Throwback Thursday: The Miraculous Medal

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on January 6, 2016 and has been substantially revised.

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In previous posts, we’ve looked at several Catholic “sacramentals,” including the rosary and divine mercy chaplet, holy water, the scapular, St. Christopher’s medal, and the Agnus Dei locket.

The Catholic church defines sacramentals as “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.”

Simply, without the ecclesiastical gobbledygook, Catholics believe they will receive great blessings and ward off evil spirits by using sacramentals.

Another popular sacramental is the Miraculous Medal. Catholic tradition has it that Mary visited French mystic, saint Catherine Laboure, in 1830, giving her the precise design for this medal and promising that all who wore the medal would “receive great graces.”

Properties of the medal include:

Front side:

  • Mary stands on a globe, crushing a serpent beneath her feet. Describing the original vision, Catherine said the Blessed Mother appeared radiant as a sunrise, “in all her perfect beauty.”
  • Rays shoot out from Mary’s hands, which she told Catherine, “symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them.”
  • Words from the vision form an oval frame around Mary: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

Reverse side

  • A cross-and-bar surmounts a large, bold “M.”
  • Twelve stars disperse around the perimeter.
  • Two hearts are depicted underneath the “M,” the left lapped with a crown of thorns, the right skewed by a sword. From each, a flame emanates from the top*

The medal is a stark example of how the Catholic church unabashedly replaces the Lord God with Mary in its worship and devotion.

Followers of the Miraculous Medal cult attribute many miraculous healings and blessings to the wearing of the medal. Pope John Paul II was an ardent devotee of the medal.

In his book, “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014, Crossway), evangelical theologian, Gregg Allison, examined the Catholic “nature-grace interconnection,” whereby it is taught that God’s grace is conferred by the Catholic church through nature (priests, sacraments, sacramentals, shrines, relics, etc.). Catholic “faith” is connected to concrete objects and rituals, which purportedly confer grace and enable the owner/participant to better obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in order to merit Heaven. See my review of Allison’s book here.

The Catholic church readily admits its sacramentals are rooted in pagan talismans and amulets (see here). Citizens of pagan Rome were passionate believers in good-luck charms and the increasingly institutionalized church simply “christianized” the practice. There is no mention of believers using charms or amulets in the Bible.

My Savior, Jesus Christ, paid the entire debt for my mountain of sin. I am so incredibly grateful!!! My Shepherd guides me throughout the day and I lean on Him. I place all my trust in Him. He’s my Rock. My Life. My Everything. The Holy Spirit indwells me and sustains me from moment to moment. My Lord directs my paths. It would never even occur to me to turn to a religious charm or amulet or to someone other than my Lord.

There is no salvation in physical religious ritual. The only way to God’s salvation is by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

“But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” – John 1:12

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” – John 6:63

See here for more posts on sacramentals.

*The properties of the medal that are listed here are taken from the Wikipedia article. See here.

27 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: The Miraculous Medal

    1. This is why Romanism =/= Catholicism, and Romanism is anti-Catholic.

      Epiphanius of Salamis (310/320-403): Asking what place it was, and learning it to be a church, I went in to pray, and found there a curtain hanging on the doors of the said church, dyed and embroidered. It bore an image either of Christ or of one of the saints; I do not rightly remember whose the image was. Seeing this, and being loth that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ’s church contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, I tore it asunder and advised the custodians of the place to use it as a winding sheet for some poor person. NPNF2: Vol. VI, The Letters of St. Jerome, Letter 51 – From Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, In Cyprus, to John, Bishop of Jerusalem, §9.

      Irenaeus (130 – c. 200): Others of them employ outward marks, branding their disciples inside the lobe of the right ear. From among these also arose Marcellina, who came to Rome under [the episcopate of] Anicetus, and, holding these doctrines, she led multitudes astray. They style themselves Gnostics. They also possess images, some of them painted, and others formed from different kinds of material; while they maintain that a likeness of Christ was made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them. They crown these images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers of the world that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle, and the rest. They have also other modes of honouring these images, after the same manner of the Gentiles.. ANF: Vol. I, Against Heresies, 1:25:6. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Grand Rapids, MI, Pg 921.

      Tertullian: You will hate, O Christian, the things whose authors must be the objects of your utter detestation. So we would now make a remark about the arts of the theatre, about the things also whose authors in the names we execrate. We know that the names of the dead are nothing, as are their images; but we know well enough, too, who, when images are set up, under these names carry on their wicked work, and exult in the homage rendered to them, and pretend to be divine—none other than spirits accursed, than devils. We see, therefore, that the arts also are consecrated to the service of the beings who dwell in the names of their founders; and that things cannot be held free from the taint of idolatry whose inventors have got a place among the gods for their discoveries. Nay, as regards the arts, we ought to have gone further back, and barred all further argument by the position that the demons, predetermining in their own interests from the first, among other evils of idolatry, the pollutions of the public shows, with the object of drawing man away from his Lord and binding him to their own service, carried out their purpose by bestowing on him the artistic gifts which the shows require. For none but themselves would have made provision and preparation for the objects they had in view; nor would they have given the arts to the world by any but those in whose names, and images, and histories they set up for their own ends the artifice of consecration. ANF Vol. 3 De Spectaculis, 10, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Grand Rapids, MI, Pg 167-168

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  1. Thanks for addressing this topic Tom. I was a big fan of the miraculous medal before I was saved 😳. I had one and loved it. But then I was born again 🙌 and I threw it in the trash. I was so blind. But the Lord saved me and gave me sight! Salvation is such a miracle and I will be eternally grateful to the Lord for pulling me out of the gross darkness of Rome.

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    1. I praise God He led you and your husband out of RC superstition. We had many such statues, medals, and other sacramentals in our house when we were growing up. Four of my five older sisters are now atheists/agnostics. The fifth still identifies as Catholic, but doesn’t take it seriously.

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      1. Argh. Mary depicted crushing the serpent’s head when God’s Word points to Jesus crushing the serpent’s head in Gen. 3:15. I said another prayer for your mother in law.

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  2. I used to have a similar medal as a child . It never meant anything to me . I am so grateful to our God for His great salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ .
    Tom, is there a book you can recommend that explains too Christianity when compared to RCC. I have a dear Catholic friend who is deaf to the gospel . I thought maybe if she reads a book it may penetrate.
    Blessings Tom

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, praise God for our salvation in Jesus Christ through faith in Him alone!

      RE: book for Catholic friend

      I immediately thought of two books by John Ankerberg:

      The Facts on Roman Catholicism (2009) – 96 pages

      Fast Facts on Roman Catholicism (2004) – 160 pages (an earlier and slightly longer version of the above).

      Both are short and cover the main differences, especially re: justification and salvation.

      Both books are still in print and available via Amazon in the U.S. I hope you have them in Australia. I have some other options in mind if they are not available. I said a prayer for your friend. Bless you for being a true friend to her.

      Liked by 1 person

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