On Monday 27 November 2023, we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. As the story of this great devotion says, it was precisely on this date when the Blessed Mother Mary appeared to St Catherine Laboure in the Motherhouse Chapel of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, France.
To this humble seminary sister, Our Blessed Mother demanded from her to have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces: they shall wear it around their neck. Great graces will abound for those who wear it with confidence. Regarding the symbols which are found in the medal they all summarize the mysteries of the Christian faith.
To begin with, on the front side of the Miraculous Medal, Mary is represented as standing on a globe, which is the earth, with a crushed snake under her feet. This image shows Mary’s role as “Queen of Heaven and Earth.” The snake is Satan, who was defeated by Mary’s obedience to God. Humility defeats the devil always and everywhere. Then, the rays coming from her hands mean the graces Mary gives to those who prayer to her. The year 1830 commemorates the year that the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine Laboure.
On the reverse side of the Miraculous Medal one encounters a cross and the letter “M”. The cross stands for Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation, whereas the bar under the cross represents the Earth. The “M” represents “Mary” and her true devotion both to Jesus and to her children, all of us, on Earth. The two hearts are the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful Heart of Mary. The whole image is surrounded by twelve stars. The stars may stand for both the twelve Apostles as well as the verse from the Book of Revelation, a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars (Revelation 12:1).
One of the great champions of the Miraculous Medal was certainly St Maximilian Kolbe. For him the Miraculous Medal was a powerful “weapon”. He used to say: This is truly our heavenly weapon. St Maximilian described the Miraculous Medal as a bullet with which a faithful soldier hits the enemy, i.e. evil, and thus rescues souls. Furthermore he said: Even though a person be the worst sort, if only he agrees to wear the medal, give it to him…and then pray for him, and at the proper moment strive to bring him closer to his Immaculate Mother, so that he have recourse to her in all difficulties and temptations.
Concerning the promises of the Miraculous Medal, when Our Lady appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré on 27 November 1830, rays of light flowed from the rings (made of precious stones) on her fingers. Nevertheless, some of the stones on the rings did not shine. Then Our Lady gave her explanation: These rays symbolise the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls omit to ask.
All who wear it will receive great graces. They should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence. Graces will be poured out
on all those, small, or great, who ask for them with confidence and fervour. …
Let us pray daily to Mary as we lovingly and confidently wear the Miracolous Medal around our neck: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap