Treasures of the Church- Marian Shrines and Apparitions
The Apparition of the Virgin to Saint Catherine Laboure in Paris
the year 1830 in Paris takes place the first
modern apparition of the Blessed Virgin. St.
Pius XII said:
“the era of Mary started here .“
In this year the Virgin Mary starts an era of
repeated celestial apparitions. Among them: La
Salette, Lourdes, Fatima . . . . As her visit to
St. Elizabeth, she always comes to bring graces
and to take us to Jesus, fruit of her blessed
womb. Also to remind us the way of salvation and
to alert us of the consequence of choosing other
Apparitions of the Virgin to St. Catherine
St. Catherine, a young religious of the
order of the Daughters of Charity, was in her
novitiate in the convent of Rue du Bac, 140,
Sunday, July 18th, 1930, eve of St. Vincent de
Paul (founder of this order), the novice
mistress had spoken about devotion to the
saints, and particularly to the Queen of Heaven,
the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her words full of faith
and ardent piety, enliven the heart of Sister Laboure and she desired to see and contemplate
the face of Mary. Since it was the eve of the
Feast Day of St. Vincent, a piece of clothe was
distributed to each sister from the saints
vestments. Catherine swallowed it and went to
sleep thinking that St. Vincent together with
her guardian angel, will obtain for her the
grace she desired of seeing the Virgin.
Catherine had received many previous favors from apparitions of St.
Vincent to her, this nourished in her heart a
confidence without limits towards her Blessed
Father. Her purity and hope did not defraud her.
St. John of the Cross said: “ Confidence obtains
all it hopes for.“
The Angel awakens her
Everything was silence in the room where Sister
Catherine slept, it was close to 11:30PM when
she heard three times her name called. She woke
up and parting a bit the curtains of her bed
looked to the place where the voice came from
and saw a child dressed in white, about 4 years
old who said to her: “Get up quickly and
go to the chapel; the Blessed Virgin is waiting
for you “. Sister Catherine hesitated; she is
afraid to be seen by the other novices; but the
child responds to her interior preoccupation and
tells her: "its 11:30 PM, all are sleeping very
well. Come, I will guard you."
She doesn’t hesitate a moment; dresses with
diligence and puts herself at the disposition of
the mysterious guide, who is standing without
leaving the column of her bed. Sister
Catherine already dressed, is guided by the
Child, and she follows him marching a little at
his left side. Where ever they passed the
lights turned on. The body of the Child
irradiated vivid colors and everything in his
paths became illuminated.
Arriving at the Chapel door, they find it
closed; but the Child touches the door with his
finger and the door opens instantly. Sister
Catherine said : “My surprise was more complete
when, at entering into the Chapel, all the
candles were lighted, reminding me of the
midnight Mass“ (still she does not see the
The Child took her to the sanctuary, near a
chair destined for Father Director, where he
preached to the Daughters of Charity. Here
Catherine kneeled and the Child stayed standing
at her right side.
The wait seemed very long, because she was
anxious to see the Virgin. She would look with
certain uneasiness over the right platform, just
incase the sisters in vigil doing acts of
adoration might see her.
Finally the waited hour came, the Child said: “See the Virgin here, see her here.“
Sister Catherine heard like a murmur, like the
rubbing of a silk dress coming from the platform
area, near the picture of St. Joseph. She saw a
Lady of extreme beauty crossing majestically the
sanctuary. She went to sit in the chair above the stairs
of the mayor altar, next to the Gospel.
Sister Catherine deep down in her heart doubted
if really she was in the presence of the Queen
of Heaven, but the Child said to her : “Look at
the Virgin.“ It was almost impossible to
describe what she experienced at that moment, what
occurred inside of her, and she though she was
not seeing the Virgin.
Then the Child spoke to her, not like a Child
but like a man with more stronger
“Can not the Queen of Heave appear at random to
a poor mortal creature in the way she pleases?"
Then, looking at the Virgin, she went to her
side, kneeling over the stairs of the altar,
with her hands placed on the Blessed Mother’s
knees. Later on St. Catherine is quoted as
saying: “Here I spent the most sweetest moments
of my life; it is impossible for me to describe
what I felt “.
of the Blessed Virgin
Sister Catherine received many messages from the
lips of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but we cannot
know all of them because some were given with
the command of absolute secret.
The Virgin gave some councils for particular
spiritual benefit: The Virgin is Mother and
1- How to behave with her director: with
profound humility and obedience
2- How to conduct oneself in sufferings: with patience, meekness,
3- To always have recourse (showing her with her
left hand) to the foot of the altar and open up
her heart, because there she would receive all the
consolations she needed: she would learn to have
an undivided heart and no human consolations.
The Virgin also explained to her the
significance of all the apparitions and
revelations she had received of St. Vincent and
of the Lord.
She continued saying: "God wants to confide in you a mission; it will
cost you effort, but you will conquer it
thinking you do it for glory the of God. You
will know how good God is. You will have much to
suffer until you say it to your director. You
will have contradictions; grace will assist you;
don’t be afraid. Talk with your director with
confidence and simplicity; have confidence, do
not fear. You will see certain things; tell him
about it. You will receive inspiration in
prayer. The times are very calamitous. A rain of
graces will fall over France. The throne will
fall. The entire world will be afflicted by
calamities of all kinds ( when the Virgin said
this, she was very sad). Come to the foot of
this altar, where marvelous graces be given to
all who ask with fervor; to all, big and small,
rich and poor. I desire to pour graces over your
community; I desire it ardently. It causes me
great sorrow the great abuses in the
observances, where the rules are not fulfilled,
in which so much relaxation exist in both
communities even though great souls are in them.
Tell this to who ever is in charge of you, even
though she/ he is not your superior. Soon she/
he will be placed at the head of the community.
She should do all possible to reestablish vigor
to the rules. When this occurs another community
will unit to yours. The time will come of great
dangers; all will seemed lost; then I will be
with you, have confidence. You will recognize my
visit and the protection of God and St. Vincent
over the community. It will not be the same in
other communities, there will be victims (with
tears in her eyes). The cleric in Paris will
have many victims. The Archbishop will die. My
daughter, the Cross will be despised, and the
Heart of my Son will be pierced again; blood
will flow through the streets ( the Virgin was
unable to speak because of the sorrow, the words
drowned in her throat; her face pale). The
entire world will be very sad."
Catherine thinks to herself: When will this occur? An
interior voice assures her: forty years and ten
and then peace.
The Virgin after being with Sr. Catherine for 2
hours, disappears from Sister Catherine’s sight
like a fading shadow.
In this apparition Our Lady:
- gives her a mission from God.
- prepares with wise counsels to speak to her
director with submission and confidence.
- announces future events to strengthen the
faith of those who might doubt the apparitions
- grants the gift of having a familiar
relationship with Mary of mother-daughter: she
sees her and comes near to Mary with familiarity
and simplicity, she touches the Virgin and Mary
sits down so that Sr. Catherine can come closer and place
her arms and hands on the knees of the Queen of
All the prophecies were fulfilled:
1- God’s mission was revealed with the
revelation of the miraculous medal.
2- one week after this apparition the French
Revolution exploded. The rebels took over the
streets in Paris, sacked, assassinated, and
Charles X was taken down from the throne, and
replaced by “ civil/political king “, Louis
Phillip I, great teacher of masonry.
3- Father Aladel (director) is named in 1846
Director of the Daughters of Charity, and
establishes the observance of the rule and
towards the 1860's another feminine community
joins the Daughters of Charity.
4- In 1870 (40 years later ) the moment of great
danger came, with the horror of the authorities,
the killing of Archbishop Mons. Darboy and many
5- only the last part needs to be fulfilled.
The Miraculous Medal
On Saturday, November 27th, 1830, eve of the
first Sunday of Advent, Sister Catherine was
doing her meditation in the Chapel , when she
heard the rubbing of a silk dress reminder her
of the previous apparition.
The Blessed Virgin appears dressed in white with
long sleeves and a closed tunic up to the neck.
Her head was covered by a white veil falling
down on both sides to her feet. When she tried
to describe her face, Sr. Catherine only was able to
say: “it was the Virgin Mary in her maximum
She was standing on top of a white globe, which
only the superior area was seen, and she was
crushing a green serpent with yellow dots. Her
hands where elevated to her hearts height and
she was holding another small globe of gold,
crown with a cross.
The Virgin Mary had a supplicant attitude, as if
offering the globe. Sometimes she would look to
heaven and sometimes to the earth. All of a
sudden her fingers were full of rings adorned
with brilliant precious stones dispensing light
in all directions, surrounding her with so much
light, that it was not possible to see her.
She had three rings in each finger; the thickest
ring near the hand; a medium size ring in the
middle, and the smallest in the extremity. From
the precious stones, rays of light flowed
downwards; filling all the bottom area.
While Sister Catherine was contemplating
the Virgin, she (Mary) looked at her and said to
her heart: “This globe you see - at the feet of
Mary- represents the whole world, specially
France and each soul in particular.“ The rays
symbolizes the graces that I give to those who
ask for them. The pearls that don’t have rays
are the graces of the souls who don’t ask.“
this point the globe of gold (the richness of graces)
disappeared between the hands of the Virgin. Her
arms were then openly extended while the rays of light
continued to fall over the white globe of her
feet. Then an oval shape was formed with the
Virgin inside of it, and it appear written the
following invocation: “Mary conceived without
sin, pray for us, who recourse to thee.“
These words formed a semicircle starting from
where Mary’s right hand was, passing over her
head and ending over her left hand.
Catherine hears again the interior voice: “Have
a medal made according to this model. All those
who wear it will receive great graces. The
graces will more abundant for those who wear it
confidence.“ Then the reverse side of the
medal was shown. A letter "M" appeared on the medal, and a
cross over the middle of the M on a bar crossing
the letter about 1/3 of its height, and
underneath the M, the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
the first Heart surrounded by thorns, and the
second Heart pierced by a lance. Twelve stars
around the entire medal.
continued until the end of December of 1830
and beginning of 1831. Then the Virgin said to
Catherine: “From now on my daughter you will not
see me; but you will hear my voice in prayer."
One day Sr. Catherine was uneasy about not
knowing what inscription to put on the reverse
side of the medal, and during prayer the Virgin
told her : “The M and the two Hearts are
Symbols from the Medal and the spiritual
In the front:
- Mary is crushing the head of the serpent over
the world. She is the Immaculate, has all the
power in virtue of her grace to triumph over
- The color of her dress and the 12 stars
over her head: she is the woman of the
Apocalypse, dressed with the sun.
- Her extended hands transmitting grace: her
mission of mother and mediator of grace,
dispensing graces over the world and to who ever
- Dogma of the Immaculate Conception (helped it
to be defined in 1854 - Lourdes). Mission of
intercession, trust and recourse to the Mother.
- The globe at her feet: the sin of the world.
- The globe in her hands: the world offered to
Jesus through her hands.
In the back:
- The cross: the mystery of redemption-price
Christ paid: obedience, sacrifice and offering.
-The M : symbol of Mary and her spiritual
- The bar: it is a letter from the Greek
alphabet, yota or I, is a monogram of the name
of Jesus. Representing the Mother of Jesus
- The twelve stars: symbol of the Church that
Christ founded upon the apostles and is born at
Calvary from His pierced Heart.
- The Two Hearts: the co-redemption.
Indissoluble unity. Future devotion to the Two
Hearts and their reign.
The medal was originally named: “the Immaculate
Conception“, but as the devotion spread and so
many miracles happened through it, it started to
be popularly called: “The Miraculous Medal “.
Alfonso Ratisbone’s Conversion
Alfonso Ratisbone was a lawyer and banker, a Jew of 27 years
of age. He hated the Catholics because his
brother Theodore had converted and became a
priest, he had as a logo the miraculous medal
and fought for the conversion of the Jews.
On January of 1842 on a tourist trip to Naples
and Malta, there was a mistake made in the route
and Alfonso arrived in Rome instead. Here he had the obligation of
visiting a friend of the family, the Baron
Theodore de Bussiere, a protestant converted to
Baron received him with cordiality and offered to show him around
Rome. In a meeting where Ratisbone spoke horrors about Catholics,
the Baron heard him with much patience and finally said:
“Well since you are so sure of self, promise me you will carry with
you what I’m going to give you."
“What is it?", his miraculous medal. Alfonso rejected the medal indignant
and the Baron replied: “According to your ideas, to accept the medal
should leave you indifferent. But on the other hand it pleases
me”. Ratisbone smiled, put on the medal and said that he was not a
fool. The Baron also asked Him to pray the Memorare which he
the thee Baron requested prayers from several people, among them the
Count of La Ferronays, saying to him: “I put the Miraculous Medal on
him and made him pray the Memorare, I’m sure he will convert."
The Count of La Ferronays died suddenly two days later. It was known
that he had gone on the two previous days to the Basilica of St.
to pray 100 Memorares for the conversion of Ratisbone.
Baron meets with Ratisbone around the Spanish Square in his last
day in Rome and invites him for a trip around the city. But first he
had to go to the Church of St. Andres to arrange the funeral for the
Ratisbone also goes in the Church. Then a miracle occurs, he
relates in his own words: “Within a few moments of entering the
Church, I felt dominated by an unexplainable confusion. I raised my
eyes and thought the entire building was disappearing before my eyes.
One of the chapels (the chapel of St. Michael ) was covered with
light, and in the midst
of this splendor appeared the Blessed Virgin Mary, radiantly and and full of
majesty and sweetness. She appeared as She was in the medal. An
irresistible force drew me to the Chapel. Then the
Blessed Virgin gave me a signal with her hand, as if telling me to
kneel, and when I did, it seemed by the aspect of her face she was
telling me: 'Well . . . .' The Virgin didn’t speak to me, but I
understood it all.“
The Baron finds him kneeling, crying and praying with his hands
together, and kissing the medal. Shortly after he is baptized in the
Gesu Church in Rome. By order of the Pope, the canonical process
begins and it is declared “true miracle“.
Alfonso Ratisbone entered the Company of Jesus and was ordained a
priest. He was sent to Paris to help his brother Theodore in the catechumens
for the conversion of the Jews.
After being a Jesuit for 10 years, with permission he leaves the
order and founds in 1848 the religious community of Our Lady of Sion and the
Missions of Our Lady of Sion. In only the first 10 years Ratisbone
obtained the conversion of 200 Jews and 32 Protestants. Father Alfonso Ratisbone worked hard in Holy Land, and was able to purchase
Pilate’s old house, converted into a convent and church for the
religious. He also made it possible for the religious to found a
hospital in Ain-Karim, where he died a holy death in 1884 at age 70.
Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
O Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate,
We dedicate and consecrate ourselves to you under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
May this Medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your affection for us and a constant reminder of our duties toward you.
Ever while wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son.
O Most Powerful Virgin, Mother of Our Savior,
keep us close to you every moment of our lives.
Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death;
so that in union with you,we may enjoy the bliss of Heaven forever. Amen.
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