This beautiful medal is the result of a miracle that happened in 1830.
It has a history worth sharing with our family and friends.
On November 27, 1830 in the Mother House of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent of Paul, in Paris, Saint Catherine Labouré, a French Sister of Charity, was praying and was given a vision of Our Lady. In this vision, St. Catherine saw on Mary’s fingers, rings covered in precious gems which gave off flashing rays of light. “The rays of light,” Mary explained, “are the graces which I give those who ask me for them.” Mary was standing on the globe of the world, around which was coiled the serpent which squirmed as it was crushed. Then, an oval frame formed around the vision, and on the border there appeared the following words in golden letters. “Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” So, the Blessed Virgin appeared as Mother Immaculate, victorious over evil and Queen of the Universe.
On the back of the medal designed to honor that apparition, there is further consolation in symbolic form. Mary’s initial “M”, surmounted by the Cross of Christ, beneath which she stood and joined her sacrifice to the perfect sacrifice of her Son. Beneath this can be seen the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary -together in the virginal womb during His gestation, together during life, together at Calvary and for eternity. Christ’s Heart is surrounded by a crown of thorns and flames with a surmounted Cross atop it, to represent the burning love of Jesus for humanity testified unto by the shedding of His Blood at Calvary.
Mary’s heart is pierced by a sword, as Simeon the Prophet foretold (Lk 2:35), so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed, and surmounted by flames, her own burning love for humanity. This whole is surrounded by twelve stars around the edge of the medal, which refer to St. John’s vision of the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (cf. Rev 12:1).
Then, Sister Labouré recounts, “I heard a voice saying to me, have a medal struck according to this picture. All those who wear it will receive great graces; these graces will be abundant for those who wear it with faith.”
Following the period of testing which accompanies any such apparition, the medal was finally struck on June 30, 1832, with the permission of the Archbishop of Paris, Hyacinth Louis de Quelen. The many miracles that resulted after this gave it the popular name of the “Miraculous Medal.” The devotion itself has been fostered and blessed by all the Popes since Pius IX.
Once the medal was struck, its use spread like wildfire. Many of those wearing it with faith obtained the graces that they requested. Despite the general coldness towards religion, and the skepticism spread by the French Revolution, the reaction of the faithful was astonishing. For us, as human beings, this is the best proof of its authenticity.
The story of the Miraculous Medal would not be complete without the case of the conversion of a young Jewish banker, Alphonse Rathisbonne. After making a name for himself through his hatred of Catholics following his brother’s conversion and subsequent ordination in the Society of Jesus - providence dictated that Alphonse should go to Rome, where he met an acquaintance, the Baron de Bussieres. De Bussieres told him numerous amazing stories of occurrences connected with the Miraculous Medal, and begged him to accept one, eliciting from him the promise to wear it. Rathisbonne made it clear that it was a waste of time, since he was a Jew and would die a Jew, but they came to a strange agreement. As proof of the fact that he had not faith in the medal and was not afraid of its “marvelous powers,” Rathisbonne promised to wear it round his neck and even to invoke the prayer on it from time to time; “Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
That promise was the cause of the prodigy, for Rathisbonne himself had a vision of the Blessed Virgin and was converted to Catholicism under most extraordinary circumstances. After so many years of open hatred of priests in general, and Jesuits in particular, he finally followed in his brother’s footsteps and entered the Society of Jesus. The extraordinary circumstances surrounding this much publicized conversion, of which ample records exist, are yet further pointers helping men on the way to belief.
There is no superstition, no magic, connected with the Miraculous Medal. No one should consider it strange that God works wonders through a Medal. Does He not use water to cleanse the soul of original sin in Baptism? Does he not use oil to confer His graces in Confirmation and the Sacrament of the Sick? Similarly, He uses a Medal, not indeed as a sacrament, but as an agent, an instrument, in bringing to pass certain marvelous results. (Read Acts 19:11-12) Handkerchiefs and aprons touched by Paul were taken to the sick and people were healed. So it is, “The weak things of this earth hath God chosen to confound the strong”. This medal is simply a Sacramental approved by the Church which can be called a prayer in metal form, and its purpose is exactly the same as the prayers which we say when we invoke the aid of the Mother of Jesus, our Lord.
Mary’s role does not compete with the centrality of Christ as the one mediator between God and men.(1 Tim 2:5-6) She serves to effect a direct, intimate, and most fruitful meeting between her Son and her spiritual children. As we pray for one another upon earth, she and our brothers and sisters in heaven intercede for us. (Excerpts from The Assoc. of the Miraculous Medal.)
Let us pray: O Lord Jesus Christ who has been pleased to glorify by countless miracles the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Thy Mother, grant that always imploring her intercession we may attain thy everlasting joys. Amen
PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF THE MIRACULOUS MEDAL
Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, I unite myself to you under your title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this medal be a sure sign of your motherly affection for me and a constant reminder of my filial duties toward you. While wearing it, may I be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son. Most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep me close to you every moment of my life, so that like you I may live and act according to the example of your Son. Amen. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recoursed to Thee. Amen.
After I attached the miraculous medal to my cross, I experienced a very tangible force that wanted me to take this medal off from around my neck. After several minutes of critical thoughts about what others might think, say or do, I realized that this force was not from God. I also realize if there was this much force that was trying to keep me from wearing this medal that there must be gift in wearing it. I then made a commitment to wear the miraculous medal no matter what I had to face and prayed that if anyone would looked with contempt on Mary because of this medal I prayed Jesus would reveal his mother to them as he wanted them to believe and not as I believed. After my commitment and prayer I felt another very tangible experience and was delivered of a spirit of rejection of our Lady I didn’t know I had. I just knew I was not as comfortable saying the rosary or even sharing about Mary as I use to when I was younger. With this experience I felt Jesus gave me back His mother. “Behold thy Mother.” It wasn’t until years later I began to read about Saint Catherine Laboure. Because of that experience and receiving countless blessing through Mary’s intercession, I encourage all to wear the Miraculous medal, praying the invocation printed on it often; “Oh Mary conceive without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Scripture reveals to us we have an enemy that is constantly warning against us. We need our Heavenly Mother’s protection and intercession: Read Rev. 12:17 "Enraged at her, the dragon went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep God’s commandment and give witness to Jesus..."
1. Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia. © 1994, Our Sunday Visitor.
2. MOTHER’S MANUAL, by A. Francis Coomes, S.J. (1973) pp 43
3. Sanchez-Ventura y Pascual, F. , THE APPARITIONS OF GARABANDAL, Translated from Spanish by A. de Bertolano ( SAN MIGUEL PUBLISHING CO., P.O. Box 4468 Detroit, Michigan 48228 ) 1967
4. National Assoc.of the Miraculous Medal, Perryville, Missouri 63775
Recommended Reading Material for children:
Windeatt, Mary Fabyan, THE MIRACULOUS MEDAL (Illinois,1991)
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