Rue du Bac – Paris, France
“Have a Medal struck after this model. 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.”
Our Lady’s present mission began late in the evening of July 19, 1830, in Paris, France. At 11:30, Catherine Labouré, a young nun [Sisters of Charity] was awakened from a deep sleep by an urgent voice calling her: “Sister; Sister; Sister!”
Rubbing the sleep from her eyes she turned toward the voice and was startled to see a child, a young angel. He pleaded with her, “Sister, Sister, Sister! Come to the chapel. Get up quickly and come to the chapel; the Blessed Virgin is waiting for you there!”
Perplexed, she immediately arose, dressed and was quickly escorted by the angel to the chapel in Rue du Bac. Upon her arrival there, she noticed all the candles were lit as though for a midnight Mass; however, no one was there. As soon as they entered the chapel, the angel said: “Here is the Blessed Virgin. Here she is!”
Hearing the rustling of a dress Catherine looked in that direction and, somewhat startled, watched as the Blessed Virgin walked over to the altar steps and sat down in the spiritual director’s chair. At that moment the little angel whispered: “The Blessed Mother wishes to speak with you.”
Catherine went over to the chair where Our Lady was seated and immediately knelt on the steps before her, placing her hands in Mary’s lap. She remained there, talking with her for the next two hours. Then, the Blessed Virgin told her she “had a mission…”
Mary told her of the great difficulties that were to come; however, she promised to give help and graces to those who prayed. Mary told her a religious persecution would break out in Paris later in the century. She also told of the coming events in Paris, the capital. She specifically told Catherine that she would have many trials to bear.
Mary went on to say: “There will be bad times to come. Misfortunes will come crashing down on France. The throne will be toppled. The whole world will be turned upside-down by misfortunes of all kinds…But, come to the foot of this altar. There, graces will be poured out on all those, small, or great, who ask for them with confidence and fervor. Graces will be poured out especially on those who ask for them.”
Mary then returned to the theme of the sorrows coming upon France and the whole world, telling her not to be afraid, since she would always be protected and granted many graces. However, she said that other communities and individuals would have to suffer. In fact, a moment would come when everything would seem to be lost but that, since God was with her, she should continue to have confidence.
Mary continued with tears in her eyes: “There will be victims…There will be victims among the clergy of Paris; Monsignor, the archbishop, will die…My child, the cross will be held in contempt. It will be thrown to the ground…Our Savior’s side will be opened anew. The streets will run with blood…My child, the whole world will be plunged into sadness.”
Four months later, on November 27, Mary appeared to her again. She wore a white veil which covered her head, falling on either side to her feet. This time she was standing upon a white globe; rays of light came out of her hands in the direction of a globe. Her hands held a golden ball which represented the world. It was surmounted with a little golden cross.
There were rings on her fingers – three rings to each finger – set with gems which emitted rays of light. The rays bursting from all sides flooded the base so that she could no longer see Mary’s feet.
Mary said: “The ball which you see represents the whole world, especially France, and each person in particular. 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.”
Then, Mary told her,“Have a Medal struck after this model. 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.
On the back of the medal are two hearts. Next to the Sacred Heart of Jesus one notices a sword piercing Mary’s immaculate heart. Her Heart of Mary is elevated alongside the Sacred Heart, a visual prophecy of Christ’s request in 1936 to Lucia of Fátima.
One also recalls the Biblical story about the presentation of Jesus in the temple. A holy man, Simeon, had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.
So, he took the Child into his arms and blessing Him, said to Mary: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted [and you yourself a sword will pierce] so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:33-35).
Catherine died on the 31st of December in 1876, certain she was going directly to Heaven. She believed she had earned that privilege. Fifty-seven years later, as part of the process of canonization, her body was exhumed and found to be completely incorrupt.
She was canonized on July 27, 1947. Her body is perfectly preserved in a glass sarcophagus, just above the main steps of the sanctuary in Rue du Bac, to the right of the tabernacle. Near the end of her life, she stated that, if her “…bishop had given his permission, what happened in Lourdes could have occurred earlier in Paris.”
Owing to the numerous miracles attributed to it, the Medal of the Immaculate Conception became known as the Miraculous Medal. To this day no one knows how many millions of them were made.
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