Feastday: October 17th
Patron of: polio, devotees of the Sacred Heart, loss of parents
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. She received the support of Blessed Claude La Colombiere, the community’s confessor for a time, who declared that the visions were genuine. In 1683, opposition in the community ended when Mother Melin was elected Superior and named Margaret Mary her assistant. She later became Novice Mistress, saw the convent observe the feast of the Sacred Heart privately beginning in 1686, and two years later, a chapel was built at the Paray-le-Monial to honor the Sacred Heart; soon observation of the feast of the Sacred Heart spread to other Visitation convents. Margaret Mary died at the Paray-le-Monial on October 17, and was canonized in 1920. She, St. John Eudes, and Blessed Claude La Colombiere are called the “Saints of the Sacred Heart”; the devotion was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, seventy-five years after her death. Her feast day is observed on October 17.
Prayer of St. Margaret
O Jesus, my love, in memory of the Sacrifice of Thyself which Thou didst offer on the Cross and which Thou dost still offer in the Blessed Sacrament, I beg of Thee to accept that which I make of my whole being, immolated and sacrificed to Thy adorable designs and wishes. Receive me in the spirit of penance and sacrifice. O Heavenly Physician of my soul, Sovereign Remedy for my evils, I present myself to Thee as a sick person without hope in any other but in the charitable Heart of my Savior, who alone knows my maladies and can cure me of them.
I hope for this favour from Thy bounty since in this amiable Sacrament Thou hast made Thyself my medicine, my healing balm. My cowardice and my coldness in Thy love have been the cause of all my infirmities; but Thou canst, if Thou wilt, cure me, for I am ready to suffer anything in order to be cured. Cut, burn, amputate; provided that I love Thee and be saved, I will submit to everything. On my part, I am ready to apply the iron and fire of entire mortification and crucifixion of myself to cure the wounds which pride and self-love have caused to my soul.
Apply Thyself then to my poor languishing heart as a balm of love. O my charitable Physician, have pity on my weakness and deliver me from it for the glory of Thy name. Amen.