MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE
Margaret Alacoque., the fifth child of Claude Alacoque,
notary, and his wife, Philiberte, was born July 22, 1647 in
the village of Verosvres in France. She was not born a saint;
she became one slowly and only with effort and struggles.
The Holy Spirit, author of all holiness, inspired her to dedicate
herself to God at an early age. She endured much suffering
as a child but this taught her to conform her life to that
of Jesus in His paschal mystery.
Her gift of mystical prayer enabled her to experience union
with God and to make this union the focus of her life. This
call to total dedication finally led her to enter the Visitation
Monastery in Paray-le-Monial, France, on June 20, 1671 shortly
before her 24th birthday.
From 1673 to 1675 Christ appeared to her showing her His
Heart. "My divine Heart", He said during the first
revelation, "is so passionately fond of the human race,
and of you in particular, that it cannot keep back the pent-up
flames of its burning charity any longer. They must burst
out through you." He mourned the world's indifference,
coldness and thanklessness and asked Margaret Mary for a communion
of reparation on the First Friday of each month. These apparitions
became known when Saint la Colombiere died; his notes revealed
the details of her revelations which she had written down
at his request.
During her second term as assistant Superior, her health
broke down, "Nothing serious: said her doctor but Margaret
disagreed: "I shall not live for I have nothing left
to suffer. I need nothing but God and to lose myself in the
Heart of Jesus." Seconds later, this confidante of the
Sacred Heart and "heiress of all its treasures"
(Jesus' words) died October 17, 1690 at age 41. She was canonized
Revelations of the Sacred Heart
"Jesus asked for my heart which I begged Him to take,
as He did, and placed it in His adorable One, in which He
showed to me as a tiny speck consumed in this burning furnace.
Then, taking it out as a burning flame shaped like a heart
He replaced it in the place from which He had taken it."
On another occasion before the Blessed Sacrament exposed,
Sister Margaret Mary saw Christ, His five wounds dazzling
as five suns, "His all loving and lovable Heart the living
source of these flames."
The third great vision took place in June of 1675. Jesus
then revealed His Heart: "Behold this Heart which has
loved everyone so much that it has spared nothing, even to
exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love."
Christ then asked for a special liturgical feast for His Sacred
Heart, including a "solemn act of reparation" for
all the offences and indignities He has received in the Sacrament
of His love - the Eucharist.
Saint Claude la Colombiere-"Perfect
By herself, St. Margaret Mary, a cloistered Religious, was
not able to carry out the mission entrusted to her to spread
devotion to the Sacred Heart. The Lord Himself intervened
and brought Saint Claude la Colombiere (and later many other
Jesuits) to her aid.
On the Feast of the Visitation in 1688, the Virgin told her,
"If it is given to the Daughters of the Visitation to
know and distribute it (the devotion), it is reserved to the
Fathers of the Society (of Jesus) to show and make known its
utility and value so that people may profit from it by receiving
it with the respect and gratitude due to so great a benefit."
The Heart of Jesus and the
Charism of the Visitation Order
Devotion to the Heart of Jesus did not originate with St.
Margaret Mary. John the Evangelist directed the attention
of the Church to the One who had been pierced. (John 19:37)
St. Augustine speaks of the birth of the church from the open
Heart of Jesus. The mystics of the Middle Ages, especially
St. Bernard, meditating on the writings of the Fathers of
the Church, saw in the mystery of the opened Heart a symbol
of the love of God which endures forever.
Even before St. Margaret Mary entered Paray, devotion to
the Heart of Jesus was important to the Visitation Order.
It was there from the very beginning. St. Francis de Sales,
who founded the Order of the Visitation in 1610 along with
St. Jane de Chantal, wrote to her: "Our little congregation
is the work of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Our dying Savior
gave birth to us by the wound in His Sacred Heart." Later
in the same letter he made this proposal: "If you agree,
we should take as our coat of arms a single heart pierced
by two arrows, the whole enclosed in a crown of thorns, with
the poor heart serving to hold and support a cross which is
to surmount it; and the heart is to be engraved with the sacred
names of JESUS AND MARY."
The Heart of Jesus was the center of the spirituality of
both these saints. For Francis de Sales "Christ's
Heart foresaw, prepared, merited and obtained for us all the
graces we receive." Jane de Chantal told her daughters:
"May God give to us the blessing of living and dying
in the Sacred Heart. Pray that your heart may be made like
to the Heart of Jesus." This continuing advice and direction
of the two saintly co-founders touching the Divine Heart became
a treasured possession and heritage of the Visitation Order.
John Paul II Speaks of St.
"Let us give thanks for the mystical experience of
St. Margaret Mary. She had been given a remarkable calling,
but in a hidden life, to know the power and beauty of the
love of Christ."
"Let us give thanks for the intimacy with the Savior
that this humble religious enjoyed. The suffering she experienced
in various ways she generously offered in union with the Passion
of Christ in reparation for the sins of the world."
"Let us give thanks for the privileged meeting of this
holy religious with Saint Claude la Colombiere. The support
of this faithful disciple of St. Ignatius permitted St. Margaret
Mary to overcome her doubts and to discern the authenticity
of her extraordinary experience. Their exchanges are a model
for spiritual direction. Saint Claude la Colombiere, himself,
in his great trials received enlightened counsels from this
soul whom he directed." (Paray-le-Monial, October 5,
From the Writings of St. Margaret
"The Spirit of God does all things in peace. Let us
have recourse to God with love and confidence, and He will
receive us into the arms of His mercy."
"My greatest happiness is to be before the Blessed
Sacrament where my heart is, as it were, in its center."
"Plunge yourself often into the charity of that lovable
Heart so that you may never act towards your neighbor in a
manner which may in the least wound the virtue of charity,
never doing to others what you would not wish done to yourself."
St. Margaret Mary's Message
to the Modern World
There is much anguish in our modern world-alienation from
self and great heart-suffering. We experience the ravaging
breakdown of family life and the traumatic effects of injustice
and sexual permissiveness.
Margaret helps us to see that God's love is stronger than
evil. From the pierced Heart of Jesus flow healing streams
of forgiveness, holiness and redemption. In the unconditional
love of God, revealed to us in Christ, we find the strength
to accept the reality of today's world and transform its darkness
and its pain into the love and joy of Resurrection.