The Blessed Virgin Mary is ever-interested in our salvation, and, in virtue of her singular union with Jesus, she is our supreme advocate and intercessor among all the saints in heaven.
As the very good Mother she is, she wants us, her children, to spend eternity with Christ in heaven. To accomplish this end, she frequently gives us helpful instruction to aid us in doing God’s will in our lives and in loving Christ better.
From time to time in the history of the Church, Mary has personally appeared to certain holy men and women to give them a particular devotion to her, with attached graces and promises. In some cases the devotion is meant to be spread to the whole Church and involves an object, or sacramental, given to the faithful as a physical sign of her loving intercession.
Three very famous sacramentals given to the faithful by Mary–and approved by the Church–are the holy rosary, the brown scapular, and the miraculous medal.
The Holy Rosary
The rosary was given by the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Dominic de Guzman in the year 1214 to help him fight heresy and convert sinners. He was having no success with his mission, until the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and gave him the spiritual weapon that would win souls back to God.
“Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?” . . . “I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter.” – Our Lady to St. Dominic
The Angelic Psalter is the greeting of the Angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation (Ave Maria, Hail Mary), which is combined with the words of Elizabeth at Mary’s Visitation (Blessed art Thou…), and the Pater Noster (Our Father) prayer taught by Jesus. The Angelic Psalter and the Pater Noster were already being prayed repetitiously in the Church; however, Our Lady gave St. Dominic a new formulation, the Dominican Rosary, which is the traditional rosary as we pray it today. According to the instructions of the apparition, 150’s Ave’s were to be prayed in groups of five, separated by a Pater Noster, and each set of ten beads was to be accompanied with specific meditations on the life of Christ (the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries). It is called the ‘rosary’ because each time it’s prayed, we adorn Our Lady with a heavenly crown of roses.
The Brown Scapular
Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, gave the brown scapular to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite, in the year 1251. A scapular is composed of two small pieces of wool cloth attached by a string, meant to wear on the front and back in the same way the scapular of a religious habit would be worn. It then becomes a sign of devotion to the Virgin Mary worn hidden under the clothes.
“Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.” – Our Lady to St. Simon Stock
The Miraculous Medal
Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine Laboure in France in the year 1830 and gave her the vision of a medal, known as the Miraculous Medal, with specific details as to how it should be constructed both on the front and the back. The medal is a testament to the role of Mary in salvation history and is especially associated with the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, with the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee” as a prayer engraved around the circumference of the medal.
“Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck” . . . “Now it must be given to the whole world and to every person.” – Our Lady to St. Catherine Laboure
After reading about these sacramentals and their promises given to the faithful by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself, are you more inclined to make use of them? Have you already received special graces from using any of these, that you would like to share with our readers as an encouragement to practice these devotions?
This article has been updated and was first published in 2013 © The Catholic Company