Apparitions of Mary
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
Mary Approaches Us As A Loving Mother
An apparition is the actual appearance of God, Mary, an angel, or a saint to a person on earth. In the course of God's dealing with His chosen people, the Bible records many such happenings when special directions, assistance, or a message is given out of love to help us.
Before the year 1830, when Mary, the Mother of God appeared in Paris to Catherine Laboure, great political changes had been occurring throughout all of Europe. Long used but restrictive traditions of the old feudal system were being challenged, the ruling monarchs who passed their power to rule down through generations of one family were opposed by the new middle classes and workers, the dictatorship of Napoleon rose and fell, taking hundreds of thousands to the grave, and a secular way of thinking spread which, instead of recognizing God, glorified human accomplishment and reason. This generally anti-religious attitude resulted in the persecution of good churchmen and women, and the loss of much church property and possessions.
Catherine Laboure was a holy peasant girl, whose wish to become a nun was at first opposed by her father. Later he relented and allowed her, in 1830, to enter the Order of Sisters of Charity located on Rue du Bac street in Paris, France. Shortly after that, one evening, she was awakened by her guardian angel, who led her to the convent's chapel where the Blessed Virgin appeared to her. Catherine was told that new national unrest would soon begin and become worse in the future. The reason was that many people refused to listen to her Son, but Mary said that people desiring to be good should come to the foot of the altar where graces would be given to all who asked for them.
told that she would be given a mission which would provide the remedy for the
troubles and the wars of the future which man would cause for himself.
Later in the same year, Mary appeared to Catherine again, and asked that a medal be made of her likeness just as she appeared to Catherine. On one side there was to be the image of the Mother of God standing on the head of the serpent which is coiled around the world. From her hands come what appeared to come long streams of light representing the graces which are given freely to those who ask her for them. Around the sides of the oval medal, were the words, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee, were to be added.
A large M with a bar and a cross was to be placed on the reverse side. Below this, there were to be two hearts. The heart of Jesus was to wear a crown of thorns, the other, the heart of Mary was pierced with a sword. Catherine told her confessor priest what Mary had asked her to do, and so, after much prayer, he then told the Archbishop of Paris, who began the work. The first ten medals were made and distributed in 1832.
As for Catherine, she did not wish to be known as the one to whom our Blessed Mother appeared, and accepted obscurity for the next 46 years as she cared for the elderly, cooked, and washed their cloths. Just a few months before her death in 1876, she broke her silence about herself to fulfill Mary's final wish that a statue be made in her image and that it be called the "Virgin of the World."
Catherine was recognized by the Church as a saint in heaven in 1947, and her incorrupt body is venerated today in the very chapel where she spoke with the Mother of God in her convent in Paris.
Mary did not ask specifically for any special form of devotion beyond wearing her medal. Since 1832, however, millions of the medals have been made and distributed. The medal is worn by people throughout the world, and because of the many graces and favors Mary gives to those who devoutly ask for her powerful intercession, it has rightly named the Miraculous Medal.