ST. MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE
AND THE CULT OF
THE SACRED HEART
St. Margaret Mary was born in 1647, in the village of Verosvres, province of Burgundy, France, fifth of seven children. She died October 17, 1690. Her feast day is October 16.
St. Margaret Mary, together with St. Denis and St. Joan of Arc, is one of the patron saints of France. Her convent at Paray le Monial, where the communications between her and Our Lord occurred, is the second biggest pilgrimage site of France after Lourdes. The third is Lisieux.
The monumental basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacre Coeur), looming over Paris from Montmartre --the Mountain of Martyrs, where St. Denis was be headed in the 4th century, and where Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus in the 1530s -- is the most famous monument to St. Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The basilica was built with private donations collected by the people of France in reparation for the violence done to priests, nuns, and lay Catholics, as well as to Catholic institutions, in the French Revolutions of 1789, 1848, and 1871. Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held in the church. This adoration continued through the Second World War, when the church was spared in the bombing which took place nearby. A statue of St. Margaret Mary on the façade of the stone building overlooks Paris.
By the time the building of the basilica began, the twin devotions to the Sacred Heart of Our Savior and to the Immaculate Heart of His Mother had taken strong hold in France, and were spreading around the world. The devotion began in the 17th century and has continued through the 20th century, encouraged by Popes including John Paul II.
In the 17th century, St. John Eudes developed the theology of the devotion. At that time France was both the oldest Western Christian State (since 496), and also the largest Western State (at 21 million, 4 times the size of England, and 21 times the size of the 13 British American colonies. 17th century France contributed much to the Church. The French School of piety emphasized the centrality of Christ in Christian life. Saints such as Vincent De Paul, John the Baptist De La Salle, and Jane Frances de Chantal joined others who founded religious orders to teach and care for the poor.
St. Margaret Mary belonged to the Visitation order founded by St. Jane. The devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary promoted by St. John Eudes was spreading across France and reached the Visitation convent. It touched the soul of Margaret Mary. Between 1673 and 1675 she had several visions of Our Savior and His burning, pain-torn Sacred Heart. The King of the Universe shared with the French nun His Heart's immeasurable pain caused by the human ingratitude and sin. He asked her to communicate to the world His desire to have every First Friday of each month celebrated as a tribute to His Death on the Cross for humanity. In a mystical experience, He transferred the love of His Heart into her heart, causing her immense pain but also burning love for Him. He also asked her to communicate to the world that the Universal Church should establish a special feast day in honor of His Sacred Heart. On His
instructions, Margaret Mary also started the devotion of the Holy Hour on the eve of First Friday. The Feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated on the Friday after the feast of Corpus Christi.
Because St. Margaret Mary was in a cloistered convent, she needed someone to spread this message to the world. Blessed Claude de la Columbiere, S.J., her confessor, believed in the reality of her sacred experiences and communicated them to the world beyond the convent walls. From Claude de la Colombiere the Sacred Heart devotion spread to the Jesuit Order. The Society of Jesus carried it around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it reached the United States. Jesuits still promote the Apostleship of Prayer and the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart.
St. Margaret Mary died in 1690, at the age of 43. In her last illness she repeated frequently: "What have I in heaven and what do I desire on earth, but You alone, O My God."
She died pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus.
In 1824 Leo XII pronounced her Venerable. In 1830 her tomb was canonically opened and two instantaneous cures were reported to the Vatican. In 1864 she was declared Blessed. She was canonized in 1920.
(submitted by parishioner Val Fikovsky)
THE RELIC OF ST. MARGARET MARY IS VENERATED IN OUR PARISH
EVERY YEAR ON HER FEAST DAY.
OCTOBER 16 (ROMAN CALENDAR) &
OCTOBER 17 (EXTRAORDNARY FORM CALENDAR)