One would say that there was nothing outstanding and spectacular in the life of St. Margaret Mary. She was neither a martyr, nor a theologian, nor a Doctor of the Church. In fact she was described by others as being simple, humble, kind, patient, rather slow and clumsy!
Saint Margaret Mary was born on the 27th July 1647, in Burgundy, France, in a family that was considered wealthy. Because of her exceptional devotion to the Blessed Sacrament she was allowed to receive her first Holy Communion in the school she was attending, run by the nuns, when she was nine years old. At the time children received Holy Communion when they were much older! It was at this time that Margaret was afflicted with rheumatic fever. For four years, Margaret battled this condition, spending most of her young life in bed. After making a vow to the Blessed VIrgin Mary to consecrate herself to religious life, she regained her health. She added ‘Mary’ to her name as a tribute to Our Lady. Soon after this ordeal, her father died and all the family’s wealth and assets were taken over by a relative, rendering Margaret Mary and her family literally poor. Her life started to look brighter when the family managed to regain their wealth and property. Margaret was then 17 years old. She started to enjoy life, to socialize, attending events of the society of the time, like dances and balls. She even considered marriage, believing that her vow was only a childhood whim and therefore not binding!
But God had other plans for Margaret Mary. One night, on returning home after a Carnival party, still dressed in all her finery, she had a vision of Jesus Christ, not in His glory but scourged as He was during His Passion. The suffering Christ reminded her of her vow as a child. Her life changed. She entered the convent of the cloistered Nuns of the Visitation. Her life took a wider dimension when after three years she had a revelation in a vision of Jesus Christ who requested her to make His love for mankind known to all human beings.
During these visions, that continued at intervals for a year, Jesus requested her to make known that His divine-human love was to be symbolized in His Human Heart and expressed in a special devotion celebrated with receiving Holy Communion every First Friday of the month, a holy hour on the preceding Thursday and a celebration of a Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with all devotions manifesting the suffering of Our Lord in His Passion manifesting His immense love for us.
This proved to be an insurmountable task for St. Margaret Mary because her visions and revelations were questioned as to their authenticity. She suffered these rejections even from her community and from the clergy. She was even called an impostor. However, with God’s help and the support and guidance of her Spiritual Director, the opposition ended and the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus started to be practised, first in her community and then became widespread worldwide.
Margaret Mary died when she was forty-three years old while she was being anointed but the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus lives on!