Thursday, November 26, 2015
November 27 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Devotion to and wearing of the Miraculous Medal is second to the Rosary in popularity among traditional Catholic devotions.
In 1830, the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed the design of the Miraculous Medal to St. Catherine Laboure in an apparition.
In Paris, on June 6, 1830, the Lord appeared to the young (age 24) Daughter of Charity novice Catherine at Mass, and again on the nights of July 18-19 when she was summoned to the chapel by a beautiful "child clothed in white" to converse with the Virgin Mary. Catherine was told prophecies and charged with "a mission" that manifested itself on November 27 in an early morning (5:30 am) appearance of the Blessed Virgin who was "clothed in white" standing on a globe and "a serpent." Rays of light issued forth from rings on her fingers and Catherine was told to commission a medal of what she was seeing. Then, turning the letter "M surmounted by a bar and a cross" underneath which were the hearts of Jesus and Mary all surrounded by the words "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
Catherine heard the voice tell her, "Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear this medal will receive great favors. They should wear it around the neck . Favors will abound if worn with devotion." Catherine's mission was to ensure that the medal was made and to spread Mary's message of love and compassion.
Many healings, conversions and other miracles have been documented by those who have faithfully worn the 'Medal of the Immaculate Conception' as the Miraculous Medal was originally called.
There are numerous Miraculous Medal Associations throughout the world. They are united under the care of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians or Lazarists), the religious order founded by St. Vincent de Paul. Membership contributions go to spread devotion to the Virgin Mary and to support the work of the Vincentians. Each Association maintains a shrine and usually has some type of publication for members.
The Design and Meaning of the Medal
The medal is striking because Our Lady herself designed it.
The front of the medal depicts Mary standing on a globe, with the head of a serpent beneath her feet. Circling the oval-shaped medal is the signature, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." On the reverse, twelve stars surround a large "M," from which a cross arises. Below the "M," the medal depicts two flaming hearts. The left heart, circled with thorns, represents Jesus. The right heart, pierced by a sword, symbolizes Mary.
The Front Side
• Mary stands on a globe, crushing a serpent beneath her feet. Describing the original vision, Catherine said the Blessed Mother appeared radiant as a sunrise, "in all her perfect beauty."
• Rays shoot out from Mary's hands, which she told Catherine, "... symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them."
• Words from the vision form an oval frame around Mary: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
Seen as a matrix, the elements of the front design encapsulate major Marian tenets:
Quality of Our Lady As Illustrated by the Medal
• Mother Her open arms, the "recourse" we have in her
• Immaculate The words, "conceived without sin"
• Assumed into Heaven She stands on the globe
• Mediatrix Rays from her hands symbolizing "graces"
• Our Protection Crushes the serpent (Gn. 3:15)
The Reverse Side
• A cross-and-bar surmounts a large, bold "M"
• 12 stars disperse around the perimeter
• Two hearts are depicted underneath the "M," the left lapped with a crown of thorns, the right skewed by a sword. From each, a flame emanates from the top. Again, employing a grid analysis, we can see how the reverse-side design contains great symbolism reflecting major tenets of the Catholic faith.
Design Element and its Catholic Meaning
• The large letter "M" — Mary as Mother, Mediatrix.
• Cross and bar — Jesus' cross of Redemption.
• 12 stars — 12 Apostles, who formed the first Church.
• Left Heart — The Sacred Heart, who died for our sins.
• Right Heart — The Immaculate Heart, who intercedes for us.
• Flames — The burning love Jesus and Mary have for us.
The Association of the Miraculous Medal, in Perryville, Mo., notes that there is no superstition or magic connected with the Miraculous Medal, nor is it "a good luck charm." Rather, it is "a testimony to faith and the power of trusting prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance, and faith."
To obtain a free Miraculous Medal, write to the Association of the Miraculous Medal, 1811 W. St. Joseph St., Perryville, MO, 63775.
Wearing the Medal
The Miraculous Medal is an approved sacramental and allows the the wearer to take advantage of Mary's promise:
"Those who wear it will receive great graces; abundant graces will be given to those who have confidence."
Enrollment in an Association Anyone, living or deceased, Catholic or not, may be enrolled as a member and obtain these graces and the spiritual benefit of Masses offered for members (for example, the Central Association in the U.S. offers 2,500 Masses a year).
Invested membership involves these obligations:
1. Formally enroll in an approved Association and renew the membership yearly
2. Wear the Medal (around the neck is highly recommended)
3. Have the intention to sanctify oneself and others by means of the Medal
4. Investiture which may be done publicly or privately
1. Receive the graces promised by the Blessed Virgin Mary
2. Receive the spiritual benefits of numerous Masses offered for members by the Vincentians
3. Promoters who sign up others receive spiritual benefit from additional Masses
4. Invested members receive an indulgences on the following days:~ Day of joining the Association~ August 22 (Feast of the Queenship of Mary) ~ September 27 (Feast of St. Vincent de Paul)~ November 27 (Feast of the Miraculous Medal)~ November 28 (Feast of St. Catherine Laboure)~ Anniversary date of the founding of the Association in which one is enrolled*
The indulgence is plenary under the normal conditions: confession, communion, prayer for the Pope's intentions and freedom from attachment to all sin.