Saint Catherine Zoé Labouré was born in a small village of France in 1806, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer who had at one time wanted to become a priest, and his very Christian wife. Catherine, the ninth of the eleven living children, lost her mother when she was only nine years old and had to abandon school to go to live with an aunt, accompanied by her younger sister. Two years later she was recalled to take charge of the household, because the older children had all left, one to become a Sister of Saint Vincent de Paul, the others to marry or seek a living elsewhere.
The Miraculous Medal comes directly from the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother; it is a gift from heaven which has never ceased to effect marvels of grace throughout the entire world. This medal is a very simple and very efficacious means to benefit from the protection of Mary in all our necessities, both spiritual and temporal.
[Institutor of the Sylvestrin Monks.] THIS saint was born of a noble family at Osimo or Osmo, about fourteen miles from Loretto in 1177. He studied the laws and theology at Bologna and Padua, and being instituted to a canonry at Osimo made prayer, pious reading, and the instruction of others his whole employment. His zeal in reproving vice raised him enemies, and his bishop, whom he admonished of certain neglects to the discharge of his office, declared himself his persecutor. These trials served to purify the heart of the servant of God, and prepared him for the grace of the pure love of God. The sight of the carcass of a man who had been admired in his life-time for his beauty and great accomplishments, completed his abhorrence and contempt of this treacherous world, so that, deploring its scandals and blindness, he left the city privately, and retired into a desert thirty miles from Osimo, being then forty years old. To satisfy the importunity of others, in 1231, he built a monastery upon Monte Fano, two miles from Fabriano, in the marquisate of Ancona. In this house he settled the rule of St. Bennet without any mitigation: and, in 1248, obtained of Innocent IV., who was then at Lyons, the confirmation of his institute. He lived to found twenty-five monasteries in Italy, and leaving his disciples heirs of his double spirit of penance and prayer, departed to the Lord on the 26th of November in 1267, being ninety years old. God was pleased to work several miracles at his tomb, and his name is inserted in the Roman Martyrology. See his life by Fabrini, fourth general of his Order, in Breve Chron. della Congreg. de Monachi Sylvestrini; and Helyot, Hist. des Ordres Relig. t. 6, p. 170. 1
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. November 26.
Virgin, Martyr, Patroness of Students and Young Girls († Fourth Century)
Catherine was a noble virgin of Alexandria, born in the fourth century. Before her Baptism, she saw in a dream the Blessed Virgin asking Her Son to receive her among His servants, but the Divine Infant turned away, saying she was not yet regenerated by the waters of Baptism. She made haste to receive that sacrament, and afterwards, when the dream was repeated, Catherine saw that the Saviour received her with great affection, and espoused her before the court of heaven, with a fine ring. She woke with it on her finger.
Saint John of the Cross was born near Avila in Spain. As a child, he was playing near a pond one day. He slid into the depths of the water, but came up unharmed and did not sink again. A tall and beautiful Lady came to offer him Her hand. No, said the child, You are too beautiful; my hand will dirty Yours. Then an elderly gentleman appeared on the shore and extended his staff to the child to bring him to shore. These two were Mary and Joseph. Another time he fell into a well, and it was expected he would be retrieved lifeless. But he was seated and waiting peacefully. A beautiful lady, he said, took me into Her cloak and sheltered me. Thus John grew up under the gaze of Mary.