Double (1955 Calendar): October 17
Today the Church celebrates and remembers the life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Born July 22, 1647, at L'Hautecourt, Burgundy, France, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was healed from rheumatic fever, a crippling disorder, at a young age by a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. During her suffering, she developed an intimate relationship with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist. In the vision, Our Lady prompted St. Margaret to give her life to God. In 1671 after receiving a vision of Christ's Scourging, she entered the Order of the Visitation.
Beginning on December 27, 1673, through 1675, Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque asking her to receive Him in Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month and to meditate on His passion from 11:00 PM to 12:00 midnight each Thursday. He also revealed to her twelve promises for all who are devoted to His Sacred Heart; he asked for a Feast of the Sacred Heart to be instituted in the liturgical calendar of the Church.
Yet, St. Margaret Mary would suffer much for the sake of the Sacred Heart. She was immediately rebuffed by Mother de Saumaise, her superior. She finally won over Mother de Saumaise, but theologians and members of her community would not believe the validity of the apparitions.
In 1675, St. Margaret Mary met St. Claude la Colombière, a newly ordained priest who was the Superior of a group of Jesuits in Burgundy. St. Claude would serve as her confessor for many years. He would specifically assist St. Margaret Mary in spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart before he was sent to England to serve as the confessor to the Duchess of York.
Finally in 1683 Mother Melin was elected Superior of the Community, and Margaret Mary was made her assistant. St. Margaret Mary would even become the Novice Mistress. In 1686 the convent began to privately observe the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Two years later a chapel was built at the Paray-le-Monial in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Following this, several nearby convents would begin to observe the feast. It was not until after her death on October 17, 1690, that the Feast of the Sacred Heart was approved for specific dioceses by Pope Clement XIII in 1765. Pope Pius IX would extend the feast to the entire Church in 1856, and in 1899 Pope Leo XIII finally dedicated the whole world to the Sacred Heart.
Her body is incorruptible
For more information on the 12 promises and devotion to the Sacred Heart, see my post: Devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Highly Recommended Reading:
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who to the blessed virgin Margaret Mary didst in a wondrous manner reveal the unsearchable riches of Thy Heart: by her merits grant, that lovign Thee after her example in all things and above all things, we may obtain an abode in Thy Heart for evermore. Who livest and reignest.
Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal