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The Miraculous Medal: Understanding the Meaning and Purpose of a Powerful Symbol

Updated: Apr 6

The Miraculous Medal is a Catholic symbol that has been inspiring faith and devotion in believers since 1830. The phenomenon surrounding the Miraculous Medal dates back to an encounter between the Blessed Virgin Mary and a French nun, Sister Catherine Laboure, at the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. Through this encounter, Mary revealed the design for the Miraculous Medal, instructing Sister Catherine to have it made. Since then, the Miraculous Medal has become one of the most popular and widely seen Catholic devotional items, and its power to help believers tap into divine grace is undeniable. In this blog post, we'll look at the meaning and purpose of the Miraculous Medal, and explore why it is so beloved by people around the world.

The Origins of the Miraculous Medal

The story that lies at the heart of the Miraculous Medal is that of Sister Catherine Laboure, the French nun who was chosen by the Virgin Mary to convey her message of peace. On July 18, 1830, during a series of apparitions, Mary told Sister Catherine to have a medal made with the design that had been revealed to her. She also instructed Sister Catherine to spread devotion to the medal by giving them out to people in order to gain “favors” from God.

As word of Sister Catherine's vision spread, the first medals were struck in Paris in 1832. These original medals were quickly seen as having a special power—so much so, in fact, that people began to attribute what seemed to be miraculous cures to the divine protection of the Virgin Mary. The popularity of the medal grew, and in 1836 Pope Gregory XVI approved the Medal—now referred to as the Miraculous Medal—as an official object of Catholic devotion.

The Meaning of the Miraculous Medal

The Medal is one of the most powerful symbols in the Catholic faith, and its design contains several rich layers of symbolism. On the front side of the Medal, Mary is depicted standing atop a globe, crushing the head of a serpent—a clear reference to the idea that the Virgin has ultimate dominion over evil, and can bring hope and protection to the faithful. 1830 is imprinted on the medal indicating the year the medal was given to Saint Catherine.

The reverse side of the Medal contains an intertwined “M” and two hearts: one with a cross and the other pierced by a sword. This imagery refers to Mary’s dual role as both the mother of God and the suffering servant, who is torn between her earthly love for her son, and her spiritual knowledge that this love will lead to Jesus’ death. The twelve stars symbolize the twelve Apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel.

The significance of Mary’s representation on the Medal extends far beyond the visual message. To many, the Miraculous Medal is a reminder of Mary’s spiritual lessons and her power to answer prayers and deliver miraculous favors. It is also a sign of her protection and her assurance that she will never leave us, no matter what we may face.

The Purpose of the Miraculous Medal

The Miraculous Medal is not just a beautiful piece of art—it is also an important symbol of faith and protection. By wearing or praying with the Medal, Catholics around the world show their devotion to Mary, honor her spiritual message, and request her protection against the evils of the world.

The Miraculous Medal is also often credited with miraculous blessings and interventions. Believers may ask Mary for a favor, such as a cure from an illness or protection from misfortune, and may also offer it in intercessory prayer on behalf of others. There are countless stories of believers who have experienced the power that comes from wearing the Medal and praying the Devotion to the Miraculous Medal.


The Miraculous Medal is a special symbol in the Catholic faith. By understanding its unique history, design, and purpose, we can learn to fully appreciate the power that lies within this powerful and beautiful devotional item. The Miraculous Medal remains a cause of great delight and hope to believers in many countries, and its power is undeniable.


“Frequently Asked Questions – Miraculous Medal.” Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, The Miraculous Medal Shrine. Published September 8, 2016.

“Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.” Catholic Online. Published N/A.

“The Miraculous Medal.” Catholic Culture. Copyright 2009-2021, Our Sunday Visitor.

“The Miraculous Medal.” Eternal Word Television Network. Copyright 2021, Eternal Word Television Network.

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