180 years since Miraculous Medal apparitions

It was a day like today on November 27, 1830 – the Saturday before First Sunday of Advent – when the Virgin Mary appeared to Catherine Labouré, a 24 year old Daughter of Charity novice during the evening meditations in the chapel at 140 Rue du Bac in Paris. It was the second time that the Virgin Mary appeared to Catherine. In her first apparition, during night on July 18, 1830 she promised her, “My child, I am going to give you a mission”. This mission was given to young Daughter of Charity on that evening of November 27.

The story began on the night of July 18-19, 1830. In those times it was the vigil of the feast of St Vincent de Paul (in old liturgical calendar). A child (perhaps her guardian angel) awakened Sister Catherine Labouré, a novice in the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, and summoned her to the chapel. There, St. Catherine stopped near the chair, used by the priest in the sanctuary. She then heard a sound similar to the swish of a silk dress. Catherine hurried to the knees of the Blessed Virgin who was sitting on a chair. The Virgin Mary spoke with her for several hours. “I then bounded to the steps of the altar, knelt and let my hands rest on the knees of the Blessed Virgin”, St. Catherine said later in her words, “there I spent the most pleasant time of my life. It would be impossible for me to describe what I experienced. The Blessed Virgin told me how I should conduct myself with regard to my confessor and many other things.” Mary told her  she would give Catherine the mission.

On November 27 1830 at 5:30 pm, during meditation, St. Catherine saw a picture of the Blessed Virgin. (It was the place where presently a statue of Virgin on the Globe is located). “I saw the Blessed Virgin, standing, dressed in white; she was of medium height and her face was so beautiful that it would be impossible for me to describe that beauty.” – said Catherine Laboure… Standing on a half-globe holding in her hands a small golden globe: her feet crushing a serpent. Coming from the open hands of the Blessed Virgin were beautiful rays of light and at that same moment St. Catherine heard a voice saying: «These rays are symbols of graces that Mary obtains for people ».

Then an oval formed around the apparition and Catherine saw emblazoned in a semi-circle this invocation, until then unknown: « O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to you » written in gold letters. Streaming from rings on 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.

Then the picture turned and St. Catherine saw on the reverse side: the letter M surmounted with a little cross and below it the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Catherine then heard these words:« Have a medal made on this model. Those who will wear it with confidence will receive great graces ».

The website of the Chapel of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal
in Paris offers a virtual guided tour of the chapel

One day in December 1830, she does not give the precise date, Catherine had the third vision of Mary. During meditation, Catherine again heard the rustling sound, this time from behind the altar. The same image of the medal was present near the tabernacle, slightly to the back of it. But this time vision was changed showing our Lady standing on a globe with her arms now outstretched and with the dazzling rays of light still streaming from her fingers. Again, an inscription: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you was framing the picture. The vision turned and showed the design of the reverse side of the medal. Twelve stars encircled a large letter “M” (standing for Mary) from which arose 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.

On the the third apparition Virgin Mary repeated the mission she gave to Catherine in November: « Have a medal made on this model. Those who will wear it with confidence will receive great graces ». The other mission on request of Mary was to have a Confraternity of the children of Mary established. St. Catherine reported all this visions and instructions she was given to her spiritual director and confessor, Fr. Aladel. However, he was not receptive to the message and forbade her to think about it which severely shocked her. Faithful to confessor’s request she did not reveal that she received the Medal until soon before her death 47 years later. On January 30, 1831, Catherine finished her novitiate and received the habit of the Daughters of Charity. The next day she left rue du Bac for the Hospice of Enghien at 12 rue de Picpus at Reuilly, in a poverty-stricken area on the east side of Paris, where she would serve the poor throughout 46 years quietly and unknown.

Watch the presentation of the story of life of St. Catherine Labouré DC

After careful investigation, Fr. Aladel obtained the approval of Mgr. de Quelen, Archbishop of Paris, and on June 30, 1832, the first medals were struck and with their distribution the devotion spread rapidly. One of the most remarkable facts recorded in connection with the Miraculous Medal is the conversion of a Jew, Alphonse Ratisbonne of Strasburg, who had resisted the appeals of a friend to enter the Church. M. Ratisbonne consented, somewhat reluctantly, to wear the medal, and being in Rome, he entered, by chance, the church of Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte and beheld in a vision the Blessed Virgin exactly as she is represented on the medal; his conversion speedily followed. In 1836, a Canonical inquiry undertaken in Paris declared the apparitions to be genuine.

Fr. Aladel fulfilled the second request of Virgin Mary as well. On February 2, 1840 he established first group or sodality of children from Daughters of Charity schools in Paris. Later on June 20, 1847, Fr. Jean Baptiste Etienne CM, Superior General, obtained from Pope Pius IX the privilege to erect in each house of the Daughters of Charity a pious confraternity, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, made up of young girls attending their schools or workrooms, with all the indulgences attached to a similar society established for its students at Rome by the Society of Jesus. This confraternity adopted the Miraculous Medal as its badge, and the members, known as the Children of Mary, wear it attached to a blue ribbon.

The Brief of Pius IX of September 19, 1876, permitted the admission into this association of young girls not attending the schools or workrooms of the Daughters of Charity. Leo XIII confirmed these privileges by the Briefs of May 21, 1897, August 2, 1897, and April 29, 1903. The statistics of 1897 gave one hundred thousand living members throughout the world, four hundred thousand having been registered from the date of the first canonical erection, in Paris, 19 July, 1847. From the same date to 1908, forty thousand were registered in the institutions of the Daughters of Charity in the United States alone.

As the cult of the Miraculous Medal spread rapidly throughout the world on June 8, 1905 Pope Pius X has internationally recognized the Association of Miraculous Medal and in 1909 approved its charter. There are two Associations of Miraculous Medal in the United States. The original purpose of the Central Association was to spread devotion to Mary Immaculate by encouraging devotion to Mary under her title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

In March of 1915, Father Joseph Skelly CM established the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal in Germantown, Philadelphia, PA. Three years earlier Father Skelly, received a special assignment from the Provincial of theUS Eastern Province of the Congregation of the MIssion to raise funds for the construction of a Minor Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. He placed a small Medal in each appeal letter that he mailed to raise funds for the Minor Semniary. So generous was the response brought through the intercession of Mary Immaculate that Father Skelly felt some special mark of gratitude to Our Lady was in order. After prayer and consultation, it was decided to form – in March of 1915 – The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal (CAMM) with Father Skelly as its first Director. Fr. Skelly died in 1963.

In 1918 another Association was established by the US Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission at Saint Mary’s of the Barrens Seminary, Perryville, MO. At first it was operated by the Vincentian seminarians under the direction of their religious superior. Soon the Association expanded and was given its own director, staff, and office space. The first director was Father Joseph Finney, C.M. He served from 1924 until his death in 1962.

On 23 July, 1894, Pope Leo XIII, after a careful examination of all the facts by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, instituted a feast, with a special Office and Mass, of the Manifestation of the Immaculate Virgin under the title of the Miraculous Medal, to be celebrated yearly on November 27.

To learn more about Miraculous Medal devotion Association of Miraculous Medal in the United States visit websites of

Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia

National Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville

You may find interesting the international website of the Association of Miraculous Medal where number of formation materials and documents can be found.

Jeżeli interesuje Cię działalność Stowarzyszenia Cudownego Medalika w Polsce zapraszamy na stronę APOSTOLATU MARYJNEGO.
Bardzo dokładny opis kaplicy Objawień Cudownego Medalika przy Rue du Bac w Paryżu można znaleźć w witrynie

Aby obejrzeć ten film w wersji polskiej przejdź do kanału FAMVIN.ORG-POLSKA na YouTube

[story based on:
Chapel of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal,
New Advent Encyclopedia and again,


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