Paris France - Trust in the Power of Prayer


In 1980, when Pat and I entered a building in a back street near the center of Paris, we saw the corpse at once. Displayed in an illuminated glass coffin was the body of an elderly lady dressed in the black robes of a French nun. The body had not deteriorated in any way. Indeed, she was so lifelike that she could have been in the middle of a peaceful sleep. The building that we had entered was the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, which is located at 140 Rue du Bac in Paris, France.

Uncorrupted body of Catherine Laboure in glass coffin

In life, this elderly lady had been Catherine Laboure, who was born in the Burgundy region of France in 1806 and who died and was buried in 1876.  Many years later, the Roman Catholic Church was considering conferring sainthood upon her and, in 1933 in relation to that, her body was exhumed.  It was found to be what the Church calls “incorrupt”. In other words, the body was and still is in exactly the same state as at the time of death, despite the fact that no preservatives of any kind had been used. This was the body that we were looking at over a century after her death. The Church considers this to be a miracle. In 1947, it canonized her, not just because of the condition of her body but because of the events in her life that we describe below, and she is now Saint Catherine Laboure.

At the time, Pat and I had needs in our own lives that called for a couple of miracles. We were living in the Marylebone area of London and visited a local church on nine occasions to pray for these miracles to be granted to us. We were undertaking what is known in the Church as a “novena” and selected the Novena of the Miraculous Medal (see below), which brings us back to Saint Catherine Laboure. Her story is that, as a young woman, she became a member of a nursing order founded by St.Vincent de Paul. She was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, particularly after the death of her own mother.  On a number of occasions in 1830, when she was 24 years of age, she believes that she was visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary who showed her certain images. Mary told her to take details of these images to her father confessor and to ask him to create medallions containing them. Mary then told her that all who wear the medallion will “receive great graces”.

Miraculous Medal front and back
The father confessor referred the situation to the church hierarchy. Within a few years, after due investigation of Catherine and her story, a Miraculous Medal containing those images was created by the Church and distributed. This was done without any mention of Catherine. Indeed it was not until after her death many years later that her part in the creation of the Miraculous Medal became known. Catherine lived out the rest of her seventy year life as an ordinary nursing sister, humble and well liked, with her peers unaware that they were in the presence of a saint.

Click on player below to see a video of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.




While Pat and I were undertaking our novena, we both wore the Miraculous Medal. Then, to give our nine prayer sessions a special emphasis, we visited the little chapel at 140 Rue du Bac and prayed again in front of Saint Catherine Laboure. Shortly afterwards, our prayers were answered and our miracles arrived. Precisely what we asked for is not relevant to this story. Suffice it is to say that what we were asking for certainly needed miracles. Our medallions were not some kind of good luck charm. Instead, they are a testimony to faith and to the power of trusting prayer.

I recall that, many years ago, my dear mother prayed as hard as any human being could for something that she particularly wanted. She was truly a most deserving person. Yet her prayers went unanswered, for the simple reason that she did not believe that they would be answered. So the moral of this story is to trust in the power of prayer !!!

This piece, written by Bob, originally appeared on our website on June 9, 2010.

A Novena is a series of prayers repeated 9 times. Each day for 9 consecutive days or, if you prefer on a specific day each week for 9 weeks, or once an hour for 9 hours. The prayers below were copied directly from the Novena of the Miraculous Medal prayer book.

Novena of the Miraculous Medal


Begin with the Sign of the Cross...


In the name of the Father
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.


Amen.


Come, O Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of Your faithful,
and kindle in them the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit,
and they shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.


O God, who did instruct the hearts
of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit,
grant us in the same Spirit
to be truly wise
and ever to rejoice in His consolation,
through Jesus Christ Our Lord.


Amen.


O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to you.


O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to you.


O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to you.


O Lord Jesus Christ,
who has vouchsafed to glorify
by numberless miracles the Blessed Virgin Mary,
immaculate from the first moment of her conception,
grant that all who
devoutly implore her protection on earth,
may eternally enjoy Your presence in heaven,
who, with the Father and Holy Spirit,
live and reign, God,
for ever and ever.


Amen.


O Lord Jesus Christ,
who for the accomplishment of Your greatest works,
have chosen the weak things of the world,
that no flesh may glory in Your sight;
and who for a better
and more widely diffused belief
in the Immaculate Conception of Your Mother,
have wished that the Miraculous Medal
be manifested to Saint Catherine Labouré,
grant, we beseech You,
that filled with like humility,
we may glorify this mystery by word and work.


 Amen.


Memorare


Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your assistance,
or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
we fly unto you,
O Virgin of Virgins, our Mother;
to you we come;
before you we kneel sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not our petitions,
but in your clemency hear and answer them.


Amen.


Novena Prayer


O Immaculate Virgin Mary, 
Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, 
penetrated with the most lively confidence 
in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession, 
manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, 
we your loving and trustful children 
implore you to obtain for us the graces 
and favors we ask during this novena, 
if they be beneficial to our immortal souls,
and the souls for whom we pray.


(State your intention here...)


You know, O Mary, 
how often our souls have been 
the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity. 
Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin 
and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone 
so that our every thought, word and deed 
may tend to His greater glory.
Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial 
that we may recover by penance 
what we have lost by sin 
and at length attain to that blessed abode 
where you are the Queen of angels and of men.


Amen.


An Act of Consecration to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal


O Virgin Mother of God,
Mary Immaculate,
we dedicate and consecrate ourselves to you
under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
May this Medal be for each one of us
a sure sign of your affection for us
and a constant reminder of our duties toward you.
Ever while wearing it,
may we be blessed by your loving protection
and preserved in the grace of your Son.
O most powerful Virgin,
Mother of our Saviour,
keep us close to you every moment of our lives.
Obtain for us, your children,
the grace of a happy death;
so that, in union with you,
we may enjoy the bliss of heaven forever.


Amen.


O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to you.


O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to you.


O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to you.




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