You can reach 140, Rue du Bac by metro or by bus. You will find yourself in a popular pilgrimage shrine that is actually a private chapel, belonging to the Daughters of Charity founded by Saint Vincent of Paul. Indeed, this is where the Blessed Virgin appeared in 1830 to St Catherine Laboure (d. 1876) and gave the world the miraculous medal…
 René LAURENTIN and Patrick SBALCHIERO
The event of 1830, a message for today*
On November 27, 1830 at 5:30 pm, the Blessed Virgin gave Saint Catherine a mission:
An oval formed around the apparition and Catherine saw this invocation written in gold letters and emblazoned in a semi-circle: “O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to you.”
With this invocation: “O Mary conceived without sin,” St Catherine was given the task of spreading the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception to the people of God, through the Miraculous Medal, long before the proclamation was made by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854...
The faith of the Church in the Immaculate Conception takes its roots in God’s word: the Gospel of the Annunciation (Luke 1: 28-38): God needed the "yes" of a woman to come and meet humanity and provide the joy of salvation... To accommodate the Son of God, Mary could have not even a trace of refusal in her heart. God wanted His gift of love to meet a perfectly pure faith, a soul without sin.
The faith of the Church in the Immaculate Conception is a great message of hope... If Mary is associated with her Son in total victory over the forces of evil, what God has done for Mary, He has done for us at our Baptism. God invites us to share the joy and holiness of Mary.
We can count on the power of the grace of God’s love to dominate any bad tendency in us... Come to pray in the chapel where the Virgin Mary told St Catherine that in the midst of the difficulties and sufferings of the present time, we must not get discouraged.
“Come to the foot of the altar. There, graces will flow over all people who ask for them with confidence and enthusiasm. They will flow over both the great and the small.”
At this same altar, priests celebrate the Eucharist every day, making the loving sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross present.
When we receive in holy communion the body of Jesus who went through death and rose again, we receive the graces that come from Jesus’ death on the Cross; liberation from death and sin. These graces that already came through the death of her Son, Mary received from the moment of her conception.
And Mary, in union with her Son, wanted these graces to flow widely onto all God's people; onto workers, onto the poorest, onto the smallest in the world. That's why she asked Saint Catherine to:
“Have a medal made on this model. Those who will wear it with confidence will receive many graces.”
“These rays are symbols of the graces I will obtain for people.”
This medal and the words left to us by Saint Catherine remind us that God loves us; we have a price in his eyes. All He asks us in order to make us happy is to approach Him with faith and confidence. […]
In order to listen more closely to those who suffer, first it is important, like Mary and Saint Catherine to listen to the Lord, and take the time to sit down and ponder upon His word. Only a heart that listens can hear great suffering and give consolation. “As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” May our listening to the Lord with Mary allow us to open our ears to hear the cries that nobody hears and so become true consolation and walk with those who are alone.
*Adapted from Michel Santier, Bishop of Luçon (France), Sermon of Dec. 8, 2005 at the Rue du Bac.
See the official website of the shrine