St. Catherine Laboure
Today the Church honors St. Catherine of Laboure, the humble Daughter of Charity to whom Mary appeared, requesting that the Miraculous Medal be struck so that all who wear it would receive great graces.
Saint Catherine Laboure was born in Burgundy, France on May 2, 1806. The ninth of eleven children born to a farm family, she felt a call to the religious life from an early age. Catherine entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in obedience to a vision of Saint Vincent de Paul, telling her that God wanted her to work with the sick.
The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, who was then a 24-year-old novice, three times. On July 18, 1830, the first apparition occurred in the community’s motherhouse. St. Catherine saw a lady seated on the right side of the sanctuary. When St. Catherine approached her, the heavenly visitor told her how to act in time of trial and pointed to the altar as the source of all consolation. Promising to entrust St. Catherine with a mission which would cause her great suffering, the lady also predicted the anticlerical revolt which occurred at Paris in 1870.
Our Lady showed St. Catherine the medal of the Immaculate Conception, now universally known as the “Miraculous Medal.” On one side was a picture of Mary, hands outstretched and the words ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.’ On the other was the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Our Blessed Mother asked Catherine to have medals made and devotion to the medal spread. Our Lady told Catherine that wearers of the medal would receive great graces, and its wearing and devotion has spread worldwide.
At the time, only her spiritual director, Father Aladel, knew of the apparitions and instructions that Catherine Laboure was receiving. He helped her to have the medals made and distributed, and kept her identity secret. Not until shortly before her death in 1876, did anyone know the identity of the nun who had begun the devotion.
Catherine Laboure died on December 31, 1876, and was canonized on July 27, 1947. Her body was buried in a crypt beneath their church and found to be incorrupt some fifteen years later.
Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, we unite ourselves to you under your title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your motherly affection for us and a constant reminder of our filial duties towards you. While wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son. Most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives so that like you we may live and act according to the teaching and example of your Son. Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death so that in union with you we may enjoy the happiness of heaven forever. Amen.
V: O Mary, conceived without sin, R: Pray for us who have recourse to you.