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Our readers asked:

Where did the “O Mary conceived without sin …”prayer come from?

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:

It comes from the Miraculous Medal, which is a small medal often worn by Catholics. In 1830, a young French nun named Catherine Labouré had several visions of Mary. In one of these visions, she saw Mary standing on a globe with a snake (Satan) under her feet. Around the image of Mary, Catherine saw the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” Mary asked Catherine to have medals made in her likeness, telling Catherine that those who wore the medal and confidently prayed the prayer on it would receive great graces. It’s come to be called the Miraculous Medal because some who wear it prayerfully have reported what they claim to be miraculous occurrences.

The Miraculous Medal is one of those Catholic traditions that is easy to misunderstand. To regard it as a “magic charm,” as many do, is to ignore the fact that it is nothing without faith and prayer. The prayer itself is notable for two things: 1), it is a statement of the Immaculate Conception (the Catholic belief that Mary was conceived without sin); and 2), it is a reminder that when we pray to Mary, we are recognizing her as an intercessor on our behalf, not as the source of grace herself (note that the medal asks Mary to “pray for us,” not to get in and magically fix things herself).

Incidentally, I’m wearing a necklace of the Miraculous Medal as I write this. I don’t wear it every day, but sometimes, when I need the reminder that there’s a heavenly mom pulling for me, I put it on. For many Catholics throughout the decades, it’s been just that: an extra source of comfort, and a tangible reminder that Mary will pray for us anytime we ask.

The Author : Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
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  • Joseph Moccio

    My parents separated when I was young. I wasn’t given the traditional catholic up bringing though my older brother was an alter boy. When I was about 15 my dad who anyone who knew him would say he was as close to being a saint as humanly possible. My dad gave me this Medal and especially since his passing I found faith where I was least looking. My brother and I went looking to two places that sold head stones, and me and my brother found one. I had began wearing my Medal on a 26 or 28 inch chain that had Mother Mary on it all the time. I never really understood it’s true meaning, but after deciding on this head stone, right next to it was a stone that had this exact saying on it right next to the one we purchased. What are the odds of this? Afterwards we stayed with the one we picked out as it truly fit him, but I took it as my father and the lord Jesus saying to me he is truly next to me always. It’s been almost 7 years and only take it off when showering or swimming and wear it with such pride and ethics my dad had. I’m a retired NYPD Sgt. and retired about 13 years ago. I always took the dangerous assignments (anti-crime, narcotics division, etc.) I was shot at fought many really bad guys and even got shot at without my vest on, but I wore the Medal than, but not like I do now. I would do anything to keep it as I feel it by my heart. I need to really know how old this is, as I’m sure it was passed down my fathers family tree. It truly gave me what i now understand as blind Faith in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit or Ghost. It was the exact wording on that stone that I wear so honorably and humble to Jesus Christ, Mother Mary nag the Holy spirit. Thank you for taking the time to read it and tell my story. I still can’t believe this and treasure it so closely as a carpenter( Jesus Christs humble job) would with his personal tool belt. I almost feel like I’m in an Indiana Jones movie at times God bless all of us, especially at this time of year and with so much hate and violence let’s try to forgive others as God does for us who have true faith in Him. Thanks be to God!

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