Feast Day: November 28
Canonized: July 27, 1947
Beatified: May 28, 1933
Venerated: July 19, 1931
Tradition tells us that at the moment Zoe Laboure was born in France in 1806, church bells rang to remind everyone in the village to stop their work and pray the Angelus. The Angelus is a prayer to our Blessed Mother. It begins with the words, “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.” The ringing of the Angelus bells was a sign of the special role Mary would play in Zoe’s life.
Zoe felt called to the religious life when she was a very young girl. One day, while visiting a Catholic hospital run by the Daughters of Charity, she decided that she, too, wanted to be a Daughter of Charity and to care for the sick.
She joined the order and began her training in living as a nun. She was given the name Sister Catherine. One night, she woke up and heard a voice telling her to go to the chapel. To Catherine’s surprise, the chapel was filled with light as if all the candles were lit! There, right before her eyes, was a woman. Catherine knew immediately that it was our Blessed Mother, Mary.
Mary spoke to Catherine. She asked her to have a special medal made. She described the medal to the young nun. Our Blessed Mother told Catherine that anyone who wore the medal would receive special graces, or gifts, from God.
Catherine asked Mary what she would need to do to have the medal made. Jesus’ mother told her to tell Father Aladel, Catherine’s spiritual adviser, about her vision and that he would make sure that her request was granted.
Father Aladel did not believe Catherine at first, but after two years of questioning her and making sure that she had not imagined her visions of Mary, he was convinced. The priest went to the archbishop of Paris and told him what our Blessed Mother had asked of Catherine. The bishop ordered two thousand medals to be made. The medal was first called the “Medal of the Immaculate Conception” but today we call it the “Miraculous Medal” because the people who have worn it say that their lives have been blessed and their prayers answered. People still wear the medal today, nearly two hundred years later!
Catherine never told anyone else about her visits with our Blessed Mother until just before her death, when she received permission to tell her superior. She wanted only to be to a faithful Sister of Charity. For 40 years, she cared for the sick and the elderly. She died in 1876, and she was canonized in 1947.