Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Feast of St. Catherine of Laboure

It's no accident, I'm sure, that the child we named for St. Catherine Laboure has a particular inclination for capable service and hard work.  We feel sure that she's been influenced from above.

Cathy's patron saint, you see, was a hard worker! Originally christened Zoe Laboure, St. Catherine was the daughter of French landowners in the early 19th century, a woman of particular abilities -- and a strong and lively temperament which she perfected to great humility and obedience. Though she was the daughter of middle class parents and a member of a large and loving family, her life was not an easy one.  Little Zoe Laboure, the ninth of eleven children, was only eight years old when her mother died, and since her older sister had entered the convent, she had to take on the care of the house and farm for her father at a very tender age -- but she did so with great capability and patience, waiting for the day when she could also enter the religious life.  Through all her labors, she kept a spirit of charity and cheerfulness, and tended carefully to her spiritual life, rising before dawn every day to begin her day at Mass.  If it had not been for her duties to her family, she would have entered the convent as early as St. Therese of Lisieux would later in the century, but Zoe's father and some of her siblings discouraged her vocation. Still, after numerous obstacles, God's will prevailed and Zoe's choice of an order having been confirmed in a vision of St. Vincent De Paul, himself, she was finally able to enter the Convent of St. Vincent in 1830, when she was twenty-four years old. 

After her profession, Sr. Catherine was sent to a hospital in Paris to work alongside the Sisters of Charity, beginning her many years of labor first in the kitchens, then in the laundry, and finally, working in the hospice for aged gentlemen in Reuilly, where she also was in charge of the chickens.  She continued this charitable work for forty years, to all appearances leading the humble and useful, but unremarkable life of an ordinary Sister.

Very few people knew during Sr. Catherine's lifetime that she was the Sister of the Miraculous Medal -- the honored soul to whom the  Blessed Virgin had entrusted the mission of producing a medal of heavenly design  and special indulgence. The many appearances of Our Lady to Sr. Catherine were a closely guarded secret between her and her confessor -- her identity was not even revealed to the bishop who approved the striking of the medals -- but by the time of Sr. Catherine's death in 1875, a billion medals had been minted and circulated -- and they were already being hailed as miraculous.

Her secret wasn't made known until after her death on December 31, 1876, at the age of seventy: Humble  Sr. Catherine, the hospice nurse, the keeper of the chickens, was the holy Sister into whose capable hands the Mother of God had trusted her Miraculous Medal. The Sisters of the convent were astounded.   The humble nursing Sister whom the Mother of God had visited with intimate charm and comfort in the chapel of St. Vincent in 1830 was found to be an "incorruptible" when her body was exhumed in 1933, and is now preserved whole and beautiful in a glass coffin where it can be seen today at the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris.

 St. Catherine was beatified in 1933 by Pope Pius XI and was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947.  The Medal of the Immaculate Conception, now known as the Miraculous Medal, has become one of the most commonly worn sacramentals in the Catholic Church.

St. Catherine of Laboure, teach us humility and diligence in our stations in life!  Please pray for us!

St. Catherine's incorrupt body as it looks today.  It is located at 140 Rue de Bac, Paris,
at the Chapel of  Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

For an excellent post on St. Catherine with a bazillion wonderful links, run over to a JOYfilled Family.  For a more thorough, beautifully written online read about St. Catherine, go here.  For a coloring page of St. Catherine, run over here. Or click and print below:

In the original French.

And in English.

And, last but not least:
Happy nameday to our Catherine
And all the Catherines out there!

* Reposted from last year.  :0)  


Anonymous said...

Wow great artwork! Your taste in the Madonna and Child scenes is wonderful.

suzy said...

This is such a wonderful post! Your children have some wonderful namesakes :)
An old lady of our local church gave our family a miraculous medal many years ago and Emmy put it on some saint therese beads she had made.