Perhaps there has actually been a Marian apparition in China?
Many a moon after I bought that medal in Mexico, I was living in Shanghai. The postman delivered a package to my door, postmarked Brazil. Inside was a note from my friend Maria the Dentist, saying that she had been to a chapel in Paris. Realizing it was my birthday, she went into the gift store and bought me a booklet on the Chapel. Inside the packet was also a little Infant of Prague statue from her recent visit there with her mother.
My heart stopped and my scalp tingled. Tears ran down my face.
The booklet described the medal I had worn for years – the mystery was finally solved!
I gobbled up that booklet. It tells the story of a young novitiate at the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, in Paris, who woke up to a vision of a young child at the foot of her bed instructing her to go to the chapel. The Blessed Virgin was waiting for her. The young nun, Catherine Laboure, motherless at age nine, got out of bed and went the the chapel. She was told that “God wishes to entrust you with a mission”. God needed the world to be reminded of his love and Catherine was told to have confidence. Catherine was told to “Come to the foot of this altar”. It was the summer of 1830.
Four months later, Mary appeared to Catherine during communal meditation. Appearing in a bright light, she was standing on a globe and holding in her hands a small ball with a cross superimposed on it, representing the Earth illuminated by the presence of God. It was a new Earth, a Kingdom of Love. Luminous rays come from the hands of Mary. The globe symbolizes our world today; a world full of strife yet also liberated by Christ. Mary tells Catherine that she is listening to our pleas – it is her great pleasure for her to pour out God’s graces on each of us. “I will pour out graces on all who ask them of me with confidence.”
The Virgin Mary then dictates to Catherine that a “medal be struck” and instructs her on the design. The medal, worn around the neck, was to be a sign of faith and that those who petitioned Mary would be granted many graces (favors). It was to be a medal used for healing.
On the medal, Mother Mary is depicting wearing diamond rings on both hands. Some of the rings shine forth, some do not. The ones that do not symbolize all the “unredeemed graces”, all the favors that were not petitioned of Mary.
Obviously, I had been wearing the medal for many years without knowing its true significance. Whether or not I was consciously petitioning Mary, my prayers were being heard. The biggest gift was that during this entire period, contrary to science, Thing 1’s aorta stopped expanding and stayed in the “normal” range where it has remained ever since. (I will also credit here an Argentine woman named Caroline Hansen, the mother of a friend and wife of an Anglican priest, who performed a healing ceremony at our nondenominational Brazilian church, a holy electrical current crackling throughout the friends holding hands.)
Serendipitously solving the mystery of the lady on the medal has been one of the biggest Godwinks of my life. That kind of synchronicity just cannot be engineered by human beings. So, yes, I guess you can say there was a Marian apparition in China – does it matter that it came in my mailbox? It was, for sure, a personal message for me.
The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal was the last stop on my pilgrimage in 2014, even though it was not on the road to Santiago de Compostela. That was a redeemed grace, friends, of epic proportions! When I leave this world, I want all the diamond rings lit up. Nothing makes me sadder than the prospect of not having had the imagination to ask for a favor – for myself, my friends and family, or the world. Where does your imagination need to take you today?
Herewith concludes Day 13.