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Saturday, 05 July 2008

The Chapel of Miracles, Paris - Page 3

Written by Marilyn Z. Tomlins
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The silence in the small chapel was both welcoming and intimidating. It was late afternoon on a weekday in Paris and gusts of wind swept a spring drizzle into the faces of shoppers. They scurried for cover, cutting through bumper-to-bumper traffic. It is forbidden to use the car horn in the French capital, but motorists were still doing so: one even beat the side of his car with a clenched fist and shouted something about acting like an imbecile.

According to what Catherine would later reveal, the Virgin then spoke to her of a ‘mission’ she was to undertake for God. It was not though until almost four months later, on Saturday, November 27, that the Virgin would tell her what this ‘mission’ was. Catherine was to have a medal struck that, when worn, especially around the neck, would bestow an abundance of graces and protection on the wearer.

Catherine described the Virgin. She said, “Her height was medium and Her countenance, indescribably beautiful. She was dressed in a robe the color of the dawn, high-necked, with plain sleeves. Her head was covered with a white veil, which floated over Her shoulders down to her feet. Her feet rested upon a globe, or rather one half of a globe, for that was all that could be seen. Her hands were on a level with Her waist. Her eyes were raised to Heaven.”

The Virgin also held a globe and she showed it to Catherine.

As Catherine described that moment: “There now formed around the Blessed Virgin a frame rather oval in shape on which were written in letters of gold these words: ‘O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee’.

Those words and that scene were to be on one side of the medal that Catherine was to have struck.

Said Catherine: “At the same instant, the oval frame seemed to turn around. Then I saw on the back of it the letter ‘M’ surmounted by a Cross with a crossbar beneath it and under the monogram of the name of Mary, the Holy Hearts of Jesus and of His Mother, the first surrounded by a crown of thorns and the second transpierced by a sword.” This was to be on the reverse side of the medal.

She was anxious to know what words should be placed on this reverse side, but the Virgin told her: “The ‘M’ with the Cross and the two Hearts will tell enough.”

In a third apparition the Virgin told Catherine to go to her confessor, Father Aladel, and to tell him about her request to have this medal struck. Catherine did so but the priest would not believe her. Instead, he transferred her to a convent in Reuilly, a poor commune east of Paris. There she worked at a hospice, yet she kept on hearing a voice reminding her not to forget about the medal. Therefore, in exasperation, she again approached the priest and after having told him, “The Blessed Virgin is cross because you won’t listen to her,” she was finally given an audience with Monsignor De Quélen, Archbishop of Paris.

Having heard what Catherine had to say, the archbishop had 20,000 medals struck. It was 1832 and a cholera epidemic raged in Paris. Twenty thousand people had already died by the time the medal could be distributed by the nuns of Catherine’s old Order. Immediately, the epidemic eased and the medal became known as the ‘Miraculous Medal’. No one though knew the story of the medal: Catherine wouldn’t allow the archbishop to speak of her. Instead, she remained working at the hospice, an ordinary nun washing the bodies of those living their last hours.

Catherine died on Sunday, December 31, 1876, aged 70. Since spring of that year she’d been speaking of dying. “I am going up to Heaven”, she said. When the day came, her fellow nuns asked her whether she was afraid of dying. To that she replied: “Why be afraid of going to see Our Lord, His Mother and Saint Vincent?” Prayers were said at her bedside and she received Communion.

(Page 3 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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