Paris: The Shrine of the Miraculous Medal
About Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal:
On the night of July 18, 1830, Catherine, a young novice at the Daughters of Charity Convent in Paris was sleeping when a young boy, clothed in white, cried out, “Sister! Sister! Sister Catherine! Come with me to the chapel; the Blessed Virgin awaits you”. When she entered the chapel, Catherine heard “the rustling of a silk dress”. As she looked up, she saw the Blessed Virgin Mary seated in a chair by the altar steps, with her hands resting on her lap. The little boy, later revealed as Catherine’s guardian angel, led her to the Mother of God. Catherine knelt before her. She revealed to Catherine that God had chosen her for a very special mission. Although she would first have much to suffer, she would have the grace from God to rise above it.
During her second apparition, November 27, 1830, Our Lady stood on a globe, with her feet crushing a serpent. In her hands she held a small golden globe. Rays of light came from her hands and lit up the globe on which she was standing. As a circle in the shape of a medal formed around the vision, the letters were written, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” At the same time Catherine heard a voice say, “Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for those who wear it with confidence.” As the medal turned, Catherine saw the other side. The initial M was surmounted by a cross, with the Sacred Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns and the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword underneath. Twelve stars encircled the picture.
Within a short time after the medals were made and distributed, many miracles, conversions, and healings took place. The “Miraculous Medal,” the name later attached to it, has earned the reputation of converting the hardest of hearts. “Even though a person be the worst sort, if only he agrees to wear the medal, give it to him…and then pray for him, and at the proper moment strive to bring him closer to his Immaculate Mother, so that he have recourse to her in all difficulties and temptations.” St. Maximilian Kolbe.
We celebrate two feast days in honor of the Miraculous Medal:
November 27 is the Feast of the Miraculous Medal
November 28 is the Feast of Saint Catherine Laboure
About the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal:
Rue Du Bac is a street located in the heart of Paris. As you look at the green gates at 140 Rue Du Bac, it does not really look like a shrine; however, it is here that we find the the magnificent Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Masses generally take place throughout the day in various languages due to the many pilgrim groups from around the world that visit here. The regular Mass schedule is shown on their website (link shown below).
The incorrupt body of Saint Catherine Laboure may be seen on the right hand side of the Chapel and is certainly one of the main attractions of the shrine–a sign from God that this was a person given special graces.
Also, to the right of the altar in the chapel, is the little blue chair where Our Lady sat during her apparition to St. Catherine. We’re not sure why she chose to sit. down, but she did.
On the left side of the Chapel is a reliquary holding the relics of Saint Louise de Marillac. Louise had as her counselors Francis de Sales and was also led by an interior vision to seek out Monsieur Vincent (St/Vincent de Paul). With his support she founded the Daughters of Charity. She was canonized in 1934 and we celebrate her Feast Day on March 15. She was declared patroness of social workers in 1960. Her body is not incorrupt…..it is a wax likeness over her bones.
Still, having two bodies on display in one shrine is truly unique and, in addition, there is a reliquary holding the incorrupt heart of St. Vincent de Paul in the Chapel (his shrine is only a few blocks away). There is a small convent store where Miraculous Medals and rosaries are available for purchase. In the past, credit cards have not been accepted, nor of course, any foreign currency. So bring Euros if you plan to purchase any rosaries or other religious items.
How to find the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal:
You can take the Metro to get to the shrine. Simply get off at the Sevres-Babylone station, which is located on Rue de Sevres, and then walk down a block to Rue du Bac. We recommend “Little Black Book of Paris” and “Streetwise Maps” to help you find your way.
Address: 140 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris
GPS coordinates: 48° 51′ 3.3408” N, 2° 19′ 25.4100” E
Tel: +33 1 49 54 78 88 Fax : +33 (0)1 49 54 78 89
Note: for pilgrimage groups use the contact information listed on their website rather than the above email address.
Click here for the official site of the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Paris. Check out their “guided tour” for a great look at the shrine.
A hidden treasure: right outside the convent is the Jardin Catherine-Labouré (garden of Catherine), a little oasis in the heart of Paris.
This garden with grapevines and ornamental berries was the vegetable garden of the convent of the Daughters of Charity ever since 1633 and has been open to the public since 1977. There is a community garden along with an arbor-covered pathway. A great little respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The address is 29-33 Rue Babylone and is shown on the map below.
Bon Marche is located just across the street….it is Paris’ oldest department store and you might want to check them out along the way.
When you leave the Shrine, just turn right and you will find La Grande Epicerie Paris. This famous food hall houses grocers, pastry shops & delis, plus several restaurants & a wine cellar. Also shown on the map below, and definitely worth a visit (you’re there anyway, so why not? You can always diet when you get back home).
There is also a Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in the United States in Philadelphia.
When you visit the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal, we suggest you also include a visit to the Shrine of Saint Vincent de Paul, which is only a few minutes walk around the corner. When you leave the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal take a right, take another right on Rue de Sevres, and St. Vincent de Paul’s shrine is about two blocks down on the left.
Marian Shrines of France, Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, no copyright