The Blue Miraculous Medals of Utah

by | Aug 13, 2014 | Uncategorized

Intermountain CatholicGary Topping, Archivist, Diocese of Salt Lake City, writing in the Intermountain Catholic offers a fascinating history for the Blue Miraculous Medals of Utah.

Excerpts from the story…

While he was still a priest in Los Angeles, the Right Rev. Joseph S. Glass, second Bishop of Salt Lake, was approached by a religious goods salesman who offered him some Miraculous Medals set in blue. They were extraordinarily beautiful, and Bishop Glass offered to buy the entire stock on the condition that the manufacturer sell additional medals only to him and to destroy the die upon Bishop Glass’s death. The deal was made.

What did Bishop Glass have in mind?

Although one would certainly not call Bishop Glass a feminist, he was keenly aware that young women in American society at large and in the Catholic Church in particular had lower status and fewer opportunities than young men. He was well known, for example, for pulling strings to help women get into good colleges that otherwise might not have admitted them. The Blue Medals were his way of giving special recognition to young women who exhibited a special piety and devotion to Mary. It was an appropriate symbol, too, because Bishop Glass himself was a Vincentian (a member of the Congregation of the Mission), as had been St. Catherine Laboure (sic).

… The medals were not just handed out informally; there was a special Vincentian rite for such things, and the awards were presented in a chapel or other appropriate setting. The awards were not just honorific: Recipients had to promise to say at least three Hail Marys each day. (While this does not sound like a particularly onerous task, Bernardine remembered occasionally neglecting her duty, then falling asleep at night while reciting them in bed.)

Although the Blue Medal program was created with women in mind, Bishop Glass gave two of them to men. One was a Jesuit priest to whom he was especially close, and the other was to the great oil man Edward L. Doheny of Los Angeles, who supported Bishop Glass’s enterprises with financial generosity, and the bishop had baptized Doheny’s wife. (Footnote: The Doheny’s were great contributors to the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity)….

The writer concludes… “I myself have never seen one of the Blue Medals, so let me conclude with an appeal to our readers, that if anyone has found one among their grandmother’s effects, it would make a splendid donation to the diocesan archives. The Blue Medals are a nice part of our history here in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.”

Additional footnote: Google images offer lots of image of blue Miraculous Medals.

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