holiest works for sanctification of the soul
The Miraculous Medal
'O Mary concieved without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.'
'All those who wear it, when it is blessed, will receive great graces especially if they wear it round the neck. Those who repeat this prayer with devotion will be in a special manner under the protection of the Mother of God. Graces will be abundantly bestowed upon those who have confidence.'
The apparition of the medal occurred in November, 1830. Whilst Sister Catherine was at prayer in the chapel, she had a vision. She beheld as it were a picture suspended in the air representing the Blessed Virgin, standing clothed in a white robe with a mantle of silvery blue, a bright rose-colored veil and her hands stretched out towards the earth. From her hands there shot out, as it were, rays of ravishing brightness, spreading themselves over the world.
At the same time the sister heard a voice saying to her: "These rays symbolise the graces which Mary obtains for mankind, and that point over which they flow most abundantly is France." Around the picture the following invocation was written in letters of gold: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." In a few moments the sister saw the medal reversed, and on the other side she saw the letter "M" surmounted by a little cross, and beneath it the holy hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Sister Catherine gazed attentively, and again heard a voice commanding that a medal should be struck representing the vision, and further saying that whoever should wear the medal when indulgenced, would enjoy the special protection of the Mother of God.
The following day Sister Catherine related the vision to her director, who said it was merely imagination, and dismissed the Sister with an admonition. The obedient religious endeavored to dismiss the thought from her mind, but the vision soon occurred again. She again told the director, who once more told ber to pay no attention to it. The vision appeared a third time, and a voice was heard saying, that the Blessed Virgin was displeased because the medal had not been struck as commanded.
The director was embarrassed. On the one hand he did not wish to contradict the will of the Blessed Virgin, and on the other there was a possibility of the apparition being only an illusion. So the priest related everything to Mgr. De Quelen, the Archbishop of Paris. The Archbishop saw no objection to striking off the medal, since nothing appeared in the vision that was opposed to Catholic faith or morals, on the contrary, everything in it seemed suitable to increase devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
It was, therefore, determined to have the medal made, but the cholera which then broke out, prevented this from being carried out until June, 1832, when the medal was struck in honor of the Immaculate Conception, which has since been constantly used by the devout clients of Mary. In 1836, a holy religious at Einsiedeln, in Switzerland, had visions repeating and confirming what had been revealed to Sister Catherine; one of these visions was symbolical of the four classes of persons who wear the medal.
During a retreat the religious referred to saw the medal constantly suspended in the air; at first very high and burning like the sun: then with a radiance of light: then somewhat lower in the air, and shining like silver: lastly it descended close to the earth, becoming dim as if only of copper. A voice then asked: "What medal do you prefer?"
The religious replied that she preferred the brightest one, and the voice answered, "You do well, for that is the one belonging to those faithful Christians who, carrying it, honor Mary perfectly, and help to spread her glory: the golden medal is theirs who have a tender and filial devotion to Mary: the silver medal is of those who respect and honor Mary, but do not try at all times to imitate her virtues: lastly, the dim copper medal is of those who are content if they say an occasional prayer to the Blessed Virgin, and neglect to please her by their virtuous lives."
That the medal of the Immaculate Conception deserves the name of "miraculous." and has worked wonders of grace, has been often proved.
In 1834 there lived in Paris the wife of a poor mechanic, named Peron. For eight years she had suffered from a grievous illness. Loss of blood had reduced her to extreme weakness, and the physicians pronounced her incurable. She gave up the doctor, and resigned herself to a lingering death. The woman was induced to engage a Sister of Charity as her nurse. The sister called Sister Mary soon changed things in the house of suffering. She brought comfort and encouragement to her patient. "Happiness," said Madame Peron, "entered my house with that good sister."
A physician now declared that the sick woman would soon die and ought to be removed to an hospital. The sister thought it opportune to prepare her patient for death. But her words had little effect on Madam Peron. She had not led a bad life, but was an indifferent Christian: years had passed since she had been to confession, and now she refused to see a priest.
"I will confess when I am well." she said, "I do not like being persecuted in this manner; when I have recovered I shall go to confession."
At length towards October, 1834, Madame Peron seemed on the point of death, and she could hear the attendant talk of saying the prayers for a departed soul. Although the end seemed near, she revived sufficiently to converse with Sister Mary. "Do you love the Blessed Virgin?" asked the sister.
Madame Peron replied that she did, for careless as she had been, she had always retained confidence in our Holy Mother. "Well, then," said the sister, "if you do love her. I will give you something that will cure you." "I think we had better talk of death," said the woman, "for I feel that I am sinking fast." Not discouraged, the sister showed her a medal saying, "Take this medal of the Blessed Virgin, it will cure you, if you have great confidence." The sight of the medal caused a sensation of joy in the dying woman, who took it and kissed it fervently. The sister placed the medal around the neck of the patient, who then repeated the prayer: "Mary, conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." "At that moment," said Madame Peron. "there passed within me something new and strange over my whole body. My flesh thrilled all over me. It was not painful, on the contrary I felt moved to tears of joy. I was not cured but felt that I could be cured, and possessed a confidence which did not come from myself. My husband then said to me, 'Put all your confidence in the Blessed Virgin. We are going to make a novena for you.'"
The faith of these good people was rewarded. Towards evening Madame Peron was aide to raise herself in bed. She continued to improve, and the next day was able to take some food. Her strength returned, and she felt that she was cured. In two days more she insisted on going to church to offer thanks to the Blessed Virgin. The family opposed her going, but she nevertheless went, unaccompanied by anyone. "On my way." she said. "I met Sister Mary. She did not see me, so I went up to her, and caught her hand."
"What! Is this you?" exclaimed the astonished sister. "Yes. Sister, and I am going to Holy Mass: I am cured." "What has cured you so soon?" "The Blessed Virgin and I am now going to thank her."
"From that time." concluded Madame Peron, "I have felt no more suffering, I now enjoy good health: I can work hard every day and I owe all this to our Lady's Miraculous Medal."