St Margaret Mary Alacoque
Celebrated on October 16th
Born on 2 July 1647 Margaret Mary Alacoque was a French Roman Catholic Visitation Sister and mystic, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its modern form.
Her father Claude died when Margaret was eight, and from age 9-13 she suffered a paralyzing illness. During her illness, Margaret made a vow to enter religious life. For a time she changed her mind and even considered the possibility of marriage. Her life changed after she experienced a vision one night while returning from a dance, in which she saw Christ being scourged. Margaret believed she had betrayed Jesus, by pursuing the pleasures of the world rather than her religious vocation, and at the age of 22, she decided to enter a convent.
Two days after Christmas of 1673, Margaret experienced Christ’s presence in an extraordinary way while in prayer. She heard Christ explain that he desired to show his love for the human race in a special way, by encouraging devotion to ‘the heart that so loved mankind.’
She experienced several more private revelations but the superior of the convent dismissed this as a delusion. For a time she felt very dissappointed but in 1674, the Jesuit priest Father Claude de la Colombiere became Margaret’s spiritual director. He believed her testimony, and chronicled it in writing.
Fr de la Colombiere (who was also later canonised) was sent to serve as a missionary in England. By the time he returned and died in 1681, Margaret had made peace with her community. Through St Claude’s direction, she had reached a point of inner peace, no longer concerned with the hostility of others in her community.
Eventually, her own writings and the writings of St Claude about the Sacred Heart were studied and accepted as true by the Church. Margaret Mary Alacoque died on October 17, 1690, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.