Anecdotes of the Vincentian Family: Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and the flag of the European Union

by | Aug 5, 2023 | Formation

In 1949, a design competition for a common flag was convened in Strasbourg. Many sketches, 101 in total, were presented, and Arsene Heitz’s design, a little-known local painter, was the winner.

In 1989, Heitz, already an elderly person, revealed that his design was inspired by the visions of the Immaculate Conception that Catherine Laboure, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, had in Paris, in 1830. Thus, he reflected the twelve stars cited in the crown of the Virgin (from Ap. 12) and, as background, the blue color of her cloak. “I had the idea of making a blue flag on which stood out the twelve stars of the Miraculous Medal, from Rue du Bac in Paris.”

The order of Virgin Mary to Catherine Labouré was to coin and spread a medal with the twelve stars mentioned in Revelation, and the invocation: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”

miraculous medal and UE flag fb

Heitz said that, prudently, never wanted to unravel the mystery, on suspicion that his design would be rejected. He had difficulties, since the jury did not understand the meaning of the twelve stars, as there were only six states. Heitz had to convince them that twelve was a number of fullness, and that the number should not be changed even if the number of States increase. The jury did not know that Heitz was wearing around his neck the Miraculous Medal.

Interestingly, the agendas of directors made the flag of the new Europe to be officially proclaimed on December 8, 1955, day of the Immaculate Conception! For some, a chance, for others, a clear sign of “other” reality.

By the way, let us remember that the Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with the virginity of Mary; the Immaculate Conception is a belief from the first centuries of Christianity and refers to Mary was born without original sin. The dogma was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854, a year after the death of Frederic Ozanam.

Author: Juan Manuel Gómez,
SSVP president.

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    Anecdotes of the Vincentian Family