St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

October 13, 2017

The Pastor's Page

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Principle Contributions. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque is best-known and most-remembered for her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion she helped to strengthen and spread throughout the universal Church. She also promoted the pious practice of observing nine consecutive First Fridays.

Difficult Beginnings. Margaret was born in 1647 into a middle class family in a small town in the Burgundy region of France. Her father died when she was eight. She subsequently was sent away to a school staffed by the Poor Clare sisters where she was quickly attracted to the religious life. When she turned ten she was struck with a painful rheumatic condition that kept her bedridden until she was fifteen. After her recovery she returned home, only to be harshly treated along with her widowed mother by an uncle and other relatives who had moved into the family home.

The Convent. Margaret Mary entered the convent in 1671at the age of twenty-four. She joined a monastery of Visitation Sisters in Paray-le-Monial in central France. She made her profession of vows the following year, and made steady progress in the consecrated life as she humbly served in the infirmary caring for the sick.

Mystical Revelations. Sister Margaret Mary reported that Jesus appeared to her a number of times over an eighteen-month period from 1673 to 1675. The first appearance was on December 27, 1673, the feast of St. John the Evangelist. During this and subsequent apparitions, Jesus asked her to receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of each month for the reparation of sins committed against him, to observe a holy hour on Thursday evenings in memory of his Agony in the Garden, to spread the devotion to his Sacred Heart through which his manifold graces would be spread widely, and to convince the leaders of the Church to establish an annual feast day in honor of his Sacred Heart.

The Sacred Heart. Sister Margaret Mary reported that when Jesus appeared, she could see his beating heart, and she wrote a detailed description of it. “This divine heart was shown to me on a throne of flames. It was more resplendent than the sun and transparent as crystal. The heart had its own adorable wound, and was surrounded by a crown of thorns signifying the stings caused by our sins. And there was a cross above it.”

More Difficulties. When the other sisters and local theologians learned about Jesus’ purported appearances and the content of the messages, she was doubted, criticized, ridiculed, and opposed. It was a time of bitter loneliness and isolation for her. Shortly thereafter a Jesuit priest, Fr. Claude de la Colombiere, became her spiritual director. He wrote a book entitled Spiritual Retreat that described the revelations and the importance of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, and it led to the acceptance of the messages.

Champion of the Sacred Heart. Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque died on October 17, 1690, and she was canonized a saint in 1920.

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About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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  • Ron K

    Our daughter was given the name Mary Margaret two years ago. But I could not find any saints, at least any major ones, with that name, so St Margaret Mary seemed like the best choice for a patroness. And Margaret Mary’s feast day is nine days after Mary Margaret’s birthday, and three days after her brother Edward’s patron’s day, which is convenient to boot.

    Wouldn’t you know, the priest who baptized her said her name perfectly every time, except once. That was at the actual moment of baptism. He slipped and called her Margaret Mary. This small-town church videotapes every baptism, so we can prove it if we ever have to!

    She’s Mary Margaret at home, Mary_Margaret to the state (her mom squeezed them into the first field to leave room for a third name in the second), and Margaret Mary to the Church.