St. Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal by Joseph Dirvin (Review)

Chapel of the Rue du Bac, Paris. Courtesy: jean-louis Zimmermann from Moulins, FRANCE, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
St. Catherine Laboure - Joseph Dirvin
St. Catherine Laboure by Joseph Dirvin

This time I will not repress myself.

Embarrassing or not, I want to shout it from the rooftops.

I love, LOVE this book!

And I love this book, because it is lovely …

I will return shortly to what I mean by that word “lovely”. But first let me explain what the book is.

It is the story of St. Catherine Labouré – St. Catherine Labouré who beheld the Blessed Virgin in the Rue du Bac in Paris of 1830.

That is to say, the Saint who received a command from Our Lady that a medal be struck and worn around the neck, and that the medal would bring untold graces.

But the story here is not simply the story of that Miraculous Medal.

Rather it is that and far more. It involves the story of numerous visions, prophecies of this Daughter of Saint Vincent de Paul. It tells how early in her life, the Saint had a mysterious dream of Saint Vincent de Paul calling her – St. Vincent who had died over a century before.

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The book then is not only the story of St. Catherine Labouré’s ongoing 46 year relationship with the Blessed Virgin, it is also the tale of her decades of spiritual friendship with Saint Vincent de Paul in heaven.

And more: it tells of the Blessed Virgin, St. Vincent and St. Catherine weeping for France, Catholic France as she succumbs ever more to the revolutionary currents of the Nineteenth Century.

It is the story of such things as a remarkable vision of Christ – Christ the King – just at the outbreak of the Second French Revolution, which brought down the monarchy in 1830. St Catherine sees Christ as King stripped of authority. A few days later Charles X was toppled …

Yes the book is pregnant with the mysteries of Catholic France. But saying such is not enough to explicate my word above: lovely.

Miraculous Medal shown to St. Catherine Laboure
Miraculous Medal shown to St. Catherine Laboure. Photo By Xhienne (Own work) [GFDL (

The book was written by a priest in the 1950’s. And I find something deeply endearing and pious in his account. In loving, clearly heartfelt words, he evokes not only the Saint, but the French milieu she lived in.

Unlike some other biographies reviewed for this site – such as that of St. Margaret Mary or an upcoming review concerning the Holy priest of Ars – this volume is compact and extremely accessible. Written like a novel, a bright twelve year old could read it, I think.

For all its endearing simplicity, it still retains razor-sharp insight into the human condition and the workings of Providence and the Saints from heaven who – weeping for the world – would try to guide us.

I really would recommend this little volume very, very highly. Not simply because it tells us profoundly important things about Our Lady (and a certain medal, which hangs around this writer’s neck) but because in a very engaging, accessible way, it opens out the lost world of Catholic France that so much of this webproject is concerned with …

From the rooftops, I feel like shouting one more time: I love this book!

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2 responses to “St. Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal by Joseph Dirvin (Review)”

  1. […] Book Review: Saint Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal by … […]

  2. […] In any event, some hundred and fifty years later, Our Lady would also appear to Saint Catherine Labouré in the Rue du Bac of Paris. (There is more about this here). […]