Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

16th October

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!

Talk to the children about the heart!
Children will already have an idea that the heart is a vital organ in our body as it pumps blood, oxygen, nutrients, around the body where it needs to be. The heart is also portrayed as the source of our emotions, especially that of love.

  • Jesus became a real man and he had a real heart like ours. The Sacred Heart of Jesus, surrounded by fire and thorns is only an image of His immense love for us as was manifested in His Passion.
  • You might use these images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    God fills us with His love so we can give it to others
  • How can we show love to others?
  • Lead them to discover that it is not enough to tell somebody ‘I love you’.If one really loves somebody, one is ready to give an encouraging word, to listen when one is hurt, to cheer them up.
  • Discover examples from the daily family life (from the children’s experiences of friends and acquaintances)
  • Let the children talk, share your ideas as well!  

For Family Prayer Time help the children prepare a drawing of a large heart under the heading ‘The Sacred Heart of Jesus,’ write inside it ‘God is Love’ , Surround it with words  that describe the heart of Jesus as suggested by the children : love, truth, forgiveness, mercy, caring, courage.

  • Let the children make up their own prayer. The older ones can write it themselves, you can write it for the little ones as they prompt it. Stick it on the poster/card after the children had prayed it aloud.
  • Pray and sing!

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.