In January 1917, while at the Conventual Franciscan Friars’ seminary in Rome, young Maximilian Kolbe heard the Miraculous Medal conversion story of Alphonse Ratisbonne. This wonderful account inspired him to recognize the powerful role that God had given Mary in the work of leading people to conversion and growth in holiness. He understood that the Miraculous Medal symbolized her active presence in the Church as Mediatrix of all the graces that flow from the Heart of Christ. For the next nine months Maximilian meditated upon the Miraculous Medal, the apparition of Our Lady to St. Catherine Laboure and the marvel of Ratisbonne’s conversion.
On the evening of October 16, 1917, the seminarian was ready to put these Marian insights into a concrete plan of action. He gathered six Franciscan companions in a room at the seminary on Rome’s Via San Teodoro to establish the Militia of the Immaculata (whose members are called MIs). This movement, which now numbers millions worldwide, would bind people together around one compelling and fruitful spiritual union with Mary Immaculate. The MI would embrace all ages and all vocations in the church-clergy, religious, lay men and women stirring each to form a person-to-person relationship with Mary by means of the “Act of Total Consecration.”
St. Maximilian made the Miraculous Medal the insignia of the MI movement. He recommended that people wear it as an external sign of their consecration to Jesus Christ through his mother. Mindful of Mary’s promise to St. Catherine that “all who wear it will receive great graces,” St. Maximilian saw the medal as a means of safeguarding the consecration.
Daily Miraculous Medal Prayer of St. Maximilian Kolbe
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, and for all who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to you.