The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is a chapel in Paris revered by Catholics as the site of three apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1830.
History of Chapel of the Miraculous Medal
The Chapel of the Daughters of Charity was consecrated in Paris on August 6, 1815 and dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The building was previously the medieval Hôtel de Châtillon.
St. Catherine Labouré (born Zoe Labouré) was born to a middle-class farming family in Burgundy on May 2, 1806. She felt a call to the monastic life early, and once had a dream of St. Vincent-de-Paul telling her "God has plans for you."
On April 21, 1830, at the age of 24, Zoe entered the Daughters of Charity Mother House on the Rue du Bac in Paris. Shortly thereafter, she changed her name to Catherine. St. Catherine soon reported three apparitions of Mary that would lead to a popular new devotion throughout the Catholic Church.
The apparitions began on the night of July 18, 1830, just a few months into her monastic life. The young nun was awakened at 11:30pm by a small child who told her to "Come to the Chapel, the Blessed Virgin is waiting for you." Catherine dressed and did so, and found the chapel fully lit.
She prayed in silence at the altar for about a half an hour, and the child said, "Look, the Blessed Virgin, she is here." The Virgin Mary then spoke to Catherine, saying that at the foot of that altar, graces would be poured out on those who ask with confidence.
The second apparition occurred on November 27, 1830, at 5:30pm in the same chapel. This time, the Virgin appeared near the painting of St. Joseph and showed Catherine the design for what would become known as the "Miraculous Medal." On one side was an image of Mary, surrounded by the prayer, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." The reverse side of the medal bore a letter "M" surmounted by a cross and over two hearts, one encircled with a crown of thorns, and the other pierced with a sword.
The Virgin Mary instructed St. Catherine, "have a medal struck on this model. All those who carry this will receive Grace in abundance, especially if they wear the medal around their neck and say this prayer confidently, they will receive special protection from the Mother of God and abundant graces."
The third apparition occurred on December 30, 1830. St. Catherine was meditating in the chapel when she had a vision of the medal behind the altar and heard, "These rays are the symbol of the graces that the Blessed Virgin obtains for those who ask them of her."
Catherine told the story to her confessor, who at first did not believe her. Later, at her insistence, he took the information to the Archbishop of Paris who in May of 1832 authorized the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, as it was originally known. Many miracles were reported in connection with the medal and some 10 million medals were sold during the first 5 years.
In February 1831, Sister Catherine left the Daughters of Charity for the Hospice of Enghien, located in a poverty-stricken area of eastern Paris. She served the poor there for the remaining 46 years of her life.
In February 1832, a deadly cholera epidemic claimed the lives of more than 20,000 Parisians. The sisters began to distribute the first copies of the medal, and cures and protections were soon reported.
Sister Catherine wished to keep her connection with the apparitions a secret, and only in the months close to her death on Dec. 31, 1876, did it become generally known.
When Catherine's body was exhumed in 1933, it was found miraculously preserved. Her incorrupt body now lies on display in the chapel in a glass case. Pope Pius XII named her a Saint on July 27, 1947.
What to See at Chapel of the Miraculous Medal
The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal was enlarged after the apparitions to accommodate all those who wished to pray at the altar, and the chapel was further renovated for its centenary in 1930.
Today's visitors and pilgrims to the chapel can see the altar at which the Virgin Mary promised prayers will be answered, and the incorrupt body of St. Catherine, on display in a glass case. The walls are beautifully decorated with mosaics and murals.
A white marble statue of Mary, sculpted in 1850, stands over the altar. She is crowned with 12 stars and rays of graces lead from her outstretched palms to the floor.
Quick Facts on Chapel of the Miraculous Medal
|Names:||Chapel of the Miraculous Medal|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||48.850768° N, 2.323764° E|
|Address:||140 rue de Bac, 7e, Paris, France|
|Hours:||Mon, Wed-Sun: 7:45am-1pm, 2:30-7pm|
Public holidays: 8:15am-12:30pm, 2:30-7pm
|Lodging:||View hotels near Chapel of the Miraculous Medal|
- Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal – official website (includes a virtual tour)
- Miraculous Medal - Catholic Encyclopedia
Map of Chapel of the Miraculous Medal
Below is a location map and aerial view of Chapel of the Miraculous Medal. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.