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The Miraculous Medal

The Miraculous Medal

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In Paris, in 1830, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Catherine de Labouré in the chapel of her convent, rue de Bac. In a second vision, four months later, Our Blessed Mother appeared to Catherine standing on a globe, her feet crushing a serpent beneath her. She was surrounded by the shape of an oval medal, and rays of light came from her hands. Around the shape were the words “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” Catherine heard a voice say: "Have a medal struck according to this model. All those who wear it will receive great graces; they must wear it around their neck. Graces will abound for those who wear it with confidence." The vision continued, and the "medal" turned around. On the other side was the letter "M" under a cross, with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This image was surrounded by twelve stars.

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The design of the medal shown to Catherine by the Virgin Mary

On the front of the medal is the Virgin. She is standing on a globe topped with a cross. She crushes a snake under her foot. On her fingers, she wears colored rings, some of which send rays of light towards the earth. Finally, a sentence surrounds the Virgin: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us sinners”. On the reverse of the medal, the center is occupied by the letter "M" of Mary, intertwined with a crossbar supporting the foot of the cross. Around the edge of the medal are twelve stars. Below the "M", we see the Sacred Heart of Jesus surrounded by a crown of thorns and the Sacred Heart of Mary pierced by a sword that sheds blood.

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The symbols of the Miraculous Medal

The open hands of the Virgin Mary, from which rays spring, symbolize the graces poured out by the Virgin. The globe represents the world on which Mary pours out her graces. The snake that the Virgin tramples represents the evil that she fights. The letter "M" and the intertwined cross signify the indissoluble relationship between Christ and his mother. The Sacred Heart of Jesus surrounded by a crown of thorns refers to Christ's passion, while the Sacred Heart of Mary pierced with a sword represents her acceptance of her son's sacrifice. Finally, the twelve stars of the "Queen of Heaven" represent the twelve disciples of Jesus and the twelve tribes of Israel.

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The Virgin's instructions for praying with the Miraculous Medal

The Miraculous Medal has specific characteristics that make it unique in the history of Christianity. In fact, as we have already seen, it was the Virgin herself who designed it! With design, it gives content, explaining the explicit and implicit messages embedded in each side of the coin. The Virgin then gives instructions for using the medal and its purpose: “those who wear it with confidence” will receive “great graces”. The Virgin then gives instructions for the use of the medal and its purpose: “those who wear it with confidence” will receive “great graces”. Thus, according to the Virgin's message, "all those who wear it will benefit from special protection from the Mother of God."

The miracles of the medal

The very name “Miraculous Medal” does not come from the Virgin. In 1834, two years after the first distribution of the medal, it was the Parisians themselves who described it as miraculous. The name stuck, even becoming a proper noun. One of the miracles recognized by the Church was the conversion of a Jewish banker, Alphonse Ratisbonne, in 1842. He then joined the Jesuit order.

One of the most popular Parisian sites for tourists


The chapel on rue du Bac, in Paris, in the 7th arrondissement, still belonging to the congregation of the Daughters of Charity, has become an essential place of pilgrimage and Marian devotion. It is one of the top ten most visited cultural sites in Paris.* Each year, an average of two million visitors pass in front of the body of Saint Catherine Labouré, at the foot of the altar above which Mary appeared to her. Even today, many stories relate graces obtained by the miraculous medal.

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