If we've ever met in person, you may have noticed my collection of medals hanging around my neck.
Or more accurately, you might have heard the medals even before I even said a word.
They have been mistaken for "the world's most interesting and unusual necklace", as someone on the street once told me. But when I meet other Catholics, they quickly recognize the significance of the religious medals, as well as the great number of them that I have.
One would say that I have a bit of a collection going on — one might even say a communion of saints — around my neck. And I thought that I would share who these saints are that hang out around my neck and join me on my day, as well as the saint's significance in my life.
My Miraculous Medal was actually the medal that got me started on this little collection of mine, though it's origin story is a little unclear in my mind. When I started Fiat 90, one of the observances included wearing a Miraculous Medal at all times as a devotion to Mary. I was getting ready to purchase one when I actually found one hiding in a box that had other medals that I had received over the years. I had forgotten that I had such a collection, but was grateful that I stumbled upon it. The story of the Miraculous Medal is a beautiful one, which you can find here.
St. Francis Xavier
The patron saint of missionaries and Catholic missions, among many other things under his patronage! Catholic Christian Outreach also has St. Francis Xavier as one of the patron saints of the whole movement, which is very fitting considering the mission of CCO to build up missionary disciples on university campuses all over Canada. In January of 2018, CCO had the amazing honour of holding a relic tour, which brought the incorrupt right arm of St. Francis Xavier across Canada. This was truly a once in a life time opportunity, and pilgrims received SFX medals, which we could touch to the glass case that held the arm of St. Francis. This allows many people like myself to have a third class relic with them at all times! You can learn more about SFX here.
Divine Mercy/St. Faustina
I put these two medals together just because I bought them at the same time and they share a common link. As a quick recap, it was St. Faustina who first saw the image of the Divine Mercy, which shows Jesus with two rays of light, one white and one red, coming out from His heart. While I was in Panama, I actually received an image of the Divine Mercy myself in a very profound way (which you can read about here). Though a lot has changed between now and the first time I received that image, the Divine Mercy devotion has remained constant in my own life, and I am so grateful to St. Faustina's diary for sharing so much insight and all the conversations that she had with the Divine Mercy. This has radically shaped my prayer life and reminds me that I am called to trust in Him and always ask for mercy, because I need it!
St. Maria Goretti
St. Maria Goretti is actually my confirmation saint, but the reason why I picked her is a little unorthodox. I won't give too much of that story away because it will be discussed in an upcoming podcast episode, but what I will say is that St. Maria Goretti, who is the patron saint of youth, women, purity, and victims of rape, taught me a profound lesson on forgiveness and mercy. She was killed at a very young age and died as a martyr for purity and chastity, and before she passed away, she forgave the man who tried to rape her and ultimately killed her. If she can forgive someone who trespassed her in such a dramatic and awful way, how much more should I forgive others? As such, St. Maria Goretti has been such a powerful example for me, and she challenges me to not only forgive others who hurt me, but also pray for them too. You can read her full story here.
Our Lady of Walsingham
This is definitely the most unique medal that I own, and one that many people ask about give it's untraditional shape. When I was in Panama for a mission with CCO, we as missionaries had the amazing privilege and opportunity to lead a catechesis site for English-speaking pilgrims for three days during World Youth Day 2019. On one of the days, our speaker was Bishop Alan Williams from the Diocese of Brentwood in Essex, England. Bishop Alan, who previously had served as the Director of the Roman Catholic National Shrine at Walsingham, gave me a medal which has the image of Our Lady of Walsingham. This apparition occurred in the 11th century, and you can learn more here.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
This is the other unique medal that I have on my chain, and it is much smaller than the rest! The double-sided pendant of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a gift from my friend Gabe who went on a CCO mission to Mexico after I came back from Panama. This apparition of Our Lady appeared to a humble man named Juan Diego in Mexico (you can learn more here). This vision of Our Lady is one of my personal favourites and I'm so glad that I received this gift!
I was really excited to finally find a medal of St. Dymphna while I spent some time in Ottawa. I won't go into the full story of St. Dymphna (though you can read it here), but she has great importance to my own life. Being the patron saint of those who suffer from nervous and mental afflictions, her patronage was especially profound to me because of my own experience with mental health. To have a dedicated saint to pray to and ask for the intercession of has been a great personal coping mechanism for me, and I am very, very thankful to have her on my daily journey.
St. Clare of Assisi
I'm not sure why it took me so long to find a medal of St. Clare of Assisi, who is my patron saint and who I am named after (my full name is Rachel Clare)! Though I had visited the Poor Clare monastery many times with my family growing up, the connection never really clicked. As well, the contemplative, peaceful quiet did not really sit well with me as an active kid. But it wasn't until I attended a vocation afternoon at the Poor Clare monastery that I was gifted with a medal of St. Clare of Assisi, which now I treasure and have with me at all times. Learn more about my patron saint here!
St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
The craziest thing happened on the same day that I wrote this piece—I received a gift of another beautiful medal! As I was walking back to work, I encountered three Missionaries of Charity sisters, and I stopped to talk to them. I had no idea that they had a community in Vancouver! They gave me a beautiful card that has St. Mother Teresa holding hands with Pope St. John Paul II—two incredible saints of our time! They also gave me a medal of St. Mother Teresa which is absolutely beautiful. I am so blessed and thankful for this encounter! Learn more about St. Mother Teresa here.
As I encounter more saints, I will continue to update this post with the story of how I received the medal and where you can learn more about the saint!
Man, God is the coolest.