We went to the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal yesterday. I read on a web page that two million pilgrims visit this chapel every year making it the second pilgrimage after Lourdes. It is at 140, rue du Bac, not far from the department store of Le Bon Marché. There were so many people there and the chapel was crowded.
On July 18, 1830 the Holy Virgin appeared to Catherine Labouré in this chapel. The chapel was part of a convent of the Sisters of Charity, where Catherine was preparing to become a sister. The Blessed Virgin made three apparitions to Catherine. Her body lies in a glass case in the chapel. Pope Pius XII named her a saint in 1947. I, myself, went to a parochial elementary school which was taught by the Sisters of Charity.
The design of the medal which would become known as the Miraculous Medal was revealed to Catherine by the Virgin Mary. On the front side, which is the luminous side, is an image of Mary, surrounded by the prayer, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” Mary is standing on a half globe with her feet crushing the head of the serpent. The serpent representing the devil. Her hands are open from which rays of light fall to earth. The light is the way. In this way Mary invites us to have recourse to her in the difficult moments of our lives, with total confidence in her all-powerful and loving intercession.
The reverse side of the medal, which is the sorrowful side, has the letter “M” surrounded by a cross (the bond of Christ to His Mother) and over two hearts, one encircled by a crown of thorns, (which recalls the Passion of Christ), and the other pierced with a sword. Her head is crowned with twelve stars, which depict the 12 apostles and represent the Church.
The Virgin Mary told St. Catherine, ” to have a medal struck on this model. That all those who carry this medal will receive Grace in abundance, especially if they wear the medal around their neck and say this prayer confidently, they will receive special protection from the Mother of God and abundant graces.”
There is a beautiful collection of about 15 images on this link where you can read the story of Sister Catherine as well as view the chapel and her body which lies under the altar to the lower right: (Click on the stars for each picture and story)
I bought medals, postcards, rosaries and books which tell the story. Part of this information was taken from a little pamphlet given there. I was so happy to have the opportunity and hope to visit there again soon.
I would like to remind you that you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it to see it better.