November 27th marks the 190th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing to Saint Catherine Labore, a Visitation Sister, during her evening meditation. Our Lady was so real, reported Sister Catherine, that she could feel the folds on her dress –
The Mother of God tasked Catherine with a mission, to spread devotion to her intercessory power:
God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace to do what is necessary. Tell your spiritual director all that passes within you. Times are evil in France and in the world
She was to have a medal forged, in accord with how Our Lady appeared, and we may be familiar with the once-nearly-ubiquitous ‘Miraculous Medal’, with the Virgin upon a globe, crushing the head of the serpent, with rays from her hand (the ‘graces, for which many forget to ask’), with two hearts within a the large ‘M’, and the cross, with the prayer ‘Ô Marie, conçue sans péché, priez pour nous qui avons recours à vous (“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee”. All deeply symbolic and powerful.
If times were evil in 1830 – and they were – what are we to say of our own days? Even though the evil will be with us to the end, and we may one day witness its ‘final unleashing’ as the Catechism says, we always have recourse to Mary and all the saints.
On that note, the chapel where the visions took place, at the convent of the Daughters of Charity in the Rue de Bac in Paris, is still a very popular place of pilgrimage, and is where the incorrupt bodies of Saint Catherine, along with Saint Louise de Marillac (who co-founded the Order with Saint Vincent de Paul) reside, awaiting the resurrection.
So fear not, dear reader, and hold your head high, for if we but keep faith, not a hair of our head – that is, our eternal salvation – will be lost.