Theology of the heart- Life of the Saints

Apostle and Messenger of the Love of the Sacred Heart

Feast Day:  October 16

Also see: Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus


Saint Margaret Mary was born on July 25th, 1647, at Janots, a small town in Burgundy. She was the fifth of seven children of a prosperous notary.

At the age of four, Margaret made a promise to the Lord. She felt inspired to compose this prayer: “Oh my Lord, I consecrate to you my purity and I make a vow of perpetual chastity.” Although she herself later confessed that she did not quite understand the meaning of the words: “vow” or “chastity.”

Her father died of pneumonia when she was eight years old, and she was sent to school with the Urbanist nuns at Charolles. She loved the peace and order of the convent life, and the nuns were so impressed by her devotion, that she was allowed to make her First Communion at the age of nine. Two years later, a rheumatic affliction kept her bedridden until she reached the age of fifteen. During this time she was brought home, where some of her father’s relatives had moved in and taken over the direction of the farm and household.

Daughter of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Being seriously ill upon her return, Margaret sought refuge in the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. She made her a vow that if she would heal her, she would become one of her daughters. Immediately after making this promise, she recuperated her health. Saint Margaret recalled: “As soon as I made this vow I was cured, with a new protection from the most Blessed Virgin, who now became so completely the mistress of my heart that She looked upon me as belonging to her and governed me as being dedicated to her, reproving me for my faults, and teaching me to do the will of my God.”

Aside from obtaining her health, this vow accomplished in Margaret a deep sense of union with the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, her road to sanctity was not free of detours. “On recovering my health,” she later confessed, “I thought only of seeking pleasure in the enjoyment of my liberty, without concerning myself much about the fulfillment of my promise. I gave myself up to vanity and the affection of creatures, flattering myself that the tenderness which my mother and brothers had for me would allow me to amuse and enjoy myself as much as I liked...”

The Blessed Mother reprimanded her when she saw her almost yielding to the terrible struggle that she felt within herself. On one occasion, while seated and reciting the Holy Rosary, Our Lady appeared to her and gave her the following reprimand, which she never forgot: “I am surprised, my daughter,” she said, “that you serve me so negligently!” These words left such an impression on her soul that they served her as warning for her whole life.

But our Blessed Virgin is also tender and consoling. One day, she told Margaret: "Do not fear anything; you will be my true daughter, and I will always be your good mother.”

Saint Margaret made another vow to Our Lady: to fast every Saturday and to recite her Office of the Immaculate Conception. Seeing her ardent desire of total consecration, the Blessed Mother helped her reach her goal.

The Most Blessed Sacrament

The situation in Margaret’s household was quite difficult. Her father’s relatives ignored her mother and her and treated them almost like servants. After Margaret’s recovery, her relatives tried to regulate all her comings and goings. Everything was under lock and key, and there was nothing she and her mother could do without their permission.

Under these circumstances, Margaret began to direct all her affections towards the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, where she sought delight and consolation. However, she was not able to do this freely and without difficulties, for she was not allowed to attend church as often as she pleased. At times, she would receive permission from one of her relatives and later be confronted by another who denied it.

If this situation made her suffer, even greater was the grief she felt seeing the condition of her mother. She suffered from erysipelas (a bacterial infection) on her face which made it swell excessively. Margaret felt her mother would die at any moment. She begged her relatives to help her mother, and they contented themselves with having her bled once by a village surgeon who passed by the house. He expressed to all the family members that Margaret’s mother would not recover without a miracle, but still no one showed the least trouble or concern. Margaret again took refuge in the Holy Virgin and her Sovereign Master, to whom alone she could confide. On the feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord she went to Mass and asked Him to be Himself the physician and remedy of her poor mother, and to teach Margaret what she must do for her.

On her return home she found the swelling had burst, leaving an open wound on the cheek about the size of the palm of the hand which emitted so unbearable an odor that no one could approach her. She did not know how to dress a wound, and until then had never been able to look at or touch one. Fighting her natural repugnance, Margaret would remove each day a quantity of putrid flesh, but she felt courage and confidence in the Lord. In a few days, contrary to all expectations, the wound was healed. Throughout the time of her mother’s illness, Margaret ate and slept very little, but she had perfect conformity with God’s most Holy will and would say to Him: “O my Sovereign Master! This would not have happened if Thou hadst not willed it so, but I return Thee thanks for having permitted it, that thereby I may be made more like unto Thee.”

In the midst of all this, she felt strongly drawn to mental prayer and to the Most Blessed Sacrament. She would express that she knew not how to pray, and the Lord Himself became her teacher. He made her prostrate herself humbly before Him to ask His pardon for everything by which she had offended Him, and, after an act of adoration, she would offer Him her prayer. He presented to her a mystery in which He wanted her to consider Him. Her heart was consumed in the desire of loving Him, which gave her an insatiable longing for Holy Communion and for suffering.

When her mother and other relatives started to talk about marriage, the young Margaret feared going against the vow she had made. She felt a lot of pressure and there were many who sought her in marriage. Her mother, incessantly weeping, told her that her only hope that would put an end to her misery was by marrying her as soon as possible, adding that this would be a great consolation to her. Furthermore, the devil took advantage of the tender affection which she had for her mother, unceasingly representing to her the tears that she shed, suggesting that she would die of grief if she became a nun. On the other hand, the desire to be a nun and the extreme horror which she had of anything against purity haunted her without ceasing.

Finally, the tender love for her mother began to get the upper hand, and she thought that, as she was but a child when she made her vow and did not understand the meaning she thus could easily obtain dispensation from it. She therefore began to frequent society and to adorn herself in order to please others, trying to enjoy herself as much as she could. But during the time she spent in the midst of company and amusement, the Lord continually knocked at the door of her heart. He made her understand that it would be hard to resist the power of His love. She wrote in her diary: "He aimed such burning darts at my heart that they pierced and consumed it on all sides; and the pain I felt in consequence rendered me quite speechless. I felt myself bound, as it were, with cords and dragged with such force that I was at last constrained to follow Him Who called me.”

On one occasion Jesus said to her: “I have chosen thee to be My spouse, and we pledged each other fidelity when thou didst make thy vow of chastity. It was I who urged thee to make it, before the world had any share in thy heart, because I wished to have it quite pure... And then I confided thee to the care of my Holy Mother, that she might fashion thee according to My designs.”

Finally, the Lord Jesus appeared to her all disfigured, as He appeared after the scourging, and said to her: “Wouldst thou take this pleasure, whereas I never had any and delivered Myself up to every kind of bitterness for love of thee and to win thy heart? Nevertheless, thou wouldst still dispute it with Me.” She understood that her vanity had reduced Him to this condition, and that she was wasting precious time, of which He would demand a rigorous account from her at the hour of her death. Along with this extraordinary grace, her desire for religious life was rekindled in her heart with such intensity, that she resolved to embrace it at any cost.

Her entrance into the Visitation Monastery

Seeing her so resolute, her relatives sent her to one of her uncles whose daughter was a religious from the order of the Ursulines. But Margaret did not feel drawn to enter this community. The more she was pressed to enter, so much the greater was her aversion to do so, and she felt an inner voice say to her: “It is not there that I would have thee, but in the Holy Virgin Mary.” Once, while looking at a picture of St. Francis de Sales, it seemed to her that he called her ‘his daughter,’ and cast upon her a look so full of paternal love that she no longer regarded him otherwise than as ‘her good father.’ She felt she must belong to the order which this great saint had founded: the Visitation. She also felt her desire to enter there increase, owing to the sweet name of ‘Holy Mary’ which made her feel that she should find therein what she was seeking.

After many difficulties and trying to convince her family of wanting to enter the Visitation, she was finally drawn to Paray and as soon as she entered the parlour, she heard interiorly these words: “It is here that I would have thee to be.” Her brother gave Margaret the dowry and she was able to enter the convent on the 12th of June, 1671.

After two months as a postulant, she received the habit on the 25th of August, 1671. She expressed what she felt at the time: “My Divine Master gave me to understand that now was the time of our espousal by which He acquired a new right over me, and that I was now doubly bound to love Him with a love of preference. He gave me further to understand that, after the manner of the most passionate of lovers, He would, during that time, allow me to taste all that was sweetest and most delightful in the tokens of His love, which were indeed so excessive, that I was often quite overcome and thereby incapable of acting.”

The young novice was humble, obedient, simple and honest. One of her novitiate companions testified that she edified the entire community “due to her charity towards all the sisters, to whom she never said a word that might offend them, and because of the patience with which she bore all kinds of reprimands and humiliations to which she was submitted frequently.” Her novitiate was indeed far from easy. For example, she found it hard to keep herself in the ordinary ways of the spiritual life. She said: “No matter how much I tried to practice what I was taught, I found it impossible to follow the method of prayer presented to me and was always constrained to return to my Divine Master, although I made every effort to forget all and turn away from Him.” This caused her a great deal of pain since her greatest desire was to be obedient to her Superior.

There was yet another situation which was an occasion of mortification. It concerned a disgust for cheese to which her whole family had so great a natural aversion that, when making arrangements for her reception into the convent, her brother requested that it should never be asked of her to eat it. As the matter was indifferent, consent was easily given, but once she had entered, everyone seemed to have forgotten about it, and Saint Margaret was obliged to eat it under the vow of obedience. At the beginning she struggled from the nausea; but she begged the Lord to assist her since she did not want to be different from the others. After great efforts and self-denial, she was able to eat cheese and offered it as a sacrifice for a period of ten years.

Another difficulty was her reception of supernatural favors from the Lord. Her superiors indicated that such was not the spirit of the daughters of Holy Mary which admitted nothing extraordinary. They saw her experiences as illusions and deceptions, and asked her to request from the Lord, as a proof of security, that He would render her useful to holy religion by the exact observance of all that was prescribed. When St. Margaret took this to prayer the Lord responded:

“Tell your Superior that I shall render thee more useful than she thinks, but in a manner known at present only to Me. Henceforth, I shall adjust my graces to the spirit of thy Rule, to the will of thy Superiors and to thy weakness; so that thou must regard as suspicious everything that might withdraw thee from the exact observance of thy Rule, which it is My will that thou shouldst prefer the will of thy Superiors to Mine, whenever they may forbid thee to do what I command thee. Suffer them to act as they please with thee; I shall know well how to find means for the accomplishment of my designs, even though they may appear to be opposed and contrary thereto. I reserve for Myself only the guidance of thy interior, and especially of thy heart, for, having established therein the empire of My pure love, I will never yield it to others.”

The Lord was not teaching her that the Divine Will is subject to human authority. What He was showing her was that obedience to her superiors is in fact the greatest means to embrace His most Holy Will. Although her superiors are just limited creatures, her obedience would make the Divine Will triumph in spite of everything. The Lord promised that if she obeyed her superiors... “I shall know well how to find means for the accomplishment of My designs. ”Her Mother Superior and her Novice Mistress were both satisfied with this promise, the effects of which were so manifest that they could no longer doubt that they were the words of the Eternal Truth. At last she attained the long desired happiness of holy profession on November 6th, 1672. The Lord kept His promise by purifying and transforming her heart, rendering it into a heart similar to His own.

The priest who celebrated at her profession said to her: “Jesus Christ will give you the light. Go forth through the path of the just, as the shining dawn!”

Saint Margaret wrote that same afternoon: “I, pitiful and miserable nothingness, protest to my God that I submit and sacrifice myself to everything He asks of me, immolating my heart for the fulfillment of His good pleasure, without reserving any interest other than His greater glory and His pure love, to which I consecrate and abandon my entire being and my every moment.”

Three weapons for the battle

Margaret received from the Lord three necessary weapons in order to wage the battle that would win her purification and transformation.

The first weapon: A delicate conscience, and a profound aversion and pain before the slightest fault

One day, on account of a fault she had committed, the Lord told her:
“Learn that I am a Holy Master and One that teaches holiness, I am pure and cannot endure the slightest stain. Therefore thou must act with simplicity of heart and with an upright and pure intention in My presence. Know that I cannot endure the least want of straightforwardness, and I shall make thee understand that, if the excess of My love has led Me to constitute Myself thy Master, in order to teach and fashion thee after My manner and according to My designs, nevertheless I cannot bear tepid and cowardly souls, and, if I am gentle in bearing with thy weakness, I shall not be less severe and exact in correcting and punishing thy infidelities.”

Margaret confessed that nothing was more painful and terrible to her than to see Him ever so slightly displeased with her. All other sufferings, corrections and mortifications were nothing to her in comparison. She went promptly to ask a penance for her faults, for she knew He was satisfied with those imposed upon her by obedience. This weapon was rooted in her great desire to love.

The second weapon: Holy Obedience

The Lord rejected her works performed through self-will and thus reprimanded her severely in her faults against obedience to her superior or to the rule. The smallest reply to superiors, manifesting repugnance to obey, is unbearable to Him in the soul of a religious. Jesus said to her:
“Thou deceivest thyself, in thinking to please Me by actions and mortifications chosen by self-will which, rather than yield, prefer to make Superiors bend their will to it. Oh! Be assured, that I reject all such things as fruits corrupted by self-will which I abhor in the soul of a religious. I would rather that she should take all her little comforts through obedience, than overburden herself with austerities and fasts through self-will.”

The third weapon: Her Holy Cross

The Cross was the greatest of all her gifts. One day, after Holy Communion, a large cross was shown her, the extremity of which she could not see, but it was all covered with flowers. The Lord said to her:
“Behold the bed of My chaste spouses on which I shall make thee taste all the delights of My pure Love. Little by little these flowers will drop off, and nothing will remain but the thorns, which are hidden because of thy weakness. Nevertheless, thou shalt feel the pricks of these thorns so keenly that thou wilt need all the strength of My love to bear the pain.”

In this intense and purifying way the Lord would accomplish His designs in the heart of Margaret. In order to detach her from the affection towards the things of this earth, and even from herself, he allowed her to experience continuous humiliations and neglect. Nonetheless, He would grant her all the graces necessary to endure these trials.

On a particular occasion, the Lord told her: “You must love as if you were not inclined to love, having as your only wish the desire to please me. Do not look for joy outside of Me, for in doing so you would deny my omnipotence and would offend me greatly, since I desire to be everything for you.”

The day after her profession, Margaret Mary was given an “obedience”. She was assigned as nurse’s aide to Sister Catherine August Marest, an excellent religious, but with an active, officious, and fiery temperament. Margaret Mary, on the contrary, was calm, composed, a little slow in her movements. Later, when Margaret wrote about her assignment in the infirmary, she said: “God alone can know how much I had to suffer there!!” She did not exaggerate, for she certainly received a great deal of insults and humiliations.

Jesus made her participate in His terrible anguish of the Garden of Olives, and desired for her to be an immolated victim. She told Him: “I want nothing but your Love and your Cross, and that is all I need in order to be a good religious, which is my desire.”

Revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

First Revelation

On December 27th, feast of St. John the Apostle, Margaret Mary was only 26 years old and had only fourteen months of profession. She was kneeling as usual before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the chapel. It was the moment chosen by God for a great revelation. She told us how it happened:

“I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, when I felt myself wholly penetrated with that Divine Presence, but to such a degree that I lost all thought of myself and of the place where I was. He made me repose for a long time upon His Sacred Breast, where He disclosed to me the marvels of His love and the inexplicable secrets of His Sacred Heart.”

Jesus told her:
“My Divine Heart is so inflamed with love for men, and for thee in particular that, being unable any longer to contain within Itself the flames of Its burning charity, It needs to spread them abroad by thy means, and manifest itself to them (mankind) in order to enrich them with the precious treasures which I discover to thee, and with contain graces of sanctification and salvation necessary to withdraw them from the abyss of perdition. I have chosen thee as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance for the accomplishment of this great design, in order that every thing may be done by Me.”

“After this,” she continued, “He asked me for my heart, which I begged Him to take. He did so and placed it in His Adorable Heart where He showed it to me as a little atom which was being consumed in this great furnace, and withdrawing it thence as a burning flame in the form of a heart, He restored it to the place whence He had taken it saying to me: See, my well beloved, I give thee a precious token of my love, having enclosed within thy side a little spark of its glowing flames, that it may serve thee for a heart and consume thee to the last moment of thy life; its ardor will never be exhausted, and thou will be able to find some slight relief only by bleeding. As a proof that the great favor I have done thee is not imagination, although I have closed the wound in thy side, the pain will always remain. If hitherto, thou hast taken only the name of My slave, I now give thee that of the beloved disciple of My Sacred Heart.”

After this great favor, Margaret remained for many days on fire and inebriated with divine love, and so completely out of herself, that she had to do herself violence in order to utter a single word. The effort she had to make in order to join in recreation or to take food was so great that it was all she could do to overcome herself. She could not explain herself to her superior, as she would have wished. She was also not able to sleep because of the pain of the wound which produced such heat that it burned and consumed her alive.

From the time of this first revelation, Margaret would suffer every first Friday of the month a renewed pain in her side, up until the time of her death. It was at these times that the Lord would manifest what he required of her and disclose to her the secrets of His loving Heart.

Jesus said to her on one occasion: “I search for a victim of My Heart, someone who would want to sacrifice herself as an immolated host for the fulfillment of my designs.” In her great humility, Margaret proposed to the Lord various souls, whom she thought would be worthy and faithfully correspond to such a grace. But the Lord answered that it was she whom He had chosen. This would disturb Margaret greatly, since she feared to be recognized personally for the graces she received from the Lord.

Second Revelation

One or two months after the first apparition, the second revelation took place. St. Margaret Mary wrote:
“The Divine Heart was presented to me in a throne of flames, more resplendent than a sun, transparent as crystal, with this adorable wound. And it was surrounded with a crown of thorns, signifying the punctures made in it by our sins, and a cross above signifying that from the first instant of His Incarnation, that is, as soon as the Sacred Heart was formed, the cross was implanted into it and from the first moment it was filled with all the sorrow to be inflicted on it by the humiliations, poverty, pain, and scorn of His sacred humanity was to endure throughout His life and during His sacred passion.”

“And He (Jesus) made me see that He intensely desired to be loved by men and to snatch them from the path of perdition onto which Satan was driving them in throngs. It was this that made Him decide to manifest His heart to men -with all the treasures of love, mercy, graces, sanctification and salvation it contained. Thus, all who wanted to render to Him and obtain for Him all the love, honor and glory in their power would be enriched with the abundance and profusion of these divine treasures of the heart of God which was their source. This heart of God must be honored under the form of His heart of flesh, whose image He wanted exposed, and also worn on me and on my heart. He promised to pour out into the hearts of all those who honor the image of His heart all the gifts it contains in fullness, and for all those who would wear this image on their persons He promised to imprint His love on their hearts and to destroy all unruly inclinations. Everywhere this holy image was exposed to be honored, He would pour fourth His graces and blessings. This blessing was, as it were, a final effort of His love. He wanted to bestow upon men during these final centuries such loving redemption in order to snatch them from the control of Satan, whom He intended to destroy. He willed to place us under the sweet freedom of His rule of love, which He wanted to re-establish in the hearts of all who were willing to embrace this devotion.”

In this second great revelation, Our Lord began to unfold His intentions and to formulate His promises. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the symbol of His ardent love for us. This image was to be exhibited in homes or worn on the breast, especially in the form of a medal, offering promises of graces and blessing to all who would venerate it. But for the moment, Margaret could not reveal anything of what she had seen, because the time had not come to do so. These revelations would first have to endure trial and suffer great opposition. And there was a lot more that Jesus desired to reveal.

Third revelation

Although this apparition has not been dated with certainty, we have good reason to think it took place in the beginning of June, 1674, most probably on Friday within the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, for Margaret Mary had said that “the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.”

“Once, among other occasions, when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, after feeling completely drawn inward by an extraordinary recollection of all my senses and powers, Jesus Christ, my gentle Master, appeared to me resplendent with glory, with his five wounds shining like five suns, and flames issuing from every part of His sacred humanity. But above all, from His adorable breast which looked like a furnace; and uncovering his breast, He showed me His most loving and lovable heart, which was the living source of these flames.”

At that time Jesus explained to her the marvels of his pure love, and to what extent His love for mankind had gone although He received from them nothing but ingratitude. This apparition was greater than the rest. As a passionate lover, He complained about the ingratitude of His loved ones, and as a divine beggar, stretched out His hand to request our love.

He gave her the following petitions:

* You are to receive Communion as often as obedience will permit you.
* During the night of Thursday through Friday I shall make you share in that mortal sadness that I willed to feel in the Garden of Olives; sadness which will reduce you to a kind of agony more dreadful to endure than death.
* To accompany me in this humble prayer that I shall then present to my Father amid all my anguish, you will rise between eleven o’clock and midnight, and prostrate yourself for one hour with me, your face against the ground, to appease the divine anger by begging mercy for sinners, and also to lessen in some manner the anguish I experienced in my abandonment by my apostles, which forced me to reproach them for not having been able to watch one hour with me.

The most memorable part of this series of apparitions occurred when Jesus pronounced these words: “Behold this heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to the point of spending itself and being consumed to prove its love to them. And in return, I receive from most men only ingratitude because of their irreverence and sacrileges and the coldness and scorn they have for me in this Sacrament of love. But what offends me most is that hearts consecrated to me act in this way. Do thou at least console me by supplying for their ingratitude, as far as thou art able.”

After hearing these words, Margaret could only express to Jesus her impotence, and He replied: “Behold, this will supply for all that is wanting in thee.” And at the same time His Divine Heart, being opened, issued a flame so ardent that she thought she should be consumed, for she was wholly penetrated within it, and no longer being able to bear it, she asked Him to have pity on her weakness. He then responded:

“I will be thy strength, fear nothing, but be attentive to my voice and to what I shall require of thee that thou mayest be in the requisite dispositions for the accomplishment of my designs.”

The Lord then described to her exactly how the practice of devotion to His Sacred Heart would come about, along with its purpose, which is reparation. Finally, Jesus Himself warned her about the temptations with which the Devil will try to deceive her.

“In the first place thou shalt receive Me in Holy Communion as often as obedience will permit thee whatever mortification or humiliation it may cause thee, which thou must take as pledges of My love. Thou shalt, moreover, communicate on the First Friday of each month. -Every night between Thursday and Friday I will make thee share in the mortal sadness which I was pleased to feel in the Garden of Olives, and this sadness, without thy being able to understand it, shall reduce thee to a kind of agony harder to endure than death itself. And in order to bear Me company in the humble prayer that I then offered to My Father, in the midst of my anguish, thou shalt rise between eleven o’clock and midnight, and remain prostrate with Me for an hour, not only to appease the divine anger by begging mercy for sinners, but also to mitigate in some way the bitterness which I felt at that time on finding Myself abandoned by my Apostles, which obliged me to reproach them for not being able to watch one hour with me. During that hour thou shalt do what I shall teach thee. But listen, my daughter, believe not lightly and trust every spirit, for Satan is enraged and will seek to deceive thee. Therefore do nothing without the approval of those who guide thee; being thus under the authority of obedience, his efforts against thee will be in vain, for he has no power over the obedient.”

Severe trials

After the apparition, Margaret lost all consciousness and no longer knew where she was. When they came to withdraw her, seeing that she did not reply or even stand, except with great difficulty, they led her to the Mother Superior. On seeing her thus, as it were, completely beside herself, all burning and trembling on her knees before her, she mortified and humbled her to the utmost capability of her power. After she had told her, though with extreme confusion, what had taken place, she proceeded to humble her still more, and refused to allow her for the time being, anything of what she believed the Lord had asked of her, regarding all that she told her with contempt.

The fire which consumed Margaret from the inside due to the revelations caused her to endure a continuous fever. Her Mother Superior became frightened and had a very wise idea. She said to Margaret: “Why don’t you ask God to cure you? In this way we’ll know if all this comes from the Spirit of God.”

As always, Margaret obeyed. Having presented all this to the Lord, she did not fail to recover her health immediately. For the most Blessed Virgin, her good Mother, appearing to her, bestowed upon her many caresses, and after having conversed with her for a long time, she said: “Take courage, my dear daughter, in the health which I restore to thee at the will of my Divine Son, for thou hast yet a long and painful way to go upon the Cross.”

Mother de Saumaise continued to wonder. Following the most authentic spirit of the Church, she decided to consult theologians. She believed she must force her to break the profound silence she had observed up until that time, with the purpose of treating the subject with persons learned in matters of doctrine. At her superior’s command, therefore, Margaret Mary appeared before “persons of doctrine” of whom we know nothing, not even their names. She was obliged to tell these venerable personages everything that had happened to her. We readily guess she did this only with extreme timidity. God permitted, to increase His servant’s merit, that a few of those whom she consulted did not at first recognize the Spirit who guided her. They condemned her great attraction to mental prayer, called her a visionary, and forbade her to pay any attention to her inspirations. Even one of the counselors who had been invited to express an opinion had casually answered: “Give this girl some soup to eat and everything will be better.”

“They began to say that the Devil was the author of all that occurred within me, and that my soul would be lost if I did not disregard his deceits and delusions.”

Margaret suffered much, not because they would think poorly of her, but rather because of the internal conflict caused by this situation. She began to think that she was mistaken, but as much as she made every effort to resist these attractions, it was impossible for her to resist this Spirit.

The opposition grew stronger, even within the convent walls. As could be expected in a convent where silence is the rule, this animosity found expression most of the day in the form of meaningful headshakes, reproving glances, surly faces. Having a visionary in the house, according to some nuns, was like an invasion from the devil himself. It was a danger, a threat to everyone. It went so far that Margaret Mary later admitted that some of the sisters used to “throw holy water” on her, as though to exorcise Satan’s obsession from her.


The Lord had promised Margaret that his work would triumph regardless of all obstacles. This promise began to be fulfilled when, at the beginning of the year 1675, He sent her the Jesuit priest named Claude de la Colombière. As soon as this priest spoke with Margaret, he was able to discern her sanctity and believed in her revelations. He communicated his impression of the young nun to her superior, and this was enough to reassure her, since Fr. Colombière was renowned for his own sanctity and wisdom. Mother de Saumaise commanded her daughter to open her soul to him as well as she could.

Fourth Revelation

It was after meeting Father Colombière that Margaret received the fourth and last revelation, the one relating to the creation of a feast in honor of the Sacred Heart.
It took place during the course of the octave of Corpus Christi, in the year 1675, between the thirteenth and the twentieth of June. Margaret said: “Being before the Blessed Sacrament one day of Its Octave, I received from God signal tokens of His love, and felt urged by the desire of making Him some return, and of rendering Him love for love.” He said:
“Thou canst not make Me a greater return of love than by doing what I have so often asked of thee.” Then, showing her His Divine Heart, He said: “Behold this Heart, Which has loved men so much, that It has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify to them Its love; and in return I receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude by reason of their irreverence and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt which they show Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel the most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me, that treat me thus. Therefore, I ask of thee that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special Feast to honor my Heart, by communicating on that day and making reparation to It by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise thee that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its divine love upon those who shall thus honor It, and cause It to be honored.”

Father de la Colombière ordered her to commit to writing all that she had made known to him concerning the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Margaret obeyed, and her greatest desire was that the designs of Jesus would be fulfilled.

Ten years were to lapse before the Feast of the Sacred Heart was adopted even by the monastery of Paray. Throughout those ten years, conflict had persisted around the case of Margaret Mary. In 1678, Mother de Saumaise, who had come to believe her, protected and admired her, left the monastery of Paray to become superior at Moulins. But before she left, she ordered Margaret to reveal to the community all that the Lord had told her. Margaret delivered the message, stood up before the community and told them of the “punishments that divine justice” intended to inflict on that very monastery. While she knelt motionless, the sisters became furious. If she had been able to gather together all the sufferings she had experienced until then and those she had since, this would not seem comparable to what she had to endure that one night. She was dragged from one place to another, with unbelievable humiliations. This had been the culminating moment of opposition against her. Most of the nuns opposing her quickly realized that they had gone too far. The next morning, there were not enough confessors to meet the needs of all the nuns seeking absolution. During Mass on that day, Margaret Mary had the consolation of hearing the following words deep within her soul: “Finally, peace has been established and
my holiness of justice is satisfied by the sacrifice you have made to me!”

Much against her will, Margaret was named assistant to the superior and mistress of novices. This was part of the fulfillment of the Lord’s plan, in order that Devotion to the Sacred Heart would be established. However, during her life Margaret was never able to see the full recognition of this devotion.

On the evening of October 17th, having previously announced herself that this would be the date of her death, she entrusted her soul to the Lord, the One whom she had loved wholeheartedly.

Only three years after her death, Pope Innocent XII addressed a brief to the monastery at Dijon whereby he enriched the feast of the Sacred Heart with precious indulgences, extending the privilege of celebrating it to all Visitation monasteries. In 1765, Pope Clement XIII introduced the feast at Rome. Finally, in 1856, Pope Pious IX extended the feast to the entire Church. Finally, in the year 1920, she was beatified by Pope Benedict XV.

Supernatural Interventions

The life of St. Margaret Mary was marked by supernatural experiences; but these were never a cause to escape the realities of daily life. Much on the contrary, they brought about many trials and the need to exercise heroically the virtues which make up the sanctity needed on a day to day basis.

In the year 1680, she was gravely ill. Approaching the feast of Corpus, she was allowed to receive the Bread of Life, but at the same time, was forbidden to take medicine or visit the infirmary for a period of five months. Her superior added, in writing, that under Holy obedience, she had to request her health to the Lord in order to fulfill everything that the rule demanded of her, up until the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady of that same year.

During the five months set by the Mother Superior, St. Margaret was perfectly healthy, and thus Mother Saumaise was satisfied with her accomplishment of this trial.

Another divine intervention occurred when St. Margaret was about to enter her annual retreat. At that time, she was in the infirmary with a high fever. Her Mother Superior said to her: “My daughter, I entrust you to the care of Our Lord Jesus Christ; may He guide, govern and heal you according to His will.” The Lord appeared to her, made her get up from bed and told her: “I want to return you healthy to the one that has put you under my care.” She was thus cured and appeared as though she had never been sick.

Jesus once appeared to her carrying the Cross, covered with wounds and bleeding. On that occasion He said to her: “Is there no one to take pity on Me and share my sorrow in the pitiful state to which sinners reduce Me, especially at the present time?” The saint offered herself and took on her shoulders the heavy cross, all studded with nails.

Once, as she approached the Eucharistic table, she saw the Host as a resplendent sun and the Lord who had a crown of thorns in his hands. He placed it on her head as he pronounced these words: “Receive, my daughter, this crown as a sign of the one you will soon experience by conforming yourself to Me.”

Her three ardent desires

Her greatest desires were:
-To love God and to receive Communion.
-Desire to suffer. As a consequence of her desire to love, she wanted to surrender her life, since she had nothing more to give.
-Desire to die, in order to be united to Her Love. She was nonetheless content to live until the day of judgment, if that was the will of God, although this separation was as painful as a thousand deaths.
Along with her love of God, she had the most tender charity towards her neighbors, even more so when it came to her religious sisters.

Her natural qualities

St. Margaret was quite sensible, timid, discrete and good spirited, her heart was charitable to the extreme. She had a poor formal education, but at the same time, she had a profound wisdom when it came to supernatural truths. She was just and brave in order to be faithful to the truth. She knew how to forgive from the heart. The greatest persecutions and humiliations she endured were forever buried to the point that she was able to be extremely gentle to those who had made her suffer.
She overcame her natural repugnance out of love.

Among other things, she felt an aversion to writing and attending the parlor. However, she made a vow to the Lord, promising to fulfill these tasks without manifesting her dislike, as an offering so that a young woman would receive the sacraments. The Lord allowed this and furthermore, the young woman made the religious vows before her death. Throughout her life, Margaret feared breaking this vow, due to the resistance she must offer herself.

Oblation to the Lord is more important than her actions

She must surrender herself entirely out of love, in adoration and self oblation, in conformity to the sacrifice of Jesus, whom she received in the Eucharist.
These graces gave rise to new flames of ardent zeal in the heart of Margaret, but before being an apostle through her actions, she would first be a martyr due to the numerous physical and moral pains that she endured from having offered herself as a holocaust to the Lord.

Her friends, the souls in Purgatory

She treated the souls in Purgatory as her beloved friends. Her Divine Master had donated Margaret to these souls during the year 1683. She must do whatever and suffer whatever to rescue them from the fires of Purgatory. St. Margaret participated in the sufferings endured by these souls; she would pray and practice penances in order to obtain their freedom. One day, while sitting before the Blessed Sacrament, a soul appeared to her, surrounded by flames. It was the soul of a Benedictine monk who had once confessed to her. He asked her to apply to his soul all that she should do and suffer for three months, which she promised to do with the consent of her superiors. He explained to her that the causes of his sufferings were his preference for his own interests instead of the glory of God, his strong attachment to his own reputation; secondly, his poor charity toward his brethren; and finally, for his twisted intentions in his practices of devotion and in his relations with creatures. Margaret promised to cooperate, and during three months his soul remained close to this voluntary victim, making her participate in the effects of the purifying fires of Purgatory.

The intense pain made her shed tears and groan continually. At the end of the three months, he appeared to her in a very different state; he was bathed in joy and glory, and about to be admitted into eternal bliss. He thanked her and promised to be her protector before God.

Her Death

At the end of the life of this faithful spouse of Christ there was still missing the last purification of her soul, which was done by the One who always was her Spouse of holiness and justice. In the midst of her admirable peace she suddenly felt attacked with terrible doubts about God’s judgment. Her ardent desires to die were replaced by profound terror. “Would I be saved or condemned?” This painful doubt oppressed her and broke even more her wounded hands which were pressing the crucifix against her heart; and she cried out with her voice all broken from her tears: “Be merciful Oh Lord, be merciful!” Nevertheless very soon she submerged herself in the Heart of Jesus and in doing so a profound peace invaded her heart never to leave her again.

On October 17th, 1690, St. Margaret Mary asked to receive the viaticum and after a day of intense sufferings, she died at 7:00pm. She was 43 years old and had 18 years of religious profession. The doctor on his knees beside her bed said that, since she lived only for love, love was the cause of her death.

Before she died she said: “I only have the need of God and the need of immersing myself in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Of the many promises Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to Saint Margaret Mary in favor of souls devoted to His Sacred Heart the principal ones are as follows:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

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