We’ve been going through the 33 Days of Morning Glory Marian consecration at our church. One suggestion is that we wear a Miraculous medal once we are consecrated.
While I’ve seen the medal a hundred times, I haven’t fully understood its symbolism and purpose. So here is what we found out:
Mary’s Design: The Miraculous Medal
What would you do if Our Blessed Mother appeared to you one night and revealed to you her very own design of something you could actually wear?
This happened nearly 200 years ago to a young woman named Catherine Labouré, a novice with the Daughters of Charity in Paris, France.
On July 18, 1830, Catherine first sees the Virgin who tells her, “My child, I am going to give you a mission.” A few months later, on November 27, 1830, Catherine has another vision of the Blessed Mother. Referring to the vision, the Blessed Mother tells Catherine, “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.”
Catherine then shares her experiences to her confessor. With the Church’s approval, the first medals are made in 1832. And in 1836, the apparitions are declared genuine.
The result is the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, now more popularly known as the Miraculous Medal.
The Design and Its Meaning
The front side of the oval medal shows Mary standing on a globe, recognizing her as Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her feet crushing a serpent depicts the defeat of Satan, in reference to Genesis 3:15 — “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Rays of light emerge from her outstretched hands, symbolizing the many graces that can be obtained through her. And around this scene are the words, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee,” which confirm her Immaculate Conception.
The opposite side displays a cross with a bar on its base, and a large “M” suspended on the bar. The cross refers to Christ and the salvation of the world, while the bar is the sign of the earth. The “M” is for “Mary” and “Mother.”
Below the “M” are two flaming hearts: the left with a crown of thorns, the right pierced by a sword. These symbolize the love of God through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The twelve stars encircling these elements refer to the 12 Apostles that signify the Church.
Miracles and Purpose
Since the distribution of the medals, miracles have been attributed to its use, including healings, protection from serious illnesses and a dramatic conversion of a former hater of Catholicism.
Today, many people have a devotion to Our Lady through the Miraculous Medal. Most important to note is what the Association of the Miraculous Medal declares: “There is no superstition, nothing of magic, connected with the Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal is not a ‘good-luck charm.’ Rather, it is a great testimony to faith and the power of trusting prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance, and faith. God uses a Medal, not as a sacrament, but as an agent, an instrument, in bringing to pass certain marvelous results.”