Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Miraculous Medal Saint, The Little Flower, et. al.

I feel a special connection to St. Catherine Laboure, since I've been wearing a Miraculous Medal constantly (even when I sleep, shower, work out, or swim) for the past twenty years or so.  She is the 24-year-old French nun to whom Mary appeared in 1830, the humble human daughter chosen to make sure that the medal was created, according to Our Blessed Mother's exact specifications, in order to spread a special devotion--she is the Miraculous Medal saint.

Last summer, just as I'd finished up the final edits of my Catholic YA novel, Finding Grace, I inherited an authentic relic of St. Catherine Laboure, who is one of the Incorruptibles, which was found among my late maternal grandparents' belongings. (If you're interested in that story, you can find it here in an August 2012 blog post.)  With it came a signed document dated 1955, with a raised seal, identifying the relic as coming ex ossibus (from the bones) of the famous saint--which I guessed, but would not have known for sure without that official paper.
I was blown away when I saw this precious relic, especially because of my devotion to the Miraculous Medal--which I worked into the story of Finding Grace by having my main character, Grace Kelly, wear one always, the way I do.  (When I did the cover artwork for the book, I made sure that Grace's Miraculous Medal was prominently displayed.)

That's not all, though.  There was a second relic in the same little box, right beside this one; and although there was no stamped and signed paperwork to proclaim its validity, it appears to be an authentic relic of St. Therese of Lisieux (the "Little Flower").  It just so happens that I feel a devotion to St. Therese as well!  She talks of the "Little Way to Spiritual Childhood," whereby even the littlest and humblest among us can become saints--by living out our lives with faith in God's plan for us and having a childlike love for Him.  By performing even the littlest tasks assigned to us in our various vocations as if they are prayers.  There are many flowers in God's garden, St. Therese teaches.  We may not all become great saints, but we can become saints nonetheless.  In her words: “The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.  If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” I imagine that sweet, self-effacing, self-sacrificing young nun, who only lived to be 24 and considered herself among the tiniest of the flowers in the garden, would never have believed that she would one day be named a Doctor of the Church.

My airline pilot husband was able to take two trips to Paris while our son was doing a college internship there this summer.  At the end of June, he and our boy did a lot of sightseeing together (and then flew home in the same plane, one in the cockpit and one in business class!), and one of the places they visited was the church where Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine Laboure.  (When my husband Face-timed me to tell me about it, I got choked up and felt the sting of tears!  I would have loved to be there with them.)  They were able to take this iPhone photo of the saint's incorrupt body, which lies near the chapel where the apparitions took place.
And here's the chapel, while we're on the subject.
When I told my publisher, Cheryl Dickow at Bezalel books, about these precious saints' relics that had miraculously fallen into my possession literally days before the book went to print, she said that surely I should consider St. Catherine Laboure and St. Therese of Lisieux the patron saints of Finding Grace.  I like to think of them that way.  And my book could use all the help it can get, because although I believe it has a great message for young people, it's not really getting into the hands of many of St. Catherine and St. Therese, pray for me!

My publisher believes that the Catholic homeschooling community is a place where this book would be well-received, and once there, word-of-mouth among satisfied homeschoolers would drive sales.  If only I could figure out the best way to tap into that market!  Can any homeschooling bloggers/blog readers out there give me some advice on this?  (I'd be willing and able to travel--there are perks to being married to a pilot!)

In closing, I thought I'd bring up another almost-saint who appears prominently in Finding Grace: Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.  (I don't have a relic of him--that's not where this is going.)  If you've never read about him, I urge you to do so.  And if you have teenagers (boys especially), have them learn about him.  He was a modern guy, a regular Joe, a handsome young man who had countless friends, a fun-loving goofball, and an athlete.  He was a normal young man who smoked a pipe and fell in love.  And he will be counted among the saints. His story is fascinating.  (And coincidentally, he died at the age of 24, just like St. Therese.)

I've already had 31 years longer than either St. Therese or Bl. Pier Giorgio did, and I'm not even close.  I pray that by the time I leave this earth I'll get there.  Lord, make me a saint!  I will be the smallest and least beautiful of all the flowers, if only I can live in Your Garden.  In the meantime: St. Catherine Laboure, St. Therese of Lisieux, and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for me!  


  1. Laura, I finished reading Finding Grace a couple of weeks ago. To say it was fantastic is an understatement. {You also inspired me to start wearing my own miraculous medal constantly. Before I would take it off to sleep, bathe, exercise, etc. Not anymore!} I agree that the book would likely be well-received in homeschooling circles; unfortunately, we've outgrown our homeschool group, but I would be happy to write a post about the book to be published on The Catholic Young Woman. Would that be alright?

    God bless you!

    1. Sarah Therese, God bless YOU! I would be so grateful if you would be willing to do that!

      I haven't really been trying hard enough to market the book--and it's essential that I do so because I'm self-published, so I don't have a big publishing house behind me taking care of the promotion. My shyness inhibits me, but I'm trying to get over that.

      Thanks again. You're an angel! L)

    2. L)? That was supposed to be :)!!

  2. Mmm, you've taken down your next post, was just going to say, God gives us all different talents and gifts, each unique, you're only answerable for the talents and gifts you're give. And you husband comments make me smile, he sounds so much like mine{{}}

    1. Erin, that was a draft I was working on to post another time, and I pushed the "publish" button by mistake. It'll probably show up here in the coming days.

      Thanks for your kind words, though. I know--we are all unique, different, yet equal in value, and we're supposed to use the individual gifts God has chosen to give to us. I know that...but I forget it sometimes!