Zoë Labouré was born on May 2, 1806 at Fain-les-moustiers, As child she had consecrated herself to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her mother died when she was eight, and when her elder sister, Louisa, left home to become a Sister of Charity, the duties of housekeeper and helper to her father fell upon her. When her mother died she chose the Blessed Virgin for her mother, and when she was about 14 or so she heard a call to the religious life. After some opposition from her father, she was allowed to join the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in Paris, France in 1830 becoming Sr. Catherine Labouré.
The First Apparition
At 11:30 PM On July 18, 1830,she was awakened by an angel. He told her that Our Lady was gong to appear in the convent chapel. The angel took St. Catherine to the Church.. After waiting for some time, Our Lady entered the sanctuary and sat down in the chair.
Sr. Catherine knelt down beside the Blessed Virgin and rested her hands in Her lap. St. Catherine was granted the favor of speaking with Our Lady for almost two hours, during which time Our Blessed Mother told her that she would have to undertake a difficult task.
"My daughter, the good God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will have much to suffer, but you will bear it all with the thought that you are doing it for His glory. You will understand what the good God desires, and it will trouble you only until you shall have made it known to him who has to direct you. You will be contradicted, but you will also have the graces you need; do not doubt it. Speak with confidence and simplicity. Fear not; you shall see certain things ... give an account of them to him. You will be enlightened in your prayers ...The times are very evil. Misfortunes are about to cover over France. The throne will be overturned. The world will be convulsed by disasters of every description." (The Blessed Virgin looked very sad when saying this.) "But come to the foot of the altar; here graces will be shed upon all those who ask for them with confidence and fervor.
My daughter, I take special pleasure in pouring down my gifts upon the community. I love them immensely, and I am distressed because of the many abuses which have crept in. The Rule is not observed; there is great relaxation in both families. Tell this to whoever has charge of you, even if he be not the Superior. He will shortly have charge of the community in a special way, and then tell him to do his utmost to re-establish the practice of the Rule in its full vigor. Tell him that from Me. Let him guard against bad reading, so harmful to the community spirit; let him watch over waste of time and useless visiting. When the Rule is well kept, another community will come to join your own. This is not your custom, but I wish it, and see that they are accepted. God will bless them, and they will enjoy great peace. The community will increase.
But evil days will come upon you. The danger will be very great. Fear not; thegood God, through the intercession of St. Vincent, will protect the community." (The Madonna still was sad)"I Myself will be with you. I have always watched over you, and I will grant you many graces. A time will come when the danger will be great, and it will seem as if all were lost. Then I will be with you; have confidence. You will rejoice in my company; you will have the protection of God and the intercession of St. Vincent for both communities.
It shall not be thus with other Religious communities; there will be victims ..." (In saying this, the Blessed Virgin had tears in Her eyes)"There will be many victims among the clergy of Paris ... The Archbishop will die ..." (At this point the Blessed Virgin was unable to speak any more; Her face was full of sadness) "my daughter, the whole world will be in desolation!"
The Second Apparition of Our Lady
During the following months, St. Catherine did all that Our Lady had asked of her. She spoke with her spiritual director and confessor, and she did everything he told her to do, despite the fact that he didn't believe her. Our Lady told her about the difficult task. This is how St. Catherine recounts the event:
On November 27, 1830, the Saturday before the first Sunday in Advent, at 5:30 P.M., while I was making my Meditation in deep silence, I seemed to hear a sound, like the rustling of a silk dress. Turning my eyes in that direction, I saw the Blessed Virgin near the picture of St. Joseph. She was well proportioned and so beautiful that I could not describe Her. She was standing, and her robe was the color of the dawn, high at the neck, and plain sleeves. On Her head She had a white veil, which fell down on each side to Her feet. Her hair was parted in front and confined in a sort of coif, trimmed with a narrow crochet lace. Her face was quite uncovered, and Her feet were resting on a globe, of which about half was visible. Her hands were raised up to the height of Her girdle, in a graceful posture, holding another globe, which She seemed to press to Her Heart. Her eyes were turned to Heaven, and Her countenance was most beautiful.
All of a sudden the globe disappeared from her hands, and her fingers were filled with rings with most precious gems. From these, rays of light went forth to all sides, enveloping Her in such splendor that one could see neither Her feet nor Her robe.
As I was absorbed in contemplating the Blessed Virgin, She lowered Her eyes to me, and said: "The globe which you see" (I understood Her to mean the one She had beneath Her feet) "represents the world, especially France, and every single person." And then She added: "The rays are the symbol of the graces I shed on those who ask Me for them." Then an oval frame was formed around the Blessed Virgin, on which these words were stamped in letters of gold:
The inscription was arranged in a semi-circle, beginning from Her right hand, and passing over the head, finished at the height of Her left-hand.
Then a voice said to me:
"Have a Medal struck according to this model, those who wear it after being blessed, shall receive great graces, especially if they wear it round their neck. Graces will be abundant for those who have confidence."
At that instant the picture seemed to turn round, and on the reverse I saw the letter M surmounted by a cross, with a big line at the base, and underneath the letter M were the Hearts of Jesus and Mary; the first, encircled by a crown of thorns; the other, pierced by a sword.
The Medal and Miracles
Sister Catherine confided in her confessor, Père Aladel, and after making very careful investigation, he was given permission by the Archbishop of Paris, Monseigneur de Quelen, to have the medal made. The Medal was initially known as the Medal of the Immaculate Conception. In June, 1832, the first 1,500 were issued. So many physical cures and conversions were attributed to the medal, it became known as the Miraculous Medal.
Catherine Labouré died in 1876. Her body is still incorrupt. She was canonized July 27, 1947. Her body lies in the chapel at the motherhouse on the Rue du Bac where she had her first meeting with Our Lady.
Prayers for the Miraculous Medal Go back to Our Mother
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