The beautiful feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be here in just 11 days, and this year, it has been in my thoughts so much! On this day in 1830, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Sister Catherine Labouré in the convent Chapel at 140 rue du Bac, Paris to reveal her desire to have a medal struck and distributed in order to establish devotion to her Immaculate Conception.
Devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was not a novelty, It has been in the church, although in somewhat inchoate form, from Genesis on. By the eighteenth century, Pope Clement XI prescribed the feast of the Immaculate Conception for the whole church in 1708, to be celebrated on Dec. 8.
But it was given to Sister Catherine Labouré to actually kneel at the Blessed Virgin’s feet, with arms folded on her Mistress’ knees while she confided in her the plans for establishing devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. It happened like this . . .
“The 27th of November, 1830, which was a Saturday and eve of the first Sunday in Advent, whilst making my meditation in profound silence, at half-past five in the evening, I seemed to hear on the right hand side of the sanctuary something like the rustling of a silk dress, and, glancing in that direction, I perceived the Blessed Virgin standing near St. Joseph’s picture; her height was medium, and her countenance so beautiful that it would be impossible for me to describe it. She was standing, clothed in a robe the color of auroral light, the style that is usually called à la vierge— that is, high neck and plain sleeves. Her head was covered with a white veil, which descended on each side to her feet. Her hair was smooth on the forehead, and above was a coif ornamented with a little lace and fitting close to the head. Her face was only partially covered, and her feet rested upon a globe, or rather a hemisphere (at least, I saw but half a globe). Her hands were raised about as high as her waist, and she held in a graceful attitude another globe (a figure of the universe). Her eyes were lifted up to Heaven, and her countenance was radiant as she offered the globe to Our Lord.
“Suddenly, her fingers were filled with rings and most beautiful precious stones; the rays gleaming forth and reflected on all sides, enveloped her in such dazzling light that I could see neither her feet nor her robe. The stones were of different sizes, and the rays emanating from them were more or less brilliant in proportion to the size.
“I could not express what I felt, nor what I learned, in these few moments. “Whilst occupied contemplating this vision, the Blessed Virgin cast her eyes upon me, and a voice said in the depths of my heart: ‘The globe that you see represents the entire world, and particularly France, and each person in particular.’ “I would not know how to express the beauty and brilliancy of these rays. And the Blessed Virgin added: ‘Behold the symbol of the graces I shed upon those who ask me for them,’ thus making me understand how generous she is to all who implore her intercession…. How many favors she grants to those who ask.
“At this moment I was not myself, I was in raptures! There now formed around the Blessed Virgin a frame slightly oval, upon which appeared, in golden letters, these words: ‘O Mary! conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!’ “Then I heard a voice which said: ‘Have a medal struck upon this model, persons who wear it indulgenced, will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck; graces will be abundantly bestowed upon those who have confidence.’ “Suddenly,” says the Sister, “the picture seemed to turn,” and she saw the reverse, such as has already been described in the previous account of the investigation.
indeed, in the course of December, she was favored with another vision, similar to that of November 27th, and occurring at the same time, during evening meditation. But there was a striking difference between this and the previous one, the Blessed Virgin, instead of stopping at St. Joseph’s picture, passed on, and rested above the tabernacle, a little behind it, and precisely in the place the statue now occupies. The Blessed Virgin appeared to be about forty years of age, according to the Sister’s judgment. The apparition was, as it were, framed from the hands in the invocation: “O Mary! Conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!” traced in golden letters.
The reverse presented the monogram of the Blessed Virgin, surmounted by a cross, and beneath were the divine hearts of Jesus and Mary. Sister Labouré was again directed to have a medal struck upon this model. She terminates her account in these words: “To tell you what I understood at the moment the Blessed Virgin offered the globe to Our Lord, would be impossible, or what my feelings were whilst gazing on her! A voice in the depths of my heart said to me: ‘These rays are symbolic of the graces the Blessed Virgin obtains for those who ask for them.'” These few lines, according to her, should be inscribed at the base of the Blessed Virgin’s statue.
On this occasion, contrary to her usual custom, she could not refrain from an exclamation of joy at the thought of the homages which would be rendered Mary! “Oh! how delightful to hear it said: ‘Mary is Queen of the Universe, and particularly of France!’ The children will proclaim it, ‘She is Queen of each soul!'”
When Sister Labouré related the third apparition of the medal, Father Aladel, her confessor asked her if she had seen anything written on the reverse. The Sister answered that she had not. “Ah!” said the Father, “ask the Blessed Virgin what to put there.” The young Sister obeyed; and after having prayed a long time, one day during meditation, she seemed to hear a voice saying: “The M and the two hearts express enough.”
In her revelations to Sister Labouré, Our Lady confided,
“At a certain time the danger will be great indeed, it will seem as if all were lost, but do not fear, I shall be with you; you will acknowledge my visit, the protection of God and that of St. Vincent upon the two Communities. Have confidence, do not be discouraged, you are in my especial keeping. “‘ There will be victims in other Communities.’ (Tears were in the Blessed Virgin’s eyes as she said this.)
‘Among the clergy of Paris there will be victims, Mgr. the Archbishop will die.’ (At these words her tears flowed anew.) ‘My child, the cross will be despised, it will be trampled under foot, our Lord’s side will be opened anew, the streets will flow with blood, the entire world will be in tribulation.'” (Here the Blessed Virgin could no longer speak, grief was depicted in her countenance.) …
“I will be with you myself, I will always keep my eye upon you, and I will enrich you with many graces.” The Sister adds: “Graces will be bestowed, particularly upon all who ask for them, but they must pray, they must pray.—— “I could not tell,” continues the Sister, “how long I remained with the Blessed Virgin; all I can say is that, after talking with me a long time, she disappeared like a shadow that vanishes.” Her Guardian Angel then said: “She has gone,” and, all resplendent with light as before, he stationed himself anew at her left hand, and conducted her back to the dormitory by the same paths as they had come. (“The Miraculous Medal – Its Origin, History, Circulation, Results” by M. Jean Marie Aladel, C.M. accessed from archive.org)
† . † . †
Today, more than ever, the Cross is being trampled under foot, as Our Lady told Saint Catherine so long ago. And Our Lady is still sorrowfully beseeching her children, “I will enrich you with many graces … Graces will be bestowed, particularly upon all who ask for them, but they must pray, they must pray!”
In these next few days before Our Lady’s feastday, please consider beginning a new Rosary Crusade under the protection of the Immaculata, to continue on through to the Feast of the Purification, February 2, 2019. We could add to it our Novenas. perhaps Litanies as well and of course, a program of fasting and sacrifices for penances. I will try to post more on this, maybe just a bit each day, if you would like. Please share your thoughts on this, especially any particular prayers you find helpful.
My goal in this is twofold: Firstly, to honor Our Lady and make reparation as she has asked, but also important, to support with our penances and prayers those all too numerous Catholics who have rushed into battle ill-prepared. I hope we will all help them with what we do best: our total Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. For we know that the purification of the Church can only come about by the internal purification of each of us faithful. As Mary’s children, we can never forget that we are our brothers’ keepers after all!
Please, pray the Rosary for the Purification!
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
† Sweet Heart of Mary, by thy holy and Immaculate Conception, save Russia, Spain, Portugal, Europe and the whole world.
† St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!