The Miraculous medal has a long and interesting story. It began in a village in France in 1806, at the birth of Catherine Laboure. She was the 16th of 17 children in that family, of which eleven survived. Her Father managed his business well and they were fairly well off. However, they did not live extravagantly. He was a devout Catholic and passed his strong faith on to his children. This Faith was especially strong in Catherine who would go on to become a saint. There is some confusion between Saint Catherine and Saint Zoe. This is due to the fact that as a child, Catherine was called Zoe in honor of the Saint. Saint Catherine is the reason that we have the Miraculous Medal. How the medal came to be, and what is represents is a very interesting story. Here are just three of the many interesting facts of the history of the Miraculous Medal.
The Promises of the Medal
First we have the promises of the Medal. The Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Catherine on November 27, 1830. When she appeared rays of light flowed from rings on her fingers. Some of the precious stones glowed brightly in the light, but others did not glow, and remained dull. The Blessed Mother explained to Catherine that “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.” Mary then said of the medal, “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.” Mary spoke of this medal as a sign of inner devotion to her Son, Jesus Christ, and to herself.
Many Miracles Surround this Medal
Originally the Miraculous Medal was called the Medal of the Immaculate Conception. But, when so many stories of great miracles related to the medal it quickly became known as the Miraculous Medal. The miracles include the story of an eight year old girl in Paris who was the only one her class that did not wear a medal and was the only one who caught cholera. When she was given a medal, she quickly recovered and returned to school the next day.
There was also as story of a pregnant woman who had come down with cholera and was close to death. After being given the medal she delivered her baby with no complications and both mother and baby were found to be healthy. There was also a child who had been unable to walk was healed when he wore the medal on the first day of a Novena.
In 1842 a young man from a Jewish family who had a deep and very public hatred of Catholicism spent some time in Rome. He met Baron Bussieres, a newly converted Catholic. The two had an argument about the Faith and the Baron gave Ratisbonne a Miraculous Medal, challenging him to wear it and recite the prayer the Memorare. Shortly after, Our Lady appeared to Ratisbonne in exactly the same way as on the Miraculous Medal. He was converted immediately and was baptized that same night. It is very clear why the medal was so quickly renamed.
The Making of the Medal
Catherine was sent to work at Enghien Hospice near Paris on January 30th 1831 when she received the habit of the Daughters of Charity. When springtime arrived she continued to try and convince her confidant Father Aladel to create Our Lady’s Medal. He was the only one that knew Catherine was the one who received the visitation from the Virgin Mary until it was revealed at her impending death. He continued to refuse to have the medal made until finally she asked a third time in the fall. She warned him that, “The Virgin is angry” with the delays. When Father Aladel finally told the Archbishop of Paris of Our Lady’s request, he was told that the medal should be made immediately. Unfortunately, a deadly outbreak of cholera delayed the creation of the medal until May of 1832. The first order was for 20,000 medals and distribution began on June 30, 1832.