Chapelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse
Many people come on pilgrimage to visit the famous religious monuments in Paris such as the Sacre Coeur Basilica and the historical Notre Dame Cathedral, but there are many different chapels and churches that have a rich history and reasons for visiting just like the Chapelle Notre de la Medaille Miraculeuse.
A bit of history
The Chapelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse basically translates to the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and is run by the Sisters of Charity that was set up to provide and care for those in need such as the sick or poor.
Located in the 7th Arrondissement, there was a convent for the Daughters of Charity that was originally founded back in 1633, and in fact, the daughters of Charity are present on all five continents and over 91 countries throughout the world, still providing a service according to the initial spirit of its founders.
Now this convent was known as the Mother House of the Daughters of Charity and originally was called the Hotel de Chatillon, yet it was not until 1813 that construction of the actual chapel was started, and when complete, the chapel was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the August of 1815.
You will also find that the convent windows still overlook the Jardin Catherine Laboure, which is a small Garden in Paris with the paths in a shape of a cross, and this was donated to the city enabling the public to enjoy this peaceful place where thousands of people visit every year.
Now, the story goes that a novice Sister of the Daughters of Charity, by the name of Catherine Laboure had the Virgin Mary appear to her in the chapel in 1830 in order to offer the world a medal, and this simple object was intended for all people without making any distinctions.
And when a deadly epidemic of cholera broke out in Paris in 1832 that claimed over 20,000 lives, the Sisters of this Marion Sanctuary started distributing the first medals and many cures were reported. So, the word spread and the people started calling this medal miraculous and this is how the chapel got its name.
But after these events, the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse had to be enlarged and in 1930 for the centenary after the visions, the chapel was restored and reconstructed to how you will see it today.
About the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse
The ornately decorated chapel has very little remaining from the original chapel that was first constructed in the early part of the 1800s apart from the ornate tabernacle that dates from approximately the late 17th century or the early part of the 18th century in the style of a Greek temple with marble columns either side. However, in 1850 a stunning ivory crucifix was positioned above it.
As you look towards the front of the chapel from the pews, there is a golden bronze shrine to the left with relics from Saint Louise and her embalmed body, who was the founder of the covent, and to the far right there is a chair known as the Blessed Virgin’s chair.
And also to the right there is a small alter that was erected in 1880 at the place of the apparition, according to Saint Catherine Laboure, and the front of this alter was in onyx encased in golden bronze. However, for her beatification, Saint Catherine’s body was exhumed in 1933 and was transferred to the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse on the Rue du Bac, where you can get to see it today, as the front of the alter became the back of her shrine and there is now a glass front.
There are also many different statues such as the one of the Blessed Virgin made out of Carrara marble, and many of these are surrounded by beautiful mosaics, plus there are portraits such as that of Saint Joseph, which you can see located to the right of the organ.
And when the nave was extended, a large arch was formed and this had to be decorated, so an elegant fresco was created by Andre Meriel Bussy in 1930 to represent the first apparition Catherine Laboure had.
Access to Chapelle Notre Dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse
The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is open from 7:45am through to 1pm and then from 2:30pm through to 7pm every day except for on a Tuesday when it is open all day, yet on any French national holidays the chapel does not open until 8:15am then follows the same times as the rest of the week.
Masses are always conducted every day at 8am except on public holidays when these are at 8:30am. Then the next mass is conducted at 10.30am. An additional mass is also held at 12.30pm, but on a Tuesday and Saturday there is an additional service conducted at 5:15pm, although on a Sunday the times for Mass are 8am, 10am and 11:15am.
There is also the Vespers conducted every day at 6.15pm, plus you can also meet with a priest for confession and these are available during the hours of 9am through to 11.45 and from 3pm through to 5pm on a Monday to Friday.
So whether you are coming to visit for a service, mass, just out of curiosity or on a pilgrimage, the Chapelle Notre dame de la Medaille Miraculeuse can sometimes be a little tricky to find, as it is almost a hidden place, often known as the grotto in the heart of Paris.
However, located in the 7th Arrondissement on the Rue du Bac, but close to the Jardin Catherine Laboure, you will find a large doorway and above the door there is a statue of the Virgin and Child constructed in a recess that will greet you. But there is also a plaque fixed to the wall, which is the traditional shield shape that states Histoire de Paris, in other words, history of Paris.
And the nearest Metro stations are either the Sevres - Babylone stop serving lines 10 or 12 or the Vaneau stop serving line 10, but the Paris bus lines 39, 63, 68, 70, 83, 84, 87 and 94 will also get you within walking distance of the Chapel of Our May of the Miraculous Medal.