Rosary Crusade Clarion
Devotional bulletin of the Rosary Crusade in Canada

November 2001 Issue #11

Our Lady's Medal

the miraculous medal

A child, who loves his mother dearly, wishes to be continually with her all the days of his life. But it is impossible to be with her physically, and so he wishes, at least, to have her in his thoughts. But again, because his mind and his thoughts are subject to distractions, he resorts to a means that the natural instinct of the human heart suggests. He selects some article, which he thinks might prove dear to the mother whom he loves so deeply. It is usually an article of little or no value in itself, but it serves admirably the purpose for which he uses it. He carries it on his person to help him keep the thought of his beloved mother always in his mind and in his heart.

This custom, suggested by nature, is as old as the human race.... We must not wonder, therefore, that Christ, who is represented in the Canticle of Canticles, says to His Spouse, the Church: "Put Me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm" (Cant. 8: 6). This request of the Spouse in the Canticle, the Church has always fulfilled to the letter: first morally by bearing on her spirit the seal of her divine Founder, Jesus Christ; and then materially by using the sign of the cross in all her external operations.

The request which Christ asked of the Church in the Canticle of Canticles is the same request which our Blessed Lady now asks of all her children: 'Put me as a seal upon thy heart." This we do by wearing her medal upon our breast.... The purpose of this discourse is to show that Mary's medal is important in itself; that it is a powerful means of obtaining temporal favours; that it is still more powerful in obtaining spiritual graces and blessings; that this is true of medals in general and of the Miraculous Medal in particular.

One of the various ornaments used by the ancient Romans was a kind of medal made of gold, silver, and sometimes even of leather. It was a small case or locket containing amulets or charms, which they believed had special power against sorcery, witchcraft, and other such like evils.... Unfortunately this superstitious practice is still in vogue at the present time, not only among people who are still pagan, but even among certain Christians, who either wear various pendants on their own person or have them worn by their children with the belief that they have the power to protect them from evils. Since through this practice they attribute to something a power which it certainly does not possess, and render to something a worship which it does not merit, they not only do not obtain what they desire but they offend God and commit sin.

In opposition to this superstitious practice of the pagans and poorly instructed Christians, however, we have the beautiful practice of the true and intelligent Christians, who honour our Blessed Lady through the becoming devotion to, and respect for, the medal. This devotion is approved by the Church, most pleasing to God and our Lady and meritorious for us, her clients. It consists in wearing on our person the medal that bears Mary's image and is blessed by the Church. All intelligent Catholics understand that this medal, of whatever material it may be made, has no power in itself. But it is blessed by the Church and receives its efficacy from our Blessed Lady whom it represents, and from the devotion that we have toward her and the confidence we place in her.

The devotion of our Lady's medal is most pleasing to God and to Mary herself. As a sovereign is pleased to see his soldiers willingly wearing his uniform, and a master is pleased to see his servants joyfully wearing his livery, God and our Lady take a special delight on seeing so many of us distinguishing ourselves as servants of God and children of Mary by wearing the medal. The medal is not only pleasing to God and to Mary, but advantageous to us. When our Blessed Lady looks down upon us and sees us decorated with her medal, she will be all the more disposed to look on us as her dear children and to shower upon us her choicest favours and graces from heaven. By wearing her medal Mary will always be nearer to us and we to her. What an advantage when we are in need of her help in our necessities. Moreover, our Lady's medal resting on our breast night and day cannot but prove a continual reminder that we are Mary's children, and it must serve as an incentive to live a holy life.

Thus, since the medal is blessed and approved by the Church, and is so pleasing to God and our Lady and so advantageous to us, it is evident that it is important in itself, and that it should play a large part in the life of every Catholic. And who will refuse or neglect to wear it? Should we have failed to wear it in the past let us resolve to do so for the time to come.

Our Lady's medal is a powerful means of obtaining temporal favours. The annals of the Church are filled with examples. Among countless other sources we have Catholic Letters, of Turin, Italy. We shall select only a few of the many cases which are on record there.

...we have the case of a young girl of fifteen years who was stricken with spinal meningitis. In a medical consultation her case was pronounced most critical. She was told by her physicians that should she ever get better it would take a very long time. With a heavy heart the girl's mother had recourse to Mary and asked the prayers of her devout clients everywhere. She received the gift of a blessed medal, which she hung around the sick girl's neck, and at noon on the next day she felt so well that she asked to be allowed to rise from bed. Since her request could not be granted, as her physicians ordered her to be moved as little as possible, she kissed the medal again and again. She rose from bed and stood erect unaided, something she had not been able to do for five months. She dressed herself without help, came downstairs, and remained there the rest of the day. Her cure was complete and permanent (1883).

The next is the record of a priest who was seized with a violent throat affliction. He could not swallow anything, not ever his own saliva. His jaws were closed and his lips parched; his respiration was blocked; he feared he was about to breathe his last. While those around him wept and wailed he had recourse to the Comforter of the Afflicted and the Health of the Sick. He asked his sister to procure for him a medal of Mary, Help of Christians, which she placed on his pillow. After a good night's sleep and rest, he awoke next morning without the slightest throat trouble, with a clear voice, whereas before he could not utter a word. Thus by means of Mary's medal he obtained a complete and permanent cure, where all the remedies of the medical art were of no avail (1887).

While we could continue to discuss individual cures indefinitely, let us pass on to general cases of cures obtained through our Lady's medal. When, in the year 1844, an epidemic of cholera raged in many parts of Italy and France, a great number of the faithful applied to the sanctuary of Mary, Help of Christians in Turin, requesting to have blessed medals sent them. They were convinced that our Lady would cure or save from the dread disease all who made their peace with God and wore the medal. More than four hundred thousand medals were sent out from that sanctuary to Italy alone.... Forthwith letters poured in to the sanctuary from all parts of Italy and France testifying to the cessation of the cholera and the cures wrought by our Blessed Lady in favour of those who placed such confidence in her and in her holy medal. Many testified on oath that very few of those who wore the medal were stricken by the malady and that those few who happened to be stricken were cured.

However important temporal favours may be, spiritual favours are incomparably more valuable. And if Mary is so generous in bestowing temporal favours through the devotion to the medal, she is much more generous with regard to spiritual favours. Indeed, spiritual favours and graces are her first concern. In the first place, Mary's medal cannot but have a special efficacy in protecting us against the devil and his temptations. For, after Jesus Christ, the devil dreads no one more than Mary, who, by bringing forth the Redeemer of the world, "crushed his head, according to the divine prediction: "I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shall lie in wait for her heel" (Gen. 3: 15). Next to the cross on which Christ died to redeem and save mankind, our most powerful weapon of defence is our Lady's medal. Therefore, we should arm ourselves with this weapon against this terrible enemy of our souls. This does not mean, however, that our Lady's medal will be of any help to us if we do not make the right use of it. We may wear the medal and yet fall into grave sin if we do not correspond with God's grace, which He gives to all of us in general and to each of us in particular according to our needs. But we must admit that those who wear Mary's medal receive from her special help, which, provided they correspond with God's grace, enables them to keep the devil away and to resist him should he approach to tempt them.

The annals of our Blessed Lady are one continual succession of triumphs and victories of her devoted clients over the enemy of their souls through the devotion to her medal. And how many cases have never been and never will be placed on record. They are known only to God and the individual soul and our Blessed Lady through whose intercession they have been obtained. Many have remained immersed in sin and vice for years and years, deaf to every voice of God and man, until some... friend handed them a medal of our Lady and persuaded them to wear it. Then it was seen how they burst into tears of compunction, how they hastened to the tribunal of Penance to make their peace with God, how they gave up sin and began a Me of fervour and holiness in which they persevered until the end.

The miracles wrought by our Lady's medal are most evident among the sick and the dying. It happens all too frequently that some of these postpone indefinitely the making of their peace with God, or obstinately refuse to prepare for death. After having tried in vain for weeks, and months, and sometimes for years, relatives and friends finally have recourse to Mary and to her medal. Should the sick patients reject the medal, sometimes they hide it under their pillow or somewhere in their clothes, and it scarcely ever fails to produce the intended effect. How many obstinate sinners owe their death-bed repentance and their happy death to Mary's medal!

The number and different kinds of medals are legion. Here we are concerned only with medals of our Lady. And among these, the one known as the Miraculous Medal occupies a most prominent place.... (It) was revealed to Zoe Laboure, a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, known in religion as Sister Catherine.... Our Lady appeared to her three different times in the year 1830, at the motherhouse of the community in Paris. The first apparition occurred on July 18, the second on November 27, and the third in December. Sister Catherine says that during the second apparition our Lady appeared as if standing on a globe, with a globe in her hands. Dazzling rays of light emanated from her fingers as from rings set with precious stones. These were symbolic of the graces, which would be bestowed on all who asked for them. The Sister says that around the obverse, or front of the medal appeared an oval frame bearing in golden letters the words: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee"; and that on the reverse appeared the letter M, surmounted by a cross, with a cross-bar beneath it, and under all the Heart of Jesus, surrounded by a crown of thorns, and the Heart of Mary pierced with a sword.

At the second and third of these apparitions a command was given to have a medal struck according to the model revealed, and a promise of great graces was made to those who wear it when blessed. On June 30,1832, the first medals were struck, and with their distribution the devotion of the Miraculous Medal spread rapidly throughout France and then to every part of the Catholic world. At once great and extraordinary graces were received through this medal....

The devotion to the Miraculous Medal is one of the most widespread of all our devotions. The novenas held in our churches and chapels bear ample testimony of this. This devotion (received) new life with the canonization of Sister Catherine Laboure on Sunday, July 27,1947.

O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us
who have recourse to thee!

-from Discourses on our Lady, by Fr. O'Rafferty.


O Blessed Virgin,
as it is impossible for one who does not honour thee,
for one whom thou dost not help, to be saved,
so it is impossible for him who commends himself to thee,
for him whom thou dost favour, to be lost.

-St. Anselm




Do spend some time at a cemetery this month, praying the rosary for the dead who have died in the Lord. The bleakness of the season, with bare trees, dead leaves blowing about in the cold wind, and in general the death of nature, helps us to meditate on death. Try praying your rosary at the cemetery. There is much food for thought.

The sorrowful mysteries, especially, should be brought clearly to mind. Therein we consider the physical pains that led to the death of our Saviour. The memory of like physical pain is around us. Yet, Christ suffered more than all; He took on the sins of the world.

The glorious mysteries are a happier subject for our pious imagination. Christ ascended to prepare a place for us, and these very graves shall one day be opened by angels. Those who now rest beneath our feet shall return to life, for the general Judgement. Often Catholics are laid to rest, clasping their rosaries. One day Mary's servants shall rise, clasping these same beads.

Even the joyful mysteries may be related to the graveyard. What greater purpose did Jesus have, coming into this world, than to suffer and die for our salvation? He went about His Father's business; He was obedient unto death. Our Blessed Mother treasured all these words in her loving heart.

November 27 is the feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Profit by this devotion.

United to you in devotion to the Blessed Virgin, I am,
Emanuel Herkel
Fr. E. Herkel