St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Sacred Heart Devotion
Daughter of Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn, Margaret was born on July 22, at L'Hautecour, Burgundy, France, was sent to the Poor Clares school at Charolles on the death of her father, a notary, when she was eight years old. She was bedridden for five years with rheumatic fever until she was fifteen and early developed a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She refused marriage, and in 1671 she entered the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial and was professed the next year. From the time she was twenty, she experienced visions of Christ, and on December 27, 1673, she began a series of revelations that were to continue over the next year and a half. In them Christ informed her that she was His chosen instrument to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart, instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays and the Holy Hour, and asked that the feast of the Sacred Heart be established. Rebuffed by her superior, Mother de Saumaise, in her efforts to follow the instruction she had received in the visions, she eventually won her over but was unable to convince a group of theologians of the validity of her apparitions, nor was she any more successful with many of the members of her community.
Up until this time Our Lord had made His will and presence known to Margaret Mary interiorly, but that was to change December 27, 1673. Margaret Mary was twenty-six years old. She had been professed for almost fourteen months. Her job in the Infirmary brought her nothing but rejection, insults and adversity. Her only solace was on her knees, her body pressed against the grill, as close to the Blessed Sacrament as she could get. She found herself enveloped by Our Lord’s heavenly presence. “He opened His Heart” to her “for the first time.”
He said, “My Divine Heart so passionately loves all men and you in particular that, no longer able to contain the flame of its burning charity (love), it has to pour forth through you, and it must manifest itself to them, to enrich them with its precious treasures, which I am revealing to you, and which contains the sanctifying and salutary graces necessary to snatch them away from the abyss of perdition (sin). And I have chosen you as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance for the fulfillment of this great plan, so that everything may be accomplished by Me alone.”
“After that, He asked me to give Him my heart, which I begged Him to take, and this He did. He placed it within His own adorable Heart, in which He made me see my heart as a tiny atom being consumed in this flaming furnace, and then, drawing it out like an intense flame in the form of a heart, He put it back where he had taken it, saying to me: ‘Beloved, here is a precious pledge of My Love, which implants in your side a tiny spark of its most intense flames, so as to serve as your heart and consume you until the last moment;....its intensity will not die out or find refreshment except to a small degree in bloodletting,9 which I shall mark so completely with the Blood of My Cross,....it will bring you more humiliation and suffering than relief. That is why I want (you) to practice what is commanded of you by the rule, so as to give you the consolation of shedding your blood on the cross of humiliations. Although I have closed the wound in your side, you will feel the pain of it forever, and although you have taken only the name of My slave, I now call you the beloved disciple of My Sacred Heart.’”
With this revelation of her future mission, Jesus made it plain to Margaret Mary that He had chosen her, but to save her from any slight possibility of pride in Him having chosen her, He revealed she was totally unworthy and ignorant. We hear again the message of Saint Bernadette when she said if the Blessed Mother could have found someone less worthy and more stupid, she would have chosen her instead of Bernadette.