Daughter of Charity (1806-1876)
+ Zoë Labouré was born into a poor family in Fain-les-Moûtiers, Burgundy, France. While she never learned to read or write as a child, she desired to enter religious life as a young girl.
+ Following her mother’s death, Zoë took over care of the household, despite the fact that she was only eight years old. After serving as a waitress in her uncle’s café, she was able to enter the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, receiving the religious name “Catherine.”
+ On November 27, 1830, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Catherine, then a novice with the Daughters of Charity in Paris, France.
+ In the vision, Catherine saw Our Lady standing on a globe with shafts of light streaming from her hands and the words, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee,” surrounding the image. Catherine also saw a capitol “M” with a cross above it and two hearts below. The young sister seemed to hear a voice telling her to have she saw struck as a medal, along with a promise that whoever wore the medal would have the protection and intercession of Mary.
+ The first 1,500 of these “Miraculous Medals” were distributed in 1832. A diocesan tribunal approved Catherine’s revelations in 1836.
+ From the time of the visions until her death in 1876, Catherine lived simply virtually unknown in an obscure convent of her community, answering doors, caring for the poultry, and tending the elderly in a hospice.
+ Although she was respected as a good and faithful sister, her superiors spoke of her as being “rather insignificant” and as having been “very matter-of-fact and unexcitable.” Because her name had never been mentioned in connection with the visions or the “Miraculous Medal,” few people knew that Catherine had been responsible for the spread of the devotion.
+ Saint Catherine Labouré died on December 31, 1876, and canonized in 1947.
In 2001, a new lay-lead organization was established to assist women and men who feel called to religious life to satisfy debts (particularly student loans) to help them enter the service of the Church as religious sisters, brothers and priests. This movement, known as the Labouré Society, has helped nearly 300 women and men answer God’s call to serve the Church as consecrated religious.
“Happy are you, holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise, for from you arose the sun of justice, Christ our God, through whom we have been saved and redeemed.”—Entrance Antiphon from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary (option 8)
O Lord Jesus Christ, You have willed that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother, immaculate from the first moment of her conception, should be glorified by countless miracles; grant that we, who always implore her patronage, may attain to eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal, 1962 edition)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here