On Tuesday I lost my Miraculous Medal- I have searched for it in vain since then. I was given it for my First Holy Communion and have worn it ever since with a cross- except for one other period in my life when I was separated from it. The clasp on my chain broke and it must have slid off without me feeling it. I have stormed poor Saint Anthony with prayers but still nothing. I have lost it once before- when I was at secondary school I put it in my tennis racket case, it sunk in to the lining and for a couple of years I thought it was gone. It appeared again when I was helping clean out the garage, I was about to put my old tennis racket in the box for the charity shop when I thought I would just open the case and check there was nothing in it. I held it upside down and out dropped the medal. It was like receiving the gift all over again- it also came back to me the day before I went to Lourdes and this seemed significant.
I know that at the end of the day it is just a material object but I feel a little sad about the loss of it. I saw it, along with my cross, as a small witness in the world- people did ask about it and even when I was in Zanzibar it was commented on in a positive way twice in a very short space of time- one of the men sitting at the doorway shouted out 'Hey a Christian- you are welcome here' (Zanzibar is 99% Muslim) and this was a nice thing to hear. I feel that in losing it I have lost a little of that witness. However, when I was speaking on the phone with my mother last night I mentioned it and she said quite simply 'perhaps someone needed it more' and I have to say that gives me comfort. So I have altered my prayer to St Anthony a little; that I might find it provided it has not been found by someone who deeply appreciates and needs its protection.
I love the story of the Miraculous medal and feel it is inextricably bound to that of Lourdes. Catherine Laboure felt that the reason for the Virgin Mary's appearance in Lourdes was due to the failure of people to listen to the messages passed on to Catherine. Indeed, the summer I worked in the baths at Lourdes the prayer on the miraculous medal was said each time we bathed someone. I guess when you lose something you are fond of- you gain a whole new appreciation for it. Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!