Catherine was born into a large and prosperous family of farmers in 1806 in France. Nothing in Catherine’s background would have distinguished her from her peers. Like many families, she was raised to love God and the Church, but her life would be touched by sadness early when her mother, Louise died when Catherine was only 9 years old.
The death of Catherine's mother would be the catalyst that helped this young girl reach out to our Blessed Mother, as she grieved the death of her own beloved mother. This started a deep devotion for our Lady as Catherine kept up a strong prayer life and helped her father, Peter, raise her siblings. During these difficult years Catherine when upon receiving her first Communion, then chose to rise at 4 AM in order to attend daily Mass, this included a long walk to get to her Church, through all kinds of weather. But even from an early age Catherine's heart was filled with a longing to serve her Lord, however He chose.
It was during this time that the young Catherine saw a vision of an elderly man who beckoned her to work with the sick, Catherine never forgot what she saw and would obey where God called her to be, which was to be a Religious. But it was when she visited the hospital run by the Daughters of Charity that Catherine recognised that man in her vision as St. Vincent de Paul, and as Catherine gazed in wonder at the picture the words of the 'man' came back to her, "My child, it is a good deed to look after the sick; you run away now, but one day you will be glad to come to me. God has designs on you - do not forget it." Catherine left the hospital grounds to ponder on many things.
This very practical young lady who helped raise her siblings after the death of her mother, was not one for fancies or anything whimsical, she seemed to have been born with a steady head on her shoulders, and had been a great support to her Father. But Catherine also had a deep and profound love of prayer and a great love for Our Lady; it was a love so deep that she could not ignore the calling she felt within.
And so in 1830 Catherine took her first steps into becoming a Religious with the Daughters of Charity. She worked diligently to help within her community, but her personality was such that she did not bring any untoward attention to herself as she went about her daily duties. This would be a hallmark to the extent of Catherine's personality and humility, in that no one ever saw anything special in this particular Sister.
Yet this very devout Nun would be the recipient of visits from our Lady which brought a message to the world and one of hope. For it was to Catherine that Our Lady asked that a medal be struck in her honour with these words written on them, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." This would come to be known as the Miraculous Medal due to the many miracles to all who wear it in good Faith.
What is truly astounding is that upon being the recipient of several visits from our Lady, an Angel and St. Vincent de Paul, Catherine remained totally silent! This young novice understood that it was not her who was the important one but rather, our Lady and the salvation of sinners. So even though Catherine saw these miraculous events and even sat in the lap of our Blessed Mother, none of this changed her in the slightest, she remained a simple child of God.
Even after the Miraculous Medal had been struck, and the devotion spread to the four corners of the world, Catherine herself simply went about her daily duties of serving the sick and the poor. At no time did Catherine ever aspire to be 'famous' she simply followed our Blessed Mother wishes as a loving daughter should.
Catherine had a deep horror of becoming known, but due to her deep humility and meekness, the secret that Catherine carried in her heart, remained just that a secret. She never told any of her fellow Sisters that she had been Graced in such a way, and because of her quiet demeanor they never guessed that a Saint was in their midst.
It is to this Saint who lived her life in total obscurity that we recognise the virtues of prudence and temperance in that all Glory and honour was given to God and not herself, she exemplified these very qualities within her character.
Catherine's legacy is one of utter obedience and love for God and of fulfilling what was required of her while bringing no attention to herself.
The Miraculous Medal is still worn by many Catholics to this present day!
Catherine Laboure died in 1876.
Saint Catherine Laboure was canonized in 1947 by Pope Pius XII.
Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.