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Catherine Laboure and the modern apparitions…
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Catherine Laboure and the modern apparitions of Our Lady

by Omer Englebert

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FROM INSIDE COVER

In our century the Mother of God has been seen arriving in the twinkling of an eye from heaven to earth, walking above trees, appearing in space as if borne by light or shadow. Through her intercession the German army has been turned back, all sorts of sicknesses have been cured with plain water, a poor girl in sabots has led millions to pray before a rock, and wonders and conversions have been brought about by means of a medal.

The first of these apparitions of Our Lady in modern times took place in 1830-31 at the convent of the Sisters of Charity at the Rue du Bac in Paris. Here she appeared to the young novice Catherine Laboure and revealed to her the Miraculous Medal. This devotion accomplished prodigies and spread like wildfire beyond the limits of France and Europe - yet its originator, the humble Sister of the poultry yard and the infirmary, remained unknown until a short time before her death forty-six years later.

The Abbe Englebert devotes the first half of his book to a study of the life and personality of Catherine Laboure, the "saint of silence". After showing the means by which the devotion of the Miraculous Medal was started and propagated, he deals with many of the resultant miracles and conversions. For the first time in English a full account is given of the case of Alphonse Ratisbonne, the atheistic son of a wealthy Jewish family whose change of heart and life "upset and transgressed all the rules" of religious conversion.

Then, placed in their historical context, the supernatural manifestations at the Rue du Bac in Paris are seen as the first link in a chain of occurrences extending throughout the whole of a century. Catherine Laboure's visions of the Miraculous Medal were recalled and completed by the appearance of the Blessed Virgin to others - at La Salette (1846), at Lourdes (1858), at Pontmain (1871), at Pellevoisin (1876), at Fatima (1917), at Beauraing (1932-33), at Banneux (1933) -and a brief account of the main circumstances connected with each of these occasions is given.

The author believes that at the risk of minimizing or exaggerating their individual importance, these events cannot be isolated. He shows that the Message they carried was one, and that each of these appearances of the Mother of God did but confirm and restate for our century the Gospel Message taught by her Son over nineteen hundred years ago.

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ABBE OMER ENGLEBERT, a French writer whose books have been translated into many languages, is best known to English readers as the author of Lives of the Saints, The Wisdom of Father Pecquet, The Last of the Conquistadon: Junipero Serra and Adventurer Saints. His recent Prophecy Fulfilled is a work on biblical typology written in collaboration with Canon Rene Aigrain. For many years Abbe Englebert was chaplain of the Paris convent of Our Lady of Sion, a congregation founded by the Ratisbonne brothers. He is director of Catholic collections for two leading Paris publishers - Albin Michel and Librairie Plon.
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