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St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, born on July 22, 1647, in L'Hautecour, a small village in Burgundy, France, became a prominent figure in Catholic history due to her visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and her role in promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart. Her life was marked by deep spiritual experiences, humility, and a passionate love for Christ.

Margaret Mary was the fifth of seven children born to Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn. Her childhood was marked by a strong religious influence, and she demonstrated an early interest in prayer and piety. Tragedy struck when Margaret Mary's father died when she was just eight years old, leaving her family in financial difficulty.

At the age of nine, Margaret Mary experienced a serious illness that left her bedridden for four years. During this time of physical suffering, she developed a deep interior life and began to receive mystical experiences. It was during her convalescence that she made a vow of chastity, consecrating herself to Christ.

Upon regaining her health, Margaret Mary faced family opposition to her desire to enter religious life. Her mother insisted on her marrying, and Margaret Mary, out of obedience, acquiesced to her mother's wishes. However, her married life was marked by personal tragedy, as both her husband and two children died, leaving her a widow at the age of 23.

After these difficult experiences, Margaret Mary sought refuge in the Visitation Monastery in Paray-le-Monial. In 1671, she entered the Visitation Order, devoting herself to a life of prayer, penance, and service. It was within this contemplative setting that her mystical encounters with the Sacred Heart of Jesus unfolded.

Margaret Mary's visions began on December 27, 1673, during the octave of the Feast of the Nativity. In a series of encounters, Jesus revealed His Sacred Heart to her, surrounded by thorns and flames, symbolizing His immense love for humanity and the ingratitude and sins that pierced His Heart. These visions continued for several years, and Jesus communicated His desire for a feast in honor of His Sacred Heart and requested that Margaret Mary promote this devotion.

Initially met with skepticism and opposition from some within her religious community, Margaret Mary faced a challenging journey in convincing others of the authenticity of her mystical experiences. However, through the guidance of her confessor, St. Claude de la Colombière, who recognized the divine nature of her visions, Margaret Mary's message gained acceptance.

St. Margaret Mary's  revelations were compiled into a document known as "The Autobiography of St. Margaret Mary," offering insights into her spiritual journey and the messages she received from Christ.

One of the central elements of the Sacred Heart devotion is the practice of the Nine First Fridays, where Catholics are encouraged to receive Holy Communion on the first Friday of nine consecutive months in reparation for sins and in honor of the Sacred Heart. The devotion spread rapidly, and Pope Clement XIII formally approved the feast of the Sacred Heart in 1765.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque lived a life of deep prayer, humility, and devotion to the Sacred Heart until her death on October 17, 1690, at the age of 43. She was canonized as a saint by Pope Benedict XV on May 13, 1920.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart, celebrated on the Friday following the octave of Corpus Christi, is widely observed in the Catholic Church. The images and symbols associated with the Sacred Heart, such as the image of Christ revealing His heart and the practice of consecration to the Sacred Heart, remain integral aspects of Catholic spirituality.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque's life teaches us about the transformative power of mystical encounters, unwavering faith in the face of opposition, and living with an intense love of Christ. 


Marian Devotion

She was devoted to the Virgin Mary, often seeking the intercession and guidance of the Mother of God. St. Margaret Mary's consecration to the Sacred Heart also encompassed a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In her letters and writings, St. Margaret Mary expressed her love for both Jesus and Mary, emphasizing their interconnected roles in the salvation and sanctification of souls. The devotion to the Sacred Heart, which she promoted, was seen as an extension of the mercy and love that both Jesus and Mary had for humanity.

While St. Margaret Mary did not report explicit encounters with the Virgin Mary in the same detailed manner as her visions of the Sacred Heart, her Marian devotion was evident in her life of prayer, penance, and humility. The intertwining of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in her spirituality highlights the inseparable connection she perceived between the love and compassion of Christ and the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.

Her Letter About the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The following by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque is dated November 3, 1689:

Our Lord made me rest for several hours on His sacred breast, and from this lovable Heart I received graces whose very memory carries me out of myself. I do not think it necessary to say what they are, although the remembrance of them and the impression they made will remain all my life.

After that I saw this divine Heart as on a throne of flames, more brilliant than the sun and transparent as crystal. It had Its adorable wound and was encircled with a crown of thorns, which signified the pricks our sins caused Him. It was surmounted by a cross which signified that, from the first moment of His Incarnation, that is, from the time this Sacred Heart was formed, the cross was planted in It; that It was filled, from the very first moment, with all the bitterness, humiliations, poverty, sorrow, and contempt His sacred humanity would have to suffer during the whole course of His life and during His holy Passion.

He made me understand that the ardent desire He had of being loved by men and of drawing them from the path of perdition into which Satan was hurrying them in great numbers, had caused Him to fix upon this plan of manifesting His Heart to men, together with all Its treasures of love, mercy, grace, sanctification, and salvation. This He did in order that those who were willing to do all in their power to render and procure for Him honor, love, and glory might be enriched abundantly, even profusely, with these divine treasures of the Heart of God, which is their source. It must be honored under the symbol of this Heart of flesh, Whose image He wished to be publicly exposed.

He wanted me to carry it on my person, over my heart, that He might imprint His love there, fill my heart with all the gifts with which His own is filled, and destroy all inordinate affection. Wherever this sacred image would be exposed for veneration, He would pour forth His graces and blessings. This devotion was a last effort of His love which wished to favor men in these last centuries with this loving redemption, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan, which He intended to destroy, and in order to put us under the sweet liberty of the empire of His love. This He would establish in the hearts of all those who would embrace this devotion.

Famous Quotes

Here are some famous quotes attributed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:

"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."

"Oh, how He loves, He desires to be loved! How He hungers after our love! We must be His, as He is ours."

"Hope all things. Expect all things. Believe all things. Trust all things."

"In holy Communion we receive God into our soul; in holy Communion God receives us into Himself."

"The Cross is the way to Paradise, but only when it is borne willingly."

"My greatest happiness is to be before the Blessed Sacrament, where my heart is, as it were, in Its centre."

"When you have some free time, go faithfully to pray in some church. It is to give rest to your soul, to take counsel about what you are to do, to find comfort in your troubles."

"He does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful."

"God has chosen you to be His servant, not His master. Be docile to His will."

"Prayer, the key of perfection and of sovereign happiness."

"The Sacred Heart is the seat and center of mercy, the symbol and sensible image of the infinite wonders of His love."

"We have only to love Him, to be happy, to live for Him alone."

"Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business and even in your amusements. He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone."

"Perfection does not lie in the virtues that we practice, but in the love we have for God. To be good is to be united with God by bonds of pure love, without any regard to our own satisfaction or pleasure."

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