The Miraculous Medal
The Medal of the Immaculate Conception, commonly called the Miraculous Medal, was manifested to Sister (now Saint) Catherine Labouré, a spiritual daughter of St. Louise de Marillac and St. Vincent de Paul. This took place in the chapel of the Motherhouse of the Daughters 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.
Sister Catherine's description of the apparition of Our Lady on November 27, 1830 makes it clear 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 ray .... I could not express.. .what I saw, the beauty and the brilliance of the dazzling rays.' Catherine heard an interior voice: '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". An oval frame formed around the Blessed Virgin, and within it in letters of gold Catherine read the words: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." The voice spoke again: "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.'
Catherine continued '...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 sword."
The front of the Medal represents Mary standing on the earth, her foot crushing the head of a serpent, and her hands outstretched to all who ask her assistance. The prayer encircling her contains one of her most precious titles: "0 Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." 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.
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 innumerable wonders. 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.