Immaculate Conception, or the birth of Mary. Her parents were Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. She was born free of original sin as proclaimed in 1854, Pope Pius IX’s solemn declaration, Ineffabilis Deus. As a result she shares in the benefits of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.
The Miraculous Medal was originally known as the Medal of the Immaculate Conception. Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who has recourse to thee.
In 1830, the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 three times. The first time, to tell her of troubling times to come and job she had for Catherine.
The second time, appearing as the Mother of the World, holding a globe with a cross on top.
The third time, depicted in what we now call the Miraculous Medal, hands outstretched, standing on the globe, crushing the snake, with rays of graces shining down on the world.
The Blessed Mother said that people who wore the medal around their necks and prayed would be blessed with special graces.
Mary told St. Catherine to “Come to the altar and pray and great graces will be shed upon you.”
The famous Spanish painter Bartolome Esteban Murillo had a devotion to Mary, and created several paintings of the Immaculate Conception in the mid to late 1660s.
Murillo was the inspiration for the the stained glass window at St. Basil’s Church in eastern Pennsylvania. The Immaculate Conception was created in late 1890’s of German design.
Appropriately, high in the ceiling is The Eye symbolizing the Holy Spirit and the important role in the Immaculate Conception.
The Vincentians, Congregation of the Mission are the shrine gaurdians of the Miraculous Medal Shrine. St. Vincent dePaul stands at the entrance to the Seminary, and at Mother Mary’s side.
St. Vincent dePaul is founder of the Vincentians Catholic religious order. A peasant from birth, he chose the priesthood to make something of his life and succeeded in reaching the highest levels of society through his charm and social skills. A turning point came in midleife when he heard the dying confession of a peasant and determined afterward to devote his life to serving the poor.
The Vincentians operate The Miraculous Medal in Germantown, Pennsylvania which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Along with St. Loiuse de Maillac, Vincent founded the Daughters of Charity to serve the poor and sick. They have a presence in Germantown PA today.
Vincent instructed priests and religious, “The poor are your masters and you are their servants.”
A view of the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Germantown Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.
Vincent icon in front of St. Vincent’s Seminary building, which is next to the Miraculous Medal Shrine they operate. Vincent died on September 27, 1660 at the age of eighty. He was later named patron of all charitable societies. Sources: Blessed Among Us/Give Us This Day Daily Prayer Guide.
The Miraculous Medal is expanding into nature with St. Vincent’s Rosary Walk and a new grotto of Our Lady of Knocks. The outdoor sanctuary will include:
A Rosary Walk
A Meditation Garden
A Marian Garden for Children
Our Lady of Knock Statue and Grotto
Our Lady of knock Mosaic
The centerpiece of Vincent’s Rosary Walk is our Lady of Knock Shrine which will highlight the Irish heritage of Germantown. On future St. Patrick’s day of March 17th, there will surly be activity in the Garden, once it is complete in late 2022.
According to the Miraculous Medal, the outdoor shrine will expand the spiritual experience for visitors and members. The Meditation Garden will also “serve as an outdoor sanctuary and green space for devotees and the Children’s Garden will provide an educational opportunity to teach the next generations of Catholics and Marian devotees to learn to pray the rosary and love the story of the miraculous medal.”3
Mary, the Mother of God, appeared in an 1830 apparition in Paris, France to Catherine Labourè, now a Saint. November 28th is St. Catherine’s feast day. Her born name is Zoe Labouré.
“Then the Blessed Virgin said to me: ‘Get a medal struck after this model; those who wear it when it is blessed will receive great graces, especially if they wear it round their neck. Graces will be abundant for those who have confidence’.” – St. Catherine Labourè
The Miraculous Medal Shrine is located in Germantown (Philadelphia). As St. Catherine was a member of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and a Marian visionary, the Miraculous Medal Shrine is operated and influenced by The Vincentian religious order.
The chair below is at side altar in Miraculous Medal Shrine.
There is a blessing following each Mass and/or Novena Service at the Miraculous Medal Shrine for those who wish to reverence the relic of St. Catherine Laboure. Reverencing a relic whether with a kiss, or having it placed on a different part of the body [i.e. over the heart or on the head] is a tradition which dates back to the Middle Ages when the cult of Saints became a devotional practice. In this, the faithful express their belief in the intercessory prayer of the saint whose relic it is. In this case, the relic of St. Catherine is offered as the one who first received the message of Mary and faithfully kept to the mission entrusted to her in the making of the medal of the Immaculate Conception [aka. The Miraculous Medal.] – – – From correspondence with Fr. Bill Allegretto, C.M. Associate Director for the Central Association for the Miraculous Medal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The medal was designed by Mary, herself, which is amazing! Here is what Mary, Mother of God said, “Have a medal struck after this model. 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”. The Miraculous Medal shows an image of Our Lady of Grace with her hands emitting rays of light, just as she appeared to Saint Catherine. This devotion to Our Lady of Grace on the medal marked a true renewal of devotion to Our Lady in Europe in the mid to late 1800’s.
On the medal Mary asked that this put on it, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
Note that St. Catherine Laboure’s confessor put her account of the apparitions into writing, and that St. Catherine, before her death in 1876 also wrote down her accounts. Up until that time, no one outside her confessor was aware that she received the apparitions. She kept it secret for 47 years!
Exhumed in 1933, her body was judged to be incorrupt by the church, and now lies in a glass coffin in a chapel in Paris, at one of the spots where the Blessed Mother appeared to her.
The following video shows the Miraculous Medal Monday Mass and novena from March 7, 2022. There are many great clips of the shrine in this video.
Famous statue in the Miraculous Medal Shrine front altar.