The year was 1830 in Paris, France. The modern Age of Marian Apparitions began in a humble convent, to a
humble novice named Catherine Laboure. She had entered the convent of the Daughters of Charity in 1830 against her father's wishes. But Catherine's faith was strong, and her vocation kept her feet on the path she had chosen at God's direction - giving her life in the service of Almighty God.
From her early moments in the convent, Catherine related to her confessor that she had been privileged to see
the heart of the Order's founder - Saint Vincent de Paul. She was also given prophetic messages concerning the two orders the saintly founder had begun. Shortly before this vision of the heart of her founder, in April and May of 1830 Jesus Christ appeared to Catherine at Mass during Holy Communion and also during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
But on the night of July 18, 1830, Catherine was awakened from sleep by the voice of a child, crying "Sister,
Sister Catherine, Sister Catherine!" Rubbing sleep from her eyes she beheld a boy of about five or six at the foot
of her bed, dressed all in white. "The Blessed Virgin awaits you!", the child informed the postulant. The child, an
angel, told Catherine not to be afraid, that it was half past eleven and everyone in the convent was alseep.
"Come, I am waiting," was his order. This glowing child led Catherine through the long convent corridors, which
were somehow strangely lit, and when reaching the chapel the the angel barely touched the heavy double doors
and they swung open as if on springs. Within the chapel all the candles and torches were lit. The child led
Catherine to the sanctuary, and bade her kneel beside the Chaplain's chair. Catherine later wrote that she
heard the "rustling of a silken robe" coming from the side of the Sanctuary. The Mother of God came forward and bowed before the Tabernacle before seating herself in the Chaplain's chair. Catherine rushed forward and knelt before the Mother of God, her hands on her knees. Our Lady discussed many things with Catherine,
reminding her of the need for constant prayer, and especially when her heart felt dark. Then Our Lady told
Catherine that God wished to impart to her a very important mission. This mission, the Mother of God told
Catherine, would be the cause of great suffering for her, but knowing that it was for the Glory of God, Catherine
would surmount all difficulties.
Our Lady then said to Catherine: "The times are very evil. Great misfortune will come to France: her throne will
be overthrown. The whole world will be upset by evils of every kind...There will also be victims among the clergy
of Paris. The archbishop himself will die. The cross will be insulted; blood will flow in the streets."
After this message, the Mother of God "disappeared like a shadow" as Catherine later related. The small child,
still glowing with a strange interior light, led Catherine back to her bed in the postulant's dormitory.
It was not until the following November on the 27th of the month which happened to be the First Sunday of
Advent, did Catherine, now wearing the white veil of a novice, hear again the rustling of silk as she had in July.
She raised her eyes from her meditation and beheld the Blessed Virgin on the right side of the main altar.
Catherine saw that Our Lady was dressed in a white gown close to the neck and draped down over her
shoulders and arms. A long veil was on her head, and only a little of her hair showed, which Catherine related
was braided and held in place with lace.
The Virgin raised her eyes to Heaven and it was then Catherine noted that she stood upon a green snake coiled
over a white sphere. At her breast the Virgin held a golden ball surmounted by a cross. Suddenly the golden ball
disappeared, and the Virgin lifted her hands toward Heaven. On each finger was beautiful, exquisite jewel, each
a different size and color. Rays of intense light began to fall upon the white sphere beneath Mary's feet. Yet, not
every stone emitted this light. The Queen of Heaven spoke to Catherine's heart, explaining that the "rays" were
the graces which she bestowed upon the world. But from the jewels which exuded no rays, she allowed
Catherine to understand that these were the graces which went unclaimed.
Then the vision changed once more. Now an oval frame appeared around the Virgin. Words materialized over
the frame in French, which, translated into English, said: "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who
have recourse to thee." Immediately the inner voice told the young nun: "Have a medal made after this pattern. Those who wear it blessed about their necks, and who confidently say this prayer, will receive great graces and will enjoy the special protection of the Mother of God." The frame then reversed and Catherine saw a large "M" surmounted by a cross, having a double bar under it. Beneath this "M", the holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary were placed, side by side, the first crowned with thorns, the other pierced by a sword. Around the whole
were twelve stars.
This then was to be Saint Catherine Laboure's mission. She went to her confessor and told him all she had
seen and had been instructed to do. But she was not believed, and relying upon Our Lady's advice, confidently
prayed that the Mother of God would fit all the pieces together that the Divine Will might be fulfilled. Her prayers
were rewarded for in less than a year after the apparition in which Catherine saw the "medal" which Our Lady
desired, there were three more apparitions for the young nun. In December 1830, March and September of
1831 the Blessed Virgin expressed how displeased she was over the lack of progress on the medal. Then
Catherine was told that she would not see the Mother of God again in this life. Instead, Catherine would hear
Mary's voice in an interior way through locutions during prayer.
Obedient to her calling, Catherine again repeated the request of the Queen of Heaven to her confessor, and
dutifully went about her work in the convent. In the fall of 1831 the young priest who was her confessor finally
went to the archbishop and made known what he had been told, and about the request from the Mother of God
in private revelation. Meanwhile, Catherine was known only as a good, pious nun who was much loved for the
service she gave to the poor, and for her ability to make nourishing meals for them from their own meager
stock. But on June 1831 the medal became a reality. Sister Catherine was very pleased and said "I will wear it with veneration, but the important thing now is to make it widely known." This ideal was realized through the two
orders - the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and the Lazarists, who spread the word of the medal
and its Divine origin throughout the world. Soon millions of medals were cast and the numbers kept growing as
those who wore the medal with confidence and faith, and who recited the prayer, the invocation to the Blessed
Mother, reported many miraculous cures. Thus the medal became known, as it remains to this day, as "THE
Not one of her fellow sisters or superiors ever realized that Catherine was the privileged soul who had seen Our
Lady in the chapel at Rue de Bac, nor did they realize the great holiness which was hidden constantly beneath
the humility of this self-effacing nun. As forty years passed, Catherine worried that the other request of Our Lady
- that a statue of Our Lady in the medal be cast and placed within the Chapel at Rue de Bac - would be fulfilled.
Only when she was crippled by arthritis and advancing heart trouble and asthma, did Catherine confide in her
superior that it was she to whom the Mother of God had given the mission of the medal and statue. The
superior, quite overcome by emotion, agreed to see to the final phase of Our Lady's request. But Catherine did
not live to see its fulfillment. Sister Catherine Laboure died on December 31, 1876. Though she had kept it
hidden throughout her lifetime of the sublime graces and Heavenly privileges granted her, her death made
these Heavenly graces quite evident. In death all the wrinkles were smoothed away and Catherine was young
again. Her cause for canonization was not introduced until 1895, and it was not until May 28, 1933 that she was
beatified. Her body was found, at that time, to be miraculously preserved and was ten entombed in the
motherhouse chapel at Rue de Bac. Finally Catherine was laid to rest beneath the altar upon which rested the
statue Our Lady requested, Our Lady of the Globe offering the world to God. Catherine was canonized on July
27, 2947 by Pope Pius XII and her body is still incorrupt today.
Today Our Lady is still offering the world to God, offering us the opportunity to return to God as our only means of
salvation - the only reason we are on this earth to begin with. And in the face of the grave warnings and
messages which have continued to come from the Mother of God to many throughout the world since this time
in Paris, we must reconsider if we are really listening to and responding to our Heavenly Mother's requests, for it
is from Rue de Bac and from LaSalette to our present apparitions in the 80's and 90's that those who are
gathered beneath her Immaculate Mantle must know we are in the end times, and all Our Lady has foretold will
be fulfilled. It is interesting to note that this apparition and Our Lady's subsequent appearance at LaSalette,
which we will begin in the next installment, have been approved by the Church. Medjugorje and many of the
present day apparitions have not yet been approved by Rome. Yet, the messages of Rue de Bac, LaSalette,
Lourdes and Fatima are the same as those of today - Pray and Prepare for all of Scripture is soon to be
NEXT WEEK: The Apparitions of LaSalette: The Warnings from Our Lady of LaSalette part one