The Marian Minute – Our Lady of Zion

Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne, was born to a wealthy though non-practicing Jewish family who hated and mocked the Catholic faith after his brother converted and entered the priesthood. In 1842 Alphonse visited Rome, Italy as a holiday before his upcoming wedding.  While there,he met with a friend of his brother’s, the Baron de Bussières who convinced Alphonse to wear a miraculous medal and recite The Memorare.

Alphonse reluctantly agreed, though grew in disgust  when the Baron asked him to accompany him to Sant’Andrea delle Fratte while he made funeral arrangement for a dear friend who had prayed profusely for Alphonse. Alphonse politely though begrudgingly agreed to accompany the Baron, and while the Baron went to the sacristy to make funeral arrangements for his friend, Alphonse visited a side altar out of curiosity and in hopes of finding more to mock about Catholic customs.

Instead, Our Lady appeared to Alphonse and in his own words he described the encounter as follows:
I was scarcely in the church when a total confusion came over me.  When I looked up, it seemed to me that the entire church had been swallowed up in shadow, except one chapel. It was as though all the light was concentrated in that single place.  I looked over towards this chapel whence so much light shone, and above the altar was a living figure, tall, majestic, beautiful and full of mercy.  It was the most holy Virgin Mary, resembling her figure on the Miraculous Medal.  At this sight I fell on my knees right where I stood. Unable to look up because of the blinding light, I fixed my glance on her hands, and in them I could read the expression of mercy and pardon.  In the presence of the Most Blessed Virgin, even though she did not speak a word to me, I understood the frightful situation I was in, my sins and the beauty of the Catholic Faith.

Alphonse went on to become a Jesuit priest and then with the blessing of the Pope, Alphonse and his brother Fr. Theodore worked together in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Zion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews.

Our Lady of Zion, pray for us.