Category Archives: Catherine Laboure

Miraculous Medal Shrines, Philadelphia, PA and Perryville, MO

Miraculous Medal

Front and back of the Miraculous Medal

June 3, 1905 marks the day that Pope Pius X formally recognized associations that had been formed for promoting the devotion popularly known as the Miraculous Medal. Today there are two Miraculous Medal Associations in the United States, one in Philadelphia and the other in Perryville, MO, just south of St. Louis.

Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal
On the night of July 18-19, 1830. A child awakened Sister (now Saint) Catherine Labouré, a Seminary Sister in the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, and summoned her to the chapel. There she met with the Virgin Mary and spoke with her for several hours. During the conversation, Mary said to her, “My child, I am going to give you a mission.” It was the first of three apparitions Catherine received. During one of these apparitions, 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 told her confessor, Father Aladel, about what she had experienced, and she worked through him to carry out Mary’s instructions. Catherine told no one else about the apparitions and did not reveal that she received the Medal until just before her death.

With approval of the Church, the first medals were made in 1832 and were distributed in Paris. Almost immediately the blessings that Mary had promised began to shower down on those who wore her medal. The devotion spread quickly, and before long people were calling it the “Miraculous” Medal. In 1836, a canonical inquiry undertaken at Paris declared the apparitions to be genuine.

St. Mary's of the Barrens, Perryville, MO

St. Mary’s of the Barrens, Perryville, MO (Image used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

Miraculous Medal Shrine in Perryville, MO

Shrine to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at St. Mary’s of the Barrens, Perryville, MO (Image used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Association of the Miraculous Medal, Perryville, Missouri
In order to spread devotion to Mary as our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, an association was formed shortly after the first medals were distributed. The Association was established at the motherhouse of the Congregation of the Mission in Paris. Gradually, other associations were established elsewhere in the world. Pope Pius X recognized these associations in 1905 and approved a charter in 1909.

In 1918 an Association was established by the Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission in the United States, with headquarters at St. Mary’s of the Barrens, in Perryville, Missouri. Saint Mary’s of the Barrens was founded in 1818 by the Vincentian fathers. The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal was built in 1929 by the Promoters of the Association of the Miraculous Medal. Since the building of the Shrine Chapel in 1929, the church of St. Mary’s of the Barrens has served as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. The Venerable Felix de Andreis, first superior of the Vincentians in the New World, is buried beneath its floor. Near the tomb of Felix de Andreis is the chapel housing the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Here a novena of Masses is offered each month for members of the Association. Here, too, petitions from all over the country are placed near our Lady’s Altar.

Philadelphia - Chapel of the Immaculate Conception

Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia (courtesy Central Association of the Miraculous Medal)

Miraculous Medal Shrine, Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia (courtesy Central Association of the Miraculous Medal)

Miraculous Medal Shrine, Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia (courtesy Central Association of the Miraculous Medal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Association of the Miraculous Medal, Philadelphia
In 1875 construction began for the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The chapel was attached to St. Vincent’s Seminary and originally it was to serve as a place of worship for the seminarians and priests of the Congregation of the Mission (CM), also known as the Vincentians.

The Chapel was consecrated by Bishop Ryan, C.M. of Buffalo, N.Y. in 1879. At the request of Archbishop James F. Wood, it was built large enough to serve as a chapel of convenience for the surrounding neighborhood until 1902 when the local parish erected its own Church. In 1912, Father Joseph Skelly, C.M., received a special assignment from the Provincial of the Vincentian priests and brothers of the Eastern Province USA, which was to raise funds for the construction of a Minor Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. Father Skelly placed a small Medal in each appeal letter that he mailed to raise funds for the Minor Semniary. So generous was the response brought through the intercession of Mary Immaculate that Father Skelly felt some special mark of gratitude to Our Lady was in order. After prayer and consultation, it was decided to form – in March of 1915 – The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal (CAMM), a society devoted to Mary’s interests, with Father Skelly as its first Director.

In 1927 Father Skelly introduced a nine-day Novena – four times a year – in the Public Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. For three years, the Chapel hosted Solemn Novenas during November (Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal), February (Our Lady of Lourdes), May (Our Lady, Help of Christians) and August (Feast of the Assumption). The devotions at the Shrine became so popular and so fruitful that the Director of the Association made another momentous and courageous decision. While retaining the Solemn Novena in preparation for the feast of the Miraculous Medal, he decided to inaugurate a weekly Novena service. After consulting local parishes about their evening activities, he chose Monday as the day for the Perpetual Novena in honor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

On Monday, December 8, l930, in order to honor the 100th Anniversary of the Apparitions of our Blessed Mother to Saint Catherine Laboure, Father Skelly himself initiated the first Monday Evening Novena Service. He used a “little Novena booklet” containing the prayers his confreres prepared especially for this Novena. In time, the number of Monday services grew to twelve. The Perpetual Novena is still alive and well today at Mary’s “Central Shrine”. Each Monday 9 Novena Services are held along with the celebrating of Masses, benediction and confession. In the Millennium Year, the Archdiocese designated the Shrine Chapel as one of six official pilgrimage sites. In 2002, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia reported that the Miraculous Medal Novena is the most popular novena devotion in its parishes.

Learn more about the Miraculous Medal devotion at the websites for these two associations.
Association of the Miraculous Medal, Perryville

Central Association of the Miraculous Medal, Philadelphia

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Birthday of Catherine Laboure

Catherine Laboure witnessing one of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary while a Seminary Sister at the Daughter of Charity Mother House in Paris, 1830. Detail from a painting in the collections of the Provincial Archives (Image courtesy Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)

Catherine Laboure witnessing one of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary while a Seminary Sister at the Daughter of Charity Mother House in Paris, 1830. Detail from a painting in the collections of the Provincial Archives (Image courtesy Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)


Photo of Catherine Laboure

The only known photograph of Catherine Laboure, taken just before her death in 1876 (Image courtesy Daughters of Charity Mother House, Paris)

May 2 marks the birthday of Catherine Laboure, born on May 2, 1806 in Fain-les-Moutiers, France. The text below is taken from a biography of Catherine which appears on the Daughters of Charity international website.

Catherine was a girl from the countryside of Burgundy, the 8th in a family of 10 children. Orphaned at 9 years old, she decided to replace the mother she had lost with our Heavenly Mother, Mary. This act of faith would be a foundational event in her privileged relationship with “Heaven.”

On January 25, 1818 Catherine made her First Communion in the churchof Moutiers-Saint-Jeanand became « all mystical » as her little sister, Tonine, perceived. From the age of 12 Catherine was her father’s main helper on the farm. Burdened with work, Catherine worked tirelessly, which fortified her and built her endurance over fatigue. Each day she spent a long time in prayer. Before beginning her day she found the way to attend Mass in the church at Moutiers-Saint-Jean. At age 13 Catherine was as much a “contemplative” as she was “mistress of the house.”

Around 15 – 16 years old, she had a strange dream, one of the kinds of dreams that the Gospel calls prophetic, whose meaning becomes clear only at a later time. Catherine was visited by St. Vincent de Paul who spoke to her and invited her to follow him. At about 18 years old she told her father she wanted to enter the Daughters of Charity. He refused and hoped to change her mind by sending her to Paristo work as a cook and waitress in the restaurant of her brother.

When Catherine was 22 years old her father finally granted her desire to pursue her vocation. In April of 1830 Catherine entered the Seminary at the Motherhouse on rue du Bac, Paris. She greatly admired St. Vincent de Paul and drew strength, patience and enlightenment from prayer. Smiling and cheerful, Catherine focused on others and on day to day service.

From her arrival in the Seminary, Catherine received personal visions (of the heart of St. Vincent and of Our Lord in the Eucharist) and then two apparitions of Mary which had a message of evangelization for the Church and the world. These two apparitions, on July 18 and November 27, are inseparable. The first prepared for the second which, surely, was of great importance: Mary Immaculate confided the Medal to the world. By this symbol Mary revealed her Immaculate Conception; the reverse of the Medal gave symbols which linked Mary intimately with the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption.

For Catherine, God was not an idea but a presence: Jesus Christ, God made a man among humans, among those who are poor. At the end of January 1831 she was sent to serve the elderly in the hospice of Enghien, the poor of that neighborhood, those who were afflicted, saddened, the marginalized. During 46 years of untiring service she was a harbor of peace for everyone, looking out for the elderly with unusual generosity, especially those who were the most disagreeable. She gave equal attention to the sick whom she attended during their agony. She saw the face of Christ in each one. She was a “visionary” but above all a “believer” which was shown heroically in unexpected and difficult situations, notably during the Commune: all is for God.

During the first days of 1877 Sister Catherine was buried under the house in Reuilly. Seventy years after her death she was canonized. In 1933 the body of Catherine was transferred to the Chapel at rue du Bac and placed under the altar of the statue of Our Lady of the Globe. Thus, Catherine appears as the first witness to a new type of holiness, without glory or human triumph that the Holy Spirit began to bring for modern times.

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Feast of St. Catherine Laboure

Catherine and Mary statue

Statue showing Catherine Laboure kneeling before Blessed Mother, now on display in the Provincial Archives


(Image used with permission of the Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)
November 28 is the feast day of St. Catherine Laboure. St Catherine Labouré was born on the 2nd of May 1806 at Fain les-Moutiers, a picturesque village of Burgundy, France. In 1830, during her novitiate with the Daughters of Charity in Paris, she received a number of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, who confided to her the mission of having the Miraculous Medal made. For the next 46 years Catherine told no one except her confessor about the apparitions.

Catherine died on December 31, 1876. When her body was exhumed 57 years later, in connection with her cause for canonization, it was found to be in perfect condition. Her body can still be seen today in the Chapel of the Daughters of Charity Mother House. Catherine Laboure was canonized by Pope Pius XII on July 27, 1947.

The image seen here shows Catherine kneeling in front of Blessed Mother during one of the apparitions. It will be on display in the Provincial Archives through December 31 as part of our exhibit, “Oh Mary Conceived Without Sin”

“When I go to the Chapel I place myself before the good God and I say to Him: ‘Lord, here I am, give me what You will.’ If He gives me something, I am very pleased and I thank Him. If He gives me nothing, I still thank Him because I do not deserve anything. And then again, I tell Him all that passes through my mind; I recount my pains and my joys and … I listen. If you listen to Him, He will speak to you also, because with the good God it is necessary to speak and to listen.” — Catherine Laboure

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