St Margaret Mary Alacoque
Saint of the day October 16
With the rapid spread of Protestantism and Jansenism, with England lost to the faith, and France ruled by the worldly Louis XIV the Catholic faith had grown disastrously cold in the 17th century. To rekindle it, Christ chose an obscure French nun, Margaret Mary Alacoque, the 5th of seven children of Claude Alacoque, a royal notary, and his wife Philiberte Lamyn. In 1671 she entered the Visitation convent at Paray le Monial at the Lord’s express command, and here, between 1673 and 1675, she received her great revelations which were to have far reaching implications for the Catholic world and was, like the Beloved Disciple, permitted to repose on the Sacred Heart.
“My divine Heart is so inflamed with love for humankind, that it can no longer contain the flames of its burning charity. It must needs spread them abroad by means of you, must manifest itself to men, and enrich them with the precious treasures which I will reveal to you! These contain the graces of sanctification and salvation which will he needed to draw them back from the abyss of perdition,” our Lord pointed out.
He complained bitterly that in return for his great love he received from men only irreverence and ingratitude. “I ask of you, therefore, that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set aside as a special feast in honour of my Heart, that people communicate and make reparation to it by a solemn act, to make amends for the irreverence to which it is subjected while exposed on the altar. I promise you that my Heart will shed the gifts of its divine love in great abundance on all who will thus honour it and induce others to so honour it!” he said.
Our Lord also exhorted the faithful to receive him in Holy Communion on the first Friday of each month and to keep the Holy Hour on its eve before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Finally, he told his “beloved disciple of the Sacred Heart” to inform her convent that she was to be a victim soul to expiate the sins of tepidity among them a task which caused the self- effacing Margaret no little pain, and which brought down upon her renewed taunts of being possessed by the devil, so much so that the Sisters would sprinkle holy water on her whenever they passed her.
It was only with the assistance of Blessed Claude de la Columbiere, her new confessor, a Jesuit, that these devotions to the Sacred Heart as the visible sign of Christ’s infinite and condescending love, received due recognition within her Order and gradually came to be established in the Church.
Born on 22 July 1647 at Lanthec art, France, Margaret Mary Alacoque died on 17 October 1690 at Paray le Monial. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XV on 13 May 1920.