Saint Catherine Laboure, November 28

Today, the Roman Catholic Church commemorates the French saint Catherine (Zoe) Laboure (b. 1806- d. 1876).  Catherine was a farmer’s daughter who grew up in turbulent times; and, besides the cultural upheaval around her, the little Zoe, as she was known to her family, experienced personal turbulence when she lost her mother to death at the age of nine. At the time of her mother’s death, Zoe took the Blessed Virgin Mary as her own mother, and retained a deep love of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout her entire life. Zoe eventually pursued a religious vocation and joined the Daughters of Charity in Paris in her early twenties. Zoe, as I noted in a post about the Miraculous Medal, was the recipient of a great honor, decreed by God, when, in 1830, she received several visits from the Blessed Virgin Mary. During these visits, the Blessed Virgin Mary entrusted to her the mission of promulgating what is now known as the Miraculous Medal (image, above).

What I find interesting about the life of St. Catherine Laboure, and you might, too, is that no one knew that she was the visionary who received the Miraculous Medal from Our Lady, except her confessor. She went about leading a normal, quiet life of a religious sister, caring for elderly men, and doing menial tasks, without acclaim or fanfare, for the forty-six years she lived post-apparitions. St. Catherine’s fellow sisters, and religious superior, did not know that she was the visionary of the Miraculous Medal until a short time before her death; for this reason, St. Catherine Laboure is often referred to as the Saint of Silence. 

This leads me to think of how many saints of silence there are among us, in particular, mothers of families who quietly complete their duties each day; men who go to work, and provide for their families; a sick child who is taken from doctor to doctor by worried parents (and such parents, who suffer with their child, are carrying a portion of the Cross of Christ); an unmarried woman who provides for herself for she has no family to assist her; and, another example, faithful priests who quietly complete their priestly duties with great care and devotion. I could name many more, and you must see them all around you, too. Truly, there are saints among us, and St. Catherine is a model for such souls: a model for faithfully doing one’s work without fanfare, resting assured that God sees everything.

So, today, amidst the technological explosion, where we are inundated with noise, and self-promotion, let us remember this little saint, who, when her body was exhumed, was incorrupt, a sign that God was pleased with her; pleased with her profound humility, and loving service. St. Catherine fulfilled the mission given to her by Our Lady: the medal of the Immaculate Conception, the Miraculous Medal, is worn by millions of Catholics around the world, and it is dearly loved; and she completed the duties of her religious state, as well.

Thank you for your model of faithful service, St. Catherine. Please pray for us.

•SCF, first Monday in Advent, 2022

Image: the incorrupt body of St. Catherine Laboure where she rests in the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, France, image source