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:
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".
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.