The visions of Christ granted to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (virgin and religious) led to the Church's formal veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Margaret Mary was born in 1647; her childhood in eastern France was unhappy because of family problems and illness. After briefly considering marriage, she entered the Order of Visitation Sisters at the age of twenty-four. She was considered a simple and undistinguished nun. She was humble and patient and open to criticism and correction, but her superiors considered her clumsy and somewhat slow.
Though Margaret Mary had difficulty meditating in the formal way expected of the sisters in her order, on December 27, 1674, Margaret Mary experienced an apparition of Christ. Jesus showed her His Sacred Heart -- a symbol of His often rejected love for humanity -- and asked her to promote devotion to His Sacred Heart through frequent Communion and an hour of prayer each Thursday night (in memory of His agony in Gethsemane).
Christ appeared to Margaret Mary on four separate occasions. When others learned of her visions of Christ, they accused her of delusions or deliberate fraud. However, her Jesuit confessor, St. Claude de la Colombière, believed, supported, and encouraged her.
Margaret Mary died in 1690. Her gentleness and patience convinced many people of the genuineness of the apparitions. The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was eventually established in 1856.
It seems to me that our Lord’s earnest desire to have His Sacred Heart honored in a special way is directed toward renewing the effects of redemption in our souls. For the Sacred Heart is an inexhaustible fountain and its sole desire is to pour itself out into the hearts of the humble so as to free them and prepare them to lead lives according to his good pleasure.
— From a letter of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
In what one way can I honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus more?
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Hedwig (1243), Widow, Religious
St. Gerard Majella (1755), Religious, patron of Expectant Mothers