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Saint Catherine Labouré, D.C.. (May 2, 1806 – December 31, 1876) was a French member of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and is a Marian visionary. She is believed to have relayed the request from the Blessed Virgin Mary to create the famous Miraculous Medal of Our Lady of Graces worn by millions of people around the world.

Saint Catherine Labouré, D.C.
Catherine Laboure.jpg
Sister of Charity, Marian visionary
Born(1806-05-02)May 2, 1806
Fain-lès-Moutiers, Côte-d'Or, France
DiedDecember 31, 1876(1876-12-31) (aged 70)
Enghien-les-Bains, Seine-et-Oise, France
Venerated inRoman Catholicism
BeatifiedMay 28, 1933, Vatican by Pope Pius XI
CanonizedJuly 27, 1947, Vatican by Pope Pius XII
Major shrineChapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Paris, France
Feast28 November
31 December
AttributesDaughters of Charity habit, Miraculous Medal
PatronageMiraculous Medal, infirmed people, the elderly


Labouré was born on May 2, 1806, in the Burgundy region of France to Pierre Labouré, a farmer, and Madeleine Louise Gontard, the 9th of 11 living children. Her baptismal name was Zoe, after Saint Zoe, whose feast day falls on her birthday, but her family rarely used that. Labouré's mother died on October 9, 1815, when Labouré was nine years old. It is said that after her mother's funeral, Labouré picked up a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and kissed it saying, "Now you will be my mother."[1] Her father's sister offered to care for her and her sister Marie Antoinette (Tonine). After he agreed, the sisters moved to their aunt's house at Saint-Rémy, a village 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) from their home.[2]

Labouré was observed to be extremely devout, of a somewhat romantic nature, given to visions and intuitive insights. As a young woman, she became a member of the nursing order founded by Saint Vincent de Paul, the Daughters of Charity; she chose this order after a dream about him.[3]


Saint Vincent de PaulEdit

In April 1830, the remains of St. Vincent de Paul were translated to the Vincentian church in Paris. The solemnities included a novena. On three successive evenings, upon returning from the church to the Rue du Bac, a church, Catherine reportedly experienced in the convent chapel, a vision of what she took to be the heart of St. Vincent above a shrine containing a relic of bone from his right arm. Each time the heart appeared a different color: white, red, and black. She interpreted this to mean that the Vincentian communities would prosper, and that there would be a change of government. The convent chaplain advised her to forget the matter.[1]

Blessed Virgin MaryEdit

Portrait of Sister Catherine at the time of the apparitions.

Labouré stated that on July 19, 1830, the eve of the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, she woke up after hearing the voice of a child calling her to the chapel, where she heard the Virgin Mary say to her, "God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace to do what is necessary. Tell your spiritual director all that passes within you. Times are evil in France and in the world." Labouré kept walking, thinking about what she just heard.[1]

On November 27, 1830, Labouré reported that the Blessed Mother returned to her during evening meditations. She displayed herself inside an oval frame, standing upon a globe, rays of light came out of her hands in the direction of a globe. Around the margin of the frame appeared the words "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." As Labouré watched, the frame seemed to rotate, showing a circle of twelve stars, a large letter M surmounted by a cross, and the stylized Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary underneath. Asked why some of the rays of light did not reach the Earth, Mary reportedly replied "Those are the graces for which people forget to ask." Labouré then heard Mary ask her to take these images to her father confessor, telling him that they should be put on medallions. "All who wear them will receive great graces."[4]

Labouré did so, and after two years of investigation and observation of her normal daily behavior, the priest took the information to his archbishop without revealing her identity. The request was approved and the design of the medallions was commissioned through French goldsmith Adrien Vachette.[5] They proved to be exceedingly popular. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception had not yet been officially promulgated, but the medal with its "conceived without sin" slogan was influential in popular approval of the idea.

Death and legacyEdit

Labouré spent the next forty years caring for the aged and infirm. For this, she is called the patroness of seniors.[6] She died on December 31, 1876, at the age of seventy. Her body is encased in glass beneath the side altar in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at 140 Rue du Bac, Paris.[7]

Her cause for sainthood was declared upon discovering her body was incorrupt. She was beatified on May 28, 1933 by Pope Pius XI and canonized on July 27, 1947 by Pope Pius XII.[8]

Labouré's feast day is observed on November 28 according to the liturgical calendar of the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Paris. She is listed in the Martyrologium Romanum for December 31.[9]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Dirvin, C.M., Joseph I. (1958). Saint Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal. Tan Books & Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-89555-242-6.
  2. ^ Aladel, C.M., M. (1880). The Miraculous Medal, its Origin, History, Circulation, Results. Philadelphia: H.L.Kilner & Co. pp. 2–3.
  3. ^ Crapez, C.M., Edmond (1920). Venerable Sister Catherine Laboure, Sister of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul. London: Burns, Oates, & Washbourne. p. 9.
  4. ^ "St. Catherine Laboure". Catholic News Agency. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  5. ^ Mack, John (2003). The museum of the mind: art and memory in world cultures. British Museum.
  6. ^ "St. Catherine Labouré", The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal
  7. ^ "The Story of St. Catherine", Association of the Miraculous Medal
  8. ^ Online, Catholic. "St. Catherine Laboure – Saints & Angels – Catholic Online". Catholic Online. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  9. ^ "Holy Spirit Interactive Kids: A Saint a Day – St. Catherine Laboure". Retrieved 2017-04-27.


  • Saint Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal, by Joseph I Dirvin, CM, TAN Books and Publishers, Inc, 1958/84. ISBN 0-89555-242-6
  • Saint Catherine Labouré and the Miraculous Medal, Alma Power-Waters, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1962. ISBN 0-89870-765-X

External linksEdit