A Rich Mariology Presented Through the Miraculous Medal

The Medal of the Immaculate Conception, commonly known as the “Miraculous Medal”

by Jayson M. Brunelle

The Miraculous Medal can be thought of as a mini-catechism on the dogmas and doctrines concerning the Blessed Mother. The medal can truly be said to be of Heaven, as it was given in the form of a miraculous vision to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830. Originally distributed under the title, “The Medal of the Immaculate Conception,”  the name quickly acquired its popular title as “The Miraculous Medal,” due to the sheer quantity of miracles that were being associated with or attributed to the wearing of the medal.   This medal, taking its place among the most popular of Catholic Sacramentals and devotionals, is most timely in that, in addition to manifesting many, if not all of the Marian dogmas, it clearly portrays and proclaims the doctrine of Mary as the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate for the People of God.  The importance of this title lies in the fact that there is currently underway a movement in the form of a petition to have Mary’s roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate dogmatically defined by the Pope. It should be noted here that these Marian designations are already an integral part of official Catholic teaching and doctrine.  There are, however, special graces that are given to humanity and the Church when a dogma of the Faith in defined.  The messages of Ida Peerdman, deemed the messages of Our Lady of All Nations, contained multiple prophecies that this dogma would be officially defined by a pope on May 31’st of a future date.  The messages of Our Lady of All Nations have been officially approved by the Church as worthy of belief.  Moreover, the movement responsible for the petition drive is spearheaded by Dr. Mark Miravalle, Professor of Mariology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

How, you may inquire, is the potential fifth Marian dogma portrayed on the Miraculous Medal?  To begin, the back side of the medal depicts the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary.  Jesus’ Heart is crowned with thorns, while Mary’s heart, to the right of Jesus’ Heart, is pierced by a sword.  This refers to the prophecy of Simeon, the temple priest who offered Jesus to the Father in the temple.  Simeon had received a prophetic revelation from the Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the long-awaited Messiah, the anointed one who was to come, who would serve as “a light to all the nations and the glory of His People, Israel.”  Simeon additionally prophesied that the child Jesus “would be a sign of contradiction,” a sign rejected.  Finally, Simeon stated that Mary’s Heart, along with Her Son’s, “would be pierced.”   This prophecy to Mary revealed to her both the agony and the ecstacy of her Co-redemptive mission: sublime in the sense that Simeon was the first to give voice to the glorious mission of Christ’s work of redemption; bitterly painful in that Mary would be called to participate in a wholly unique and singular fashion in the redemptive suffering of her Son and her God as she would be called to stand at the foot of her Son’s Cross of redemption and offer Him, her only Son, on the altar of her Immaculate Heart, consenting to the immolation of the spotless and unblemished Lamb of God in atonement for the sins of humanity.  Thus, the reverse of the Miraculous Medal depicts the conjoined salvific mission of the Son and the Mother represented by two hearts side by side: Christ’s heart, on the left, is surrounded with a crown of thorns, while Mary’s heart, alongside that of her Son’s, is pierced by a sword.  The Co-redemption of Mary is entirely dependant upon and subordinate to the perfect redemptive act of Christ.  Certainly, nothing whatever was lacking in the perfect offering of Christ to the Father in His glorious work of the Redemption of humanity; yet, just as the first Eve participated in the fall of humanity by providing the first Adam, with the fruit – the instrument of the fall, so too would Mary, the New Eve, participate in the restoration of humanity by providing Jesus, the New Adam, with His Body – the instrument of the redemption and restoration of humanity to God’s good graces.  Thus, Mary is simultaneously the Mother of Christ and the Spiritual Mother of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, which cannot be separated from its Head.  Having participated in the meriting of supernatural grace, or divine life, for humanity, it logically follows that she would additionally participate in the distribution of that same grace; for motherhood does not cease with the definitive act of giving birth, but instead continues on in the nourishing and nurturing of the child after it has been born, until such time as the child attains his or her full maturation.  Like God the Father, Who freely chose to be dependant upon Mary’s fiat at the moment of the Incarnation, and God the Son, Who freely chose to entrust Himself unreservedly to the care of Mary, so too does God the Spirit freely chose to be dependant upon Mary’s fiat in the distribution of the grace of God to the human family.  Thus, every gift of grace and mercy to humanity is simultaneously and necessarily a gift from the Mother.

Mary’s role as Mediatrix is visually depicted on the front of the medal, where Mary is seen as standing on a globe, representing the earth, of which she is Queen, crushing with her feet the head of the serpent as is stated in Gen. 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the Woman, between Her offspring and yours:  She will crush your head, while you lie in wait for her heel.”  In this image, she stands erect with her arms outstretched.  On her fingers are rings made up of beautiful, multicolored gemstones.  Rays of light, symbolizing the Grace of God, are streaming forth from the rings on her fingers, yet some of the rings do not emanate any luminous rays.  The reason for this is that Mary can only shine her rays of grace on those individuals who intentionally ask for them.  Thus, certain rings give off no rays.  This extraordinary image given to St. Catherine Laboure visually depicts Mary’s role as Mediatrix of all Graces.  As explained above, the Church teaches that every single grace that comes to us from God comes through the willed intercession of Mary.  Moreover, this constitutes the firm theological foundation for the crowning Marian devotion of total consecration to Her.

Finally, Mary’s role as Advocate for the People of God is clearly expressed in the wording that encircles the image of the Blessed Mother on the front of the medal:  “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.”  This is a prayer of petition, presupposing that Mary can and will pray, intercede and advocate for her clients.

Other Marian Dogmas are depicted on the Miraculous Medal as well, dogmas such as Theotokos, or Mary, true Mother of God and not just mother of Jesus’ humanity; The Immaculate Conception; the Assumption; and a pretty good argument can be put forth for the medal depicting Mary’s Perpetual Virginity as well.

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