D. and I were honored to be asked to be the godparents of Ilaria, our friends' new baby daughter. Her baptism took place on Saturday night during the Easter Vigil, at which time all people who have been preparing to become Catholics are initiated into the faith through baptism and confirmation. Any of the adults participating in this ceremony who have children that need to be baptized can do so at this time. Her father was being confirmed that evening. It is a beautiful but rather lengthy ceremony (3 hours) including full immersion (hot tub on the altar) baptisms. The adults and older children were head dunked 3 times, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" and babies and tots were dipped in up to their neck. Ilaria didn't cry, nor did most of the children.
Afterwards we went to their house and celebrated with some wine and laughter.
We gave her a Miraculous Medal as a gift. The medal looks like this:
The Meaning of the Front Side of the Miraculous Medal :
Mary is standing upon a globe, crushing the head of a serpent beneath her foot. She stands upon the globe, as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her feet crush the serpent to proclaim Satan and all his followers are helpless before her (Gn 3:15). The year of 1830 on the Miraculous Medal is the year the Blessed Mother gave the design of the Miraculous Medal to Saint Catherine Labouré. The reference to Mary conceived without sin supports the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary—not to be confused with the virgin birth of Jesus, and referring to Mary's sinlessness, “full of grace” and “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28)—that was proclaimed 24 years later in 1854.
The Meaning of the Back Side of the Miraculous Medal:
The twelve stars can refer to the Apostles, who represent the entire Church as it surrounds Mary. They also recall the vision of Saint John, writer of the Book of Revelation (12:1), in which “a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars.” The cross can symbolize Christ and our redemption, with the bar under the cross a sign of the earth. The “M” stands for Mary, and the interleaving of her initial and the cross shows Mary’s close involvement with Jesus and our world. In this we see Mary’s part in our salvation and her role as mother of the Church. The two hearts represent the love of Jesus and Mary for us. (See also Lk 2:35).
I wear this medal. It was created by Saint Catherine Labouré. The Virgin Mary appeared to her three times in 1830 and instructed her to create a medal that looks like this. The Blessed Mother told her, "Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck."
There is no superstition, nothing of magic, connected with the Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal is not a “good-luck charm”. Rather, it is a great testimony to faith and the power of trusting prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance, and faith. God uses a Medal, not as a sacrament, but as an agent, an instrument, in bringing to pass certain marvelous results. “The weak things of this earth hath God chosen to confound the strong.”
Saint Catherine Labouré is an incorruptible. This means that although she died in 1876, her body has not decayed. She was exhumed in 1933 and her body is on display at 140 Rue du Bac, Paris. I had the privelege of seeing her and praying at her shrine when we visited Paris in 2002.
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