We shall never know how many souls owe their salvation to the gifts communicated by God through Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), propagator of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the practice of the First Fridays of the month.
We shall never know how many souls owe their salvation to the gifts communicated by God through Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), propagator of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the practice of the First Fridays of the month. Her vocation to holiness was already manifested at the age of five, in a true mystery of love. “Without knowing why, I continually felt compelled to say these words: My God, I consecrate my purity to you and make you a vow of perpetual chastity”. It was the Lord who had inspired those words, which at that time were incomprehensible to her, as she recounted in her autobiography written out of obedience.
Fifth of seven children, she lost her father in her childhood. When she was 14 years old she had her first vision of Our Lady, who had cured her of a serious illness when she was a child. In her honour she added Mary to her name of Baptism and, protected by her, entered the Order of the Visitation. “The long-awaited day finally came to say goodbye to the world; never before had I felt such joy and determination in my heart”. On 27 December 1673, while she was worshipping in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, Margaret had the first revelation of Jesus about the secrets of the Sacred Heart. “He said to me: My Divine Heart is so passionate with love for mankind and for you in particular, that as it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its ardent Love, it feels the need to spread them through you and to manifest itself to all, to enrich them with the precious treasures that I will disclose to you and that contain the graces necessary for holiness and salvation in order to save them from the precipice of perdition”.
Jesus let her share in the sufferings of his Passion, sharing the wound in His side and the “mortal sadness” that He experienced in Gethsemane, which Margaret experienced every week on the night between Thursday and Friday. Because of these apparitions, later recognised by the Church, the Visitandine endured many misunderstandings in the monastery, until Jesus himself guided her to a spiritual director, the Jesuit Saint Claude de la Colombière, who soon realised he was faced with a chosen soul. Our Lord then showed her the Sacred Heart crowned with thorns and asked her to have a feast dedicated to it on the first Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, to adore it and make reparation for the ingratitude and “all the outrages received”. Despite the opposition of the Jansenist heresy and the refusal of the Catholic Louis XIV in 1689 to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart as requested by God (exactly one hundred years later the French Revolution would begin), the devotion spread.
The twelve promises that Margaret received from Jesus have been linked to the devotion to the Sacred Heart for the benefit of all its devotees. The twelfth is called the “Great Promise”, for the following reason: those who take Communion on the first Friday, for nine consecutive months, will receive the gift of dying in God's grace and “My Heart will become safe haven at that supreme moment”.
Autobiography, by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque