What is 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 Saint Louise de Marillac and Saint 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 Saint 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 rays…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:
“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.”
When Saint Catherine related the vision to her confessor, he asked her whether she had seen any writing on the back of the Medal. She answered that she had seen none at all. “Ah!” he said, “ask the Blessed Virgin what to put there.” The Sister obeyed and prayed to Mary a long time for this information. One day during meditation she seemed to hear a voice saying: “The M and the two hearts express enough.”
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.
Saint Catherine Labouré Church has one of these original medals that Saint Catherine Labouré had personally in her possession.
What is a Novena?
The word “Novena” means “Nine” and consists of nine days of prayers, either privately or publicly, for special graces or intentions.
The Miraculous Medal Novena consists of prayers to Our Lady as the Immaculate Conception, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.”
Our Novena at Saint Catherine’s is a Perpetual Novena, meaning that it is said weekly throughout the year.
Saint Catherine Labouré Perpetual Novena in honor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Monday Evenings at 7:00 (exluding holidays)
Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you. O Mary, this was the prayer that you gave to Saint Catherine Laboure in the Chapel of the Apparitions, more than one hundred and fifty years ago;
This invocation, engraved on the Miraculous Medal, is not worn and repeated by the faithful throughout the world.
Blessed are you among women! You are intimately assiciated with the work of our redemption, assocated with the cross of our Savior, your heart has been pierced, next to his heart. And now, in the glory of your Son, you never cease to intercede for us, poor sinners.
You watch over the Church for you are its Mother. You watch over each of your Children. From God, you obtain for us, all the graces that are symbolized by the rays of light which radiate from your open hands, and the only condition that you demand of us is that we approach with the conficence, the hardiness, and the simplicity of a child. And it is thus that you bring before us your Divine Son.
Blessed Pope John Paul II (1980)
on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to the rue du Bac
Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored you assistance, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto you, O Virgin of Virgins, our Mother; to you we come, before you we kneel sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your clemency, hear and answer them. Amen.
Prayer of Saint Catherine Laboure
Whenever I go to the chapel, I put myself in the presence of our good Lord, and I say to him, “Lord, I am here. Tell me what you would have me to do.”
If he gives me some task, I am content and I thank him.
If he gives me nothing, I still thank him since I do not deserve to receive anything more than that.
And then, I tell God everything that is in my heart.
I tell him about my pains and my joys, and then I listen.
If you listen, God will also speak to you, for with the good Lord, you have to both speak and listen. God always speaks to you when you approach him plainly and simply.