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The Miraculous Medal

In 1830 the Mother of God appeared three times at the mother house 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. This is how St. Catherine Labouré described this 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 24 years later on December 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, the first medals were made and distributed in France, having been given the approval of the Archbishop of Paris. 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 cure 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.

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 were: 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 Our Lady did when She was my age.’

If you would like to receive your own Miraculous Medal, call Our Lady’s Apostolate at 1-800-263-8160 for more information.