Bridget of Sweden
Bridget of Sweden. Outside of Sweden, she was known as the Princess of Nericia and was the mother of Catherine of Vadstena, she is one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein. The most celebrated saint of Sweden was the daughter of the knight Birger Persson of the family of Finsta and lawspeaker of Uppland, one of the richest landowners of the country, his wife, a member of the so-called Lawspeaker branch of the Folkunga family. Through her mother, Birgitta was related to the Swedish kings of her era, she was born in June 1303. There is no exact recording for which precise date. In 1316, at the age of 14 she married Ulf Gudmarsson of the family of Ulvåsa, Lord of Närke, to whom she bore eight children, four daughters and four sons. Six survived infancy, rare at that time, her eldest daughter was Märta Ulfsdotter. Her second daughter is now honored as St. Catherine of Sweden, her youngest daughter was Cecilia Ulvsdotter.
Bridget became known for her works of charity toward Östergötland's unwed mothers and their children. When she was in her early thirties, she was summoned to be principal lady-in-waiting to the new Queen of Sweden, Blanche of Namur. In 1341 she and her husband went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In 1344, shortly after their return, Ulf died at the Cistercian Alvastra Abbey in Östergötland. After this loss, Birgitta became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis and devoted herself wholly to a life of prayer and caring for the poor and the sick, it was about this time that she developed the idea of establishing the religious community, to become the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines, whose principal house at Vadstena was richly endowed by King Magnus IV of Sweden and his queen. One distinctive feature of the pre-Reformation houses of the Order was that they were double monasteries, with both men and women forming a joint community, though with separate cloisters.
They were to give all surplus income to the poor. However, they were allowed to have as many books. In 1350, a Jubilee Year, Bridget braved a plague-stricken Europe to make a pilgrimage to Rome accompanied by her daughter, a small party of priests and disciples; this was done to obtain from the Pope the authorization of the new Order and in pursuance of her self-imposed mission to elevate the moral tone of the age. This was during the period of the Avignon Papacy within the Roman Catholic Church and she had to wait for the return of the papacy to Rome from the French city of Avignon, a move for which she agitated for many years, it was not until 1370 that Pope Urban V, during his brief attempt to re-establish the papacy in Rome, confirmed the Rule of the Order, but meanwhile Birgitta had made herself universally beloved in Rome by her kindness and good works. Save for occasional pilgrimages, including one to Jerusalem in 1373, she remained in Rome until her death on 23 July 1373, urging ecclesiastical reform.
In her pilgrimages to Rome and Bethlehem, she sent "back precise instructions for the construction of the monastery" now known as Blue Church, insisting that an "abbess, signifying the Virgin Mary, should preside over both nuns and monks."Bridget went to confession every day, had a constant smiling face. Although she never returned to Sweden, her years in Rome were far from happy, being hounded by debts and by opposition to her work against Church abuses, she was buried at San Lorenzo in Panisperna before her remains were returned to Sweden. She was canonized in the year 1391 by Pope Boniface IX, confirmed by the Council of Constance in 1415; because of new discussions about her works, the Council of Basel confirmed the orthodoxy of the revelations in 1436. At the age of ten, Bridget had a vision of Jesus hanging upon the cross; when she asked who had treated him like this, he answered: She was so impressed that from that moment the Passion of Christ became the center of her spiritual life. The revelations she had received since childhood now became more frequent, her records of these Revelationes coelestes which were translated into Latin by Matthias, canon of Linköping, by her confessor, Peter Olafsson, prior of Alvastra, obtained a great vogue during the Middle Ages.
These revelations made Bridget something of a celebrity to some and a controversial figure to others. Her visions of the Nativity of Jesus had a great influence on depictions of the Nativity of Jesus in art. Shortly before her death, she described a vision which included the infant Jesus as lying on the ground, emitting light himself, describes the Virgin as blond-haired. Other details seen such as a single candle "attached to the wall," and the presence of God the Father above come from Bridget's vision; the Virgin kneels to pray to her child, to be joined by Saint Joseph, this becomes one of the commonest depictions in the fifteenth century replacing the reclining Virgin in the West. Versions of this depiction occur as early as 1300, well before Bridget's vision, have a Franciscan origin, b
Mary of the Divine Heart
Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, born Maria Droste zu Vischering, was a person of old German nobility and Roman Catholic nun of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, best known for having influenced Pope Leo XIII to make the consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Leo XIII himself called this solemn consecration "the greatest act of my pontificate". Maria Anna Johanna Franziska Theresia Antonia Huberta Droste zu Vischering was born with her twin brother Max on September 8, 1863, solemnity feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the Erbdrostenhof Palace, in Münster, the capital city of Westphalia, Germany, as daughter of one of the most wealthy and noblest German families, who distinguished themselves by their fidelity to the Catholic Church during the persecution of the Kulturkampf: her parents were Klemens Heidenreich Franz Hubertus Eusebius Maria, the count Droste zu Vischering, Helene Clementine Maria Anna Sybille Huberta Antonia, the countess of Galen.
Because of the fragility of her health, Maria was baptized at birth. Maria Droste zu Vischering spent her childhood with her family in the Castle of Darfeld, in Rosendahl near Münster, was a child full of life, her mother said. She is running into the mud, jumping into the wet grass and the bushes until she is so dirty that she has to change every stitch.” Maria was taught at home by governesses. On April 25, 1875, Maria and her brother Max received First Communion. In April 1879 Maria continued her education at the boarding school of the Sacré-Coeur Sisters in Riedenburg in Bavaria. While there, she heard a homily on Psalm 45 where it says, “Listen, my daughter... forget your father’s house... the king will fall in love with your beauty.” Maria decided. During the spring of 1879, while listening to a particular devotion of one of the sisters to the Heart of Christ, Maria Droste zu Vischering reached an important conclusion: "I began to understand that without the spirit of sacrifice the love of the Heart of Jesus is an illusion".
While at school, she contracted pneumonia and, shortly before her eighteenth birthday, returned home to recover. In 1883, at the chapel of the Castle of Darfeld, Maria is said to have had an interior locution of Jesus Christ who told her: "Thou shalt be the wife of My Heart". On 5 August of that same year, on the Silver Jubilee of her parents' marriage, Maria told them of her desire to become a religious. In 1888, she visited with her mother the Hospital of Darfeld and there she found a girl who had given scandal. Maria Droste zu Vischering reached out to the unfortunate; this episode can be considered her first contact with the charism of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. In the Parish Church, a short time she heard again the voice of Jesus who told her: "You must enter in the Convent of the Good Shepherd". On 21 November 1888 at the age of twenty-five, Maria Droste zu Vischering joined the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. After she received the white religious habit of the religious congregation, Maria received the name that became for her a program of life: Sister Mary of the Divine Heart.
For Maria Droste zu Vischering, the devotion to the Heart of Christ always merged with the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. "I could never separate the devotion to the Heart of Jesus from the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, I will never be able to explain how and how much the Sacred Heart of Jesus deigned to favor me in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist". In 1891, she devoted herself to the girls sent to the Good Shepherd Sisters in Münster for rehabilitation and care. With an ardent love for youth ministry, she maintained: "the most needy, the most miserable, the most forsaken are the children I love best". Sister Mary of the Divine Heart spent only five years in Münster, because she was called by obedience to a special mission. In 1894, at the age of 31, she was transferred to Portugal, where she was sent as assistant of the Mother Superior of the Convent of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Lisbon. From February to May 1894 she remained in the Portuguese capital, but was appointed to the position of Mother Superior of the Convent of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Porto.
While she was in Porto, Sister Mary of the Divine Heart reported several messages from Jesus Christ in which she was asked to contact the pope, requesting the consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On June 10, 1898, her confessor at the Good Shepherd monastery wrote to Pope Leo XIII stating that Sister Mary of the Divine Heart had received a message from Christ, requesting the pope to consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart; the pope did not believe her and took no action. However, on January 6, 1899, she wrote another letter, asking that in addition to the consecration, the first Fridays of the month be observed in honor of the Sacred Heart. In the letter she referred to the recent illness of the pope and stated that Christ had assured her that Pope Leo XIII would live until he had performed the consecration to the Sacred Heart. Theologian Laurent Volken states that this had an emotional impact on Leo XIII, despite the theological issues concerning the consecration of non-Christians.
Pope Leo XIII commissioned an inquiry on the basis of her Church tradition. In his 1899 encyclical letter Annum sacrum, Leo XIII decreed that the consecration of the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should take place on June 11, 1899. In the encyclical Leo referred to the illness about which Sister Mary had written, stating: "There is one further reason that urges us to realize our design: We do
Scapular of the Sacred Heart
The Scapular of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic devotional scapular bearing an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the front panel, an image of the Virgin Mary as Mother of Mercy on the panel which hangs at the wearer's back. In its current form, the design and the formal church approval for its use are due to Estelle Faguette, a French domestic servant, who in 1876 claimed to have received a series of apparitions during which the Virgin Mary showed this scapular and spoke about its use. Prior to Estelle Faguette's 1876 claims, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus had been made popular by the 17th Century mystic, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque who herself made and distributed'badges' bearing images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation Sister in Paray-le-Monial, claimed to have experienced visions of Jesus Christ during which he showed her his Sacred Heart. On 2 March 1686, she wrote to her Superior, Mother Saumaise, that the Jesus wished'for her to order a picture of the image of that Sacred Heart for people to venerate and have in their homes and small pictures to carry with them'.
During the 18th Century, a Visitation sister, Venerable Ana Magdalena Rémuzat worked hard to spread these badges. They were popular as a protection during the plague of Marseilles and during the persecutions of the Catholics during the French Revolution. Marie Leszczyńska, wife of King Louis XV enthusiastically promoted this Badge. Pope Benedict XIV sent a gift of numerous red taffeta Badges of the Sacred Heart with gold embroidery, for her wedding in 1748. In 1872 Pope Pius IX granted an indulgence for the wearing this badge. On the night of 14 February 1876, as she lay in Pellevoisin dying of pulmonary tuberculosis, Estelle Faguette, a domestic servant saw the Virgin Mary. Four days during the fifth apparition, Estelle seemed to be healed instantaneously. Altogether she experienced fifteen apparitions in the course of 1876. On 9 September, the apparition drew attention to a small piece of white cloth, a scapular, resting over her chest. Estelle had seen it there before, as plain white cloth, but on this day it bore the red image of a heart.
The following day the lady appeared again, saying she had come to encourage people to pray. The final and culminating vision took place on Friday 8 December 1876, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. You will present to him this copy that you have made. Tell him to do everything within his power to help you, that nothing would be more pleasing to me than to see this livery on each of my children, they should all strive to make reparation for the outrages my Son is subjected to in the sacrament of His love. See the graces that will be poured forth on those who will wear it with confidence and help you to spread this devotion. Estelle asked the lady; the answer came:'I reserve it for myself. You will submit your idea and the Church will decide.' Following this last apparition, Estelle sought and was granted an audience with the Archbishop of Bourges, Monsignor de La Tour d'Auvergne. By 12 December 1876 she had received his permission to make and distribute copies of the Scapular of the Sacred Heart.
In 1877, the Archbishop set up an enquiry into the reliability of Estelle as a witness, visited Rome to seek advice from Pope Pius IX, erected a local confraternity dedicated to the All-Merciful Mother, directed his Vicar General to lead a pilgrimage at Pellevoisin, gave his permission for the first printing of a text concerning Estelle's experiences, visited the room, Estelle's bedroom but which by October 1877 had been transformed into a chapel. Pope Leo XIII received Estelle in audiences on 30 January and 17–18 February 1900, during which the Pontiff agreed that the relevant Vatican department, the Congregation of Rites, should consider authorising use of the Scapular of the Sacred Heart; this formal recognition was given on 4 April 1900. In July 1900 Pope Leo XIII, influenced by Sister Mary of the Divine Heart letter's, granted many indulgences for the pious wearing of this scapular. On 22 November 1922, Pope Pius XI granted to the parish clergy of Pellevoisin and directors of the fraternity, the authority to bless the scapular and to pass on this authority to others.
On 27 August 1986, an imprimatur was granted for a short English-language publication by Barbara Beaumont, Pellevoisin: Our Lady reveals the devotion of the Sacred Heart Scapular. While the use of the Scapular is authorised by the Holy See, the Archbishops of Bourges have never commented on the status of Estelle Faguette's reputed visions, although her cure has been formally recognised as a miracle. Scapular Our Lady of Pellevoisin Estelle Faguette Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Sanctuary of Paray-le-Monial Shrine at Pellevoisin Venerable Anne-Madeleine Rémuzat Leaflet issued by the shrine authorities at Pellevoisin - English on pages 3 and 4 Application Form for a priest or deacon to be empowered to invest in the Scapular, as issued by the shrine at Pellevoisin Instruction on the Scapular as issued by the shrine at Pellevoisin Rite of Investiture as issued by the shrine at Pellevoisin - English on page 2 Barbara Beaumont book on Google Books
You are Christ
You are Christ is a prayer to Jesus attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo, in the 4th or 5th century. The title of the prayer is reminiscent of the statement of Saint Peter to Jesus: "You are the Christ"; the prayer has three parts. The first part is a list of salutations to Jesus; the second part involves a set of conversational questions. The third part is a list of petitions to Jesus. You are Christ, my Holy Father, my Tender God, my Great King, my Good Shepherd, my Only Master, my Best Helper, my Most Beautiful and my Beloved, my Living Bread, my Priest Forever, my Leader to my Country, my True Light, my Holy Sweetness, my Straight Way, my Excellent Wisdom, my Pure Simplicity, my Peaceful Harmony, my Entire Protection, my Good Portion, my Everlasting Salvation. Christ Jesus, Sweet Lord, why have I loved, why in my whole life have I desired anything except You, Jesus my God? Where was I when I was not in spirit with You? Now, from this time forth, do you, all my desires, grow hot, flow out upon the Lord Jesus: run... you have been tardy until now.
O, Jesus may he. O, Sweet Jesus, may every good feeling, fitted for Your praise, love You, delight in You, adore You! God of my heart, my Portion, Christ Jesus, may my heart faint away in spirit, may You be my Life within me! May the live coal of Your Love break forth into a perfect fire. Amen. Catholic online prayers
Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations grew out of imitations of Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, believed to be the actual path Jesus walked to Mount Calvary; the object of the stations is to help the Christians faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion of Christ. It has become one of the most popular devotions and the stations can be found in many Western Christian churches, including Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic ones. A series of 14 images will be arranged in numbered order along a path and the faithful travel from image to image, in order, stopping at each station to say the selected prayers and reflections; this will be done individually or in a procession most during Lent on Good Friday, in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during his passion.
The style and placement of the stations vary widely. The typical stations are small plaques with paintings placed around a church nave. Modern minimalist stations can be simple; the faithful might say the stations of the cross without there being any image, such as when the pope leads the stations of the cross around the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday. The Stations of the Cross originated in pilgrimages to Jerusalem and a desire to reproduce the Via Dolorosa. Imitating holy places was not a new concept. For example, the religious complex of Santo Stefano in Bologna, replicated the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other religious sites, including Mount of Olives and Valley of Josaphat. After the siege of 1187, Jerusalem fell to the forces of Saladin, the first sultan of Egypt and Syria. Forty years Franciscans were allowed back into the Holy Land, their founder, Saint Francis of Assisi, held the Passion of Christ in special veneration and is said to have been the first person to receive stigmata.
In 1217, St. Francis founded the Custody of the Holy Land to guard and promote the devotion to holy places, their efforts were recognized when Franciscans were proclaimed custodians of holy places by Pope Clement VI in 1342. Although several travelers who visited the Holy Land during the 12–14th centuries, mention a "Via Sacra", i.e. a settled route that pilgrims followed, there is nothing in their accounts to identify this with the Way of the Cross, as we understand it. The earliest use of the word "stations", as applied to the accustomed halting-places in the Via Sacra at Jerusalem, occurs in the narrative of an English pilgrim, William Wey, who visited the Holy Land in the mid-15th century, described pilgrims following the footsteps of Christ to the cross. In 1521, a book called Geystlich Strass was printed with illustrations of the stations in the Holy Land. During the 15th and 16th centuries the Franciscans began to build a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land.
The number of stations varied between thirty. These were placed in small buildings, along the approach to a church, as in a set of 1490 by Adam Kraft, leading to the Johanniskirche in Nuremberg. A number of rural examples were established as attractions in their own right on attractive wooded hills; these include the Sacro Monte di Domodossola and Sacro Monte di Belmonte, form part of the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy World Heritage Site, together with other examples on different devotional themes. In these the sculptures are approaching life-size and elaborate. Remnants of these are referred to as calvary hills. In 1686, in answer to their petition, Pope Innocent XI granted to the Franciscans the right to erect stations within their churches. In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan father erected them, with the consent of the local bishop. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.
The early set of seven scenes was numbers 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11 and 14 from the list below. The standard set from the 17th to 20th centuries has consisted of 14 pictures or sculptures depicting the following scenes: Jesus is condemmed to death Jesus carries His cross Jesus falls for the first time Jesus meets His mother, Mary Simon helps Jesus carry the cross Veronica wipes the face of Jesus Jesus falls for the second time Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem Jesus falls for the third time Jesus is stripped of His clothes Jesus is nailed to the cross Jesus dies on the cross Jesus is taken down from the cross Jesus is placed in the tombAlthough not traditionally part of the Stations, the Resurrection of Jesus is, in rare instances, included as a fifteenth station. Out of the fourteen traditional Stations of the Cross, only eight have a clear scriptural foundation. Stations 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 are not attested to in the gospels and Station 13 seems to embellish the gospels' record, which states that Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus down from the cross and buried him.
To provide a version of this devotion more aligned with the biblical accounts, Pope John Paul II introduced a new
Infant Jesus of Prague
The Infant Jesus of Prague or Child Jesus of Prague is a 16th-century Roman Catholic wax-coated wooden statue of child Jesus holding a globus cruciger, located in the Discalced Carmelite Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana, Czech Republic. Pious legends claim. In 1628 it was donated to the Carmelite friars by Princess Polyxena of Lobkowicz; the image is clothed by the Carmelite nuns in luxurious fabrics with imperial regalia and a golden crown while his left hand holds a globus cruciger and the right hand raised in a benedicting posture. It is venerated during the Christmas season and the first Sunday of May commemorating its coronation and public procession. Pope Leo XIII instituted a sodality in its favour. On 30 March 1913, Pope Pius X further organised the Confraternity of the Infant Jesus of Prague, while Pope Pius XI granted its first canonical coronation on 27 September 1924. Pope Benedict XVI crowned the image for the second time during his Apostolic visit to the Czech Republic on 26 September 2009.
The exact origin of the Infant Jesus statue is not known, but historical sources point to a 19‑inch sculpture of the Holy Child with a bird in his right hand located in the Cistercian monastery of Santa María de la Valbonna in Asturias, carved around the year 1340. Many other Infant Jesus sculptures were carved by famous masters throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. Found in early medieval work, the significance of the bird symbolizes either a soul or the Holy Spirit; the sculptures of the Holy Child were dressed in imperial regalia reflecting the aristocratic fashion of that period. One legend says that a monk in a desolated monastery somewhere between Cordoba and Sevilla had a vision of a little boy, telling him to pray; the monk had spent several hours praying and he made a figure of the child. The House of Habsburg began ruling the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1526; the statue first appeared in 1556, when María Maximiliana Manriquez de Lara y Mendoza brought the image to Bohemia upon her marriage to Czech nobleman Vratislav of Pernstyn.
An old legend in the Lobkowicz family reports that María's mother, Doña Isabella, had been given the statue by Saint Teresa of Ávila herself. María received the family heirloom as a wedding present, it became the property of her daughter, Polyxena, 1st Princess Lobkowicz. In 1628, Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz donated the statue to the Discalced Carmelite friars. Upon presenting it, the pious Princess Polyxena of Lobkowicz is said to have uttered a prophetic statement to the religious: Venerable Fathers, I bring you my dearest possession. Honour this image and you shall never want; the statue was placed in the oratory of the monastery of Our Lady of Victory, where special devotions to Jesus were offered before it twice a day. The Carmelite novices professed their vow of poverty in the presence of the Divine Infant. Upon hearing of the Carmelites' devotions and needs, the Emperor Ferdinand II of the House of Habsburg sent along 2,000 florins and a monthly stipend for their support. In 1630, the Carmelite novitiate was transferred to Munich.
Disturbances in Bohemia due to the Thirty Years War brought an end to the special devotions, on 15 November 1631 the army of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden took possession of Bohemia's capital city. The Carmelite friary was plundered and the image of the Infant of Prague was thrown into a pile of rubbish behind the altar. Here it lay forgotten for seven years, its hands broken off, until in 1637 it was found again by Father Cyrillus and placed in the church's oratory. One day, while praying before the statue, Father Cyrillus claimed to have heard a voice say, Have pity on me, I will have pity on you. Give me my hands, I will give you peace; the more you honour me, the more I will bless you. Since the statue has remained in Prague and has drawn many devotees worldwide to honour the Holy Child. Claims of blessings and miraculous healings have been made by many who petitioned before the Infant Jesus. In 1739, the Carmelites of the Austrian Province formed a special devotion apart from their regular apostolate.
In 1741, the statue was moved to the epistle side of the church of Our Lady of Victory in Prague. Copies of the Infant Jesus of Prague statue have been distributed widely. A similar statue with an different history, from Spain, known as the Santo Nino de Atocha arrived in the Philippines with Ferdinand Magellan and the Augustinian missionaries in 1521, during the first circumnavigation of the Earth. During the first years of the christianization of Archipelago, the sacred image helped convert the Filipino people to Catholicism and is locally called Santo Niño, it is housed in a Spanish-style church built in 1739. A yearly nine-day celebration or novena was introduced in 1889 that includes a procession held in the statue's honour, attracting over a million pilgrims each January; the expressions and hand posture of Santo Niño de Cebú are similar to the Infant Jesus of Prague, it is believed that both statues originated from the same European source, with the devotion to Santo Niño starting earlier of the two.
Copies of the statue have been venerated by Spanish-speaking Catholic faithful in churches around the world. Copies of the Infant Jesus arrived in Poland in 1680, and
Margaret Mary Alacoque
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, V. H. M. was a French Roman Catholic Visitation nun and mystic, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its modern form. She worked to prove the genuineness of her vocation and her visions of Jesus and Mary relating to the Sacred Heart, she was rebuffed by her mother superior and was unable to convince theologians of the validity of her visions. A noted exception was Jesuit Saint Claude de la Colombière; the devotion to the Sacred Heart was recognized 75 years after Alacoque's death. In his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI stated that Jesus Christ had "manifested Himself" to Saint Margaret and referred to the conversation between Jesus and Saint Margaret several times. Alacoque was born in 1647 in L'Hautecour, France, now part of the commune of Verosvres in the Duchy of Burgundy, the only daughter of Claude and Philiberte Lamyn Alacoque, who had several sons. From early childhood, Margaret was described as showing intense love for the Blessed Sacrament, as preferring silence and prayer to childhood play.
After her First Communion at the age of nine, she practised in secret severe corporal mortification, until rheumatic fever confined her to bed for four years. At the end of this period, having made a vow to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, she was restored to perfect health. In recognition of this favor, she added the name Mary to her baptismal name of Margaret. According to her account of her life, she had visions of Jesus Christ, which she thought were a normal part of human experience and continued to practice austerity. Alacoque lost her father at a young age, the family's assets were held by a relative who refused to hand them over, plunging her family into poverty. During this time, her only consolation was frequent visits to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the local church; when she was 17, the family regained their fortune and her mother encouraged her to socialize, in the hopes of her finding a suitable husband. Out of obedience, believing that her childhood vow was no longer binding, she began to accompany her brothers in the social events, attending dances and balls.
One night, after returning home from a ball for Carnival dressed in her finery, she experienced a vision of Christ and bloody. He reproached her for her forgetfulness of him; as a result, she determined to fulfill her vow and entered, when 24 years of age, the Visitation Convent at Paray-le-Monial on 25 May 1671, intending to become a nun. Alacoque was subjected to many trials to prove the genuineness of her vocation, she was admitted to wearing the religious habit on 25 August 1671, but was not allowed to make her religious profession on the same date of the following year, which would have been normal. A fellow novice described Margaret Mary as humble and frank, but above all kind and patient, she was admitted to profession on 6 November 1672. It is said that she was assigned to the infirmary and was not skillful at her tasks. In this monastery Alacoque received several private revelations of the Sacred Heart, the first on 27 December 1673 and the final one 18 months later; the visions revealed to her the form of the devotion, the chief features being reception of Holy Communion on the first Friday of each month, Eucharistic adoration during a "Holy hour" on Thursdays, the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
She stated that in her vision she was instructed to spend an hour every Thursday night to meditate on Jesus' Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Holy Hour practice became widespread among Catholics. On 27 December 1673, the feast of St. John, Margaret Mary reported that Jesus permitted her to rest her head upon his heart, disclosed to her the wonders of his love, telling her that he desired to make them known to all mankind and to diffuse the treasures of his goodness, that he had chosen her for this work. Discouraged in her efforts to follow the instruction she had received in her visions, Alacoque was able to convince her superior, Mother de Saumaise, of the authenticity of her visions, she was unable, however, to convince a group of theologians of the validity of her apparitions, nor was she any more successful with many of the members of her own community, suffered at their hands. She received the support of St. Claude de la Colombière, S. J. the community's confessor for a time. In 1683, opposition in the community ended when Mother Melin was elected Superior and named Margaret Mary her assistant.
She became Novice Mistress, saw the monastery observe the Feast of the Sacred Heart beginning in 1686. Two years a chapel was built at Paray-le-Monial to honor the Sacred Heart. Alacoque died on 17 October 1690. After Alacoque the devotion to the Sacred Heart was fostered by the Jesuits and the subject of controversies within the Church; the practice was not recognized until 75 years later. The discussion of Alacoque's own mission and qualities continued for years. All her actions, her revelations, her spiritual maxims, her teachings regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart, of which she was the chief exponent as well as the apostle, were subjected to the most severe and minute examination, the Sacred Congregation of Rites passed a favourable vote on the heroic virtues of this "servant of God". In March 1824, Pope Leo XII pronounced her Venerable and on 18 September 1864 Pope Pius IX declared her Blessed. When