Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Congregation of the Children of Mary Medal

This beautiful 19th century medal would have been worn by a member of the group "The Congregation of the Children of Mary".  It's sterling silver - you can tell because that little dent or ding at the top of the medal is actually a French sterling silver guarantee mark in the shape of a boar's head...a very, very, very tiny boar's head. 

The front of the medal shows the Blessed Virgin Mary in the same pose that she has on the Miraculous Medal:  standing on a snake with a halo of stars around her head.  (I've added a picture of a Miraculous Medal right below the Children of Mary medal)  The Miraculous Medal was struck at the request of the Virgin Mary during a series of visions that were experienced by St Catherine Laboure beginning in 1830.  In 1835 St Catherine told her confessor of a request the Blessed Mother had made to her during on of these visions:
"It is the Blessed Virgin's wish that you should found a Confraternity of the Children of MARY. She will give them many graces. The month of May will be kept with great splendour and MARY will bestow abundant blessings upon them."

And so the seed was planted for the beginning of The Congregation of the Children of Mary.  The group was first opened to girls who were students or orphans in the care of the The Sisters of Charity (St Catherine Laboure's religious order), and later welcomed girls not associated with the order as well.  Girls and young women in the society were encouraged to live holy and devout lives in the everyday world by embracing the virtues of sacrifice, prayer, and works of charity.

But....you couldn't just show up and say "Hey! I'm ready to be a child of Mary!"  A girl had to
request to join, then wait six months during which time she practiced the virtues of the group and prepared to live its values.  When a girl finally entered the group, she was given a beautiful silver medal, like the one above, which she could wear on a blue ribbon.  I've even heard that they sometimes wore little blue capes as well!

The wording around the edge of the medal reads "Monstra Te Esse Matrem" which is Latin for "Show thyself  a mother".  These words come from a line in the ancient Marian hymn "Ave Stella Maris" or "Hail Star of The Sea".

When you flip the medal over, you see an emblem featuring two stems of lilies curving around a radiant star.  I think that the star must also represent Mary as "The Star of the Sea", and the lily symbolizes purity, which was an important virtue for Children of Mary.

The wording around the edge is in French and translates as "Congregation of the Children of Mary", but the group was also known as the "Sodality of the Children of Mary".  At the bottom is a small area that could be used to engrave the child's name or the date of her entry into the society.  You can see that this medal was worn by a girl with the initials "G. G.", and she entered the congregation on December 16, 1893 - my mother's birthday! (Dec. 16, not 1893....)

I love imagining how proud she must have been to receive such a beautiful medal.  And her family really splurged by purchasing a large medal in sterling silver rather than less expensive one in silver plate or even aluminum.  I'm sure that it looked lovely whenever she wore it on a pretty blue ribbon, reminding her to be a good girl and live up to the values of the Children of Mary.  She was in good company as well, because St Therese of Lisieux was a member of the group and St Maria Goretti became a member on her deathbed.

14 comments:

  1. I just found an old family box with a wealth of old Holy Cards from the late 1800s to the 1930s in it. I was wondering what such cards are worth? Many of them were printed in Italy, France and Germany.

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  2. I have looked at your reproduction vintage medals on Etsy many times, and love most of them. One of these days I will have the extra money to get one - or two - for myself. Mostly I like the more feminine ones, esp. those you have of the blessed Mother. I am especially attracted to Stella Maris, but that particular medal is rather plain. Another I like right now is the squarish St Francis, with the rope like trim. They all really do look old, which is what makes them look so charming. I hope you will be around another year or so when i am finished school and working!

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  3. My Mother was given thisvery similiar medal by her sister who was a nun in New Orleans.It has the date of 1830 on the front and the back is just like your picture,,Can u share anymore info. Sandra 4-22-12 5;57PM

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    1. I forgot to say, in the entry below, that another sister of mine, who was also a Child of Mary, became a nun at age 18 in 1949, and, after 40 years of Religious Profession (of Vows) died, aged 61.

      As for myself, I was married for 37 years when my husband died.

      Our Lady certainly showed herself to be our Heavenly Mother!

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    2. I have one of these medels oval in shape has scroll no inscriptions but has like a swirling A over M in actual medal what year would this be and is it worth anything to anybody 0477222375

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  4. I joined the Congregation of the Children of Mary in 1959 when I was 15, and a boarder at Our Lady of Mercy College, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia. We wore a white veil and a pale blue cloak. The ceremony involved making an Act of Consecration to Mary Immaculate, the Mother of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and a promise to continue to learn to practise her virtues of humility, purity (chastity) and obedience. Thereafter we attended the Sodality Mass on a Sunday, once a month, wearing our regalia. Every Saturday we gathered to recite the "Little Office of the Immaculate Conception", which has seven hymns, each with several verses, largely drawn from the Old Testament. In this Office, types of Mary are referred to, such as Judith and Rachel; Mary is called the "new star of Jacob", "clear Star of the Morning in beauty enshrined" (cf Litany of Loreto); "terrible as th' embattled array" and "as a lily among thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters of Adam" (Song of Songs); and, from the Book of Wisdom, she is shown to be wisdom personified (as the Church implies in the Liturgy for Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary) e.g. "I made an unfailing light to arise in Heaven, and as a mist I overspread the whole earth". She is elsewhere called Seat of Wisdom for she gave birth to God's Son who is the Eternal Wisdom.

    My friend is beginning the Sodality again in the parish she attends where a lot of girls (and boys), young women (and young men), come with their parents, to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (the old Latin Mass), which is still in use and growing.

    My two sisters wore their blue cloak over their bridal gown on their wedding day (1950 and 1958 respectively) and their cloaks were then yielded at the altar as the young women met their fiances, to be joined in holy wedlock. The elder of the sisters was married 52 years when her husband died while the younger sister and her husband have been married now for 54 years.

    The Irish Legionary of Mary, Venerable Edel Quinn (died 12th May. 1944, aged 37), prayed the "Little Office of the Immaculate Conception" every day of her life.

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  5. I would love to have a medal like that. Can I buy one. If so where?

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    1. on eBay you can find them.

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    2. I have one,if you are still interested.the print on the back is in English,and the front with Mary reads MONSTRA TE ESSE MATREM . I am in Australia reply email ...dawnt49@dodo.com.au

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  6. You can find one here:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=321213911872

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  7. My Dad found one of these medals in a sewer 25 years ago! It's identical to the picture although it doesn't seem to be made of silver? It is very worn so it made it very difficult to look it up and find one the same. It looks to be a copper like colour. He came across it a year or so ago and we tried to research what it exactly was. It wasn't until we watched an antique program we remembered we still had it and wanted to once again find out what it was. I just found your website and found it very useful :) Do you happen to know what it might be made of? Thanks

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  8. I have found this medal with the belongings of my late mother,it has my Grandmothers name on it. she was born in 1895 and died in 1934 I could not beleive my eyes when her name is clearly etch on the bottom reverse side. treasure to me because I did not know her.ANONYMOUS 12/12/2015 12.59pm

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  9. I have one of these, marked sterling silver, it is as big as a 50cent piece, but not round or oval, its star shaped. Not engraved unfortunately, but can it be dated by its shape? A 12 pointed star, haven't found another like it, as yet.

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    1. I have just found a 12 pointed star with my Aunty's initials on the front. I haven't been able to find one the same shape on the internet.

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