“Mondays with Mary” – St. Teresa of Calcutta and The Miraculous Medal

Famously known as Mother Teresa, St. Teresa of Calcutta in her many years of worldwide missionary work with the poor was often seen with a Miraculous Medal in her hands. At times, she would pass out handfuls to priests who would meet with her. It didn’t matter who you were – young, old, dying, or healthy, if you came into a contact with Mother Teresa, there is a chance you received a medal.

During one of her last public appearances, just three months before her death in 1997 while visiting the South Bronx in New York, she held tightly to a basket full of these medals on her lap. As she gave large sums of them away, her sisters just kept on replenishing the basket. She loved this tiny sacramental. She said it’s one of the best tools to spread the Gospel message of love to the world.

She was so devoted to the Miraculous Medal that St. Teresa of Calcutta could be seen as the primary advocate during the second half of 20th century for this medal (St. Maximillian Kolbe is the first half).  Just like Kolbe, St. Teresa understand that the medal was more than just an object. It was sign of the Gospel’s message of love because the medal taught about Jesus Christ, His Church, Redemption, the Eucharist, Divine Mercy, original sin, grace, Mary, and the Last Things.

The Saint of Calcutta knew the importance of having Mary as Our Mother. She would often pray with the sick while holding this medal as well as press it against the person who was sick showing the importance of acknowledging Mary as Mother. Often, she would press the medal on the person’s body where the pain originated. The Miraculous Medal for St. Teresa of Calcutta was a medal of charity – a symbol of God’s love for all people, most especially the every now moment of our lives.

The Miraculous Medal or the Medal of the Immaculate Conception begins with the Apparitions of Rue du Bac in Paris, France at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity. In the year 1830, St. Catherine Laboure received three apparitions –

  1. The “Virgin of the Chair” (July 18, 1830)
  2. the “Virgin of the Globe” (November 27, 1830);
  3. “Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal” (November 27, 1830)

On the night of July 18, 1830, St. Catherine was awakened by an angel disguised as a small child and was led to the chapel where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her. Catherine would recollect hearing the rustling of a silk dress just before seeing the Blessed Virgin seating in the director’s chair in the sanctuary. As Catherine approached the Blessed Virgin, after a time of hesitation, the Virgin said to her: “My child, the good God wishes to charge you with a mission.”

The Virgin Mary would explain to her all the things that would occur to her personally, the events and suffering that would happen in France, and the major events that were coming to the entire world. The Virgin Mary said,

“You will be in anguish until you have told them who is charged with directing you…tell it with simplicity. Have Confidence. Do not be afraid. The times are very evil. Sorrows will come to France…the whole world will be upset by miseries of every kind…graces will be especially shed upon those who ask for them.”

The Virgin Mary also told Catherine that the Vincentian Fathers and Daughters of Charity were in need of much reform. She said that a new community would develop from the Daughters of Charity. This came to fruition when St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Sisters in Emmitsburg, Maryland would eventually join the Paris community.

As she wept, the Virgin Mary told Catherine of the great dangers that would come to France and the world. Nine days after this first apparition, there was a revolution in Paris by Charles X to reestablish the “divine right” to the Bourbon monarchy. However, he was trampled upon in the “Three Glorious Days” where monarchists, merchants, and radical anarchists attacked the Church by beating, killing, and imprisoning priests and religious. They burned churches and pulled down statues and crosses. The Archbishop was force to flee for his life. The apparition prophecy of nine days earlier came to pass.

On November 27, 1830, the visions of the “Virgin of the Globe” and the “Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal” both occurred. The “Virgin of the Globe” is where the Virgin Mary is holding a golden ball in her hands and offering it up to God. This golden ball represents the Earth, but especially France and all people. After this vision, St. Catherine then saw another vision.

At this moment in the apparition, an oval frame formed around the Blessed Virgin. Surrounding the oval frame were the words – “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

The Virgin then said, “Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.”

The vision then turned around and Catherine viewed the back of the medal. This image was shown to her seven times before the medal was struck.

These symbols from the vision are enriched with deep Marian theology and importance. On the front of the medal, we see Our Lady outstretched and rays coming from her hands. She is also crushing the head of the serpent. The crushing of the head of the serpent is the image we have from Genesis 3:15 (known as the Protoevangelium – first gospel) – “She will crush your head.”

The rays of light flowing from her hands represent her as Mediatrix of all graces. In prayer, she is our universal Advocate – “pray for us who have recourse to thee.” She offers our prayers to the Heavenly Father (as Queen Mother brings the petitions to the King).

The doctrine (and eventual dogma – December 8, 1854 by Bl. Pius IX) of the Immaculate Conception is revealed here – “O Mary, conceived without sin…” The medal was known first as the “Medal of the Immaculate Conception” but because it invoked so many miracles, it became known as the “Miraculous Medal.”

On the backside of the medal, we see the “M” connected to the cross with the crossbeam. This represents Mary’s Co-Redemption with her son and her role as Co-Redemptrix but always subordinate to Him (Jn 19:25-27). Mary is able to crush the head of the serpent by the power of Our Lord, not with her own power.

The two hearts on the bottom of the medal (Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sacred Heart of Jesus) define the whole age of Mary and the motif of the Marian messages to the modern world. The hearts of Mary and Jesus would be developed in the message of Fatima. The triumph of the Immaculate Heart leads to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The twelve stars on the back of the medal represent Mary’s universal Queenship (Rev 12:1), she is also the mother of the male child (Rev 12:5), and the mother of the “rest of her offspring” (Rev 12:7). She is our Queen Mother (1 Kings 2:19-21). The twelve stars also represent the twelve apostles who fulfill the twelve tribes of Israel. Mary is also known in the Tradition of the Church as the Queen of the Apostles.

The first medals were struck in 1832 under the permission of the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor de Quelen. In 1836, the Church investigated the apparition as well as the miracles attributed to the medal and said that there was a supernatural authenticity. In 1842, due to the conversion of a famous European Jewish figure, the Church declared the Miraculous Medal devotion approved. It is believed that the Miraculous Medal was the defining factor in promulgation of the Immaculate Conception being declared dogmatic on December 8, 1854 by Bl. Pius IX.

Sr. Catherine Laboure passed into Eternal Glory in 1876. Fifty-seven years after her death, while her cause for Canonization was occurring, her body was exhumed and was found incorrupt. On July 27, 1947, Pope Pius XII canonized St. Catherine of Laboure a Saint of the Catholic Church. The Miraculous Medal is worn by thousands of Catholics on a daily basis.

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal…Pray for Us

St. Catherine Laboure…Pray for Us


McCurry , Fr. James. “Mother Teresa and the Miraculous Medal.” Mother of All Peoples, 21 Feb. 2012, http://www.motherofallpeoples.com/2004/09/mother-teresa-and-the-miraculous-medal/.

Mother Teresa: Service, Work, and Evangelization

Since we are now three days away from the Canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, soon-to-be, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, I feel the need to use the next five days to write about the many wonderful things she said over her lifetime. It would be hard for me to think that there are individuals in this world that are not familiar with Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity, since they are in nearly every country around the globe. The work they do on daily basis is incomprehensible to many of us, and yet, they have their critics that hate them, but as Christ said to us, “if the world hates you, realize that it hated me first” (Jn 15:18).

For my first post on Mother Teresa, I would like to focus on the things she said about service, work, and evangelization, since these are there things that I do, along with my co-workers and many friends across the world on a daily basis, often to people who barely know Jesus Christ and to places he has never been. She regularly speaks of the material poor, but the people many of the people we serve endure the poverty of the spiritual life.

As evangelists and catechists, we bring Jesus Christ to the people we serve, for many of us, that is in the life of the parish or in Catholic schools. Although we are far from perfect, and our sinful natures can get the best of us, we strive to be like the saints that came before us who brought the message of Jesus Christ and His Church to the world. It is only through the grace of the Sacraments, instituted by Christ himself, that we have the ability to overcome our struggles and be little Christ’s to the world.

Mother Teresa 1

So with this being said, let’s read through 7 quotes on the aforementioned topics from the soon-to-be Albanian saint –

1. “If I had to start all over again, I would do the same thing. I have experienced many human weaknesses, many human frailties, and I still experience them. But we need to use them. We need to work for Christ with a humble heart, with the humility of Christ. He comes and uses us to be his love and compassion in the world in spite of our weaknesses and frailties.”

2. “We must work in great faith, steadily, efficiently, and above all with great love and cheerfulness, for without this our work will be only the work of slaves, serving a hard master…When you go out for your task, spread all around you the joy of belonging to God, of living with God, of being his own.

3. “Never do the work carelessly because you wish to hide your gifts. Remember, the work is his. You are his co-worker. Therefore, he depends on you for that special work. Do the work with him, and the work will be done for him. The talents God has given you are not yours – they have been given to you for your use, for the glory of God. There can be no half-measures in the work. You may feel very bad, but feelings are not the measure of our love for Christ. It is our will and our work that matters. Be great and use everything in you for the good Master.”

4. “When we do ‘our work,’ visiting the families, teaching the children, nursing the sick, helping the dying, gathering the little children for church, we should do it with one aim in view: ‘the salvation of the poor.’ We want to bring them to Jesus and bring Jesus to them.”

5. “What is the good news? The good news is that God still loves the world through each one of you. You are God’s good news, you are God’s love in action. Through you, God is still loving the world.”

6. “We have to carry our Lord to places where he has not walked before. Therefore the sisters must be consumed with one desire: Jesus. Speak of no one but him crucified. We must not be afraid to do the things he did – to go fearless thoroughly death and danger with him and for him.”

7. “To be a co-worker means to work along with someone, to share together in tiredness, humiliations, and shame, not only in success. Those who share everything are partners, giving love for love, suffering for suffering. Jesus, you have died, you have given everything, you lifeblood, all. Now it is my turn. I put everything into the field also. The common soldier fights in the way, but the devoted one tries to be near the captain to share his fate. This is the only truth…the only thing that matters – for it is the spirit of Christ.”

I hope that you can take these quotes and reflect upon them, whatever your state in life is. Those of us that serve the Catholic Church, although imperfectly, must permit these quotes to stir in our hearts, even on the toughest days.

To conclude, I ask that you please pray for all the pilgrims that are making their way to Rome for the Canonization of Mother Teresa – pray for their safety. Pray for all those people who through vile words disapprove of Christ, His Mother, His Church, His Saints, and the particular works of the Missionaries of Charity. The devil is working overtime; so must we.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta…Pray for Us.

This blog post is dedicated to my fellow staff members at the parish of Saint Mary Magdalene. We all do the work of Christ each day.

Check back tomorrow for another blog post on a different topic associated with Mother Teresa.

17 Quotes from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Since today is the 17th anniversary of the death of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, known to many around the world as Mother Teresa, I wanted to share with you 17 quotes from the great 20th century saint. Although her official Canonization is still in the process, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that she is in Heaven with Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, the entire army of angels and saints.

The impact that she gave the world, not only in her witness to serve the poor, but also with the order she founded – The Missionaries of Charity – will be felt for decades to come. On nearly every continent, the Missionaries of Charity serve the poorest of the poor by being Jesus Christ to those who are less fortunate. They are essentially “Little Jesuses.” Please pray for the cause of the Canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and for the continued work of the Missionaries of Charity.

The indispensable wisdom of Mother Teresa…

1. “I knew that God wanted something from me. I was only twelve years old, living with my parents in Skopje, Yugoslavia (now Macedonia), when I first sensed the desired to become a nun. At that time there were some very good priests who helped boys and girls follow their vocation, according to God’s call. It was then that I realized that my call was to the poor.”

2. “I am Albanian by birth. Now I am a citizen of India. I am also a Catholic nun. In my work, I belong to the whole world. But in my heart, I belong to Christ.”

3. “True love causes pain. Jesus, in order to give us the proof of his love, died on the cross. A mother, in order to give birth to her baby, has to suffer. If you really love one another, you will not be able to avoid making sacrifices.”

4. “I always repeat that we Missionaries of Charity are not social workers. We may be doing social work, but we are really contemplatives right at the heart of the world. We are with Jesus twenty-four hours a day. We do everything for Jesus. We do it for Jesus.”

5. “Today is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them.”

6. “[To parents]: Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home. Make them long to be with their families. So much sin could be avoided if our people loved their homes.”

7. “Young people, make a strong resolution today, that we will keep our purity pure, our chastity chaste, our virginity virgin! The greatest gift you can give to each other on the day of your wedding, or to God, on the day when you join the priesthood or religious life, is a pure heart, a pure body.”

8. “Prayer is as necessary as the air, as the blood in our bodies, as anything to keep us alive – to keep alive to the grace of God.”

mother teresa

9. “Holiness is not the luxury of the few; it is a simple duty for you and for me. We have been created for that. So let us be holy as Our Father in Heaven is holy.”

10. “One cannot expect to become a saint without paying the price, and the price is much renunciation, much temptation, much struggle and persecution, and all sorts of sacrifices. One cannot love God except at the cost of oneself.”

11. “Joy is very infectious. We will never know just how much a good simple smile can do. Be faithful in little things. Smile at one another. We must live beautifully.”

12. “The vocation of Our Lady was to accept Jesus into her life. She accepted being the handmaid of the Lord. Then in haste, she went to give Jesus to St. John the Baptist and his mother. Today the same living Jesus comes to us and we too, like Mary, must go in haste to give him to others.”

13. “Abortion destroys the image of God. It is the most terrible plague in our society, the greatest killer of love and peace. Those little children still unborn have been created for bigger things: to love and to be loved.”

14. “Death is the most decisive moment in human life. It is like our coronation: to die in peace with God.”

15. “Penance calls us away from sin and to God. It leads us away from mediocrity and to a life fervor, generosity, and sanctity.”

16. “I do not understand why some people are saying that women and men are exactly the same, and are denying the beautiful differences between men and women. All God’s gifts are good, but they are not all the same.”

17. “Do we believe that God’s love is infinitely more powerful, his mercy more tender than the evil of sin, than all the hatred, conflicts, and tensions that are dividing the world? Than the most powerful bombs and guns ever made by human hands and minds?”

It is my hope that you will share this post with your family and friends as well as copy and paste some of these quotes from this post and use them on your social media sites.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta…Pray for the World and Pray for Us.