Seeing Saints: The Miraculous Medal

Perhaps the highlight of our entire European vacation, more than seeing the palaces and the Eiffel Tower, was visiting the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. 
Look closely at the left and right corners – you will see two glass coffins with gold trimmings. These are the coffins of Saint Catherine Laboure (right, to whom the Virgin Mary appeared in 1830) and Saint Louise de Marillac  (left, founder of the Daughters of Charity)

It’s a very simple chapel, to be honest. Yet what it lacks in grandeur, it more than makes up for with its very solemn aura – there were no tourists taking pictures inside. It was so quiet and the few people inside were all bowed down in prayer that I felt it would have been too disrespectful to walk up to the coffins with my camera, so I just took photos using my cellphone from the front pew.

Saint Louise de Marillac, a child born out of wedlock to an aristocratic family, founded the Daughters of Charity together with her mentor and friend, Saint VIncent de Paul, in the 17th century. Her relics can be found in this chapel, in a bronze shrine.

I have seen relics of saints before which I wrote about here but have yet to see the incorruptible body of one so I was really too awed (and also a bit scared) to walk up to the coffin of Saint Catherine Laboure. I was honestly brought to tears just looking at her, looking just sound asleep even though she’s been dead since 1876!
Practically no one knew of her being a Marian visionary during her lifetime – she received visions from Mary instructing her to show the image of Mary standing on a globe to her confessor and that they be put on medallions. These medallions were approved and became very popular during her lifetime (up to now! We bought medallions for our family and have one prominently displayed in our car – and hubby and I are of the belief that it, along with prayers, has kept us accident free). 
Her body was exhumed in 1933 for her beatification and it was then discovered that her body was incorrupt and transferred to the chapel on 140 Rue de Bac, one of the places where the Virgin Mary appeared to her.

Getting to the Rue de Bac is quite easy, although those not determined to get there, will invariably decide it’s not worth it – while there are clothing boutiques, there are no other tourist spots nearby. But if you are interested, you can take the metro and get off at the Sevres-Babylone or Saint Placide and walk to the chapel. You might want to ask for directions though, to make sure you’re going towards the chapel and not away from it (almost happened to us). The chapel is quite near the fashionable Saint Germain des Pres area.

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