Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal appeared in 1830 at a time of civil unrest and an approaching pandemic. That summer, Paris was greatly suffering. The French Revolution had brought on much misery. People were suffering. France was suffering. The Church was suffering. There was growing political unrest and unemployment, and food shortages. The atmosphere was ripe for revolt.
Then on July 18, in powerful contrast, our Blessed Mother appeared to Sister Catherine Labouré, a young novice with the Daughters of Charity in Paris. Our Lady walked over to the chair which the community’s director used, and then sat in it. Gazing in awe, Catherine approached and knelt by her. It was not yet the day of the Miraculous Medal.
“Short days later, the political and economic situation and discontent exploded again. The end of that month was the beginning of les trois glorieuse(the “three glorious days”) which took place July 27-29,” explains Vincentian Father Patrick Griffin, executive director for the Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John’s University. “It was the second wave of the French Revolution.”
Help on the Horizon
Then, on Nov. 27, Our Blessed Mother again appeared to Catherine Labouré that same year, in the convent on Paris’ Rue du Bac. This time she brought the message of her never-ending care through a sacramental she herself designed and revealed to the future saint.
“Have a medal struck upon this model,” the Blessed Virgin told her. “Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck. Those who repeat this prayer with devotion will be, in a special manner, under the protection of the Mother of God. Graces will be abundantly bestowed upon those who have confidence.”
The medals were not made until the archbishop in Paris approved. In June 1832 the first 2,000 medals were minted.
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