Why Catholics have medals with Mary on them

Why Catholics have medals with Mary on them

The Miraculous Medal has brought about thousands of favors, cures and conversions.


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Spend enough time in Catholic circles and you’ll come across the Miraculous Medal, one of the most common Marian devotions in the Church.

It's a devotion that’s brought about thousands of favors, cures and conversions.

You’ve probably seen a Miraculous Medal before on a necklace. But do you know where it came from? 

It all started with St. Catherine Laboure. Specifically, when she heard a voice in the middle of the night. 

Catherine was a nun with the Sisters of Charity in France. On the night of July 18, 1830, a child woke her up and told her to go to the chapel. The Virgin Mary was waiting for her, he said. So she got out of bed, dressed and obediently followed the child.

Sure enough, Mary appeared by the altar and spoke to Catherine. She revealed that Catherine was going to receive a special mission from God.

Fast forward four months. One night, Mary appeared to Catherine again. This time Catherine saw her standing on a globe with her arms held out, as rays of light poured out from the jewels on her fingers. The rays represented the graces Mary pours out on all who ask for them. An oval frame surrounded the vision, with the words “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

Catherine was told to have this image inscribed on a medal that people would wear around their neck. She was also shown how the back side should be designed: an M with a bar and cross, surrounded by twelve stars.

Mary told Catherine that everyone who wears the Miraculous Medal with devotion and confidence will receive great graces. 

Sure enough, once the first medals were made and worn, people immediately began to report stories of blessings and conversions. The devotion spread like wildfire, and it kicked off a new age of devotion to Mary in the Church. The many stories and blessings associated with the medal quickly earned it the nickname “the Miraculous Medal.” The name stuck.

As Mary promised to Catherine, when you wear the medal with devotion and trust, you will experience many graces. It’s a simple but profound way to abide in Mary’s maternal protection every day.