St Catherine was a devout French nun who lived in the 1800s and was given the Miraculous Medal by the Virgin Mary through a series of three apparitions.
Read the full Miraculous Medal novena on the novena page. You can also learn more about novenas here.
What Is the Meaning of the Miraculous Medal?
The Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate Conception was given to Daughter of Charity, St Catherine Laboure.
Catherine was born on May 2, 1806, at Fainles-Moutier, near Dijon, France, with the name Zoe.
From a young age she was devout and faithful, wanting to be a nun one day.
Her father opposed her vocation, because he was a widower and wanted her help at home. But her father finally realized that he could not stop the will of God, and so at age twenty-four, Catherine entered the convent of the Sisters of St. Vincent at Chatillon-sur-Seine.
In her second year as a sister, Our Lady appeared three times to Catherine.
The First Apparition
On the night of July 18, 1830, Sister Catherine Labouré, who was now a novice in the community, was summoned to the chapel, perhaps by her guardian angel.
The Virgin Mary spoke with her for hours and told her: My child, I am going to give you a mission.
The Second Apparition
Four months later, Our Lady gave Catherine a vision that contained her mission.
During Catherine’s meditation on November 27, 1830, she saw Mary holding a golden globe in her hands in offering to Heaven.
The word France was written on the globe, and Mary told Catherine that the globe stood for France, but also for the whole world.
Rays of light streamed from rings on Mary’s fingers. Our Lady explained that the rays symbolized the graces people received who invoked her intercession, but that some of the rings’ gems were dark because people did not ask for the graces prepared for them.
The Third Apparition and the Miraculous Medal
The vision now changed, and Catherine saw Mary standing on a globe with her arms outstretched. Rays of light streamed from her fingers and around the image were the words: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
The Meaning of the Front Side of the Miraculous Medal
Mary is crushing the head of a serpent beneath her foot, which represents Satan. She stands on the globe, representing her queenship over the world.
The inscription prefigures the Immaculate Conception being made irreformable dogma in 1854, twenty-four years after these apparitions.
Catherine’s vision then showed what would be the reverse side of the medal.
Twelve stars (the Apostles) surrounded the letter M, and a cross stood atop it. Underneath, two hearts are alive with flames. One heart is circled with thorns (Jesus), and a sword pierces the other (Mary).
Mary said to Catherine: Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck. Catherine revealed these apparitions to her spiritual director. He carried out Mary’s directions, and in 1832, the first miraculous medals were struck and distributed in Paris.
The devotion and graces from it began immediately. The faithful began calling it the Miraculous Medal.
The archbishop of Paris, Monsignor de-Quelen, became a champion of the Miraculous Medal, and it spread throughout many Catholic countries.
Pope Leo XIII approved a Mass and an Office commemorating the apparition of the Blessed Virgin of the Miraculous Medal.
St Catherine died on December 31, 1876.