By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T
PHILADELPHIA – Following a tradition 89 years running, more than 10,000 people are expected to visit the Miraculous Medal Shrine in the Germantown section of the city during the annual nine-day solemn novena honoring Our Lady starting Monday, Nov. 16, and ending Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Although the shrine receives many visitors year-round, this particular novena, which leads up to the Nov. 25 Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, is an annual high point.
“The solemn novena is a time to take to God our whole lives with all of our wounds and needs,” said Vincentian Father Carl L. Pieber, director of the shrine. “What better novena than to Mary the Mother of God? Only she can show us God’s total healing and comfort in our lives.”
Mass will be celebrated, confessions will be heard and novena prayers will be offered multiple times daily throughout the entire novena. And although anyone can participate on all days, each day a special prayer will be offered for specific groups: Nov. 16, priests, seminarians and religious; Nov. 17, public servants, police, firefighters and EMTs; Nov. 18, veterans and military personnel; Nov. 19, Catholic school and CCD/PREP teachers; Nov. 20, seniors (with anointing of the sick at each service); Nov. 21, Catholic medical professionals; Nov. 22, novena family (all who attend regular Monday novenas past and present); Nov. 23, Catholic lawyers and business professionals; and Nov. 24, Catholic lay societies.
Throughout the solemn novena Vincentian Father Charles Krieg will preach. A popular presenter of retreats, novenas, renewals and missions, he is well-known to those who regularly attend the year-round Monday novenas. During the course of the solemn novena he will center his preaching on various titles of the Blessed Virgin.
“I wrote the sermons for the upcoming solemn novena around the theme, ‘We call her by name: the Titles of Mary,’ both to emphasize how people are suffering today and to talk about relating to others, especially in their family life,” Father Krieg said. “I hope we can learn from Mary how to treat others and feel we can turn to the Blessed Mother for healing and comfort in these difficult times.”
Devotion to Mary through the Miraculous Medal traces back to the 1830 appearance of the Blessed Virgin to St. Catherine Laboure, who was then a novice with the Sisters of Charity in Paris. At that time the Virgin asked that the medal be struck, and when it was, it became an instant world-wide devotion.
The Vincentian Fathers (the Congregation of the Mission) have traditionally been ardent promoters of the Miraculous Medal because the Sisters of Charity are their sister congregation, co-founded by St. Vincent de Paul, their own founder.
Father Gregory Gay, superior general of the Congregation of the Mission and the International Association of the Miraculous Medal, will be the principal celebrant of the shrine’s Nov. 25 10 a.m. Mass in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
For more information on the Miraculous Medal Shrine and a full schedule of devotions during the solemn novena see CAMMonline.org.
Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.