The topic of this post will be in 2 parts; the first part ” What is? How does a Miraculous Medal Work?”, will focus on the Role of Mary in the Catholic Church and what is her Miraculous Medal all about and the second part is my reflection on what this all means, entitled the “Miraculous Medal, CONSIDER the Miracle has already happened!“
“Miraculous Medal, CONSIDER the Miracle has already happened.” Reflections on the origins of the Miraculous Medal and how that relates to us today!
The most concise history of the origins of the Miraculous Medal, with the best balance between an overview and significant detail I have found is on the Miraculous Medal Chapel website, on the Rue du Bac in Paris. I reprinted the page here as a PDF translated to English, you can download!
Consider the Miracle has already occurred!
So while I want to honor Mary’s Miraculous Medal, I realize I can’t do justice to that without reflecting on some of the details of the life of the Saint who brought it into the world, “Zoe Laboure”. When it comes to the story of the Miraculous Medal, it is really a story that starts when Zoe Laboure asked Mary to be her Mother. At age 9, following the death of her birth mother from illness, Zoe held a statue of Mary that was in the Laboure house, and exclaimed, “you will be my mother now!” according to a servant who saw the incident. Only 2 years later, at age 11, Zoe, received her first Holy Communion, professing a deep love for Jesus in the Eucharist. Zoe committed herself to attend daily mass and receive communion at every opportunity it was available. She was up each morning at 5 AM and ran ~2 miles to the adjoining village church that had a priest, to attend mass and receive communion if offered, before returning home to care for her siblings. I’ve previously outlined additional detail about this part of her early life, here… Zoe running to attend mass and her fervent relationship to Jesus through the Eucharist.
Across the next 13-14 years, Zoe lived a life of work, prayer and devotion to Jesus, Mary and various Saints she was familiar with, and an abiding concern for the poor. A priest she saw in a vision, told her service to the poor was a good thing. Years later when visiting the convent where her older sister was, she identified that priest as St. Vincent de Paul, whose life was one of service to the poor. St. Vincent founded the Daughters of Mary Sisters, and was namesake of their order known today as the Sisters of Charity.
At age 22 Zoe asked her father if she could be a Sister of Charity and he refused, but 2 years later relented and Zoe entered the same convent at 24 y/o as her older sister. After about 6 months as a novitiate sister, Catherine Laboure, Zoe, was having multiple apparitions of St. Vincent de Paul, (see the PDF document,) whom she asked St. Vincent if he would petition God for her to see the Blessed Virgin Mary. While Mary did appear to Catherine on the eve of St. Vincent’s Feast Day; this wasn’t before she were to have visions of Christ in the Eucharistic Host, and on the feast of the Holy Trinity, Christ as the King stripped of His garments and Crucified. Catherine’s fervent prayers to St. Vincent were answered on July 18,1830 when the Blessed Virgin, appeared to her in the convent chapel, on the Rue du Bac, in Paris.
When Mary appeared to Catherine, she was seated in the Director’s Chair on the altar sanctuary, and as Catherine fell to her feet in awe, she placed her hands on Mary’s lap. St. Catherine of Laboure is the only Saint recognized by the Catholic Church, that ever touched the Virgin Mary during an apparition. Mary told Catherine, I have a mission for you to fulfill, but did not reveal the specifics of that mission, until Nov. 27, 1830, during the second Apparition! Part of that Mission was to bring the Miraculous Medal into the world.
Mary herself didn’t call the medal “The Miraculous Medal,” but simply described the creation of the medal that has become to be called as such by the people, who received them because of Miraculous events surrounding the medal. When Catherine’s Father Confessor had the medal struck according to the Blessed Virgin’s specifications that Catherine relayed to him, he observed that the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was the image considered by the church, as that of the image of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. The Church distributed the medals as such. But as people who received the medals wore it, they testified that it brought miracles into their life, (recovery from cholera, for example and see Miracles below), and they started to call it the Miraculous Medal, and so that has stood as its’ name to this day. During Catherine’s Apparitions of Mary, The Blessed Virgin Mary told Catherine that the medal to be struck would bring great Graces to the wearer and she wanted to be sure it was available to the whole world . In June of 1832, when the first 2000 medals were distributed in Paris during a Cholera epidemic that eventually killed more than 20,000 people, “Cures accumulated, as did protection from the disease and conversions.” The people of Paris immediately called the medal Miraculous. Subsequently innumerable cures, protections and conversions have been attributed to the Miraculous Medal.
Let’s reflect back again on the sequence of events in Catherine’s life that brought us to this moment.
1.) Nine y/o Zoe Laboure is observed by a servant hugging the Statue of Mary following her Mother’s death. in the parlor of their home and exclaiming to the Statue “you will be my mother.” Zoe Laboure “not an average child and her sister Tonine tells us, significantly, that Zoé disliked the games of childhood. Neither in her young years or later did she ever display the least tendency to daydream. She was singularly practical and unimaginative. If she spoke out loud to an inanimate statue, it was because she believed wholeheartedly in the living, breathing person the statue represented; it was because she felt, perhaps instinctively and without understanding, that this solemn choice must have a visible and sacramental form.” (Dirvin, Fr. Joseph I.. Saint Catherine Laboure: of the Miraculous Medal (p. 27). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.)
Miracles: Miraculous Medal Miracles in 19th Century France and Beyond “It seemed to specialize in the impossible, the conversion of the hardened sinner, the cure of the hopelessly ill. And yet it only seemed to specialize in these startling favors because they were startling. Actually it blanketed all the ills of daily living, if only because there were so many more of these. People came to count on this Miraculous Medal in every need. And it is this universal concern of Mary for every necessity of her children, ordinary and extraordinary alike, that has endeared the Medal to all the world.
Dirvin, Fr. Joseph I.. Saint Catherine Laboure: of the Miraculous Medal (p. 167). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
2.) Zoe Laboure receives her first Holy Communion at age 11.“It was only a few weeks after her return to her father’s house (from the 2 years she lived with her father’s sister), on January 25, 1818, that Zoé received her Lord for the first time, in the village church of Moutiers-Saint Jean.” (Dirvin, Fr. Joseph I.. Saint Catherine Laboure: of the Miraculous Medal (p. 34). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.)
Prior to receiving her first communion, Zoe had committed herself to daily mass, constant prayer, mortifications e.g. bi-weekly fasting that she preformed out of love for Jesus. Following her First Communion, Zoe received communion as often as possible, for in those days, daily reception was not a practice nor possible in the small villages of France.
3.) Zoe’s Relationship with St. Vincent de Paul St. Vincent de Paul, the founder of the Vincentian Order, out of which the order of the Sister’s of Charity grew, appeared to Catherine about 4 years before entering the Convent, and then shortly after her becoming a novitiate, and gave her “his heart.” From this time forward Catherine implored St. Vincent to petition God so she could see her Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Overall Catherine’s relationship with St. Vincent could be characterized by lives in service to the poor. St. Vincent’s appearing to Catherine seems to have been a recognition that he saw in her an extreme desire to serve the poor, a desire only matched by his own life in establishing the Vincentian order and founding the Daughter’s of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Imitating St. Vincent life is living a Penitential Life.
4.) The apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary begin on July 18, 1830, and resume on November 27th, 1830.
Looking back at St. Catherine’s Life, is it not fitting and almost prophetic, that the 9 y/o girl: who took Mary the Blessed Virgin to be her Mother; and gave herself to Jesus through the Mass and the Eucharist, was chosen by Mary to bring a Medal into the world, that actually “coincidentally” reflected these most significant events of Catherine’s Saintly life. I have only touched on the tremendous humility and spiritual piety that Catherine lived throughout her life from the time she was a little girl. In only the breadth of her young life, many scholars have said she was destined to be a Saint!
The Miraculous Medal links Mary to Jesus by the interlocked “M” and Cross on its’ back. “The hearts of Jesus and Mary are… depicted on the back…the one crowned with thorns representing Jesus’s Love for us, the other pierced with a sword, representing Mary’s Love for us”
The back of the medal joins Mary and Jesus’s Sorrowful and Penitential Hearts, and are witness to their outpouring of Love to us, their children. Similarly Catherine sought Jesus in the Eucharist and Mary in her life, and joined them in a devotion of sublime love and sacrifice out of her love for each of them and they in turn love Catherine. Love and sacrifice for Jesus and Mary is how Catherine lived her life. Catherine’s young life seems to have been a foreshadowing of how Mary is asking each of us to wear the medal and live our life. Medal Front Side: Prayer, Medal Back Side: Penance & Eucharist , total surrender of ourselves in Love to God, Jesus, Mary and the Holy Spirit. I believe when we are donning the Miraculous Medal, we are telling the world that we are members by faith, in the community of believers it represents and in the life actions it symbolizes be which we live!
The decision to wear a Miraculous Medal, is so far removed from the secular world we live in today, that it requires a leap of faith, an interior shift of our attitude, to desire what it represents. Thinking and living the way of the Miraculous Medal in our lives is nothing short of a Miracle by itself as we are bombarded by Satan and his influencers! The fact that we enter into Prayer Penance and Eucharist as people who wear the medal defines us as believers in eternal life. By the daily practices of we who wear the medal, God’s Graces are called forth, Heaven’s floodgates are opened, Grace and Mercy are poured into us creating innumerable miracles in our life on earth. To you seeking the Miraculous Medal for a Miracle in your life, CONSIDER that the Miracle you seek, and actually the first of many to be received by you, has actually occurred in the donning of the medal, when it’s done with confidence and worn as a badge of our daily walk with Mary and Jesus.MTJ
Mary told Catherine that those who receive the Medal with confidence, in their life great Graces would flow. The medal is a testament as to how Catherine lived her life, devoted to Jesus and Mary, lived out by her service to the poor, and by her attitude of bringing God to all she served. As for me, what the Medal calls for, Prayer and Penitential Acts of Love to Jesus and Mary, is a refection of the life of St. Catherine Laboure. Living the Life that the Miraculous Medal symbolizes, imitates the Life of St. Catherine of Laboure, and this calls forth a flow of great Graces from God into our lives. Imitation of a Saint eg.Catherine Laboure, is what and WHO our lives, are meant to be. Fiat!
Consider Miracles are already happening….a postscript
There are numerous examples in my life, when I prayed for what I thought was a miracle, and then on further refection, tool a step back, a sort of 2000ft. view of the situation and realized and believed that the Miracle I was seeking had already occurred and I had not been mindful, or in touch enough to realize it.
My Daughter was faced with a life threatening condition and delicate surgery that could end with significant paralysis, but the odds, and I prayed for a Miraculous recovery according to Jesus’s will. However what were the odds that through a circuitous chain of events her condition was discovered by a physical therapist, who “used” to work for a world renowned surgeon expert in treating the condition. Luck or Miracle had already occurred by the circumstances she was placed in through God’s Blessings. While we prayed for her recovery, I believe the Miracle we sought was already in hand.
I desired to make a pilgrimage to an apparition site of the BVM, but didn’t have 2 nickels to my name to go to such a place. Several months later I was offered a job, within a days drive of such a site. Luck or Miracle already in hand that brought an Opportunity for me to see Mary’s site!
People prayed for my recovery from my stroke, and actually had mostly given me up for Dead, But for some reason my wife decided to try to wake me up, which she normally wouldn’t have, and my stroke state was discovered within hours of its’ occurrence, which dramatically increased my chances of survival. Earlier I had finished reading the Biography of Catherine Laboure, I believe she, the Holy Spirits Voice and Mary set in motion my survival, which was already in hand when people were praying for a miracle or happy death.
A young woman that is a close friend of our family, had a Traumatic Brain Injury skiing, but was in proximity to expert critical care and TBI resources, and is leading a near normal life today. People were praying for miracles after the accident, but was the Miracle in her life already in motion, for these deeply religious family?
The Miraculous Medal, brings miracles into lives, mediated by Mary from Jesus. It’s about prayer, having faith and believing in Miracles,,,,Is there more to it? I won’t say 100%, but will say 99% that more is wrought by prayer to Jesus, and the fact that the MM helps us to remember to live in a state of prayer, being grateful to God, remembering the love of His Sacred Heart, following Him to honor His Sacred Heart and in reparation for our sins and those of the whole world .
When we pray for a miracle, we should be mindful that in the very act of us praying, us seeking a miracle, focusing on God, and adopting a God-Mindfulness attitude, orienting ourselves by are interior disposition to God, that is a miracle in itself, in a secular violent world of unbelievers, the very fact that we believe, the Miracle is already happening, and clear a path, for more wonders are wrought by such prayer, than we can imagine.
Have your own Miracle Story to share, I welcome your comments!
May God Bless you and Keep you, Go with the Lord!
More about St. Catherine and her apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary…
Excerpts from the Life of Catherine Laboure aka known as “Zoe” Laboure referred to herein in my previous post: Reception of the Holy Eucharist, Run Don’t Walk!
Zoe Laboure, aka St. Catherine Laboure, was entrusted with numerous apparitions regarding the “striking” of what is now referred to as the Miraculous Medal. I re-read some of my notes I made from her biography, and provide this passage at the moment the Blessed Virgin first appeared to her in the Sisters’ Chapel on the Rue de Bac, in Paris,
“She held back no more, but threw herself at Our Lady’s knee and rested her hands in Our Lady’s lap. Then she lifted her head and looked up, up, into her Mother’s eyes. Many years later she was to write with ecstatic remembrance of this moment, that it was the sweetest of her life. “My child,” said Our Lady, “the good God wishes to charge you with a mission.”
Dirvin, Fr. Joseph I.. Saint Catherine Laboure: of the Miraculous Medal (p. 138). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
That mission in part was having her convince her Priest Sponsor, to create and promote the Devotion to the Miraculous Medal. However, not wanting to call attention to herself in the convent, and live in Humility and Obscurity, only her priest knew that she was the sister the Blessed Virgin appeared to, until shortly before her death it became known in the convent to all.
Description of the Revelation of the Miraculous Medal by the Blessed Virgin on Nov. 27th, 1830 from St. Catherine’s Biography
Second & Thirds Apparition Nov. 27th 1830…. “Our Lady’s hands were resplendent with rings set with precious stones which cast a brilliant cascade of light rays at her feet. Catherine heard these words: “The ball which you see represents the whole world, especially France, and each person in particular. These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask.”
Third apparition of Our Lady: “Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.” (November 27, 1830). From Mary’s jeweled fingers the rays of light streamed upon the white globe at her feet. In letters of gold were the words, “0 Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Our Lady said to St. Catherine, “Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.”
“The Miraculous Medal. Our Lady commissioned the medal with these words: “Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.” The French words shown on the front of the medal say: “0 Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Our Lady stands with her feet crushing the serpent’s head. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are depicted on the back of the medal, the one crowned with thorns, the other pierced with a sword. Twelve stars encircle the whole. The medal was originally titled the “Medal of the Immaculate Conception,” but so many miracles attended its use that people were soon calling it the “Miraculous Medal.” No sacramental of the Church has had such an impact on the Catholic world since the Rosary routed the Albigensian and the Turk.”
Dirvin, Fr. Joseph I.. Saint Catherine Laboure: of the Miraculous Medal (p. 118). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
Dirvin, Fr. Joseph I.. Saint Catherine Laboure: of the Miraculous Medal (pp. 109-110). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
Dirvin, Fr. Joseph I.. Saint Catherine Laboure: of the Miraculous Medal (pp. 107-108). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
Dirvin, Fr. Joseph I.. Saint Catherine Laboure: of the Miraculous Medal (p. 118). TAN Books. Kindle Edition.
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