Zoe Laboure (better known by her religious name “Catherine”) was born in 1806 in Bourgogne (France).
When she was nine, her mother died. Kneeling before a picture of the Blessed Mother, the grief little girl prayed : “Now, dear Blessed Mother, now you will be my mother”
At 24, Catherine decided to join the Sisters of Charity and work with the sick. As a young novice in Paris, she began to experience visions of the Blessed Mother. In one of these, Mary asked her to have a medal made —showing Mary’s picture, with the words : “Ô Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
Catherine kept this vision to herself, telling only her spiritual director. It was through him that devotion became known as the “Miraculous Medal” quickly spread.
Through all this, Catherine stayed in the background.
Only when she was near death, in 1876, did Catherine reveal her 45-year secret and confide to her superior the role she had in bringing into existence the Miraculous Medal.
Like St. Catherine Laboure, St. Teresa of Avila also made the same choice of Mary for her mother. She did this while praying before a statue of Mary shortly after her own mother’s death.