Where does the Miraculous Medal come from and what does this mean?


The story of the Miraculous Medal arises from the apparitions of our Blessed Mother to St. Catherine Laboure, a novice at the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris (where it still stands today at 140 Rue du Bac).  St. Catherine (1806-1876, canonized 1947) was the daughter of a farmer and was the ninth of eleven children.  When she was eight years old, St. Catherine lost her mother.  Even at that tender age, St. Catherine showed a special love for the Blessed Mother: Upon her mother’s death, St. Catherine climbed a chair to reach the statue of the Blessed Mother in their home, and clasping it to her chest, said, “Now, dear Blessed Mother, you will be my mother.”  She was called upon to care for the family, thereby depriving her of any formal education at school.  (Her youngest sibling was an invalid and needed constant care.)  On January 22, 1830, at the age of twenty-four, St. Catherine joined the Daughters of Charity, which had been founded by St. Vincent de Paul.

On the night of July 18, 1830, St. Catherine saw our Blessed Mother seated in the choir of the motherhouse chapel.  St. Catherine herself recorded the incident, which she entitled, “July Conversation with the Most Blessed Virgin, from 11:30 in the evening of the 18th until 1:30 in the morning of the 19th, St. Vincent’s Day.”  During this time, the Blessed Mother spoke to her and made several predictions that would later come to pass.  The Blessed Mother said, “My child, the good God wishes to charge you with a mission.  You will have much to suffer, but you will rise above these sufferings by reflecting that what you do is for the glory of God.  You will know what the good God wants.  You will be tormented until you have told him who is charged with directing you.  You will be contradicted but, do not fear, you will have grace.  Tell with confidence all that passes within you; tell it with simplicity.  Have confidence.  Do not be afraid.”

On November 27, 1830, the Blessed Mother again appeared to St. Catherine at about 5:30 in the evening, while she was making her meditation with the community.  St. Catherine described what she saw: “The Virgin was standing.  She was a medium height and clothed all in white.  Her dress was of the whiteness of the dawn, made in the style called ‘a la Vierge,’ that is, high neck and plain sleeves.  A white veil covered her head and fell on either side to her feet.  Under the veil, her hair, in coils, was bound with a fillet ornamented with lace, about three centimeters in height or of two fingers’ breadth, without pleats, and resting lightly on the hair.  Her face was sufficiently exposed, indeed exposed very well, and so beautiful that it seems to be impossible to express her ravishing beauty.  Her feet rested on a white globe, that is to say, half a globe, or at least I saw only half.  There was also a serpent, green in color with yellow spots.  The hands were raised to the height of the stomach and held, in a very relaxed manner and as if offering it to God, a golden ball surmounted with a little golden cross, which represented the world.  Her eyes were now raised to heaven, now lowered.  Her face was of such beauty that I could not describe it.  All at once, I saw rings on her fingers, three rings to each finger, the largest one near the base of the finger, one of medium size in the middle, the smallest one at the tip.  Each ring was set with gems, some more beautiful than others; the larger gems emitted greater rays, and the smaller gems, smaller rays; the rays bursting from all sides flooded the base so that I could no longer see the feet of the Blessed Virgin.”

The Blessed Mother then explained to St. Catherine the symbolism involved in her appearance: “This ball that you see represents the whole world, especially France, and each person in particular. [The dazzling rays] are the symbols of graces I shed upon those who ask for them.  The gems from which the rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask.”  A slightly oval frame surrounded the Blessed Mother upon which were the words written in gold: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”  This image clearly identified the Blessed Mother as the Immaculate Conception and the Mediatrix of graces.  (In 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX solemnly pronounced the dogma of the Immaculate Conception that “the most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and in view of the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin…” (Ineffabilis Deus).)

The Blessed Mother then instructed St. Catherine to have a medal struck after this image.  On the reverse side there was to be a large M surmounted by a bar and a cross; beneath the M were to be the Heart of Jesus, crowned with thorns, and the Heart of Mary, pierced with a sword.  The Blessed Mother also said, “All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck.  Graces will abound for those who wear it with confidence.”  With the approval of the Archbishop de Quellen of Paris, the first 1,500 medals were struck on June 30, 1832.  Because of the numerous favors received by the faithful, the medal was soon known as “miraculous.”  After a canonical inquiry at Paris (1836) regarding the apparitions, the medal was declared of supernatural origin.

One of the most famous miraculous favors surrounding the medal was the instantaneous conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne, a non-practicing Jew who was an atheist.  Ratisbonne was the son and heir of a wealthy aristocratic family of Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France.  After his older brother converted to Catholicism and became a priest, and the family disinherited him, Ratisbonne held a deep hostility toward Catholicism.  When in Rome, Ratisbonne met with Baron de Bussieres, the brother of one of his best friends.  The baron, a devout Catholic, dared Ratisbonne to wear a miraculous medal and recite a short daily prayer to Mary; if nothing happened, then indeed there would be nothing to such “detestable superstitions,” as Ratisbonne called them.  He agreed to the wager.  On January 20, 1842, the last day of his stay in Rome, the baron and Ratisbonne stopped in the Church of St. Andrea delle Fratte.  Immediately, Ratisbonne fell into spiritual turmoil. 

He saw a bright light that filled the chapel of St. Michael the Archangel.  He said: “I saw someone standing on the altar, a lofty shining figure, all majesty and sweetness, the Virgin Mary just as she looks on this medal.  Some irresistible force drew me towards her.  She motioned to me to kneel down and when I did so, she seemed to approve.  Though she never said a word, I understood her perfectly. …I was there, on my knees, in tears….  I took the medal… and kissed passionately the image of the Virgin radiant with grace.  It was she!”  Shortly thereafter, he was baptized, and then later ordained as a priest.  The instantaneous conversion of this prominent figure helped move the Holy See to grant official papal approval for the medal.

Regarding the Miraculous Medal, Father Rene Laurentin, one of the greatest Mariologists of our times, said, “The front manifests the light, God’s irradiation on the one whom He has chosen as a prototype of the salvation proposed to all human beings in Jesus Christ so that all will be light in His light.  The back manifests the austere and hidden face of the message: love and the Cross, the resources of salvation, illustrated by the Passion of Our Lord and the Compassion of Our Lady that all are invited to share.”  As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th, and remember the 175th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother to St. Catherine Laboure, let us turn our hearts to our Blessed Mother, who always wants to lead us closer to her divine Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  By her prayers and example, may Mary, full of grace and conceived without sin, guide us along the path of holiness.

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Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed


  1. Thank you my Blessed mother in giving me strength,patience and a heart full of love because i will continue serving you as your legion servant.Forgive me to all my sins, Always protect us from all dangers, guide us to become a better christian esp. my children , nephews and nieces. I also lift up to you my co legionaries to guide and protect them..In Jesus name .Amen

  2. In 1981 before comming to Bahrain a lady whose husband help me to get a working visas had gave me this miracalous medal and told me to wear around my neck and told me mother Mary will take care of me without knowing anything about this miraculous medal l wore around my neck and went to Bahrain many years it was around my neck only thing i use to change the thread whenever its break and today i came to know the story behind this miraculous medal till now i am in Bahrain with my family mother Mary always helped us in our good days and in our bad days unfortunately our company is going to close down and me and my wife is working for same company but we all have faith that Mama Mary will take care of us and make a better way for us Amen

  3. Blessed Mary ever virgin please intercede for all my family and myself. We have been besieged by our enemies in the form of politicians in our community who plan to deliver their hatred towards us by punishing our community members and taking away all financial programs and services our brother has been put in place for the community benefit. I ask first for forgiveness in all that I have done that has offended you in thought word or deed. And I ask forgiveness for those who are hurt g us or intend to hurt us. Bless us in all we do in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

  4. Nice article. I have two Miraclous medals that turned gold when Pope John Paul blessed them. When one of the medals touched my sterling silver rosary, the rosary itself began to immediately turn gold; the spot where the medal touched the rosary started first, and the gold quickly worked around each link until it met on the opposite side of the rosary. A few minutes later, 4 other silver colored miraculous medals turned gold in my palm, as they were too close to the 2 original medals which were blessed by the pope. When we arrived home I placed my rosary next to my husband’s rosary and it too turned gold. I have often shared my medals and rosary to those who were suffering or needed healing.

  5. I am wearing my Miraculous Medal today and I happened to stumble across this article as I was flicking through my Facebook feed. It was in fact the image of the Medal on the forefront of the article that caught my attention. I had forgotten the significance of my Medal but recognised the image immediately, which is what prompted me to read this.
    When I read through the narration of the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne (the non-practicing Jew) a vivid memory came flashed back through my mind. I was once dressing before seeing someone whom I love very much and all the while I was talking to Our Blessed Mother. I was asking her opinion on what to wear and she chose a blue dress of mine and, around my neck, my Miraculous Medal. During our meeting he grabbed hold of my Medal, which was glazed in blue, and asked me about it. He too is a Jew and I, a devout Catholic. I have been praying for him all this time and after reading this article I understand why Our Lady chose what she did for my attire. Please pray for his conversion too. His name means Cedar tree in Hebrew.

  6. Dear Mary, help your son Joseph Marion to tolerate Rehab and get well so he can return home and protect my family from harm, sickness, and stay close and watch over my grandsons to be healthy and no harm comes to him. Amen.

  7. Thank you Jesus through the intercession of Our Mother Mary. Consecrated in 2001 August 15th to Jesus through Mary and since then have been wearing the scapula and the miraculous medal. I have experienced uncountable favour and Graces with me and my entire family.l pray to wear them as my dress throughout the days that I live on earth and hereafter Amen.

  8. Mother Mary help with with my boys help my son Adrian with his drug problem and help my son Fabian and Edgar that they come closer as brother and repect each other and pray for my grandkids and pray for me and my husband get back together and bring this family back….one more thing Mother Mary pray that everything goes well with my Social Security…amen

  9. Thank You! I Was Enrolled In The Miraculous Medal As A Girl By Our Irish Priest Father Mac Cabe Here In England Very Special To Me, and Wearing It! And Giving Them Out To People and Taken Them Into School’s For The Children and

    1. I came across this article about this miracles Virgin not knowing I had Her all this time, I had put her in my son’s frame, whee his pic is in when he left to iraq, and my other son’s too pic is in that frame.I’m so emotional right now that al this time they were all protected by miracles Virgin

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