Statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal begins pilgrimage around Italy

20201127 Our Lady of the Miracle Daniel Ibez 24 The pilgrim statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal visits the Church of San Gioacchino in Prati, Rome. | Daniel Ibañez/CNA.

A statue of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal began Friday a pilgrimage to parishes throughout Italy, marking the 190th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary's appearance to St. Catherine Labouré in France.

After Mass at the regional seminary Collegio Leoniano in Rome, the statue was carried in procession to the nearby Church of San Gioacchino in Prati on the evening of Nov. 27.

Throughout December, the statue will go from parish to parish in Rome, stopping at 15 different churches.

Afterward, if coronavirus restrictions permit, it will be brought to parishes throughout Italy, ending on Nov. 22, 2021, on the island of Sardinia.

One of the stops on the route will be the Church of St. Anne, which sits just inside the Vatican walls.

The traveling statue is an evangelization initiative by the Vincentian Congregation of the Mission. It said in a statement that the year-long Marian pilgrimage would help to proclaim the merciful love of God at a time "marked by strong tensions on every continent." 

Pope Francis blessed the statue of the Immaculate Virgin Mary of the Miraculous Medal in a meeting with a delegation of Vincentians Nov. 11.

"The members of the worldwide Vincentian Family, faithful to the Word of God, inspired by the charism which calls them to serve God in the person of the poor and encouraged by this initiative of the Blessed Mother to go on pilgrimage, want to remind us that the Blessed Mother continues to invite men and women to approach the foot of the altar," the Vincentians' statement said.

The Vincentians were originally founded by St. Vincent de Paul in 1625 to preach missions to the poor. Today Vincentians regularly say Mass and hear confessions at the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at 140 Rue du Bac, in the heart of Paris.

St. Catherine Labouré was a novice with the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul when she received three apparitions from the Blessed Virgin Mary, a vision of Christ present in the Eucharist, and a mystical encounter in which St. Vincent de Paul showed her his heart.

This year marks the 190th anniversary of Mary's appearance to St. Catherine. 

The Miraculous Medal is a sacramental inspired by the Marian apparition to St. Catherine in 1830. The Virgin Mary appeared to her as the Immaculate Conception, standing on a globe with light streaming from her hands and crushing a serpent underfoot.

"A voice said to me, 'Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck,'" the saint recalled.

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In their statement, the Vincentians noted that the world is "deeply troubled" and poverty is spreading due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"After 190 years, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal continues to watch over humankind and comes, as a pilgrim, to visit and meet with the members of the Christian communities spread throughout Italy. Thus, Mary fulfills the promise of love that is contained in her message: I will remain with you, trust and do not be discouraged," they said.

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