In the nineteenth century, while the Church was being rebuilt in France, a number of Marian apparitions there helped to shape the spiritual life of the faithful.
St. Catherine Laboure was a religious at Paris. On the night of July 18, 1830 a “shining child” woke her up, and led her to the chapel. Our Lady appeared and talked with her for two hours. St. Catherine was told about her future mission and the difficult times to come.
On November 27, Our Lady appeared again in the same chapel, standing on a globe with shafts of light streaming from her hands towards it, surrounded by the words: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!” Then the vision turned about, and St. Catherine saw a capital “M” with a cross above it and two hearts beneath it. One heart was thorn-crowned and the other pierced with a sword.
St. Catherine heard a voice telling her to have a medal struck according to the visions and promising great graces to those who would wear it with devotion. The medal was called “Miraculous medal”. Numerous graces, including healing and conversion, have been obtained through the wearing of the medal.
On September 8, 1840, Our Lady appeared to Sister Justine Bisqueyburo, a religious who belonged to the same convent of St. Catherine Labourse. Mary appeared holding in her right hand her Immaculate Heart and holding in her left hand a scapular.
The scapular consisted of a simple piece of green cloth, rectangular in shape, hanging from a green string. On one side was an image of Our Lady holding her heart in her hands, on the other side was the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the inscription: “Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.”
An interior voice revealed to Sister Justine that Mary wanted copies of the scapular made as soon as possible and distributed with great confidence.
On September 8, 1846, Our Lady appeared again, and let Sister Justine knew that the green scapular is not like others (it is not the clothing-habit of a confraternity) but merely two holy pictures on a single piece of material. It is to be blessed by a priest and worn by the one whom we desire to benefit by Our Lady’s intercession. If a person is unable or even unwilling to wear or carry it, it may even be slipped, unknown to the person, into his clothes, bed, room, or possessions.
A prayer should be said at least once a day: “Immaculate heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” If the person who is the intended beneficiary of the scapular’s use does not say it, then someone else can say it in his place. The graces obtained through the green scapular are more or less great in proportion to the degree of confidence of the person praying.
Numerous miracles of healing and conversion have occurred by means of the Green Scapular.
In 1854, Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Four years later in 1858, Our Lady appeared eighteen times to St. Bernadette Soubirous in the recess of the Massabielle cliff near Lourdes from February 11 to July 16.
Our Lady instructed Bernadette to drink and wash at the spring of the cave. She also requested prayers for sinners, penance, processions, and a chapel built.
On March 25, 1858 Our Lady said, “I am the Immaculate Conception”. Miraculous cures occurred in Lourdes, but the blessings there are mainly spiritual. Our Lady said to Bernadette, “I do not promise to make you happy in this life but in the next.”