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Read the story of Saint Catherine Labourè

Nun, Seer. (1806-1876)

Virgin of the Daughters of Charity

The liturgical feast, for the Vincentian Families, is established on November 28thwhile the universal one is on December 31st.

Catherine, born Zoe Catherine Labourè, was born in France, in Fain-lès-Moutiers, a village in Burgundy, on May 2, 1806, to Peter and Louise Magdalene Gontard. Orphaned of her mother at the age of nine with seven brothers and two sisters, Caterina was unable to attend elementary school but she had to make herself useful in the family and, later, take over the reins.

At the age of 12, on January 25, 1818, she made her first communion. Having reached adolescence, after the apparition in a dream of St. Vincent de Paul, who invited her to join her nuns, she asked to enter a house of the Daughters of Charity.

Il 21 aprile 1830 Caterina entrò come Postulante tra le Figlie della Carità (una sorella l’aveva preceduta nel 1818) a Chatillon-sur-Seine. In seguito fu mandata a Parigi per il noviziato, nella Casa Madre situata in Rue du Bac. Durante il suo noviziato ebbe altre visioni, come quelle di Gesù Eucaristico e di Cristo Re (giugno 1830).

The apparitions that had the greatest resonance were those of the Immaculate Conception of the "Miraculous Medal“: June 18 and November 26, 1830 (for more details, read anniversary of November 27>>> Blessed Virgin of the Miraculous Medal). The Marian message was simple, it prepared for the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (Blessed Pius IX - Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, 1846-1878 - on 8 December 1854) by teaching a simple and essential prayer: "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you".

Catherine then heard the invitation: «Have a medal struck on this model; people who wear it around their necks will receive great graces. The graces will be more abundant for the people who will wear it with confidence» and was finally assured of the protection of Mary on the Vincentian family which emerged painfully tried by the revolutionary and Napoleonic era.

Catherine confided her secret to her confessor Fr. Giovanni Battista Aladel who spoke about it to the archbishop of Paris, Msgr. Giacinto De Quélen, who authorized the minting of the medal: the first ones came out in June 1832. In ten years, 100 million medals were minted and circulated which immediately crossed the borders of France and were popularly called "Miraculous Medal".

Caterina, with the exception of the few superiors to whom she had to reveal what had happened, closed herself in the greatest secrecy and remained in the shadows for the rest of her existence. After the novitiate, on January 20, 1831, she assumed the habit of the Daughters of Charity and on May 3, 1835 she pronounced her first vows.

She was sent to carry out her mission in the retirement home of Reuilly, dedicated to the Duke of Enghien. Here she remained until the end of her days serving with her maternal concern the poor, the elderly, the sick in the various tasks that were entrusted to her.

Having seen it there Madonna it was never an occasion for boasting, but for commitment and stimulus. At the end of life he will say: "I have only been an instrument. It is not for me that the S. Virgin è apparsa, ma per il bene della Compagnia e della Chiesa". Nulla di appariscente ci fu nella sua esistenza: praticò le virtù cristiane e quelle della donna consacrata in maniera umile e forte, semplice ed eroica, raggiungendo un alto grado di santità nella vita quotidiana e nel servizio dei poveri nei quali scorgeva il volto di Cristo.

The years made themselves felt as well as the various ailments, from which he suffered, worsened. He died with great serenity of spirit on December 31, 1876.

In 1896 the diocesan process was opened and in 1907 the cause of beatification and canonization was introduced in Rome.

She was beatified by Pope Pius XI (Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, 1922-1939) on 28 May 1933 and canonized by Venerable Pius XII (Eugene Pacelli, 1939-1958) on July 27, 1947.

When his body was exhumed, the hands, which had touched the Madonna, and the eyes, which had seen her, appeared extraordinarily preserved; her relics rest in the chapel where she had her apparitions.

Meaning of the name Caterina: “pure woman” (Greek).

For further information:

>>> Life of Saint Catherine Laboure

>>> The Miraculous Medal

Santa Caterina Labourè

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