1st apparition of the Blessed Virgin: 19th July, 1830 Chapel Rue du Bac 140, Paris
It is 11.30 pm; Sister Catherine Laboure (24 years old) wakes up as she hears her name called three times. She opens the curtains of her cell and sees her Guardian Angel in de form of a 5 year old child. He says: "follow me to the chapel, where the Virgin Mary awaits you". Catherine Laboure hastily dresses herself and follows him to the chapel. The chapel is lit as for midnight-Mass, but she can't see the Blessed Virgin. She then kneels and prays. After half an hour her guardian angel says: "there is the Blessed Virgin Mary". Catherine Laboure hears a rustle like that of silk and to the left of St. Joseph she sees the Blessed Virgin Mary descend and sit herself on the chair of the Priest. Within a moment she is on her knees in front of the Blessed Virgin, with her hands confidently folded on Mary's knees. This is the beginning of a two hour long conversation. The Blessed Virgin Mary tells her that God will charge her with a mission. In the process she will experience many difficulties. The Blessed Virgin already speaks of bad times ahead. The whole world will be plunged into confusion through all sorts of incidents. The Cross will be treated with contempt; it will be cast to earth. The side of our Lord will be pierced again. The Blessed Virgin says this with a very sorrowful look on her face. Encouragingly though, she adds:
"but come to the foot of this altar and here graces will be bestowed upon all,
who ask with confidence and fervour. they will be given to the rich and to the poor"
2nd apparition of the Blessed Virgin: 27th November, 1830 Chapel Rue du Bac 140, Paris
Catherine LabouréIt is 5.30pm, and the Sisters are in the chapel for the hour of Meditation. Suddenly Catherine Laboure hears, to her right, the same rustle as before; it is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She stops to the left near the painting of St. Joseph. This whole apparition is conducted in scenes and sign-language. The Blessed Virgin "standing in space". She was dressed in white, standing on a globe and holding a golden ball, with rings on her fingers flashing with light. An inner voice told her that the ball represented the whole world and that the rays coming from Mary's fingers represented graces for individuals. Then, a second phase: The golden ball then vanished as this apparition changed to represent Mary with her arms outstretched, inside an oval frame with golden lettering:
O Mary conceived without Sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee
Mary gave her this instruction: "have a medal struck on this model. All those who carry this will receive Grace in abundance, especially if they wear the medal around their neck and say this prayer confidently, they will receive special protection from the Mother of God and abundant graces". Then it is although the whole scene turns around and Catherine Laboure can see the back of the medal: in the centre is the letter M, from where a Cross ascends with at its base a cross-beam which passes through the letter M and below this the two hearts of Jesus and Mary, one crowned with thorns the other pierced by the sword of sorrow. The whole is surrounded with a crown of 12 stars recalling the vision of St. John in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse or Book of Revelations. Catherine Laboure hears: "the M with the Cross and the two hearts say enough".
During the next year this apparition occurred five times and each time with the same instructions: "have a medal struck on this model, and all those who wear it will receive great graces, especially when worn around the neck". Sister Catherine endured many humiliations, but she persevered. It took two years before her confessor, Father Aladel, a Vicentian priest, had the medal struck. The original name of the medal is that of holy Mary’s Immaculate Conception; only after 7 years was the name changed to the “Miraculous Medal”. Because of the many answered prayers, the conversions and the cures, some 10 million medals were sold during the first 5 years. The short prayer: "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee", has since been prayed innumerable times by believers, so that the entire Christianity became familiar with Mary's "Immaculate Conception". It was Pope Pius IX who made it a rule of faith. This was received with great joy by the entire Church. Four years later, Mary came as though to confirm this, when She said to Bernadette at Lourdes:
I am the Immaculate Conception
Catherine Laboure died on 31st December 1876. When her body was exhumed, after fifty-seven years of burial, it was found to be completely incorrupt and supple. Her eyes were as blue as the day she died. On 28th May, 1933 she was beatified by Pope Pius XI. This occasion was witnessed by 50,000 people, of which there were 8,000 children of Mary, veiled in white, all wearing the Miraculous Medal. On 27th July, 1947 Catherine Laboure was canonized by Pope Pius XII. Here again many believers were present, including more than 10,000 children of Mary, veiled in white.
But one part of the apparitions has always stayed in my mind, causing me to wonder. Our Blessed Lady stood with her hands outstretched and different colours of light coming forth. Mary explained to Catherine that these were various graces she wished to give to people but often never could because folks never thought to ask.
This always annoyed me , it seemed so tragic that there was this rich store of grace available for the asking and I was letting it go to waste!! So I when I think of this I always ask Our Lady to just give me the lot, greedy as I am!! But I don't know whether this really works or not. I think maybe we have to recognise our need ourselves before can can pour out grace to fill it. In this sense I am looking forward to the Day of Illumination because then I will find out just how poor I am and what heavenly riches I shall need to claim.
Saint Catherine Laboure herself is such a treasure. Poor peasant of the deepest humilty she stayed pretty well hidden right up to the end of her life. She seems to me to be so like er fellow visionaries Saints Bernadette, Margaret Mary and Faustina. All poor, all forgotten in their own life times, all poorly educated, all virgins all so very Marian in their life all no strangers to the cup of sorrows.
I recieved two emails lately from a gentleman and woman who have lost their ways. I am sorry I cannot get into my own forum to write a little about faith as I promised. I am sorry I have no clever arguments to convince you that there is a God and He loves you very much. I can only say and I hope you read this that my faith has brought and brings me great joy. If you can stay reading the posts on this forum, they are good people here and full of faith . Also if you can and pass a little Holy Shop call in and buy a Miraculous Medal and wear it round your neck. Try, if you can to pray , trying to believe even if you cannot yet do so. I will be praying as I know will other believers as they read this.