What is the miraculous medal?
You may have seen Catholics wearing a small silver medal depicting Mary. She stands on a globe, with a serpent (Satan) under her feet. Around her is the prayer, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
In 1830, Mary appeared to Catherine Labouré, a young French nun. On her second visit, Mary asked Catherine to have a medal made in her likeness. She told Catherine that those who wore the blessed medal and who confidently said the prayer on it would receive special grace and protection. Many who wear it have reported what they call miraculous happenings (hence the name “Miraculous Medal”).
Though blessed objects like medals (called “sacramentals”) are a vivid part of the Catholic faith, their importance can be distorted. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments notes that it’s the prayer behind the medal, not the object itself, that truly matters. According to the 2001 document Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy:
…the Miraculous Medal is never to be regarded as a talisman or lead to any form of blind credulity. The promise of Our Lady that “those who wear the medal will receive great graces”, requires a humble and tenacious commitment to the Christian message, faithful and persevering prayer, and a good Christian life.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. You can visit her blog at www.blog.maryandme.org