The sons and daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac, like the phoenix, were emerging from the still smoldering ashes of the French Revolution. Determined, brave and generous young men and women were beginning to arrive at our houses and, together with the veteran members of the Congregation of the Mission and the Company of the Daughters of Charity, followed the course initiated by our venerable Founders two centuries before.

The Blessed Mother had not forgotten that the shepherd of Landes venerated her in the image he had placed in an oak tree while he was shepherding the flock of his family. She had also not forgotten the fact that this same individual one day placed her in the position of guardian of his first establishment: when the Mother of God has been invoked and taken as patroness in important matters, everything can only go well and accrue to the glory of Jesus her Son … Madame Le Gras, even more expressive, consecrated her nascent Community to Mary as the only Mother of the Company. From the very beginning, from the time of the arrival of the first of the young women villagers, even before the Pope proclaimed the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, Louise de Marillac from her Christ centered and Marian experience stated: Most Holy Virgin, I believe and confess your holy and immaculate conception.

If we could open the book of Mary’s life and read her secrets, we could find some words of gratitude for the many graces that the members of the Vincentian Family have received from her hands. But I believe much gratitude has been expressed by the Daughters of Charity (more gratitude than that of the members of the Congregation of the Mission) who have been able to spread devotion to Mary through the Miraculous Medal. It might be bold or daring to say something like that, but such a thought should be taken into account and reflected upon.

Let us now reflect upon some elements of her message to the Vincentian Family, her message to the whole world.

[1] Mary’s love for the Daughters of Charity and the Congregation of the Mission.

During her apparition of July 18-19, 1830, Catherine Laboure recounts these words of the Virgin: My child, I love to bestow graces upon your community which I love very much. It pains me that there are great abuses in regularity, that the rules are not observed, that there is much relaxation in the two Communities … God and Saint Vincent will protect the community.

From the time of these apparitions, Our Family has spread throughout the world in number, but especially in holiness. Today, at the approach of the bicentenary of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother, the spirit of Saint Vincent reaches to the ends of the world (we are present in 160 of the 194 nations of the world). How might we interpret this reality?  We cannot deny Mary’s “yes”. She promised to accompany and to assist us … and she has faithfully fulfilled that promise. Looking ahead to the new millennium, how are we going to respond to this immense love? In light of a world in which the number of poor people continues to increase and in which misery becomes more and more visible, what is she asking of us? She is encouraging us to tune the ear, to listen to her voice and that of her Son … in Cana of Galilee, Mary stated: do whatever he tells you (John 2:5).

[2] The Miraculous Medal: from Mary’s hand to our hands and from our hands to the world’s hands.

The Miraculous Medal was not a privilege for the Community, but rather it is a mission entrusted to the children of St. Vincent. We are a great bridge between Mary, the Church and the world. But that demands that we are attentive to her predilection with indestructible faith, caring charity, active hope … attentive to her predilection with the characteristic virtues of our vocation, with our manner of speaking of Mary and praying before her … Thus the people and especially the poor, will read in the book of our life about a faith that is not theoretical thesis but an openness to an encounter with God and about a faith which is lived at every step in the light of each day, in serenity when faced with life’s contradictions and in the construction of an increasingly better world … An operative, non-alienating faith that leads us from the encounter with Jesus in the tabernacle to meet him in the poor living on our streets. In the words of our Founder, we will find him by turning the medal (CCD:XI:26). In our Mother’s medal, we will find the crucified and bleeding Jesus in the world of today.

The message of the Medal has to penetrate deep into us, because only with the strength that we receive from it, can we cross the mountains and hills in order to reach the most remote places on earth, and with the presence of Mary, open the hearts of men and women to Jesus.

[3] The Miraculous Virgin has come to us … now we must go toward her

Mary never ceases to extend her merciful eyes toward us … never ceases to extend her outstretched arms and hands that welcome us with her maternal embrace

Mary is compassionate toward the little ones, the weak and those who call upon her name … with the rays of light that extend from her hands

In a word, Mary is our Mother and love us like her children.

We, as children, with noble hearts, with grateful memory, recognize Mary’s uninterrupted presence through all the trials of our history … in France, in Spain, in China, in Cuba … even in the most unknown recesses of the world.

With fresh memory, we remember the mission that was entrusted to us: spread devotion to Mary’s medal with its rich message of faith, hope and charity.

When we wear the Miraculous Medal, we recognize her presence in our life … a presence that enlightens, guides and makes us messengers of hope. Mary brings us to her Son, the Good News that we have to proclaim every day of our life … proclaim through word and even more through our daily living of life.

Let us pray: O Miraculous Virgin! From the beginning of the Vincentian Family you have been our mother and our teacher. You who have been constituted as mother and channel of mercy, come and visit the vineyard of your faithful servant, Saint Vincent de Paul. May the spirit of our vocation flourish and may we be simple, humble, gentle, mortified and filled with zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of the world. Mother of this Family, pray for us and for all those who will come after us. Amen.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you!

By: Marlio Nasayó Liévano, CM
Colombian Province
Translated:Charles T. Plock, CM
Eastern Province, USA

Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conference, Documents, translators: Helen Marie Law, DC (Vol. 1), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 1-14), James King, CM (Vol. 1-2), Francis Germovnik, CM (Vol. 1-8, 13a-13b [Latin]), Esther Cavanagh, DC (Vol. 2), Ann Mary Dougherty, DC (Vol. 12); Evelyne Franc, DC (Vol. 13a-13b), Thomas Davitt, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Glennon E. Figge, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), John G. Nugent, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Andrew Spellman, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]); edited: Jacqueline Kilar, DC (Vol. 1-2), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 2-13b), Julia Denton, DC [editor-in-chief] (Vol. 3-10, 13a-13b), Paule Freeburg, DC (Vol. 3), Mirian Hamway, DC (Vol. 3), Elinor Hartman, DC (Vol. 4-10, 13a-13b), Ellen Van Zandt, DC (Vol. 9-13b), Ann Mary Dougherty (Vol. 11-12 and 14); annotated: John W. Carven, CM (Vol. 1-13b); New City Press, Brooklyn and Hyde Park, 1985-2014, volume XIIIb, page 3.  Future references to this work will be inserted into the text using the initials [CCD] followed by the volume number, followed by the page number, for example, CCD:XIIIb:3

2 LOUISE DE MARILLAC, Spiritual Writing of Louise de Marillac, edited and translated from the French by Sister Louise Sullivan, DC, New City Press, Brooklyn, New York, 1991, p. 281 (L.245), p. 621 (L.602), p. 735 (M35b).  Future references to this work will be inserted into the text using the initials [SWLM] followed by the page number, following by number of the letter or the number of the writing and or manuscript, for example, SWLM:281 [L.245].

3 Community Prayer Book, Daughters of Charity of the United States, St. Joseph’s Provincial House, 333 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, Maryland, 21727, Revised 1995, p. 8.


5 The Memorare