The History of the Miraculous Medal
November 21, 2018
by Matthew Bunson
Our Lady and St Catherine Laboure


The origins of the Miraculous Medal are traced to appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Catherine Labouré (canonized in 1947), a member of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. The Blessed Mother appeared three separate times in 1830, at the motherhouse of the community in Paris. The first of these apparitions occurred on July 18, the second on November 27, and the third was at an unknown day in December, soon after the second apparition. During the second apparition, Sister Catherine beheld the Blessed Virgin standing on a globe and bearing a globe in her hands. Stunning rays of light flashed from her fingers. These, Our Lady declared, were symbols of the graces that would be bestowed on all who asked for them. Around the figure appeared an oval frame proclaiming in golden letters the words "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." On the back of the frame appeared the letter M, surmounted by a cross, with a crossbar beneath it, and under all the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The former was surrounded by a crown of thorns, and the latter pierced by a sword. At the second and third apparitions Our Lady commanded Catherine to have a medal struck after the image that had been revealed, and a promise of great graces was made to those who wear it when blessed. An investigation followed the apparitions, and M Aladel, the spiritual director of St Catherine, obtained the approval of Abp Hyacinth Louis de Quelen, Archbishop of Paris, to proceed with the minting of the requested medals. On June 30, 1832, the first medals were struck. There followed the immense popularity of the medals and so many miracles were soon reported that the name “Miraculous Medal” became permanently attached. Devotion has been approved and encouraged by every pope since Pius IX (r. 1846-78).

Miracuous Medal