantic nature, given to visions and intuitive insights (she chose the Daughters of Charity after a dream about St. Vincent). Having lost her mother at an early age she was very fond of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is said that after her mother's funeral, Catherine picked up a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and kissed it; saying "Now you will be my mother."
Visionary Catherine stated that on the eve of the feast of St. Vincent 1830, she woke up after hearing the voice of a child calling her to the chapel, where she heard the Virgin Mary say to her, "God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace to do what is necessary. Tell your spiritual director all that passes within you. Times are evil in France and in the world."
On November 27, 1830, Catherine reported that the Blessed Mother returned during evening meditations. She displayed herself inside an oval frame, standing upon a globe, wearing many rings of different colors, most of which shone rays of light over the globe. Around the margin of the frame appeared the words "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." As Catherine watched, the frame seemed to rotate, showing a circle of twelve stars, a large letter M surmounted by a cross, and the stylized Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary underneath. Asked why some of her rings did not shed light, Mary reportedly replied "Those are the graces for which people forget to ask." Catherine then heard Mary ask her to take these images to her father confessor, telling him that they should be put on medallions. "All who wear them will receive great graces."
Catherine did so, and after two years' worth of investigation and observation of Catherine's normal daily behavior, the priest took the information to his archbishop without revealing Catherine's identity. The request was approved and the design of the medallions was commissioned through French goldsmith Adrien Vachette. They proved to be exceedingly popular. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception had not yet been officially promulgated, but the medal with its "conceived without sin" slogan was influential in popular approval of the idea. Pope John Paul II used a slight variation of the reverse image as his coat of arms, a plain cross with an M in the lower right quadrant of the shield.
Prophecies St. Catherine Laboure allegedly foretold many great events correctly, but failed on others. "The revelations of some holy women canonized by the Apostolic See whose saying and writings in rapture and derived from rapture are filled with errors." Benedict XIV (Heroic Virtue III. 14. p. 404). Indeed, the possibility remains that humans have failed to adequately bear witness and/or report witnessed fulfillment of her prophecy.
Catherine lived her remaining years as an ordinary nursing sister. She was pleasant and well liked by patients and her fellow nuns. Catherine never told anyone but her confessor about her visions. So, even at her death on December 31, 1876, no one knew that Catherine was the one who brought the Miraculous Medal to the world. In 1895 her cause for Beatification was introduced in Rome. Exhumed in 1933, her body was judged to be incorrupt by the church, and it now lies in a glass coffin at the side altar of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (often simply called by its address, 140 Rue du Bac), Paris, one of the spots where the Blessed Mother appeared to her. She was beatified on May 28, 1933. On July 27, 1947, she was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XII.
Prayers and Novena's
Priest: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Priest: Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts
of Your Faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created.
People: And You shall renew the face of the earth.
Priest: Let us pray.
Oh God who did instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and ever to rejoice in His consolation, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Priest: O Mary, conceived without sin.
People: Pray for us who have recourse to thee. (say three times)
Priest and People: O Lord Jesus Christ, who have vouchsafed to glorify by numberless miracles Blessed Virgin Mary, immaculate from the first moment of her conception, I grant that all who devoutly implore her protection on earth, may eternally enjoy Your presence in heaven, who, with the Father and Holy Spirit, live and reign, God, forever and ever. Amen.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who for the accomplishment of Your greatest works, have chosen the weak things of the world, that no flesh may glory in Your sight; and who for a better and more widely diffused belief in the Immaculate Conception of Your Mother, have wished that the Miraculous Medal be manifested to Saint Catherine Laboure, grant, we beseech You, that filled with like humility, we may glorify this mystery by word and work. Amen.
Priest and People: Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your assistance, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto you, O Virgin of Virgins, our Mother; to you we come; before you we kneel, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your clemency hear and answer them. Amen.
Priest and People: O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession, manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this Novena, if they be beneficial to our immortal souls, and the souls for whom we pray. (Here privately form your petitions.)
You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity. Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone so that our every thought, word and deed may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men. Amen.
An Act of Consecration to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Priest and People: O Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, we dedicate and consecrate ourselves to you under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this Medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your affection for us and a constant reminder of our duties toward you. Ever while wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son. O most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives. Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death; so that, in union with you, we may enjoy the bliss of heaven forever. Amen.
Priest: O Mary, conceived without sin,
People: Pray for us who have recourse to you.(3 times)
Let Us Pray
Priest: God, who left us in this wondrous sacrament a memorial of Your Passion, help us, we beg You, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of Your Body and Blood, that we may always experience the effects of Your Redemption. Who live and reign forever and ever.
Blessed be God.
Blessed be His holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the Great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.
May the Heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world even to the end of time. Amen.
The Miraculous Medal
The Medal of the Immaculate Conception, commonly called the Miraculous Medal, was manifested to a spiritual daughter of St. Vincent de Paul (now a Saint) Catherine Laboure. This took place in the chapel of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity, 140 rue du Bac, Paris, France.
Sister Catherine, during her novitiate days, received extraordinary favors from God, such as visions of the heart of St. Vincent and manifestations of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. In 1830 she was blessed with the apparitions of Mary Immaculate to which we owe the Miraculous Medal.
Here, in St. Catherine's own words is a description of the apparition of Our Lady on November 27, 1830, which makes it plain that the Medal originated with the Mother of God herself.
"Her feet rested on a white globe...I saw
rings on her fingers...Each ring was set with gems...the larger gems emitted
greater rays and the smaller gems, smaller rays...I could not express...what I
saw, the beauty and the brilliance of the dazzling rays. 'They are the symbols
of the graces I shed upon those who ask for them,' (a voice said)...A
frame...formed round the Blessed Virgin. Within it was written in letters of
gold: 'O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to
thee.'...Then the voice said: 'Have a Medal struck after this model. All who
wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck...' 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 with a
The front of the Medal represents Mary standing on the earth, her foot crushing the head of a serpent, and her hands out-stretched to all who ask her assistance. The prayer encircling her contains one of her most precious titles: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." The rays of light from her hands symbolize the graces which she is only too eager to bestow upon those who wear the Medal and pray to her.
When St. Catherine related the vision to her confessor, he asked her whether she had seen any writing on the back of the Medal. She answered that she had seen none at all. "Ah!" said the good priest," ask the Blessed Virgin what to put there." The Sister obeyed and prayed to Mary a long time for this information. One day during meditation she seemed to hear a voice saying: "The M and the two hearts express enough."
The Medal was made according to Our Lady's design. It was freely circulated and in a short time was worn by millions. In its wake followed wonders innumerable. Health was restored, sickness banished; bad habits broken, special graces given; dangers averted, blessings bestowed - until the little Medal of the Immaculate Conception became known by the name it bears today, "the Miraculous Medal".