St. Catherine Labouré
|Birth||May 2, 1806|
|Death||December 31, 1876|
|Birthplace||Fain-lès-Moutiers, Burgundy, France|
|Beatified||May 28, 1933|
|Canonized||July 27, 1947|
Saint Catherine Labouré was born at Fain-lès-Moutiers, Burgundy, France to the farmer Pierre Labouré, the ninth of 11 children. When Catherine was nine years old, her mother died on October 9, 1815. Pierre's sister suggested that she care for his two youngest children, Catherine and Tonine, and after he agreed, the sisters moved to their aunt's house at Saint-Rémy, Côte-d'Or|Saint-Rémy, a village 9 km from their home.
As a young woman she became a member of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity, an community founded by St. Vincent de Paul. She was extremely devout, of a somewhat romantic nature, she chose the Daughters of Charity after a dream about St. Vincent. Having lost her mother at an early age she was very fond of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On the night of July 19, 1830, the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul, she woke up after hearing a voice of a child calling her to the chapel, where she heard the Virgin Mary say to her, "God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace to do what is necessary. Tell your spiritual director all that passes within you. Times are evil in France and in the world."
On November 27, 1830, Catherine reported that the Blessed Mother returned during evening meditations. She displayed herself inside an oval frame, standing upon a globe, wearing many rings of different colours, most of which shone rays of light over the globe. Around the margin of the frame appeared the words "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." As Catherine watched, the frame seemed to rotate, showing a circle of twelve stars, a large letter M surmounted by a cross, and the stylized Sacred Heart of Jesus and Sacred Heart of Mary underneath. Asked why some of her rings did not shed light, Mary reportedly replied "Those are the graces for which people forget to ask." Catherine then heard Mary ask her to take these images to her father confessor, telling him that they should be put on medallions. "All who wear them will receive great graces."
Catherine did so, and after two years' worth of investigation and observation of Catherine's normal daily behavior, the priest took the information to his archbishop without revealing Catherine's identity. The request was approved and medallions began to be produced. They proved to be exceedingly popular. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception wasn't official yet, but the Medal with its "conceived without sin" slogan was probably influential in popular approval of the idea. Pope John Paul II used a slight variation of the reverse image as his coat of arms, a plain cross with an M underneath the right-hand crossbar.
Catherine lived her remaining years as an ordinary sister. She was pleasant and well-liked by patients and her fellow nuns. Just before her death, she revealed that she was the sister to whom the Blessed Mother had given the images for the Medal. Exhumed in 1933, her body was found incorrupt, and it now lies in a glass coffin at the side altar of 140 Rue du Bac, Paris, one of the spots where the Blessed Mother appeared to her. She was canonized on July 27, 1947, by Pope Pius XII.
The devotion commonly known as that of the Miraculous Medal owes its origin to Sister Catherine, to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared three separate times in the year 1830, at the mother-house of the community at Paris.
The first of these apparitions occurred 18 July, the second 27 November, and the third a short time later. On the second occasion, Sister Catherine records that the Blessed Virgin appeared as if standing on a globe, and bearing a globe in her hands. As if from rings set with precious stones dazzling rays of light were emitted from her fingers. These, she said, were symbols of the graces which would be bestowed on all who asked for them. Sister Catherine adds that around the figure appeared an oval frame bearing in golden letters the words "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee"; on the back 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 surrounded by a crown of thorns, and the latter pierced by a sword.
At the second and third of these visions a command was given to have a medal struck after the model revealed, and a promise of great graces was made to those who wear it when blessed. After careful investigation, M. Aladel, the spiritual director of Sister Catherine, obtained the approval of Mgr. de Quelen, Archbishop of Paris, and on 30 June, 1832, the first medals were struck and with their distribution the devotion spread rapidly.
One of the most remarkable facts recorded in connection with the Miraculous Medal is the conversion of a Jew, Alphonse Ratisbonne of Strasburg, who had resisted the appeals of a friend to enter the Church. M. Ratisbonne consented, somewhat reluctantly, to wear the medal, and being in Rome, he entered, by chance, the church of Sant' Andrea delle Fratte and beheld in a vision the Blessed Virgin exactly as she is represented on the medal; his conversion speedily followed. This fact has received ecclesiastical sanction, and is recorded in the office of the feast of the Miraculous Medal. In 1847, M. Etienne, superior-general of the Congregation of the Mission, obtained from Pope Pius IX the privilege of establishing in the schools of the Sisters of Charity a confraternity under the title of the Immaculate Conception, with all the indulgences attached to a similar society established for its students at Rome by the Society of Jesus. This confraternity adopted the Miraculous Medal as its badge, and the members, known as the Children of Mary, wear it attached to a blue ribbon. On 23 July, 1894, Pope Leo XIII, after a careful examination of all the facts by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, instituted a feast, with a special Office and Mass, of the Manifestation of the Immaculate Virgin under the title of the Miraculous Medal, to be celebrated yearly on 27 November by the Priests of the Congregation of the Mission, under the rite of a double of the second class. For ordinaries and religious communities who may ask the privilege of celebrating the festival, its rank is to be that of a double major feast. A further decree, dated 7 September, 1894, permits any priest to say the Mass proper to the feast in any chapel attached to a house of the
St. Catherine Laboure International Site of the Daughters of Charity
A Re-reading of the Message of the Rue du Bac
St. Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal Jospeh I. Dirvin, CM
Story of St. Catherine Laboure
Catherine Labouré Wikipedia article