TO JESUS THROUGH MARY IN THE SPIRIT OF ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE
Apparition Of Our Lady Of The Miraculous Medal
The Miraculous Medal owes its origin to the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Chapel of the Rue du Bac, Paris in the year 1830. She appeared as the Immaculata to St. Catherine Laboure, a novice with the Daughters of Charity. On July 18, the Immaculate Virgin, seated in the same chapel, had spoken gentle words of encouragement to the young novice. On November 27, the Virgin Mother showed St. Catherine the design of a medal which would remind people of the love and protection that Our Lady continually offers to God's children.
Meaning Of The Medal
Here, we see a woman, the Mother of God, encircled by a short and famous prayer: "O Mary conceived without sin. . . . " Being conceived without sinthe mystery of her Immaculate Conceptionmeans that from the beginning this woman was full of grace.
Mary stands on a globe, the world. Around her feet a twisted serpent, the devil, struggles for mastery. It is a conflict between good and evil. Satan's is a world of darkness and disgrace; Mary's is a world of light and grace. But hers is the victory won by Christthe light of the world. So we see the light and grace of Christ flowing from her hands; and those who choose grace rather than darkness turn to her for help: "pray for us who have recourse to thee."
On the back of the medal we see a large letter M with a cross above it. M is for Mary and Mother because she is indeed the Mother of God's peoplea people founded on the twelve Apostles, signified by the twelve stars arranged around the rim.
The two hearts are those of Jesus and Mary. God's message for Mary was one of suffering "a sword will pierce your heart too"just as the heart of her Son would be pierced by a soldier's lance. The showing of the two hearts in one grand alliance is a reminder of God's love for us. Mother and Son are united in the work of redemption as Christ offers himself on the cross and Mary stands compassionately at his feet, assenting in faith so that the world might be saved.
The medal, then, is a summary in itself of the Church's teaching on Our Ladya mini-catechism of the faith for everyone.
The MI Movement
One of the most celebrated cases of a conversion, through the use of the Miraculous Medal, was that of the agnostic, Alphonse Ratisbonne. In January 1917, while still a seminarian at the Conventual Franciscan Friars' Seraphicum in Rome, St. Maximilian Kolbe heard the Miraculous Medal conversion story of Ratisbonne. This wonderful account inspired St. Maximilian to recognize the powerful role that God had given Mary in the work of leading people to conversion and growth in holiness. He understood that the Miraculous Medal symbolized her active presence in the Church as Mediatrix of All Graces. For the next nine months St. Maximilian meditated upon the Miraculous Medal, the apparition of Our Lady to St. Catherine Laboure, and the marvel of Ratisbonne's conversion.
On the evening of October 16, 1917, St. Maximilian was ready to put these Marian insights into a concrete plan of action. He gathered six Franciscan companions in a
room at their seminary on Rome's Via San Teodoro to establish what he called in Latin the Militia Immaculatae (MI), that is, the "Knights of the Immaculata." This movement, which now numbers millions of members worldwide would bind people together around one compelling and fruitful ideal: spiritual union with Mary the Immaculata. This ideal would attract various kinds and classes of people (clergy, religious, and laity), stirring each to form a person-to-person relationship with Mary by means of the "Act of Total Consecration," and entrustment of self to her.
St. Maximilian made the Miraculous Medal the insignia of the MI movement. He recommended that people wear it as an external sign of their Total Consecration to the Immaculata. Mindful of Mary's promise to St. Catherine that "all who wear it will receive great graces," St. Maximilian saw the medal as a means of safeguarding the consecration. It reminds MIs that by their consecration they are to belong to Mary, work for her, and become one with her, so that she might act through them as her instruments.
The Miraculous Medal helps MIs to love Jesus through Mary, so as to hasten the transformation of individuals, families, and society into a "civilization of love."
Purpose of the MI:
Pursue the conversion and growth in holiness of all people, under the sponsorship of the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary.
May I join the MI?
All Catholics are welcome to join. One's "work" in the MI is simply to live the spirit of Total Consecration to Mary as taught by the saints and popes. MIs try to bring the presence of Mary into daily life, by offering up daily duties, prayers, sufferings, and good works for the conversion and sanctification of souls. MIs need not attend meetings, nor pay dues, nor follow complicated rules.
Miraculous Medal Invocation Prayer
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us
who have recourse to you, and for all who do
not have recourse to you, especially the enemies
of the Church and those recommended to you.
Meditation Prayer with the Miraculous Medal
Mary, this medal is a sign and a guarantee of your presence. You are present because your power is present, your voice is present and your love is present. Therefore, O wonderful Sinless Woman and our Mystical Mother, we call on you now to fulfill your guarantee. Bring us the great graces you promised to those who carry this medal, especially to those who wear it around their neck. Make us perceive our presence now and always. Make us consciously experience your power, your love and your guidance, that in their strength we may begin to share in your perfect response to God and to each of his creatures, and join in your war with the ancient Serpent. Help us utterly abandon our self-centered feelings and preoccupations. Help us hear and understand you. Teach us to listen and learn. Help us respond to you today and always;, that made one with you we might more fully respond with the rest of the Church to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, participating in their life and unity.
For further information write:
St. Maximilian Kolbe Shrine
1600 West Park Avenue
Libertyville, Illinois 60048
708-367-7800 - Fax 708-367-7831