By Jean M. Heimann
Today’s saint, Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 – 1690), was selected by God to be a witness to the world of the passionate love He has for each one of us, as symbolized by the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through visions and private revelations, God used her, as His instrument, to spread His love throughout the world.
Growing up in the town of Janots in the Burgundy region of France, Margaret Mary’s childhood was marked by sickness and family problems. Her father died of pneumonia when she was only eight years old and his death left the family in a state of poverty. Relatives took control of the family home, treating both Margaret Mary and her mother cruelly. She stated: “The heaviest of my crosses was that I could do nothing to lighten the cross my mother was suffering."
Margaret Mary developed a painful rheumatic condition at 12 and was bedridden until she was 15. After considering marriage for a period of time, she decided to dedicate her life to God.
She entered the Order of Visitation nuns at the age of 24. The other sisters viewed her as naive, frail, and awkward, but she was humble and patient and was charitable toward everyone. She was regarded as a simple and ordinary member of the community. However, God desired to use Margaret in an extraordinary and miraculous way. On December 27, 1674, the feast of St. John the Evangelist, Jesus asked her to take the place of St. John the Evangelist (the “Beloved Disciple”) at the Last Supper. He then appeared to her and showed her His Sacred Heart, a symbol of His Divine love. He asked her to promote devotion to His Sacred Heart through frequent Communion and an hour of prayer each Thursday night (in memory of His agony in Gethsemane).
Jesus appeared to Margaret Mary on three more occasions over a period of eighteen months in which he instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays and the Holy Hour, and in the final revelation, the Lord asked that a feast of reparation be instituted for the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi. While others questioned the authenticity of these visions, her Jesuit confessor, St. Claude de la Colombière, believed and encouraged her.
St. Margaret Mary died of natural causes in 1690 and was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. The Sacred Heart devotion was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, seventy – five years after her death.
On the third centenary of the death of Saint Margaret Mary, Pope St. John Paul II stated: “She invites us to contemplate the Heart of Christ, that is, to recognize in the humanity of the Word incarnate, the infinite riches of his love for the Father and for all human beings. It is the love of Christ which makes a person worthy of being loved. Created in the image and likeness of God, the human person has received a heart eager for love and capable of loving. The love of the Redeemer, which heals it from the wound of sin, elevates it to its filial condition. With Saint Margaret Mary, united to the Savior also in his suffering offered for love, we shall ask for the grace of knowing the infinite value of every person" (Pope John Paul, Feast of the Sacred Heart, June 22, 1990, Vatican).
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Quotes
“The divine heart is an ocean full of all good things, wherein poor souls can cast all their needs… an ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty.”
"What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only when He caresses us, and to be cold immediately once He afflicts us. This is not true love. Those who love thus love themselves too much to love God with all their heart."
"Love keeps Him there [in the Blessed Sacrament] as a victim completely and perpetually delivered over to sacrifice for the glory of the Father and for our salvation. Unite yourself with Him, then, in all that you do. Refer everything to His glory. Set up your abode in this loving Heart of Jesus and you will there find lasting peace and the strength both to bring to fruition all the good desires He inspires in you, and to avoid every deliberate fault. Place in this Heart all your sufferings and difficulties. Everything that comes from the Sacred Heart is sweet. He changes everything into love."
“Look at this Heart which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love me in return. Through you my divine Heart wishes to spread its love everywhere on earth.”
"I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."
The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart
1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their homes.
3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death.
5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall quickly move to high perfection.
9. I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart, never to be effaced.
12. I promise thee in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.