The Season of Advent is placed under the auspices of the Virgin Mary. There are the feasts of the Miraculous Medal on November 27 – which coincides, in 2022, with the first Sunday of Advent – and the Immaculate Conception on the following December 8. But do you know where and when the first church dedicated to the Miraculous Medal was erected? The answer is not without surprises.
On December 8, 1854, by the bull Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, defining that “the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her Conception, was, by a grace and a privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved and exempt from all stain of original sin.”
The then Roman pontiff, in the same document, seems to allude to the revelation of the Miraculous Medal made by Our Lady to St. Catherine Labouré on November 27, 1830, assuring that Mary had already “appeared in the world, with her Immaculate Conception, like a splendid dawn spreading its rays everywhere.”
What is less known is that the first church dedicated to the Miraculous Medal was erected thousands of kilometers from the place of the original apparition which, let us remember, has been dedicated since its consecration, in 1815, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It is indeed in the archdiocese of Pousso Allegre, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, that the church built in Monte Siao, was solemnly dedicated to the Miraculous Medal, on April 13, 1850.
In 1830, at the time of the apparition, 105 Catholic families lived in Monte Siao, a hostile region where there was still neither a priest nor a place of worship. Important fact to note: several stories prove that, from 1838, devotion to the Miraculous Medal had reached this point, and punctuated the prayer life of the neglected faithful.
The first image representing the Virgin of the Rue du Bac arrived in the new church ten years after its dedication, in 1860: it was abruptly removed in 1937 by the ordinary of the place, who found it too “sensual” for his taste. Our Lady did not take long to teach him a good lesson.
Because from the moment the image left its church, the weather changed above Monte Siao. The rain stopped falling, while it continued to still fall a few kilometers away.
Under popular pressure, the archbishop agreed to reconsider his decision. At the very moment when the statue was returned to its sanctuary, the rain began to fall, beating down on Monte Siao, and the situation suddenly returned to normal.
This episode is remembered as “the day of the miracle,” and it is celebrated in the diocesan calendar every November 27, the day when, in France, the Miraculous Medal is celebrated.
Due to the incessant flow of pilgrims, the Church of the Miraculous Medal was erected as a sanctuary on November 5, 1999 by the diocesan authorities who understood Mary's lesson well. She urges us to put her - and her divine Son – at the heart of the Church and of our lives.