The mission of the Children of Mary, and its successor the Vincentian Marian Youth, was confided by God to St. Catherine Labouré, by way of Mary, through the apparitions of the Immaculate Virgin. This is how Sr. Catherine explained this mission to her Director, Father Aladel, in her communication with him:
“The Blessed Virgin wishes to give you a mission… You will be the founder and director of a Confraternity of Children of Mary”.
The other, perhaps more familiar, message given by the Blessed Virgin was that a medal should be made: the Miraculous Medal, which would be the insignia of the Association.
The first Children of Mary were organized into groups in different regions of France, from 1835 to 1847. The first Child of Mary was Benigne Hairon and, like so many others, she came from a boarding school run by the Daughters of Charity.
On June 20, 1847, Father Étienne, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, obtained Pontifical Approbation (approval to exercise their ministry) from Pope Pius IX to establish a confraternity under the title of the Immaculate Conception, in the schools of the Daughters of Charity. This confraternity adopted the Miraculous Medal as its badge, and the members, young girls known as the Children of Mary, wore it attached to a blue ribbon.
Also in 1847, Pope Pius IX conferred on the Children of Mary all the indulgences already granted to a similar society, the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin, long established in Rome for the pupils of the Society of Jesus. In 1850, young boys were first permitted to make their consecrations. In 1876, membership was extended to include all young people, not just students of the schools of the Daughters of Charity. In 1904, the Marian Congress at Rome recognized the Children of Mary as a distinct lay society in the Church and in 1931, the Children of Mary was recognized as a worldwide confraternity open to all Catholic parishes and institutions.
Today the Children of Mary and the “Vincentian Marian Youth Movement” in general are present in many countries throughout the world. The Superiors General have always supported this work so dear to the Vincentian Family. In 2015 Jasmine Cajuste, then VMY International President, stated: “…with approximately 100,000 members working in 65 countries and a great network of collaborators within the Vincentian Family, VMY offers many other young people like me, the grace of belonging to a larger family and a long chain of service that embraces the world. If most of our membership is composed of teenagers, VMY welcomes children and young adults as well, according to the needs and realities of the specific countries.” In some places young children start as Children of Mary and then move into the VMY. In some other places they remained two distinct groups.
Enjoy these videos: the first one is an International Rosary featuring the groups from many countries. The second is from JMV Perú. (Note: JMV is Spanish for VMY.)