Alphonse Ratisbonne and the Miraculous Medal. A ‘test’ that changed his life. Part One

1842. A young French Jew, Alphonse Ratisbonne, was due to get married, but spent some time travelling on the continent. When he arrived in Rome, he met Baron de Bussieres, a Protestant who had converted to Catholicism. Ratisbonne was candid with the devout Catholic Baron de Bussieres and declared, ‘a Jew was I born, and a Jew shall I die."
"Well then, since you are so strong-minded and so sure of yourself," said the baron to Alphonse, "promise me to wear something I am going to give you."
"We shall see. What is this?"
"It is only a medal." Then the baron showed him a Miraculous Medal. After some discussion, he challenged Alphonse to wear it and placed it around his neck. Alphonse giggled, but did not say no to it. This was just a dare, a test of belief, thought Ratisbonne.
"Now," said the baron, "you must not shirk the rest. Each morning and evening you must say the Memorare, a very short and effective prayer written by St. Bernard in honour of Our Lady."
To Alphonse this deed seemed bizarre, but appealed to his humorous nature, "Very well! I promise I will say your prayer; if it does me no good, at least it will not do me any harm!"
During the days that followed, the baron accompanied Alphonse when he was sightseeing the ‘eternal city’, and they visited many churches and masterpieces of art depicting the key events in the life of Christ. The baron used these trips as a way of introduction to Catholicism. Ratisbonne thought the baron’s efforts a bit too obvious and frankly, quite amusing, he treated it all as if it was a bit of a funny game. He was, however, thankful for seeing the pope in the Vatican (it was a once in a lifetime experience).
More days passed, and the baron was losing hope; "Ratisbonne has not advanced one step in the direction of the truth."
But the ways of grace were at work, even while the baron was despairing. One night, Alphonse awakened from his sleep "to see before me a large cross of a special shape without the body of Christ being attached to it."
The next day, Ratisbonne went with the baron to the Church of St. Andrea della Frate. The baron was rather down, and grief stricken as a friend of his had passed away, and he was visiting St. Andrea della Frate to check on funeral preparations of this friend.
Alphonse described the scene, "The Church of Saint Andrew seemed to me small, poor and forgotten. I felt as if I were alone in it. There were no works of art to draw my attention. I walked about aimlessly, without seeing anything to arouse a thought. I can recall only that a black dog sprang into my path... but soon he was gone! Then the church itself seemed to disappear; and I saw nothing at all... or I should say, O my God, that I saw one thing alone!"
"How can I speak of this? No! Human words cannot even try to convey what is beyond expression... When M. de Bussieres recalled me to myself, I was in tears and was unable to answer his questions... But I seized the medal that was on my breast and I fervently kissed the image of the Virgin... Oh! It had indeed been she! I did not know where I was; I did not know if I were Alphonse or someone else. I felt so deep a change in me that I believed myself to be another; I sought to regain my consciousness of self, and I could not... I was not able to speak; I did not wish to discuss what had happened; I felt within myself something so solemn and so sacred as to require me to ask for a priest."


  1. While working in a warehouse with two women and two men, one of the men began to ask the women some very personal sexual questions. I became uncomfortable with where his questions were leading so I said to him, "leave the women alone". He replied to me, "how are you going to stop me?"

    I reached into my pocket and drew out a bottle of Holy Water, aimed it at his chest and squirted a steady stream directly into his chest just below his neck".

    He jumped up off the floor and threw his arms back in horror and said, "what was that?" I said, "Holy Water". He said, "If you ever do that to me again I will kill you". I said, "if you do you will go to prison for the rest of your life". He went back to work and so did I and the two women.

    The next morning I came to work, there next to the door, outside, kneeling on the ground was the same man I had squirted with Holy Water and he was crying and sobbing deeply. I walked up to ask him what was wrong and he said to me, "Please forgive me, I was so wrong, I am sorry". I said, "I do, I do forgive you". We went to our work both friends after that.

  2. My own daughter was very upset with me one day because I had disciplined her child. She called the police to come to my house to question me and had warned them that I carry Holy Water in a bottle and squirt people.

    The police arrived and two officers came toward me from their car with their hands on their guns as though they expected a showdown. One of the policemen walked up to me and said, "Your daughter has told us that you squirt people with Holy Water, go ahead squirt me" The officer braced and clutched his gun tightly as though he was going to draw it.

    I said to him, "the Holy Water only works on bad cops". The other cop, his supervisor, laughed out loud so hard he had to turn around so that his partner could not see him laughing.

  3. Many young men from broken homes and homes with poor supervision fall into the trap of gangland. In Los Angeles, there is a gang of violent youth who kill for drugs called Saint Michael.

    In my life's work I was assigned to work with such a group of some-time gang members who went to school to learn a trade and my job was to keep the peace and keep them on task.

    One day one of the most violent gang member came up to me at class and said that if I stood in his way at any time, he would call a contract out on me in violence by his gang which is known as the "Hells Angels". I turned to the young man and spoke confidently, "I have at my disposal an angel more powerful than yours". "And who is that?" he said. I told him, "I can at any time call on Saint Michael, the Archangel".

    The violent young man did not know I was referring to the Catholic Saint Michael, he thought I meant the Saint Michael gang of violence from Los Angeles and he shuddered in terror to think that I would have such a connection to that violent gang and so he backed down immediately.

    I told the violent young man that if he wanted my protection from Saint Michael, he would have to sprinkle himself with a special water that I carried in my pocket. He wanted it right away so I sprinkled him with Holy Water. His entire countenanced changed at that moment and he asked me where can he get some of that water for his friends. I told him the name of a Church nearby an where the Holy Water font was.

    The next day the young man, no longer violent and having come from a very wealthy family went to a religious goods store and bought 150 Holy Water bottles, filled them from the Holy Water font in the Church where I told him to go and passed out all 150 bottles to his friends at school.

    That very day the young man who was previously a violent gang leader blessed with Holy Water every student in his entire school while his friends also sprinkled the Holy Water on the school property and in all the gain protection from the violent street gang of the Saint Michael Crips.

    Unknown to them all, they had in fact gained the protection of the Catholic Saint Michael the Archangel through my prayers of supplication to the Saint and blessed themselves with Holy Water.


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