Miraculous Medal History
The design of the Miraculous Medal or Medal of the Immaculate Conception, was originated by Saint Catherine Labouré following her vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Catherine Labouré stated that on November 27, 1830, the Blessed Mother appeared to her during evening meditations. She displayed herself inside an oval frame, standing upon a globe. She wore many rings set with gems that shone rays of light over the globe. Around the margin of the frame appeared the words " Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee". As Catherine watched, the frame seemed to rotate, showing a circle of twelve stars, a large letter M surmounted by a cross, and the stylized Sacred Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns and Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced with a sword. Asked why some of the gems did not shed light, Mary reportedly replied, "Those are the graces for which people forget to ask." Catherine then heard Mary ask her to take these images to her father confessor, telling him that they should be put on medallions, and saying "All who wear them will receive great graces."
Catherine did so, and after two years of investigation and observation of Catherine's ordinary daily behavior, the priest took the information to his archbishop without revealing Catherine's identity. The request was approved and medallions were designed and produced through goldsmith Adrien Vachette.
The chapel in which Saint Catherine experienced her visions is located at the mother house of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. The incorrupt bodies of Saint Catherine Labouré and Saint Louise de Marillac, a co-founder of the Daughters of Charity, are interred in the chapel, which continues to receive daily visits from Catholic pilgrims today.
Pope John Paul II used a slight variation of the reverse image as his coat of arms, the Marian Cross, a plain cross with an M underneath the right-hand bar (which signified the Blessed Virgin at the foot of the Cross when Jesus was being crucified).