St. Margaret Mary icon painted by Suzanne Kent.

In 1671, a young girl from the region of Borgogne, France by the name of Margaret Mary Alacoque entered the monastery of the Visitation in a small village called Paray-le-Monial. There she experienced numerous apparitions which were confirmed by her confessor, a Jesuit, Saint Claude La Colombière. Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary (1647-1690), revealing to her his Heart burning with love for man. In those apparitions Jesus requested the introduction of the feast of the Sacred Heart, which would take place every year in June. Following these apparitions, the spirituality of the Sacred Heart spread throughout the whole world.

In 1856 Pope Pius IX extended the feast to the universal Church under the rite of double major. In 1889 it was raised by the Church to the double rite of first class. Saint Margaret Mary was canonised on 13th May 1920 and Saint Claude la Colombière on 12th May 1992.

Finally, on 11 June, 1899, by order of Pope Leo XIII (see Encylical Annum Sacrum) with the formula prescribed by him, all mankind was solemnly consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Vincent de Paul and French saints, before Sacred Heart of Jesus
Image of apparitions to St. Margaret Mary found in Apse of Visitation Chapel in Paray-le-Monial (image from st. vincent images.)

After the first meeting with the Charismatic Renewal in Vézelay in 1974, a place dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene (the person who washed the feet of Jesus), Pierre Goursat had the inspiration to organize a meeting of the different prayer groups and communities of Charismatic Renewal in Paray-le-Monial. “To be at the feet of Jesus is good; to be on His heart is better!” It happened in 1975. It was only when they were there that they discovered that it was the year of the Tercentenary of the Appearances. Since this first session, Paray-le-Monial has gradually rediscovered its vocation as a sanctuary and a centre of pilgrimage, close to the heart of Jesus.

Feast of the Sacred Heart

The Feast of the Sacred Heart (or properly, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart) is a holy day in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. It falls 19 days after Pentecost, on a Friday.

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