Recently, I have been writing about how both Our Lady of Lourdes and I believe, Our Lady of Fatima, initially appeared to the Seers looking quite different than the usual depictions of the Blessed Mother Mary. Especially in the case of Our Lady of Lourdes, where rather than sculpting the statue according to the description given by St. Bernadette, the artist portrayed her in the manner of similar long-standing iconic images of Our Lady. Now, I find that it was the same with Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, aka Our Lady of Grace.
A mysterious child was at the foot of her bed and asked her to get up. “The Blessed Virgin is waiting for you.” Catherine dressed and followed the child who was “bringing rays of brightness wherever he passed.”
Having arrived in the chapel, St. Catherine stopped near the chair used by the priest in the sanctuary (current location of the statue of Saint Joseph). She then heard a sound “like the rustle of a silk dress.” Her little guide said, “Here is the Blessed Virgin.” She hesitated. But the child repeated in a stronger tone of voice, “Here is the Blessed Virgin.” In a single bound, Catherine was at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, seated on a chair and rested her hands on the knees of the Mother of God. The Chapel in France
When St. Catherine Laboure was asked if it was the Virgin who had appeared to her, she replied that she wasn’t sure. She said it didn’t look like the Virgin.
Later, She would say to her priest, “I am not able to say why, but it still seems to me that it was not she whom I saw. “The apparition so defied the young nun’s pious expectations of who Mary was, or ought to be, that she had to be told three times by the angelic figure who accompanied the apparition that this, indeed, was what the Virgin really looked like.” (1) She described Our Lady as radiant as a sunrise in all Her perfect beauty. (Which reminds me of some of the visions of Holy Sophia.)
St. Catherine, to my knowledge, is the only seer who has ever touched Our Lady during a Visitation. During the first Visit, Our Lady was seated in a chapel. St. Catherine knelt next to her and rested her hands on the lap of Our Lady. It is said that they spoke for almost two hours.
During the second visit, Our Lady was holding a golden globe which She said represented the world, but especially France. (This took place in 1830.) Catherine heard (Our Lady say), “This globe represents the entire world, including France, and every person”. Chapel in France
In, I believe it was in Her third appearance, that She appeared to St. Catherine showing the medal that she wanted to be cast. On the medal, She holds Her Mantle out wide, as if encompassing all Her children beneath Her Mantle of Protection. The Mantle of the Blessed Mother has always symbolized the protection, love and mercy that Blessed Mary has shown for Her children through-out the ages.
When I was a young child in Catholic elementary school, we would often notice, during recess, the clouds above giving way to blue skies. We would point up and say, “there’s Our Lady’s Mantle!”
In the vision for the design of the medal, She stands on a globe because She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth. The crescent moon is at Her feet. The rings on Her hands emit dazzling, colored rays of Light which signify the graces She sends to Her children. At that same moment St. Catherine heard a voice saying, “These rays are a symbol of the graces that I pour out on those who ask them of me.” When asked why some of the rings were dark, She responded those were the graces for which people forgot to ask. (2)
Circling the oval of the medal were the words, O, Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception would not be proclaimed until decades later.
Our Lady said to St. Catherine:
When Mary spoke to St. Catherine, she said, “Have a medal made according to this model. For those who wear it with confidence, there will be abundant graces.”
Originally, it was the medal of the Immaculate Conception, but so many miracles began occurring that it began to be known as the Miraculous Medal, by which it is still known, today.
Prior to the heretical devastation of Vatican II, there was hardly a devout Catholic who did not wear the medal of Our Lady, the one She, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, gave to us. Wearing Her medal and carrying our rosaries with us, we always felt protected by Her. We were aware that She covered us with Her Presence every single moment of every single day.
In the month of December 1830, during meditation, Catherine again heard the rustling sound, this time behind the altar. The same image of the medal appeared near the tabernacle, slightly behind it. “These rays are the symbol of the graces that the Blessed Virgin obtains for those who ask them of her…You will not see me anymore.”
St. Catherine initially did not receive the needed cooperation to have the medal of Our Lady cast, but by the Fall of 1834, there were already 500,000 medals in existence. Within a year, a million. Within five years, ten million. By now….literally billions.
St. Catherine wished to remain anonymous during her life. It was not till she was near death that she revealed that she was the visionary of the medal of miracles.
(A medal/religious pendant should always be blessed. They are not allowed to be sold already having been blessed. That is considered simony, the selling of blessings, blessed objects, sacramentals (and by extension, the sacraments).