Behind our main shelter in Ramsey, NJ, is a very special garden, where life and Mary’s Immaculate Conception are celebrated.
When a frightened, pregnant teenager comes to visit is for the first time, worried about what to do with her unplanned pregnancy, we take her for a walk through the “Garden of Life”. She sees the photos of many babies whose mothers lived at our shelters and she is told the story of St. Catherine and Our Blessed Mother.
In Paris, on the night of July 18, 1830, a 24 year old member of the Daughters of Charity was awakened by her Guardian Angel in the form of a beautiful child. The Angel said to Sister Catherine, “Come to the Chapel. The Blessed Virgin is waiting for you.” Our Lady then appeared and said, “My child, I am going to give you a mission.”
On November 27, in a second apparition, Sister Catherine learned she was to introduce the medal of the Immaculate Conception to the world. During the apparition, the Virgin Mary was standing on a globe with a serpent beneath her feet, symbolizing the crushing of Satan. Her arms were outstretched and dazzling rays of light shone forth. Mary explained that these rays symbolized the graces she obtains for all those who ask for her favor. Framing the Blessed Virgin were the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” This was to be the front of the medal.
The vision turned to show Sister Catherine the design on the reverse side of the medal. Twelve stars (the 12 apostles, representing the whole Church) encircled a large letter “M” out of which rose a cross. Below were two hearts, one encircled by thorns (the Sacred Heart of Jesus) and the other pierced by a sword (the Immaculate Heart of Mary).
The Virgin Mary then said, “Have a medal struck after the model. All who wear this medal will receive great favors. Favors will abound if it is worn with devotion.” Extraordinary answers to prayer occurred immediately, and this medal came to be known as the “Miraculous Medal.”
When a pregnant woman visits our Garden of Life, I take her to “six stations” and explain our Catholic belief that, since Mary was given her soul immaculate at the very moment of conception, all pre born babies must also possess a soul from the moment of their conception. I ask her to consider the soul of her child.
I then tell a pregnant woman that, at this special time, she is the custodian of the physical as well as spiritual life of her preborn baby. I explain that through the support of wonderful benefactors like YOU, there is this safe haven where she and her baby can stay for up to one year after birth. All services are lovingly provided free of charge. Mothers attend parenting workshops and chastity classes as well as finish school or train for jobs. Most of all, they come to know and love God more for all that He is providing for them.
If you would like to create your own Garden of Life in your church, your school, your community, your home, you can click on any of the pictures below to show a large image that you can "right click" to save and which you can then have printed in a size that meets your need and possibly have it framed as we show it here.
St. Catherine Laboure As A Young Person
St. Catherine Laboure was born on May 2, 1806 in Burgundy, France. She was baptized the next day. Her mother died when she was 9 years old. St. Catherine missed her mother terribly. Shortly after her death, St. Catherine adopted Mary, the Mother of Jesus, saying "Now you will become my mother."
Being the eldest at home, she now helped her father with the household chores and raising the other children.
St. Catherine daily fed the hundreds of pigeons in the Laboure dovecot. This was the one recreation of her long, hard day. The birds swooped down upon her, dishelving her hair and clothes! St. Catherine delighted in the friendly attention.
First Apparition - St. Catherine Is Awakened By An Angel
At age 24, St. Catherine became a Sister of Charity. Six months later on June 18, 1830 in Paris at 11:30 pm St. Catherine, a novice, was awakened by her Guardian Angel in the form of a child, who said "Sister Laboure. Come to the chapel. The Blessed Virgin awaits you."
St. Catherine was led by the Angel to the Chapel for her vision of Our Lady. The Angel appeared as a little child of four or five years old of extraordinary beauty and so surrounded with radiance that the whiteness of his gown was dazzling.
First Apparition (cont'd) - St. Catherine Kneels at Our Lady's Knee
Once in the Chapel St. Catherine was amazed. It was ablaze as if a Midnight Mass. St. Catherine heard a sound like the rustling of a silk dress, and saw a lady descending the altar steps. The lady seated herself in the Director's chair and the Angel said, "This the Blessed Virgin."
St. Catherine knelt at Mary's feet, resting her hands on Mary's knees. They talked together for two hours. The conversation was not one-sided. St. Catherine spoke freely, unfolding the secrets of her soul, asking questions which Mary graciously answered. They spoke of St. Catherine and the needs of her soul and the welfare of her beloved community.
They talked for two hours. Mary's most important message was, "My child, the Good God wishes to charge you with a mission."
Second Apparition - Our Lady With the Globe
On November 27, 1830, during the afternoon meditation, St. Catherine saw Our Lady in the Chapel sanctuary standing upon a globe. The Virgin Mary held a golden ball which she seemed to offer to God, her eyes raised Heavenward. Her hands were resplendent with rings set with precious stones that threw out brilliant rays of light.
Mary said, "The ball which you see represents the whole world, especially France and each person in particular. These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The gems from which rays do not fall are the graces for which souls forget to ask."
Second Apparition (cont'd) - The Front of the Immaculate Conception Medal
The golden ball vanished from Mary's hands and she extended her arms, the rays from her jewelled fingers flowing upon the globe beneath her feet. Under one of her feet was the serpent representing Satan.
An oval formed around the Virgin, and written within it, in letter of gold, were the words:
"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
We, at Several Sources, ask you to contemplate this. If Mary was conceived without sin, then Mary must have had a soul at the moment of her conception. Therefore, does it not follow that each & everyone of us is given a God-given soul at the moment we are conceived in our own Mother's womb. It is our faith and out belief that all preborn babies possess a soul from the moment of their conception. Pregnant women are the custodians of their physical as well as spiritual components of their unborn child. We would only pray that they pray as they consider the fate of their unborn child.
Second Apparition (cont'd) - The Back of the Immaculate Conception Medal
Mary's voice spoke again, "Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces: they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence."
The tableau revolved, and St. Catherine beheld the reverse side of the Medal she was to have made. It contained a large M surmounted by a bar and a cross. Beneath the M were the Hearts of Jesus, crowned with thorns and Mary pierced with a sword. Twelve stars encircled the whole.
Originally, the Medal was known as the Immaculate Conception Medal. Today, because of the many miracles attributed to it, it is known as the Miraculous Medal.
St. Catherine Laboure was declared a Saint by Pope Pius XII on July 27, 1947. Our church doctrine tells us that it is souls precious to God that we at Several Sources strive so hard to be given the chance to know God's love for them. Please join us in our efforts to save as many innocent preborn lambs of God as possible.