2 Marian Devotions at the Basilica: The Immaculate Heart of Mary & The Miraculous Medal

Two corresponding Marian devotions – the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Miraculous Medal – are represented in chapels at the Basilica. These beautiful monuments in Mary’s honor, rich with the history of the Blessed Mother and the Catholic faith, have strengthened the devotion of many visitors.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel

The central piece of artwork in the chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a hand-carved medallion that depicts the Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child while touching her heart which is pierced by a sword, as predicted in the Gospel of St. Luke. The altar below is inscribed with the phrase: “Heart of Mary, pray for us.” This portrayal of Mary is particularly important because on October 31, 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As Pope John Paul II later explained in a homily: “The Immaculate Heart of Mary… was opened to us on Calvary by the words of the dying Jesus: ‘Woman, behold your son!’. Then he said to the disciple: Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:26-27). At the foot of the Cross Mary became the mother of all those redeemed by Christ. Under her maternal protection she took John and she takes every human being. From that time on, the greatest concern of her Immaculate Heart is the eternal salvation of all men and women.”

Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Considering the importance of the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, let us pray: 

Father, You prepared the heart of the Virgin Mary to be a fitting home for your Holy Spirit. By her prayers, may we become more worthy temples of Your glory. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Miraculous Medal Chapel

One of the most common devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal Chapel at the Basilica tells the story of Our Lady’s appearances to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830.

The gilded carved reredos, central to the chapel, portrays Our Lady as she appeared to St. Catherine.  The left tableau shows St. Catherine, dressed as a novice and accompanied by her guardian angel, kneeling before the apparition of the Blessed Mother.  The right tableau shows Catherine wearing the coronet of a professed Daughter of Charity, accompanied by two children. On the marble plaque beneath the images is etched the words of the Blessed Mother to Catherine: “Come to the foot of the altar.”

At the canonization of St. Catherine Labouré, Pope Pius XII said: “[E]veryone is familiar today with the ‘miraculous medal.’ This medal, with its image of ‘Mary conceived without sin,’ was revealed to a humble daughter of Saint Vincent de Paul whom We had the joy of inscribing in the catalogue of Saints, and it has spread its spiritual and material wonders everywhere.”

Prayer of the Miraculous Medal

Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary who was conceived without sin and to whom we have recourse:

O Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, we dedicate and consecrate ourselves to you under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this Medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your affection for us and a constant reminder of our duties toward you. Ever while wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son. O Most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives. Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death; so that, in union with you, we may enjoy the bliss of heaven forever. Amen

Reflections upon the Life and Legacy of John the Baptist
The Five Domes of the Basilica and the Story They Tell