The Miraculous Medal: Its Origin, History, Circulation, Results

The Miraculous Medal: Its Origin, History, Circulation, Results

Jean Marie Aladel
Jean Marie Aladel

Author: Aladel, Jean Marie
Blessed Virgin
Miraculous Medal
The Miraculous Medal: Its Origin, History, Circulation, Results
The Daughter of Charity, favored with the Vision of the Miraculous Medal in 1830.
Died December 31, 1876.



Origin, History, Circulation, Results.

BY P.S.,
Graduate of St. Joseph’s, Emmitsburg, Md.





The Most Compassionate Virgin Mary,
mother of god, conceived without sin.
Oh Mary, conceived without sin, Virgin incomparable, august Mother of Jesus, thou who hast adopted us for thy children, and who hast given us so many proofs of thy maternal tenderness, deign to accept this little book, feeble token of our gratitude and love!
Oh! may it be instrumental in attracting and attaching inviolably to thee, the hearts of all who read it!
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!


In conformity with the decree of Pope Urban VIII, we declare that the terms miracle, revelation, apparition and other expressions of a similar nature here employed, have, in our intention, no other than a purely historical value, and that we submit unreservedly the entire contents of this book to the judgment of the Apostolic See.


Since the hour when the Beloved Disciple took the Blessed Virgin to his own, the followers of her Divine Son have always cherished a reverential affection for her above all other creatures. They have regarded her as the ideal of all that is true and pure and sweet and noble in the Christian life, and they have honored her as the most favored of mortals, the greatest of saints, the masterpiece of the Almighty. The peculiar veneration paid to her by the Apostles, was caught up by the first Christians, who regarded her with awe because of her great dignity; and when she died, her memory was held in benediction. But death could not sever her from those who, in the person of St. John, had been given to her for her children. She still lived for the Church. From the time when the faithful took refuge in the Catacombs to the fifth century, when the Council of Ephesus solemnly sanctioned the homage paid to her as the Mother of God, her intercession was often invoked; and from that day, devotion towards her has increased until our own age, when the nations of the earth unite to proclaim her Blessed.
Often has Mary given signal proofs of the pleasure she takes in the devotion of her clients and of the power she possesses to grant their petitions. Graces asked through her mediation have been suddenly obtained; wonders in the way of cures and conversions have been wrought at her shrines; disasters have been averted; plagues have been made to cease; and, to crown all her favors, apparitions have occurred, in which she has shown herself, radiant with the lustre of Heaven, to her loyal servants; and, in some instances, she has left something like the scapular, the Miraculous Medal and the fount in the grotto of Lourdes, as memorials of her visit.
These manifestations of her maternal solicitude have of late been more frequent, more renowned, and more efficacious than ever. As the end draws near and the dangers increase, her anxiety for the sanctification of her own bursts its bonds and urges her to find new ways to the hearts of men. Among the most recent of these demonstrations, the Miraculous Medal is one of the most remarkable. How it originated, how rapidly and widely it has circulated, and how gloriously it has fulfilled its mission, are told in this book. A more interesting and edifying history could not easily have been written. To all children of Mary, in America as elsewhere, it will be welcome, and for them this edition has been prepared by
May 4, 1880.


The eighth and last edition of THE HISTORY OF THE MIRACULOUS MEDAL, extending up to the year 1842, has for a long time been out of print. More than once efforts have been made to have a new edition published, but until now they have failed. The recent death of the Sister who was favored with the Blessed Virgin’s confidence, has again excited a general desire for the work; for many persons are eager to learn the origin of the medal, and others hope to get the full particulars of it. For these reasons, the present edition has been undertaken.
Believing that it would gratify our readers, we have placed at the beginning of the book a biographical sketch of the privileged Sister, Catherine Labouré, and to it we have added some notes concerning M. Aladel, her Director, who was the author of the previous editions.
These editions of the History presented but a very condensed account of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin in 1830; for serious reasons induced M. Aladel to suppress many things. He feared especially to attract attention to the humble daughter who had transmitted Heaven’s orders, and who, it was best, should remain unknown to the end of her life.
Now, these fears are no longer an obstacle, and we are permitted to publish, for the edification of the faithful, all that the Sister revealed, at least, all that we still possess of these communications. At the time of the last edition, M. Aladel could understand but imperfectly the import of the vision of the medal, but certain events of subsequent occurrence, have placed this important revelation in a clearer light, and fully established its connection with the past and the future. We have endeavored to show the designs of Providence, by proving that the apparition of 1830 was not an isolated fact; that it marked the end of a disastrous period for the Church and society; that it was the beginning of a new era, an era of mercy and hope; that it was a preparation for the definition of the Immaculate Conception as a dogma of faith; in fine, that it was the first of a series of supernatural manifestations, which have greatly increased devotion to the Blessed Virgin, insomuch, that our age may justly be styled the age of Mary.
We have judged it advisable to omit quite a number of miraculous occurrences related in the preceding editions, and substitute for them others not less authentic, but more recent, thus demonstrating that the medal is as efficacious in our days, as it was at the time of its origin.
We ask those who may hereafter obtain similar favors, to send an account of them, together with satisfactory vouchers of their authenticity, to the Superior-General of the Daughters of Charity, rue du Bac, 140, or to the Director of the Daughters of Charity, rue de Sevres, 95, Paris.


  Dedication iii
  The Author’s Declaration v
  Preface vii
  Sister Catherine, Daughter of Charity—Her Birth—Early Life—Vocation—Entrance into the Community—Apparition of the Blessed Virgin—The Medal—Sister Catherine is sent to d’Enghien Hospital—Her humble, hidden Life—Her Death. 1
  Mary’s Agency in the Church—This Agency always manifest, seems to have disappeared during the Eighteenth and at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century—Mary reappears in 1830—Motives and Importance of this Apparition—The Immaculate Conception. 42
  Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to Sister Catherine—First Apparition: An Angel Conducts the Sister to the Chapel—Mary Converses with Her—Second Apparition: Mary standing upon a Globe, her hands emitting Rays of Light, symbolic of Grace—Mary orders a Medal to be Struck—Third Apparition: Mary Repeats the Order. 51
  The Medal Appears—The Welcome it Receives—Canonical Investigation ordered by Mgr. de Quélen—Wonderful Circulation of the Medal. 67
  Development of the Devotion to the Immaculate Conception—Mgr. de Quélen’s Circular. 79
  Extraordinary Graces obtained by means of the Miraculous Medal—Graces obtained from 1832 to 1835—During the year 1835, in France, Switzerland, Savoy, Turkey—From 1836 to 1838, in France, Italy, Holland, &c.—Notre Dame des Victoires—From 1838 to 1842, in Greece, America, China, &c.—From 1843 to 1877, in France, Germany, Italy, America. 94
  Progress of the Devotion to Mary crowned by the Definition of the Immaculate Conception—Our Lady of La Salette—The Children of Mary—The Definition of the Immaculate Conception. 261
  The Miraculous Medal and the War—The War in the East—The Italian War—The United States—War between Prussia and Austria—Souvenirs of the Commune. 289
  Recent Manifestations of the Blessed Virgin in the Church—Our Lady of Lourdes—Our Lady of Pontmain, &c.—Conclusion. 309

Table of Engravings of the Miraculous Medal

  Portrait of Sister Catherine Labouré, the Daughter of Charity favored with the Vision of the Miraculous Medal in 1830. Frontispiece
  First Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to Sister Catherine Labouré, Daughter of Charity, during the night of July 18th, 1830. After a picture painted according to Sister Catherine’s directions. Summoned by her Guardian Angel, under the form of a child, emitting rays of light, Sister Catherine arises, follows him to the Chapel, which she finds brilliantly illuminated; she afterwards sees the Blessed Virgin seated in the sanctuary. The picture represents Sister Catherine at the Blessed Virgin’s feet, her hands on the Blessed Virgin’s knees: “My child,” says the Blessed Virgin, “the times are very disastrous, great troubles are about to descend upon France; the throne will be upset, the entire world will be in confusion by reason of miseries of every description.” 53
  Second Apparition of the Blessed Virgin to Sister Catherine Labouré, November 17th, 1830, first picture. About half-past five in the evening, whilst Sister Catharine is taking her meditation, the Blessed Virgin again appears. She stands upon a hemisphere, and holds in her hand a globe which she offers to our Lord. Suddenly her fingers are filled with most dazzling rings and precious stones. “This globe,” says the Blessed Virgin, “represents the whole world and particularly France.” She adds that the rays escaping from her hands “are symbols of the graces she bestows upon those who ask for them.” 59
Same Apparition, second picture. “Then,” relates Sister Catherine, “there formed around the Blessed Virgin a somewhat oval picture, upon which appeared in golden letters these words: ‘O Mary! conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!’ and a voice said: ‘Have a medal struck upon this model; those who wear it indulgenced will receive great graces, especially if they wear it on the neck; abundant graces will be bestowed upon those who have confidence.'” At that instant, the picture being turned, Sister Catherine sees on the reverse, the letter M, surmounted by a cross, and beneath this the sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. 60
  Medal struck by order of Mgr. de Quélen. 78
  Apparition of the Miraculous Medal to M. Ratisbonne. 205
  Representation of the Miraculous Medal, modelled in accordance with the description given by Sister Catherine Labouré. 272, 273

Sister Catherine,
It is an extensively credited assumption, that those who are favored with supernatural communications should have something extraordinary in their person and mode of life. One easily invests them with an ideal of perfection, which, in some measure, sets them apart from the majority of mankind. But if, at any time, an occasion occurs of proving that such an assumption is erroneous, if we discover in these divine confidants weaknesses or only infirmities, we are astonished and tempted to be scandalized. Among the Christians who knew St. Paul only by reputation, some were disappointed on a closer acquaintance; they said his appearance was too unprepossessing and his language too unrefined for an apostle. Were not the Jews scandalized that Our Lord ate and drank like others, that His parents were poor, that He came from Nazareth, and that He conversed with sinners? So true is it, that we are always disposed to judge by appearances.
Not so with God. He sees the depths of our hearts, and often what appears contemptible in the eyes of the world, is great in His. Simplicity and purity He prizes especially. Exterior qualities, gifts of intellect, birth and education, are of little value to Him, and when He has an important mission to confide, it is ordinarily to persons not possessing these qualifications. Thus, does He display His wisdom and power, in using what is weak, to accomplish great results. Sometimes, He chooses for His instruments subjects that are even imperfect, permitting them to commit faults in order to keep them in all humility, and convince them that the favors they receive are not accorded their own merits, but are the gift of God’s pure bounty.
These observations naturally prelude Sister Catherine’s biography; they explain in advance the difficulties which might arise in the mind of the reader at the contrast between a life so simple and ordinary and the graces showered upon her.

Sister Catherine (Zoé Labouré) was born May 2, 1806, in a little village of the Côte-d’Or Mountains, called Fain-les-Moutiers, of the parish of Moutiers-Saint-Jean. This last place, particularly dear to St. Vincent, was not far from the cradle of St. Bernard, that great servant of Mary, nor from the spot where St. Chantal passed a part of her life, as if in the soil as well as the blood there was a predisposition to certain qualities or hereditary virtues.
Her parents, sincere Christians, were held in esteem. They cultivated their farm, and enjoyed that competency which arises from rural labor joined to simplicity of life. God had blessed their union with a numerous family, seven sons and three daughters.
At an early age, the sons left the paternal roof; little Zoé, with her sisters, remained under the mother’s eye, but this mother, God took from Zoé, ere she had completed her eighth year. Already capable of feeling the extent of this sacrifice, it seemed to her as if the Blessed Virgin wished to be her only Mother.
An aunt, living at Rémy, took Zoé and the youngest sister to live with her; but the father, a pious man, who in his youth had even thought of embracing the ecclesiastical state, preferred having the children under his own eye, and at the end of two years they were brought home.
Another motive, also, impelled him to act thus. The eldest sister thought seriously of leaving her family to enter the Community of Daughters of Charity, and the poor father could not bear the idea of confiding his house to mercenary hands. And thus, at an age when other children think only of their sports, Zoé was inured to hard work.
At the age of twelve, with a pure and fervent heart, she made her First Communion in the church of Moutiers-Saint-Jean. Henceforth, her only desire was to be solely His who had just given Himself to her for the first time.

Very soon after, the eldest sister left home to postulate at Langres; and Zoé, now little mistress of the house, did the cooking, with the assistance of a woman for the roughest work. She carried the field hands their meals, and never shrank from any duty however laborious or severe.
Moutiers-Saint-Jean possesses an establishment of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul. Zoé went to see them as often as her household duties permitted, and the good Sister-Servant, who loved her much, encouraged the child in her laborious life; yet the latter never spoke to the Sister of her growing vocation, but awaited, with a secret impatience, until her sister (two years her junior) would be able to take charge of the house. It was she to whom Zoé confided her dearest desires, and then commenced for the two that tender intimacy of life, one of pure labor and duty, and whose only relaxations were attending the services of the parish church.
The two young girls, thinking themselves able to dispense with the servant, dismissed her, and now shared between them all the work. Zoé, who was ve

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