Most Sacred Heart

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee

“At half-past five in the evening, whilst the Sisters were in the chapel taking their meditation, the Blessed Virgin appeared to a young Sister [St. Catherine Labouré] as if in an oval picture; she was standing on a globe, only one-half of which was visible; she was clothed in a white robe and a mantle of shining blue, having her hands covered, as it were, with diamonds, whence emanated luminous rays falling upon the earth, but more abundantly upon one portion of it. A voice seemed to say: ‘These rays are symbolic of the graces Mary obtains for men, and the point upon which they fall most abundantly is France.’ Around the picture, written in golden letters, were these words: ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.’ This prayer, traced in a semi-circle, began at the Blessed Virgin's right hand, and, passing over her head, terminated at her left hand. The reverse of the picture bore the letter M surmounted by a cross, having a bar at its base, and beneath the monogram of Mary, were the hearts of Jesus and Mary, the first surrounded with a crown of thorns, the other transpierced with a sword. Then she seemed to hear these words: ‘A medal must be struck upon this model; those who wear it indulgenced, and repeat this prayer with devotion, will be, in an especial manner, under the protection of the Mother of God.’ ”
— Fr. Aladel (St. Catherine's confessor)


“The exalted Virgin Mary, Mother of God + commands you, who in her lowliness crushed your proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception.” (Leo XIII's Prayer of Exorcism)

“She [the woman] shall crush thy head [the serpent's], and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (Genesis 3:15)


“God has not only set an enmity but enmities, not simply between Mary and the devil, but between the race of the holy Virgin and the race of the devil; that is to say, God has set enmities, antipathies, and secret hatreds between the true children and the servants of Mary, and the children and servants of the devil. They do not love each other mutually. They have no inward correspondence with each other. The children of Belial, the slaves of Satan, the friends of the world (for it is the same thing), have always up to this time persecuted those who belong to our Blessed Lady, and will in future persecute them more than ever; just as of old Cain persecuted his brother Abel, and Esau his brother Jacob, who are the figures of the reprobate and the predestinate. But the humble Mary will always have the victory over that proud spirit, and so great a victory that she will go the length of crushing his head, where his pride dwells. She will always discover the malice of the serpent. She will always counterwork his infernal mines and dissipate his diabolical counsels, and will guarantee even to the end of time her faithful servants from his cruel claw. But the power of Mary over all the devils will especially break out in the latter times, when Satan will lay his snares against her heel; that is to say, her humble slaves and her poor children, whom she will raise up to make war against him. They shall be little and poor in the world's esteem, and abased before all, like the heel, trodden underfoot and persecuted as the heel is by the other members of the body. But in return for this, they shall be rich in the grace of God, which Mary shall distribute to them abundantly. They shall be great and exalted before God in sanctity, superior to all other creatures by their animated zeal, and leaning so strongly on the divine succour, that, with the humility of their heel, in union with Mary, they shall crush the head of the devil, and cause Jesus Christ to triumph.” (St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, pp. 32-33)

“And the earth helped the woman” (Apocalypse 12:16)

“The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.” (Our Lady to St. Dominic)


“Under the apple tree I raised thee up: there thy mother [Eve] was corrupted, there she was defloured that bore thee.” (Canticle 8:5)

“The most terrible of all the enemies which God has set up against the devil, is His holy Mother, Mary. He has inspired her, even since the days of the earthly Paradise, though she existed then only in His idea, with so much hatred against that cursed enemy of God, with so much industry in unveiling the malice of that old serpent, with so much power to conquer, to overthrow, and to crush that proud impious rebel, that he fears her not only more than all Angels and men, but in some sense more than God Himself. It is not that the anger, the hatred, and the power of God are not infinitely greater than those of the Blessed Virgin, for the perfections of Mary are limited, but it is, first, because Satan, being proud, suffers infinitely more from being beaten and punished by a little and humble handmaid of God, and her humility humbles him more than the Divine power; and, secondly, because God has given Mary such great power against the devils, that, as they have often been obliged to confess, in spite of themselves, by the mouths of the possessed, they fear one of her sighs for a soul more than the prayers of all the Saints, and one of her menaces against them more than all other torments.” (True Devotion, pp. 31-32)

(Canticle 1:4) “I am black but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem”

“Our Blessed Lady is a daughter of Adam, who sinned, and by his sin contaminated his whole posterity. Mary did not contract this general infection; but, being a child of our common father, she appeared exteriorly black, as the daughter of a sinner. In herself, however, she was beautiful by the fulness of grace.

“The Blessed Virgin was black through her humility, which made her wish to appear like other women. She came to the Temple to be purified like other mothers. But interiorly she was most pure and clean, and her humility made her the more acceptable and beautiful in the eyes of God.

“This text may also be very aptly applied to our Blessed Lady, at the time of the Passion of her Divine Son. She was then the Mother of Sorrows; and the Sun of Justice being darkened, Mary, the heavenly moon, also grew dim, by the martyrdom of her soul. In these words: ‘I am black,’ we may thus see the Blessed Virgin depicted attired in mourning, contemplating the sufferings of Jesus Christ. When our dear Saviour suffered and died, Mary suffered, and, in a certain manner, died with Him, through the greatness of her love. She could then truly say, ‘I am black, I am darkened; my beloved Son suffers and is despised: I must suffer and be despised with Him.’ ”

(Canticle 2:2) “As the lіly among thorns, so іs my love among the daughters.”

“Mary is like a lily among thorns, if compared with all the children of Adam. ‘Cursed be the earth,’ said God to our common father after his fall; ‘thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.’ Not only does the earth bring forth thorns and thistles materially speaking, but also in a spiritual sense: for the thorns and thistles are the sins with which the whole surface of the earth is covered. And as sin would not exist but for those who commit it, and who are slaves to it, we may say that, as guilty children of a guilty father, we are all represented by these thistles and thorns. But in the midst of this sinful world, there is one immaculate and without stain; in the midst of these thorns and thistles there is one spotless lily. In the midst of the guilty children of Adam, Mary stands pure and undefiled.”

(Canticle 4:7) “Thou art all faіr, O my love, and there іs not a spot іn thee.”

“Mary is all fair, yea, the fairest, not only of all human creatures, but even if compared to the Angels. And there is in her no spot of either guilt or pain of sin, whether original, mortal, or venial. ... St. Augustine, having said that all mankind, even the just, are subject to venial sin, adds: ‘Except the Blessed Virgin Mary, of whom there can be no question when we speak of sin, for the sake of the honour due to the Lord.’ Hence the words: ‘Thou art all fair, and there is not a spot in thee,’ are applied to Mary alone, by Rupertus, St. Ildefonse, and many others.”

(Canticle 4:12) “My sіster, my spouse, іs a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a fountaіn sealed up.”

“The Blessed Virgin Mary was a most clear and limpid fountain in her origin, which was entirely pure and immaculate, and wholly free from the muddiness of sin. She was a sealed fountain, which the enemy could never reach in order to disturb or poison it. And by whom was this fountain sealed but by God Himself? or as St. Jerome expresses it: ‘Sealed with the seal of the Holy Trinity.’ Sealed by God the Father in quality of His most beloved Daughter; sealed by God the Son as His dearest Mother; sealed by God the Holy Ghost as His purest Spouse. This is the seal of the King which no one dares to break, which the enemy must respect; and God preserved the integrity of this seal from all the efforts of the devil.”

(Canticle 6:8) “One іs my dove, my perfect one іs but one”

“As the Mother of God stands singled out from among all creatures, and surpasses them all, the Beloved in the Canticle speaks of her in a mystical sense, saying: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one.’ Extolling the comeliness of his spouse, he remarks that her eyes are ‘as those of the dove,’ and her cheeks ‘as the turtle-dove's.’ Inviting her into his garden, he says: ‘Arise, make haste, my love, my dove!’ Coming to visit her, he addresses her with these words: ‘Open to me, my dove, my undefiled.’

“These praises of the spouse, taken from her similitude with the dove, are eminently applicable to Mary, who is the spouse as well as the Mother of God. What more can we say of her, but that she is a dove, a perfect one, the only one, the chosen one? What can we add to these glorious titles? Among so many Angels and Saints, who have excelled in purity, humility, and all other virtues, Mary stands alone; and compared with them she is called the perfect one, the only one, the chosen one, the one who is all fair, and immaculate. Truly ‘the only one,’ for there never has been one like her, nor will there be another.”

(Genesis 3:15) “she shall crush thy head”

“The human race has a proud and implacable enemy, who wants nothing less than that the whole world should be subjected to his sceptre. His power is great, and his name is legion. It is our duty to fight against this enemy. Many, alas! fall a prey to his fierce and unrelenting attacks. Some indeed come victorious out of the struggle; but after all they only overcome him partially, and at least have been in his power for a time. Mary alone has completely defeated the devil. As Judith cut off the head of Holofernes, so Mary in her Immaculate Conception crushed the head of the infernal serpent, as it was foretold by God Himself: ‘I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head’ (Gen. iii. 15). On account of this unparalleled victory over Satan and sin, Mary is properly saluted by the Church as ‘the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, the honour of our people’ (Judith xv. 10). The glory of Jerusalem—of the elect portion of the inheritance of the Lord, which she far surpasses in valour and in strength. The joy of Israel; that is, the joy of the Church of God, from which she has driven away the fear of the enemy by crushing his head. The honour of our people—of the faithful children of God, in whose numerous ranks she occupies the place of honour due to her, and in whose jubilant choirs she stands as Queen.

“When Holofernes was slain by the valiant Judith, the enemies were routed. The Blessed Virgin has not only crushed the serpent's head, and put the devil to flight in her Immaculate Conception, but she has, moreover, retained her power over him. At the sight of this valiant Queen the devils still tremble and flee. And she on her part is still willing and ready to defend her people; her kindness and her love yet prompt her to oppose the enemy, and to crush the head of the infernal serpent for our defence. She will fight for us in all dangers, in all calamities, by her powerful prayers: ‘Sancta Maria, ora pro populo!’—‘Holy Mary, pray for the people!’ ”

(Rev. F. Thaddeus, O.S.F., Mary Foreshadowed [London, 1885], pp. 161-162, 170, 186-187, 208-210, 223)


(Judith 13:19) “the Lord our God slew him by the hand of a woman.”

(Judith 13:20) “the Lord hath not suffered me his handmaid to be defiled, but hath brought me back to you without pollution of sin, rejoicing for his victory”

(Judith 13:22-25) “And they all adored the Lord, and said to her: The Lord hath blessed thee by his power, because by thee he hath brought our enemies to nought. And Ozias the prince of the people of Israel, said to her: Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth. Blessed be the Lord who made heaven and earth, who hath directed thee to the cutting off the head of the prince of our enemies. Because he hath so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of the Lord for ever, for that thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of the distress and tribulation of thy people, but hast prevented our ruin in the presence of our God.”

(Judith 13:29-31) “Then Achior seeing the head of Holofernes, being seized with a great fear he fell on his face upon the earth, and his soul swooned away. But after he had recovered his spirits he fell down at her feet, and reverenced her, and said: Blessed art thou by thy God in every tabernacle of Jacob, for in every nation which shall hear thy name, the God of Israel shall be magnified on occasion of thee.”


O Mary! thou whom wisdom hast possessed in the beginning of thy ways, cloud divinely fruitful, always in light and never in shade, new Eve, who didst crush the infernal serpent's head; courageous Judith, glory of Jerusalem, joy of Israel, honor of thy people, amiable Esther, exempt from the common law which presses as a yoke of anathema upon all the children of Adam, full of grace, blessed among all women. O Mary! conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! By thy Immaculate Conception, O most Holy Virgin! obtain for us purity of heart and body, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen!

Prayers & Devotions