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Rue du Bac, France (1830)


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Apparitions to Saints
Unapproved Apparitions

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

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May 2, 1806

Catherine Laboure is born the ninth of eleven children at Fain-les-Moûtiers (near Dijon), Côte d'Or, France. She was baptized Zoë Labouré, daughter of a yeoman farmer. Catherine’s birthday, May 2, falls on the feast day of Sts. Exsuperius and Zoe, so from a young age everyone called her Zoe.


Catherine's mother, who often used to tell her, “In our sorrows, we must always run to Mary – she never turns away from a child who loves her", dies. Catherine was 9 years old, and lthough it was heartbreaking for her, she found solace and strength in her faith. “Dear Blessed Mother,” Catherine declared, “now you will be my mother.”

Her elder sister, Louisa, joins the Sisters of Charity.


After Catherine received her First Holy Communion at the age of 12, she had a deep desire to pursue a vocation in religious life.


Catherine attends finishing school in Paris despite feeling a call to the religious life. When Catherine was a young woman, her father introduced her to a number of suitors and urged her to marry. “I shall never marry,” she told him. “I have promised my life to Jesus Christ.”


One day, young Catherine was in the village church of Fain-Les-Moutiers when she experienced one of her first mystical experience. In her vision, she saw an elderly priest celebrating Mass. The old priest beckoned her, but she drew backwards, never taking her eyes off him. Suddenly Catherine found herself in what looked to be an infirmary. The same priest was there. He looked at her and said, “My child, it is a good idea to care for the sick. You run away from me now, but one day you will gladly come to me. God has designs for you. Do not forget that.” She prayed to understand the meaning behind her vision.


When Catherine was 22, she asked her father’s permission to follow in her sister’s footsteps. Her father, however, refused and sent her to work in her brother’s coffee shop in Paris. Although she was a country girl who had never learned to read or write, Catherine never wavered in her faith and remained determined to enter the religious life.

Jan 22, 1830

She visited a hospital run by the Daughters of Charity and was startled to see a painting on the wall of a man who looked exactly like the elderly priest in her vision. She asked a nun about the painting, and the nun replied, “That’s our founder, Saint Vincent de Paul.”

Shortly after, Catherine’s father changed his mind and granted her permission to follow her dream. She entered religious life on January 22, 1830 at the Hospice de la Charite in Chatillon-sur-Seine. Her postulancy lasted three months, after which she was admitted to the Sisters of Charity at Châtillon-sur-Seinesent to live at the mother house of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul at 140 Rue du Bacin Paris.

April 1830

Sent to the Novitiate; After her postulancy, she went to a convent in the rue du Bac, Paris. She arrived several days before the translation of relics of Saint Vincent from Notre Dame to the Lazarist Church in rue de Sèvres. The Daughters of Charity took part in processions and prayers in honor of their founder. For three nights in a row, Catherine experienced visions of what she believed to be St. Vincent de Paul’s heart. When she told the convent chaplain about her vision, however, he instructed her to forget what she had seen and not speak about it.

July 18, 1830

On the eve of St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day, Catherine prayed that St. Vincent might intercede for her in asking God to grant her a special favor.

“I went to bed with the thought that this night I would see my Good Mother,” Catherine wrote. “I had been wanting to see her for so long! At last I feel asleep with the thought that St. Vincent would obtain for me the grace of seeing the Blessed Virgin.”

She was awakened about 11:30 p.m. on July 18 by a "shining child," who she thought to be her guardian angel who led her to the chapel, where she was surprised to find all the candles lit as if it was Midnight Mass. But the chapel was empty.

Catherine then described hearing a noise “like the rustling of a silk dress” coming from an unseen source which seemed to move from near a picture of St. Joseph across the chapel to the altar steps. Suddenly, Catherine saw the Blessed Mother appear there. “I sprang forward with one leap to her side – kneeling on the altar steps with my hands resting on the knees of the Blessed Virgin. There I spent the sweetest moment in my life.”

Our Lady appeared and talked with her for hours, telling her that she would have to undertake a difficult task. Mary told Catherine that God had a special job for her to do, and also warned of a great time of upheaval that would occur in France and beyond.

“My child,” said the Blessed Virgin, “times are very bad. Calamities are going to fall upon France. The whole world will be in an upheavel due to all sorts of troubles.”

And, according to Catherine, Our Lady was very sad when she said these things. But the Blessed Virgin also told Catherine, “My child, the good God wishes to give you a mission. Later I shall let you know what it is. You will have much to suffer. But do not be afraid.”

Later, Catherine asked Our Lady the meaning of what had been shown to her.

“My child,” she answered, “the times are evil, and misfortunes are about to overwhelm France. The throne will be destroyed and the whole world convulsed by all sorts of calamities. But come to the foot of this altar. Here graces will be poured out on all who ask for them, great or small…My eyes are always watching you, I shall grant you many graces. Special graces will be given to all who ask for them, but people must pray.”

July 1830

When Catherine reported the first apparition to her confessor, Fr. Jean Marie Aladel, he told her that it must have been a dream and that she should try to forget about it.

Nov 27, 1830

Second Apparition of Mary. Mary appeared in the same chapel in the form of a picture, standing on a globe, with shafts of light streaming from her hands emanating from jewels on the rings adorning her fingers, “These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them,” Our Lady told Catherine. “The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask.” (Some of the jewels on Our Lady’s rings were not shining.)

She was surrounded by the words Ô Marie, conçue sans péché, priez pour nous qui avons recours à vous ( "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!") The picture turned around, and on the reverse side appeared a capital M with a cross above it and two hearts, one thorn-crowned and one pierced with a sword, beneath. Catherine heard a voice asking her to have a medal struck, promising that all who wore the medal would receive great graces.Thus the design for Miraculous Medal revealed.

"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."

"This globe which you see is the world, France in particular and for every person living in it. I am praying for it and for everyone in the world. The rays which shed on the globe from my hands are the graces which I bestow for all those who ask for them. But there are no rays that come from some of the gems (from my fingers) because those are the graces which God wishes to bestow on them but they forget to ask..."

May 1831


Catherine confided in her confessor, Father Aladel, and he, convinced of her sincerity, persuaded Archbishop de Quélen of Paris to give permission for a medal to be struck.


Our Lady asked Catherine to keep the apparitions a secret from everyone except for Fr. Aladel. But when Catherine told him again about her visions, the priest dismissed her and told her she had “too much imagination.”

January 30, 1831

Catherine received the habit of the Daughters of Charity and went to work at a hospice in a Paris suburb.


She continued to ask Fr. Aladel, and after observing Catherine’s normal daily behavior for nearly two years, he finally informed the Archbishop of Paris about Our Lady’s request.


After her year of extraordinary grace, Catherine was sent to the convent Enghien-Reuilly on the outskirts of Paris. There Catherine served as portress until her death, engaging in menial tasks such as looking after the poultry and overseeing the aged living in the Hospice d'Enghien.

June 1832

The first 1,500 of the millions of medals to be made-now known to Catholics as the 'Miraculous Medal'-were struck.

1832 &1833

50 thousand medals given out

July 13, 1836

The archbishop initiated an official canonical inquiry into the alleged visions. Catherine refused to appear, wishing her identity to be kept a secret. Fr. Aladel pleaded to be allowed to keep her name anonymous. The tribunal, basing its opinion on the stability of her confessor and Catherine's character, decided to favor the authenticity of the visions.

"the story is rooted in a spiritual vision . It is an illustration of what would have seen a Sister of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in the community chapel (the name of Catherine Labouré is not mentioned) [...] It is suggested that the vision could not be purely imaginary having appeared several times [...]. She was not the effect of a dream, or the product of an excited imagination, which took place during the day, during prayer or Mass [...] The effects of the medal [.. .] seem to be the means by which the sky seems to have confirmed the reality of the vision, the truth of the words of the visionary and have approved the draft and the spread of the medal"

Approved as authentic by Archbishop Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen of Paris.


For more than forty years, Catherine worked at a hospice, caring for dying patients.

Although Catherine only experienced only those few apparitions of Our Lady where she actually saw her, she began experiencing locutions – like an apparition but only as an interior voice – just as Our Lady promised.


The popularity of the medal grew, especially after the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne in 1842. Alphonse was an Alsatian Jew who, having been persuaded to wear the medal received a vision of Our Lady in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Frate at Rome, became a priest, and founded the religious congregation known as the Fathers and Sisters of Zion.


When Father Aladel died, Catherine was left with no one who knew her story and what she had experienced.


Sensing that the end of her life was drawing near, Catherine asked Our Lady for permission to share her story, which Our Lady granted. Catherine reveaed her identity as the visionary and encouraged construction of “Virgin of the Globe” statue. She confided in her superior, Sister Dufé.

Dec 31, 1876

Catherine dies. Her incorrupt body remains in the convent chapel at the rue du Bac, where miracles were reported at her tomb.

July 19, 1931

Catherine was declated venerable by Pope Pius XI (decree of heroic virtues).

May 28, 1933

Catherine is beatified by Pope Pius XI.

July 27, 1947

Catherine is canonized by Pope Pius XII.


Description of the Virgin

"The Virgin was standing. She was of medium height, and clothed in all white. Her dress was of the whiteness of dawn, made in the style called a la Vierge, that is, high neck and plain sleeves. A white veil covered her head and and fell on either side of her feet. Under the veil her hair, in coils, was bound with a fillet ornamented with lace, about three centimeters in height or of two fingers' breadth, without pleats, and resting lightly on the hair. Her face was sufficiently exposed, indeed exposed very well, and so beautiful that it seems to me impossible to express her ravishing beauty."


The Virgin appeared twice – July 18 and November 30, 1870.

Click here to read messages.


By 1870, forty years after the first apparition, all the prophecies given at the time were fulfilled:

“There will be bad times to come. Misfortunes will come crashing down on France. The throne will be overturned.”

The" throne” of King Charles X was “overturned” in the end of the year 1830;

"The Cross will be treated with contempt, they will hurl it to the ground and trample it. Blood will flow. The streets will run with blood."

Riots broke out all over Paris and Churches were desecrated.

“There will be victims among the clergy of Paris; Monsignor the Archbishop will die.”

The Archbishop Msgr. Darboy (1871) and two subsequent of Paris were murdered during this period.

“Monseigneur the Archbishop will be stripped of his garments.”

The Archbishop was beaten and stripped of his clothes.

“There will be great danger, for this, the [novitiate] and other communities. At one moment when the danger is acute, everyone will believe all to be lost ; you will recall my visit and the [novitiate] will have the protection of God. But it will not be the same for other communities.”

Some of the buildings housing religious communities were burned down; although threatened by angry crowds, the building housing the Sisters of Charity at the Rue du Bac went unharmed.


Her incorrupt body remains in the convent chapel at the rue du Bac, where miracles were reported at her tomb.

St Catherine Laboure

Church Approval

In 1836, the Archbishop Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen of Paris initiated an official canonical inquiry into the alleged visions. Catherine refused to appear, wishing her identity to be kept a secret. Fr. Aladel pleaded to be allowed to keep her name anonymous. The tribunal, basing its opinion on the stability of her confessor and Catherine's character, decided to favor the authenticity of the visions.

"La rapidité extraordinaire avec laquelle cette médaille s'est propagée, le nombre prodigieux de médailles qui ont été frappées et répandues, les bienfaits étonnants et les Grâces singulières que la confiance des fidèles a obtenus, paraissent vraiment les signes par lesquels le Ciel a voulu confirmer la réalité des apparitions, la vérité du récit de la voyante et la diffusion de la médaille."

(Translation: "The extraordinary speed with which this medal has spread, the prodigious number of medals which have been struck and spread, the astonishing benefits, and the singular graces which the confidence of the faithful has obtained, really seem the signs by which Heaven has wished to confirm the reality of the apparitions, the truth of the seer's story and the spread of the medal.")

Source: Nicole Vray, Une autre regard sur Marie: Histoire et religion (Lyon: Editions Olivétan, 2008), p. 86

Approved as authentic by Archbishop Hyacinthe-Louis de Quélen of Paris on July 13, 1836.

The Feast Day of St. Catherine Laboure is November 28 (it was formerly celebrated on December 31).

Design of the Medal

According to the verbal process of the investigation on February 16, 1836 the medal is supposed to be oval in shape It also says the words, "O Mary! conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!" start at Mary's right hand, continue over her head, and end at the left hand

According to the account written by Catherine's own hand Mary was clothed in a robe of auroral light and her robe had a high neck and plain sleeves. According to her own hand the medal should also have half a globe upon which Mary's feet rest, hands raised up to her waist, fingers filled with diamond rings of different sizes giving off rays of light, and a frame slightly oval with golden letters saying, "O Mary! conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!" She also added that some of the diamonds did not give off rays. Her fingers each had three rings and the largest stones emitted the most brilliant rays

Source: Aladel, M. (1999). The Miraculous Medal. Albany, New York: Preserving Christian Publications, Inc.. pp. 49-51.


Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, we unite ourselves to thee under thy title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this medal be for each one of us a sure sign of thy motherly affection for us, and a constant reminder of our filial duties to thee. While wearing it, may we be blessed by thy loving protection and preserved in the grace of thy Son. Most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep us close to thee at every moment of our lives so that, like thee, we may live and act according to the teaching and example of thy Son. Obtain for us, thy children, the grace of a happy death, so that in union with thee, we may enjoy the happiness of Heaven forever. Amen.

Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Immaculate Virgin Mary, we honor you,
blessed from the moment of your conception
with the fullness of God's redeeming grace.
You grew in faith and in love for God
as you made the choice
each moment of your life
to allow God to be God in your life.
In calling us to the altar,
as you did St. Catherine Laboure,
you show us where to find redeeming grace.
Lead us, in your spirit of faith, hope and love
to the altar of Eucharistic Celebration
as we receive your Jesus
and say "yes" to all He asks of us.

Mary Immaculate, this beautiful chapel
was erected out of love for you
by the Fathers and Brothers
of the Congregation of the Mission,
the Daughters of Charity.

Dear Christ, You Who so fully completed Your mission, Who did so with such strength, and Who guided St. Catherine to do the same, send the Virgin Mary into our lives to guide as to our own missions. Send the Blessed Mother so that we may make use of every minute that we are on this earth. Send Your mother so that upon death we may be pleasing to You, dear Lord, and have the joy of knowing we accomplished what was assigned to us at birth.

Pray for us, St. Catherine, that we may have our eyes opened to the missions given us by our Creator, and that we may approach life in imitation of your quietness, servitude, and longsuffering. Please, Catherine, help us with a deeper devotion to the Virgin Mary and specifically to the Miraculous Medal. Ask that God grant yet greater graces in our lives as a result of this devotion, and let us too `see' the resplendent lights, the radiant grace, that Jesus gives through the hands of His most holy and Blessed Mother.

Oh Mary, conceived without sin, wash away our sins and pray for our humility, for our purity, and for the fulfillment of our life work for God the Father! Let us accept what is sent our way and realize God's hidden designs in all challenges and sufferings!

Let us pray (response: pray for us):

Oh Mary, conceived without sin,

Oh Mary, streaming grace,

Oh Mary, who steps on the serpent,

Oh Mary, who stands on the world,

Oh Mary, who grants small and great gifts,

Oh Mary, who helped save France,

Oh Mary, of the Miraculous medal,


Act of Consecration to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal:

O Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, we dedicate and consecrate ourselves to thee under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this medal be for each one of us a sure sign of thy affection for us and a constant reminder of our duties towards thee. Ever while wearing it, may we be blessed by thy loving protection and preserved in the grace of thy Son. O most powerful Virgin, Mother of Our Savior, keep us close to thee every moment of our lives. Obtain for us, thy children, the grace of a happy death; so that, in union with thee, we may enjoy the bliss of heaven forever. Amen.


Chieriotti, Luigi. Les apparitions de la Medaille Miraculeuse. Montsura (France): Editions Resaic, 1988.

Englebert, Omer. Catherine Laboure and the modern apparitions of Our Lady. New York: Kennedy, 1959.

Waters , Alma Powers. St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal. Ignatius Press (February 2000)

Ball, Ann, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 356

Miravalle, Mark. 1993, Introduction to Mary ISBN 978-1-882972-06-7, pages 190-191

Catholic encyclopedia: "Miraculous Medal"

McMenamin, M. 2010. Precisely dated early versions of the Miraculous Medal. Numismatics International Bulletin, v. 45, nos. 3/4, p. 43-48.

Mack, John (2003). The museum of the mind: art and memory in world cultures. British Museum.

Glass, Joseph, "Miraculous Medal". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. Accessed 2011-05-20.


Miraculous Medal Shrine- Philadelphia, PA

Central Association of the Miraculous Medal - Philadelphia, PA

Free Miraculous Medal

Association of the Miraculous Medal

International Site of the Daughters of Charity


The Miraculous Medal Shrine, Philadelphia, PA 

Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal - Official Website

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal - Church of St. Mary's of the Barrens (Perryville, MO, USA)

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