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VISIONARY: Catherine Laboure (24)


FIRST APPARITION:  July 18, 1830

LAST APPARITION:  November 27, 1830

​APPROVED: July 13, 1836

"This globe which you see is the world, and France in particular.

I am praying for it and for everyone in the world.

The rays which shed on the globe from my hands are

the graces which I bestow for all those who ask for them.

But there are no rays that come from some of the gems (from my fingers)

because those are the graces which God wishes to bestow on them but they forget to ask..."




  Catherine Laboure, a novitiate in the order of the Sisters of Charity, received various visions of St. Vincent and of Jesus present in the Eucharist before experiencing two apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the first vision on July 18th, 1830, Catherine is told of the impending travails of France and of an unspecified future mission.


  Several months later, in her second vision, Catherine received a message detailing the designs for a medal, later known as the Miraculous Medal, now reproduced over a billion times and distributed around the world. The Blessed Virgin herself designed the Medal of the Immaculate Conception! No wonder, then, that it wins such extraordinary graces for those who wear it and pray for Mary's intercession and help.


  The apparition was investigated in 1836 and later approved. Catherine worked for 46 more years in hospices of her Order until her death in 1876. Her body lies incorrupt at the site of the apparition to this day. She was canonized by the Church in 1947.




  On May 2, 1806, Catherine Laboure was born the ninth of eleven children at Fain-les-Moutiers (near Dijon), Cote d’Or, France. She was baptized Zoe Laboure, daughter of a yeoman farmer.  Catherine’s birthday, May 2nd, falls on the feast day of St’s Exsuperius and Zoe, so from a young age everyone called her Zoe.


  In 1815, Catherine’s mother, who often used to tell her, “in our sorrows, we must always run to Mary -- she never turns away from a child who loves her”, died when Catherine was only nine years old. Although it was heartbreaking for her, Catherine found solace and strength in her faith. “Dear Blessed Mother,”, she declared, “now you will be my mother.” Also this year, Catherine’s elder sister, Louisa, joined the Sisters of Charity.


  In 1818, after Catherine received her First Holy Communion at the age of 12, she had a deep desire to pursue a vocation in religious life.


  In 1824, Catherine attended a finishing school in Paris despite feeling a call to the religious life. When Catherine was a young woman, her father introduced her to a number of suitors and urged her to marry. “I shall never marry”, she told him. “I have promised my life to Jesus Christ.”


  One day, young Catherine was in the village church of Fain-Les-Moutiers when she experienced one of her first mystical experience. In her vision, she saw an elderly priest celebrating Mass. The old priest beckoned her, but she drew backwards, never taking her eyes off him. Suddenly Catherine found herself in what looked to be an infirmary. The same priest was there. He looked at her and said, “My child, it is a good idea to care for the sick. You run away from me now, but one day you will gladly come to me. God has designs for you. Do not forget that.” She prayed to understand the meaning behind her vision.


  In 1828, when Catherine was 22, she asked her father’s permission to follow in her sister’s footsteps. Her father, however, refused and sent her to work in her brother’s coffee shop in Paris.  Although she was a country girl who had never learned to read or write, Catherine never wavered in her faith and remained determined to enter the religious life.


  On January 22, 1830, Catherine visited a hospital run by the Daughters of Charity and was startled to see a painting on the wall of a man who looked exactly like the elderly priest in her vision. She asked a nun about the painting, and the nun replied, “That’s our founder, Saint Vincent de Paul.” Shortly after, Catherine’s father changed his mind and granted her permission to follow her dream. She entered religious life on January 22, 1830 at the Hospice de la Charite in Chatillon-sur-Seine. Her postulancy lasted three months, after which she was admitted to the Sisters of Charity at Châtillon-sur-Seinesent to live at the mother house of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul at 140 Rue du Bacin Paris.


  In April, 1830, after her postulancy, Catherine went to a convent in the rue du Bac, Paris. She arrived several days before the translation of relics of Saint Vincent from Notre Dame to the Lazarist Church in rue de Sèvres. The Daughters of Charity took part in processions and prayers in honor of their founder. For three nights in a row, Catherine experienced visions of what she believed to be St. Vincent de Paul’s heart. When she told the convent chaplain about her vision, however, he instructed her to forget what she had seen and not speak about it.



First Apparition


  On the eve of St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day, Catherine prayed that St. Vincent might intercede for her in asking God to grant her a special favor. “I went to bed with the thought that this night I would see my Good Mother,” Catherine wrote. “I had been wanting to see her for so long! At last I feel asleep with the thought that St. Vincent would obtain for me the grace of seeing the Blessed Virgin.”


  She was awakened about 11:30 p.m. on July 18 by a "shining child," who she thought to be her guardian angel who led her to the chapel, where she was surprised to find all the candles lit as if it was Midnight Mass. But the chapel was empty. Catherine then described hearing a noise “like the rustling of a silk dress” coming from an unseen source which seemed to move from near a picture of St. Joseph across the chapel to the altar steps. Suddenly, Catherine saw the Blessed Mother appear there. “I sprang forward with one leap to her side – kneeling on the altar steps with my hands resting on the knees of the Blessed Virgin. There I spent the sweetest moment in my life.” Later Catherine mentioned that when the Virgin was standing: “She was of medium height, and clothed in all white. Her dress was of the whiteness of dawn, made in the style called a la Vierge, that is, high neck and plain sleeves. A white veil covered her head and and fell on either side of 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 me impossible to express her ravishing beauty."

Our Lady talked with Catherine for hours, telling her that she would have to undertake a difficult task; “My child, the good God wishes to give you a mission. Later I shall let you know what it is. You will have much to suffer. But do not be afraid.”


  Our Lady also warned of a great time of upheaval that would occur in France and beyond. “My child,” said the Blessed Virgin, “times are very bad. Calamities are going to fall upon France. The whole world will be in an upheavel due to all sorts of troubles.” And, according to Catherine, Our Lady was very sad when she said these things.


  Later, Catherine asked Our Lady the meaning of what had been shown to her. “My child,” she answered, “the times are evil, and misfortunes are about to overwhelm France. The throne will be destroyed and the whole world convulsed by all sorts of calamities. But come to the foot of this altar. Here graces will be poured out on all who ask for them, great or small…My eyes are always watching you, I shall grant you many graces. Special graces will be given to all who ask for them, but people must pray.”


  When Catherine reported the first apparition to her confessor, Fr. Jean Marie Aladel, he told her that it must have been a dream and that she should try to forget about it.


Second Apparition


  At 5:30 on the evening of November 27, 1830, as Saint Catherine was praying in the chapel, the Holy Virgin appeared to her for the second time, standing as high as Saint Joseph’s picture to the right of the main altar. “Her face was so beautiful that it would be impossible for me to describe it. Her robe was white as the glow of dawn... Her head was covered with a white veil that extended to her feet which rested on a half sphere, with her heel crushing the head of a serpent.”


  The Holy Virgin held a globe in her hands representing the whole world, and each person in particular, and offered it to God, imploring His mercy. "This globe which you see is the world, and France in particular. I am praying for it and for everyone in the world. The rays which shed on the globe from my hands are the graces which I bestow for all those who ask for them. But there are no rays that come from some of the gems (from my fingers) because those are the graces which God wishes to bestow on them but they forget to ask..."


  Our Lady was wearing rings on her fingers, bearing precious stones that shed rays, one more beautiful than the next, symbolizing the graces that the Holy Virgin pours out on those who ask for them. Our Blessed Mother explained to Saint Catherine “how pleased she is when people pray to her and how generous she is with them; how she gives special graces to those who ask; and what a great joy she takes in granting them.” At that point “a frame formed around Our Lady, like an oval, bearing the following words in gold letters: ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.’”


  After contemplating the picture on the medal, Saint Catherine saw it turn to display the back. There she saw an “M,” the monogram of Mary, surmounted by a small cross and, below it, the hearts of Jesus and Mary, the first surrounded with thorns and the latter pierced with a sword. Twelve stars surrounded the hearts and the monogram.


  Then a voice was heard, saying, “Have a medal struck after this model. Those who wear it, blessed, around their neck will receive great graces. The graces will be abundant for those who wear it with confidence.”


  Our Lady asked Catherine to keep the apparitions a secret from everyone except for Fr. Aladel. But when Catherine told him again about her visions, the priest dismissed her and told her she had “too much imagination.”




The Miraculous Medal


  In June, 1832, the first 1,500 of the of the medals, now known to Catholics as the ‘Miraculous Medal’, were struck. 50,000 medals were given out in 1832 and 1833. And, subsequently millions have been made and distributed.


  The popularity of the medal grew, especially after the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne in 1842. Alphonse was an Alsatian Jew who, having been persuaded to wear the medal, received a vision of Our Lady in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Frate at Rome, became a priest, and founded the religious congregation known as the Fathers and Sisters of Zion.


Catherine Laboure


  On January 30, 1831, Catherine received the habit of the Daughters of Charity and went to work at a hospice in a Paris suburb. She continued to confide in Fr. Aladel, and after observing Catherine’s normal daily behavior for nearly two years, he finally informed the Archbishop of Paris about Our Lady’s request and persuaded him to give permission for a medal to be struck.


  After her year of extraordinary grace, Catherine was sent in 1832 to the convent Enghien-Reuilly on the outskirts of France. For more than forty years, Catherine worked at the hospice, caring for dying patients. Although Catherine only experienced only those two apparitions of Our Lady where she actually saw her, she began experiencing locutions – like an apparition but only as an interior voice – just as Our Lady promised.


  Upon Father Aladel’s death in 1865, Catherine was left with no one who knew her story and what she had esperienced. In 1876, sensing that the end of her life was drawing near, Catherine asked Our Lady for permission to share her story, which Our Lady granted. Catherine then confided in her Superior, Sister Dufe, and revealed her identity as the visionary. She also encouraged construction of the “Virgin of the Globe” statue. Catherine died on December 31, 1876.


  Catherine was declared venerable by Pope Pius XI (decree of heroic virtues) on July 19, 1931, beatified by Pope Pius XI on May 28, 1933, and canonized by Pope Pius XII on July 27, 1947.


  The incorrupt body of Catherine Laboure remains to this day in the convent chapel at the rue du Bac, where miracles have been reported at her tomb.

Our Lady’s Prophesies and Their Fulfillment


  By 1870, forty (40) years after the first apparition, all the prophecies given at the time were fulfilled:

1. PROPHESY: “There will be bad times to come. Misfortunes will come crashing down on France. The throne will be overturned.” 

FULFILLMENT: The" throne” of King Charles X was “overturned” in the end of the year 1830.

2. PROPHESY: "The Cross will be treated with contempt, they will hurl it to the ground and trample it. Blood will flow. The streets will run with blood." 

FULFILLMENT: Riots broke out all over Paris and Churches were desecrated.

3. PROPHESY: “There will be victims among the clergy of Paris; Monsignor the Archbishop will die.” 

FULFILLMENT: Archbishop Msgr. Darboy (1871) and two subsequent of Paris were murdered during this period.

4. PROPHESY: “Monseigneur the Archbishop will be stripped of his garments.” 

FULFILLMENT: The Archbishop was beaten and stripped of his clothes.

5. PROPHESY: “There will be great danger, for this, the [novitiate] and other communities. At one moment when the danger is acute, everyone will believe all to be lost ; you will recall my visit and the [novitiate] will have the protection of God. But it will not be the same for other communities.” 

FULFILLMENT: Some of the buildings housing religious communities were burned down; although threatened by angry crowds, the building housing the Sisters of Charity at the Rue du Bac went unharmed.



Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Prayer:  O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse To Thee.


Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (Paris, France): Virgin Mother of God, Mary

Immaculate, I unite myself to you under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this medal be a sure sign of your motherly affection, and a constant reminder of my filial duties to you. While I am wearing it, bless me by your loving protection and preserve me in the grace of your Son. Obtain for me the grace of a happy death, so that in union with you and your Son, I may enjoy the happiness of

heaven forever. Amen. 



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