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That Wondrous Miraculous Medal

Ave Maria Meditations
In this time of somewhat gloomy thoughts, let us recall the words of St. Paul: Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil.4:8)  And there are few things more lovely, more gracious, more just, more excellent and more pure to consider than the mysteries of Our Blessed Lady. Here is an encore meditation on the wondrous Miraculous Medal.


Daily Miraculous Medal Prayer of St. Maximilian Kolbe:

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you,

and for all who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of the Church

and those recommended to you.

Explanation of the Miraculous Medal:

On the one side, Mary is standing upon a globe, crushing the head of a serpent beneath her foot. She stands upon the globe, as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her feet crush the serpent to proclaim Satan and all his followers are helpless before her (Gn 3:15). The year of 1830 on the Miraculous Medal is the year the Blessed Mother gave the design of the Miraculous Medal to Saint Catherine Labouré. The reference to Mary conceived without sin supports the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary—not to be confused with the virgin birth of Jesus, and referring to Mary’s sinlessness, “full of grace” and “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28)—that was proclaimed 24 years later in 1854.

On the reverse side of the medal there are twelve stars that encircle a large “M” from which arises a cross. Below are two hearts with flames arising from them. One heart is encircled in thorns and the other is pierced by a sword. The twelve stars can refer to the Apostles, who represent the entire Church as it surrounds Mary. They also recall the vision of Saint John, writer of the Book of Revelation (12:1), in which “a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars.” The cross can symbolize Christ and our redemption, with the bar under the cross a sign of the earth. The “M” stands for Mary, and the interleaving of her initial and the cross shows Mary’s close involvement with Jesus and our world. In this we see Mary’s part in our salvation and her role as mother of the Church. The two hearts represent the love of Jesus and Mary for us. (See also Lk 2:35).




St. Catherine Laboure, A sister in France in 1830, was given the grace to have Mary visit with her 3 times.  The second time, St. Catherine saw her standing on a globe with rays of light streaming from her hands.  Around Mary were the words: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.” Mary told St. Catherine to have a medal made that looked exactly like that.

St. Catherine did what Mary told her.  The medals were called the Medal of the Immaculate Conception.  As soon as people started wearing the medals, miracles were happening.  People started calling them the Miraculous Medal.


Chapel of the Miraculous Medal at the Rue du Bac in Paris

And from the Association of the Miraculous Medal is more detail of the apparitions

to St. Catherine Laboure:

The Medal of the Immaculate Conception – popularly known as the Miraculous Medal – was designed by the Blessed Virgin herself! No wonder, then that it wins such extraordinary graces for those who wear it and pray for Mary’s intercession and help.

The First Apparition:

The story begins on the night of July 18-19, 1830. A child (perhaps her guardian angel) awakened Sister (now Saint) Catherine Labouré, a novice in the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, and summoned her to the chapel. There she met with the Virgin Mary and spoke with her for several hours. During the conversation Mary said to her, “My child, I am going to give you a mission.”

The Second Apparition:

Mary gave her this mission in a vision during evening meditation on November 27, 1830. She saw Mary standing on what seemed to be half a globe and holding a golden globe in her hands as if offering it to heaven. On the globe was the word “France,” and our Lady explained that the globe represented the whole world, but especially France. The times were difficult in France then, especially for the poor who were unemployed and often refugees from the many wars of the time. France was first to experience many of those troubles which ultimately reached many other parts of the world and are even present today. Streaming from rings Mary’s fingers as she held the globe were many rays of light. Mary explained that the rays symbolize the graces she obtains for those who ask for them. However, some of the gems on the rings were dark, and Mary explained that the rays and graces were available but did not come because no one had asked for them.

The Third Apparition and the Miraculous Medal:

The vision then changed to show our Lady standing on a globe with her arms now outstretched and with the dazzling rays of light still streaming from her fingers. Framing the figure was an inscription: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.  

Then Mary spoke to Catherine: “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.” Catherine explained the entire series of apparitions to her confessor, and she worked through him to carry out Mary’s instructions. She did not reveal that she received the Medal until soon before her death 47 years later.

(for more information and a free medal contact the Association of the MIraculous Medal at )

And to place intentions at the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal in Paris see

And for a 4 minute video on “St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal” see

The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne by the Miraculous Medal:

On January 6, 1842. Alphonse, a young Jewish banker, has just arrived in Rome. The scion of Strasbourg’s most important Jewish family, he is a man of the world: wealthy, refined, sophisticated, agnostic (a former atheist)…a friend of the Rothschilds, entirely at ease in the salons of the nobility. He is fiercely anti-Catholic: As he himself puts it, the very name of the Jesuits provokes him to fury.

A friend gets him to submit to a bet of sorts, calling it a test.  Since he claims to be immune to all things of religion, would he consent to wearing a medal of the Holy Virgin and praying a simple prayer called the Memorare?  Alphonse reluctantly agrees, finding the whole thing most distasteful.

While sightseeing with his friend some time later, they stop at a church. The friend has some business to attend  so Alphonse decides instead to come inside to see the church interior.

Alphonse is alone. Suddenly a large black dog bounds menacingly in front of him. But then, in the next moment, the dog disappears. In fact, everything disappears, as if a veil has been drawn over the church interior. A brilliant light blazes from a side chapel, the Chapel of the Archangels. It’s as if all light has been concentrated at that one spot.

And in the center of the light, Alphonse sees her. She is standing on the altar: “tall, brilliant, full of sweetness and majesty.” She is so blindingly beautiful that, after one glance at her face, he casts down his eyes. Repeatedly he tries to raise his eyes again, to behold that beautiful face. But he cannot. He can’t raise his eyes past the level of her hands, which are outstretched, with light streaming from her fingers — just as in the image on the Miraculous Medal.

But her hands are very expressive. To Alphonse, they speak of “all the tenderness of the Divine Pity.” With one hand, she gestures to him to approach. He does so, on his knees. After he has advanced a few paces, she gestures again, as if to signify: “Enough–that’s good!”

Then, as he gazes on the light streaming from her fingers, he receives the gift of Infused Knowledge. Faster than thought, he understands all: his own profound sinfulness (especially the enormity of Original Sin); God’s infinite love and mercy toward poor sinners, revealed in the Incarnation and Crucifixion; the beauty and truth of Catholicism; the reality of Christ’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

A Jewish agnostic reared in a skeptical milieu, he has never even heard the term “Original Sin”; now he instantly knows what it is, more profoundly than if he’d been studying the subject for years.

The entire experience takes mere moments.

The friend returns and he spots the young man: slumped, kneeling, with his head against the altar rail in the Chapel of the Archangels. He is sobbing, murmuring between sobs, “How happy I am! How good God is! How unbelievers are to be pitied!”

Alphonse Ratisbonne converted to the Roman Catholic Faith and would become a priest working for the salvation of souls, especially the Jewish people, for the rest of his life.

Altar at San Andrea della Frate where Alphonse Ratisbonne saw

Our Lady; this was also the altar of the first Mass

of St. Maximilian Kolbe


Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Author Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Our Lady found this unworthy lukewarm person and obtained for her the grace to enter the Third Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. May this person spend all eternity in showing her gratitude.

More posts by Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

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