The Miraculous Medal and St. Maximilian Kolbe
Friday, Oct. 15, 2021
St. Maximilian Kolbe wanted the Militia of the Immaculata members to carry and distribute Miraculous Medals.
Living in Europe during the tumultuous first half of the 20th century and in his quest to win the world for the Immaculata, St. Maximilian Kolbe offered that the Militia of the Immaculata members carry and distribute “silver bullets for souls;” namely, Miraculous Medals.
“It is our weapon with which to strike hearts” and “a bullet with which a faithful soldier hits the enemy, that is evil, and thus rescues souls,” he said.
St. Maximilian Kolbe founded the Militia of the Immaculata in 1917; the movement is dedicated to bringing souls to Christ through the intercession of Our Lady, whom the saint usually called the Immaculata.
The Miraculous Medal was given by Our Lady to St. Catherine Labouré in the Rue de Bac chapel, Paris in 1830; it originally was known as the Medal of the Immaculate Conception. The front of the medal depicts Our Lady standing on a globe that represents “the entire world and every single soul in particular.” Rays of light extending from her fingers represent the many graces that the Blessed Mother bestows on all those who ask for them. Around the front of the medal is the prayer “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The back of the medal bears a cross entwined with a large “M.” Below this image appear both the Sacred Heart of Jesus surrounded by a crown of thorns and the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced by a sword. Around the back of the medal are 12 stars that represent Revelation 12:1, “a crown of twelve stars.”
Miracles of conversion were reported when the medal was distributed. The demand for it was so great that it eventually became known as the Miraculous Medal.
One particular conversion caught the attention of St. Maximilian Kolbe and was a pivotal affirmation to his Marian mission in the Church: the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne. An agnostic Jew, Ratisbonne was challenged by a friend to wear the medal and recite the Memorare prayer for a week. While visiting the Sant’Andrea della Fratte Church in Rome afterwards, he had a powerful vision of the Immaculata that led to his conversion to the Catholic Church.
As the Consecration Prayer of St. Maximilian implores, “… let (us) be fit instruments in your immaculate and merciful hands …” so the medal is a reminder of Our Lady’s constant love toward sinners and troubled individuals.
In his writings, St. Maximilian asked, “Is it not fitting, therefore, that as we consecrate ourselves to the Immaculata without reserve, we should grace our chest with the Miraculous Medal? This medal, then, is the external sign of (our) consecration to (her)….”
St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Catherine Labouré, pray for us.
Miraculous Medal Prayer of St. Maximilian Kolbe
“O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for those who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of Holy Church, and all those recommended to you.”
Donna Masek is a Volunteer of the Immaculata and represents the Militia of the Immaculata in Utah. Through Immaculata Village meetings, retreats, and other outreaches, the MI serves both the English and Spanish communities. For information, contact Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org.