Spiritual Talk – Fr Ho talks about St. Catherine Labouré (2)

by Kenny Cheng

On the night of July 18, 1830, the Virgin Mary first appeared to St. Catherine Labouré, the “sweetest moment” of her life. On November 27, 1830, the Virgin Mary appeared again as she was meditating in the chapel – she saw Mary standing on a hemisphere before the altar, offering up a gold orb to God. On her hands were many jewelled rings: she told St. Catherine that they were graces delivered to those who requested them. The dull ones, she said, were the graces that no one requested. Then, Mary extended her two arms on the hemisphere, light shone forth, and she was encircled by the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee”. Then, the frame began to rotate, and on the reverse, she saw a large letter M surmounted by the cross and encircled by twelve stars above the Sacred Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns and the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced by a sword. Mary told Catherine to make sacred medals of this image, and that those who wore it on the neck would receive special graces. She only told her confessor about the visions, and after two years of investigation, he finally brought the matter to the Archbishop of Paris, who approved the distribution of the medals. The devotion spread widely and became known as the Miraculous Medal of Our Lady of Graces. There was a wealthy Jew called Alphonse Ratisbonne who hated the Catholic Church. One day, his friend dared him to wear the Miraculous Medal and pray the associated Memorare prayer. While waiting for his friend in church one day, Alphonse saw the Virgin Mary appear as in the Miraculous Medal image. He instantly understood Catholic teaching, converted, was baptized, became a priest to the Jews, and his entire family of 28 was converted, including two brothers who became priests. St. Catherine never revealed her identity as the Miraculous Medal visionary, and only just before death did she reveal her identity to her superiors, so that they could make a statue of Mary offering a gold orb to God as in the vision. In 1876, she died, and 57 years later, her body was found to be incorrupt. Today, she enjoys the company of Mary forever in Heaven.

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