Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Feast Day: October 17th

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only when He Caresses us, and to be cold immediately once He afflicts us. This is not true love. Thouse who love thus, love themselves too much to love God with all their heart.


- Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque


Religious of the Visitation Order. Apostle of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, born at Lhautecour, France, 22 July, 1647; died at Paray-le-Monial, 17 October, 1690.

    Her parents, Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn, were distinguished less for temporal possessions than for their virtue, which gave them an honourable position. From early childhood Margaret showed intense love for the Blessed Sacrament, and preferred silence and prayer to childish amusements. After her first communion at the age of nine, she practised in secret severe corporal mortifications, until paralysis confined her to bed for four years. At the end of this period, having made a vow to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, she was instantly restored to perfect health. The death of her father and the injustice of a relative plunged the family in poverty and humiliation, after which more than ever Margaret found consolation in the Blessed Sacrament, and Christ made her sensible of His presence and protection. He usually appeared to her as the Crucified or the Ecce Homo, and this did not surprise her, as she thought others had the same Divine assistance. When Margaret was seventeen, the family property was recovered, and her mother besought her to establish herself in the world. Her filial tenderness made her believe that the vow of childhood was not binding, and that she could serve God at home by penance and charity to the poor. Then, still bleeding from her self-imposed austerities, she began to take part in the pleasures of the world. One night upon her return from a ball, she had a vision of Christ as He was during the scourging, reproaching her for infidelity after He had given her so many proofs of His love. During her entire life Margaret mourned over two faults committed at this time--the wearing of some superfluous ornaments and a mask at the carnival to please her brothers.

    On 25 May, 1671, she entered the Visitation Convent at Paray, where she was subjected to many trials to prove her vocation, and in November, 1672, pronounced her final vows. She had a delicate constitution, but was gifted with intelligence and good judgement, and in the cloister she chose for herself what was most repugnant to her nature, making her life one of inconceivable sufferings, which were often relieved or instantly cured by our Lord, Who acted as her Director, appeared to her frequently and conversed with her, confiding to her the mission to establish the devotion to His Sacred Heart. These extraordinary occurrences drew upon her the adverse criticism of the community, who treated her as a visionary, and her superior commanded her to live the common life. But her obedience, her humility, and invariable charity towards those who persecuted her, finally prevailed, and her mission, accomplished in the crucible of suffering, was recognized even by those who had shown her the most bitter opposition.

    Margaret Mary was inspired by Christ to establish the Holy Hour and to pray lying prostrate with her face to the ground from eleven till midnight on the eve of the first Friday of each month, to share in the mortal sadness He endured when abandoned by His Apostles in His Agony, and to receive holy Communion on the first Friday of every month. In the first great revelation, He made known to her His ardent desire to be loved by men and His design of manifesting His Heart with all Its treasures of love and mercy, of sanctification and salvation. He appointed the Friday after the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart; He called her "the Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart", and the heiress of all Its treasures. The love of the Sacred Heart was the fire which consumed her, and devotion to the Sacred Heart is the refrain of all her writings. In her last illness she refused all alleviation, repeating frequently: "What have I in heaven and what do I desire on earth, but Thee alone, O my God", and died pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus.

    The discussion of the mission and virtues of Margaret Mary continued for years. All her actions, her revelations, her spiritual maxims, her teachings regarding the devotion to the Sacred Heart, of which she was the chief exponent as well as the apostle, were subjected to the most severe and minute examination, and finally the Sacred Congregation of rites passed a favourable vote on the heroic virtues of this servant of God. In March, 1824, Leo XII pronounced her Venerable, and on 18 September, 1864, Pius IX declared her Blessed. When her tomb was canonically opened in July, 1830, two instantaneous cures took place. Her body rests under the altar in the chapel at Paray, and many striking favours have been obtained by pilgrims attracted thither from all parts of the world. Her feast is celebrated on 17 October.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX
Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910, Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York

Text Courtesy of

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
from Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, 1894

Saint Margaret Mary, a soul of divine predilection, was born at Terreau in Burgundy, on July 22, 1647. During her infancy she showed a wonderfully sensitive revulsion to the very idea of sin, and while still a young child always recited the entire Rosary every day. She lost her father at the age of eight years, and her mother placed her with the Poor Clares. She was often sick and for four years was bedridden, losing almost entirely the use of her members. She made a vow to Our Lady to become one of Her daughters if She cured her, and was suddenly entirely well.

She was of a happy temperament and her heart became easily attached to human affections. God began her purification when the charge of her mother's house was confided to persons who reduced the family to a sort of servitude. Margaret Mary turned to God for strength and consolation when she was accused of various crimes she had not committed. In short, the Saint of the Sacred Heart learned to suffer for Christ, with patience, what innocence can suffer in such situations.

She desired to be a religious, but her mother could not bear to hear a word of that desire. Finally God came to her assistance through a Franciscan priest, who told her brother that he would answer to God for the vocation of his sister. In 1671 she entered the Order of the Visitation of Mary, at Paray-le-Monial, and was professed the following year. She followed all the practices of the monastery in perfect obedience, spending as much time as she could in the chapel with her Lord. After sanctifying her by many trials, Jesus appeared to her in numerous visions, displaying to her His Sacred Heart, sometimes burning as a furnace, and sometimes torn and bleeding on account of the coldness and sins of men. "Behold this Heart which has so loved men, and been so little loved by them in return!"

In 1675, she was told by Our Lord that she, with the aid of Father Claude de la Colombiere of the Society of Jesus, was to be His instrument for instituting the feast of the Sacred Heart, and for spreading that devotion everywhere. This was not accomplished without great sufferings. The good Jesuit did all in his power to make known and loved the Heart of Jesus, but when it seemed all obstacles were about to disappear, his credit diminished, and his Superiors sent him to England. He returned to France exhausted and soon died.

Saint Margaret Mary was for a time Mistress of Novices, and in this office exercised a true apostolate, working to win for the Heart of Jesus the hearts of the young girls who were aspiring to religious consecration. She was persecuted when she sent one of them home, not having seen in her the indications of a genuine vocation; the family attempted to have her deposed. She remained in the charge but was deprived of Holy Communion on the First Friday of the month. This practice was one of Our Lord's specific requests; for souls who communicate nine First Fridays in succession, He promised the most wonderful graces. The demons also persecuted her visibly; nonetheless her entire Community was finally won over to devotion to the Divine Heart.

The Expiatory Sufferings of Blessed Margaret Mary
by the Rev. Charles B. Garside, M.A., 1874

On the first Friday every month the Sacred Heart appeared to Blessed Margaret under the form of a blazing sun, which poured its scorching, yet vitalizing rays into her own breast. It was on one of these occasions that she received the following definite commands: (1) She was communicate as often as she was not forbidden by her Superiors (2) she was to make a rule of communicating on the first Friday of every month and (3) she was to be plunged every night between Thursday and Friday into an agony of sadness and desolation, which should be a repetition, or rather a reflection, so to speak within her soul of the terrible woe endured by her Lord in the Garden of Gethsemani; she was to feel as if suffering it together with Him, and she was instructed to rise at eleven, and falling on her face to remain prostrate on the ground for an entire hour. By this practice Our Lord gave her to understand that she should bear Him company as if she had been in the Garden of Sorrows when the apostles fell asleep through weariness, and that, whilst thus sweetening for Him some of the bitterness which their conduct had caused in His Heart she should also implore mercy for sinners.

On several occasions Our Lord condescended to make this elect spouse sympathize in His sorrows, not merely by bringing before her mind, in the form of a mental contemplation, the recollection of what He had undergone, but by so uniting her with Himself and the scenes of His suffering life, that, by a kind of mysterious intercommunion, she became, to adopt St. Peter's expression, a real partaker in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter iv. 18). She participated to an extraordinary degree in that fellowship "of the Cross of Christ" by which, St. Leo says, "we ourselves co-operate in some measure with that which He has achieved for us;" for "if we suffer we shall also reign with Him," writes the apostle Paul (2 Tim. ii. 12). The Crucified drew her so closely to Him that His thorns, spear, and nails entered mystically into her own being; she lived, in some sense, which it is beyond the power of human language to explain, the life of the Man-God, as He Himself declared that she should; and not only did she undergo something akin to His pain, but again and again, when He was offended by the sins of others, she was told to appease His anger by suffering with Him, and at the same time by offering up those pains of her own as a mode of intercession for them. Her pains in themselves were worthless; but such is the vicarious force of charity, such is the all-pervading effect of co-membership in that Church which is the " body of Christ," such is the desire of the Head that His virtue should flow through secondary and inferior channels united with Himself, that many souls were restored to favor and pardon through Margaret's holy afflictions, whom their Lord would not have forgiven so easily, if at all, had she not thrown her mite of expiation into the treasury of that Heart of Jesus which had inspired and enabled her to present the offerings.

Incidents and revelations of this kind in the life of Blessed Margaret are a luminous commentary upon those deep words of St. Paul, "I fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church" (Col. i. 24). " The sufferings of Christ abound in us " (2 Cor. i. 5). "We perish not, always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus " (2 Cor. iv. 10). " I bear the marks of the Lord in my body" (Gal. vi. 17). "With Christ I am nailed to the cross " (Gal. ii. 19). Speaking of certain nuns who had failed in their duty to Jesus Christ, Margaret Mary says that He told her to charge herself with the burden of restoring them to His favor, and she succeeded; but she adds, "I had to suffer much. Hell itself is not more dreadful than a heart deprived of the love of my beloved."

It is a matter of faith, the denial of which would be heresy, that Christ's sufferings were more than sufficient to redeem the world and atone for every sin that has been or could be committed by man. But it is no less true that Christ, in His own infinite wisdom, makes the application of this redemption and the gift of many graces to individuals dependent upon certain conditions. As incorporation into His Church, faith, hope, charity, prayers, obedience, and sacraments are undoubtedly necessary in order that we may share in the fruits of Christ's meritorious works, so also He makes suffering a means of this participation. If Christ is induced to grant many mercies for others if we pray for them, which He would not have conceded without our prayers, it is not difficult to understand that He may also lay crosses on some members of His Church, in order that He may, in return for that penance, bestow unmerited favors upon others. As it is part of the dispensation of an incarnate God to carry on His kingdom by the aid of "fellow-workers," so it is part of the same dispensation to carry it on by the aid of fellow-sufferers. The Church of Christ is "one body," and, as many of the Fathers say, the suffering of Christ and His Church is one, since their life and soul are one." Christ," writes St. Augustine, "is not only totally in the head, but also totally in the body." Thus the sufferings of His living members are united to His own, even called His own, and therefore possess a special value in His sight. When Saul persecuted the Christians, He did not, says St. Augustine, call them His servants, or even His friends, but Himself: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" As also Jesus Christ delights in utilizing, so to speak, every good work of His own children by drawing it into an exalting fellowship with His own obedience to His heavenly Father, and making it fertile in advantages to the Church at large, so in various ways and degrees He seals the sufferings of others with the stamp of His own sacred cross. And the holier His children are, the more frequently and deeply He invites them to help their brethren by enduring hard sacrifices for their sakes: thus they, like Him, become poor, that others through their poverty may become rich.

Those who regard the redemption of man by Christ as a merely outward payment by Him of a debt due from guilty sinners to God, also regard the pardon of man and the relation that has been established between Christ and him as entirely external. They do not comprehend that the atoning act on the Cross was only the beginning of that mystery of love by which Christ, the second Adam, incorporates us into Himself, so that as the branches live by the very life of the vine, and through the power of that imparted life "bring forth fruit," in like manner the spirit of Jesus dwells in man. The Christian is said by St. Paul to be "a new creature in Christ" (2 Cor. v. 17); to have "Christ in him, the hope of glory " (Col. i. 27); "the Holy Ghost dwelleth in us " (2 Tim. i. 14); and Christ is described as "our life;" not our future life only, but our present life--"Christ, Who is your life," says St. Paul [Col. iii. 4). "Abide in Me and I in you," is Our Lord's own command (John xv. 4). "Not I, but Christ, liveth in me," is the Apostle's description of himself (Gal. ii. 20). " He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit," i.e. one spirit with Christ (1 Cor. vi. 17); and we are also declared to be "members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones" (Eph. v. 30). Our Lord, moreover, prayed not for the apostles only, but "for them also who through their word shall believe in Me; that all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they may be one in us . . . that they may be one, as we also are one" (John xvii. 20-28). What Catholic language can go beyond these words? This is the true Gospel, and they who believe it recognize the sacred value of the actions and sufferings of those who are vitally united in Jesus Christ. Any other Christianity is a human fiction and not a divine reality.

In further illustration of the peculiar expiatory office which Our Lord frequently charged our saint to fulfil in behalf of others, we may here mention that she suffered in an especial manner during every carnival, on account of the excesses that were then committed; her mental anguish caused always a severe bodily illness; but as soon as Ash Wednesday came, she was well and cheerful. In one of these states of suffering, she was told by Our Lord that "a single holy soul could obtain pardon from God for a thousand sinners."

Sometimes Our Lord, in order to save a soul which was on the point of being lost for ever, would make His servant feel the frightful agony of a reprobate sinner at the point of death; with reference to which she said: "I never experienced anything so horrible; I have no words to explain it."

Text courtesy of Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Prayers in honor of  Saint Margaret Mary

O Holy Visitandine, to hear your name is to recall the Sacred Heart Devotion, especially as practiced on First Fridays and in making reparation for sins. From early youth you dedicated yourself to Jesus and you exhibited fervent love for him in the Eucharist. You became his chosen vessel to spread the devotion to the Sacred heart which has done wonders in modern times. Make all of us realize ever more Christ's words: "Behold this Heart that has so greatly loved people." Amen.

Litany of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us. Christ hear us.
Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven,
Have mercy on its.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
Pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Pray for us.
Saint John,
Pray for us.
Saint Francis of Sales, etc
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal,
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque,
St. Margaret Mary, Pearl of great price,
Flower of the field,
Lily of the valleys,
Morning rose,
Child, most dear to Mary,
Incense of sweet odor,
Palm of patience,
Treasure of charity,
Despiser of the world,
Spouse beloved of Christ,
Violet of the garden of St. Francis of Sales,
Star shining in the midst of clouds,
Rule of obedience,
Model of mortification,
Seraph before the altar,
Sanctuary of the Heart of Jesus,
Delight of the Heart of Jesus,
Apostle of the Heart of Jesus,
Plaintive dove,
Dove most beautiful,
Rock unmoved in the midst of tempests,
Mistress most gentle,
Angel of holy counsel,
Terror of demons,
Intercessor for sinners,
Solace of the poor,
Relief of the sick,
Holocaust of Divine Love,
New Star of the Church,
Joy of thy holy Institute,
Glory of thy people,

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant
seeking good pearls, who, when he had found one of
great price, gave all that he had and bought it.

V. Grace is poured abroad in thy lips.
R. Therefore God hath blessed thee forever.

Let us pray:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who hast wonderfully revealed to blessed Margaret, virgin, the unsearchable riches of Thy Heart: grant that we, by her merits and following her example, may love Thee in all things and above all things, and may be found worthy to obtain an eternal resting place in the same, Thy Heart. Who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer of Margaret Mary

Eternal Father, permit me to offer to You the Heart of your well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ, as He offers Himself to you in sacrifice. Receive this oblation for me, together with all the desires, sentiments, affections, movements and acts of this Sacred Heart. They are all mine, since He immolates Himself for me, and henceforth I wish to have no desires but His. Receive them in satisfaction for my sins, and in thanksgiving for all your benefits. Receive them, that through His merits, you may grant me all the graces necessary for me, especially the grace of Final Perseverance. Receive them as so many acts of love, adoration and praise, which I offer to your Divine Majesty, since it is by the Heart of Jesus you are worthily honored and glorified. Amen.

Blessed Margaret Mary and the Holy Angels
Messenger of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 1908
If we seek to deepen our spirit of practical, fervent devotion to the Holy Angels--to whom October is specially dedicated--our readers will find few pages replete with greater interest or devout suggestiveness than those bequeathed in the writings of Blessed Margaret Mary. Her feast occurs, as you know, on the 17th of the month. Like St. Frances of Rome, she seems to have been marvelously favored by the almost continual presence of these Holy Spirits, and on their powerful aid she confidently relied to help her in extending the knowledge, love and service of that Sacred Heart she loved so devotedly.

If we look for an explanation of this tender devotion to the Holy Angels, perhaps we may trace its origin to her grateful recognition of their fidelity to their Heavenly King when first He revealed to them the mystery of His Incarnate Love for men, and claimed their homage for His Divine and Human Nature, linked by the bond of hypostatic, or personal union.

Another not less pressing motive, and one which throws additional light on Blessed Margaret Mary's devotion to the Holy Angels, we gather from one of her letters. "The Heart of Jesus desires that we should cherish a particular devotion to the Holy Angels, because they have a special mission to love, honor and praise this Divine Heart in the Sacrament of Love. The Sacred Heart wishes us to foster this devotion to the Holy Angels, that, being united and associated with them, these Blessed Spirits may supply for our deficiencies when we kneel before His Eucharistic Presence. This service our Blessed Lord seeks, in order not only that we may render our homage and our love to Him, but also that we may supply for those who do not love Him, and also make reparation for any irreverences of which we may be guilty in the presence of His sanctity."

Her contemporaries tell us that her interviews with the angels were of almost daily occurrence, and frequently it was given her to see them grouped around the Tabernacle, as is especially mentioned in the vision which took place on the Feast of the Visitation A.D, 1688.

The Guardian Angel

It is a traditional belief in the Church, that, when God entrusts to any of His chosen servants some exceptional mission, He delegates an angel from Heaven to guide, uphold, strengthen and console them. Chosen by Divine Providence to be the Evangelist of devotion to the Sacred Heart, Blessed Margaret Mary furnished no exception to this dispensation. "One day, while enduring great suffering," she said, "our Blessed Lord came to console me, and spoke thus to me: 'My daughter, be not afflicted, for I will give thee a faithful Guardian Spirit who will always accompany thee, ever assist thee in all thine emergencies, and prevent Satan from prevailing against thee. And every fault into which thine enemy believes he will make thee fall, shall redound only to his confusion and shame.'

"This favor," she adds, "gave me such strength, that, subsequently, I felt I had nothing more to fear, for this faithful Guardian of my soul so lovingly helped me, that he released me from all my difficulties. I had the happiness of frequently beholding him visibly present, and of being frequently reproved and corrected by him . . . . Always did I find him ready to help me in my necessities, and never has he refused any request I made of him.

"On one occasion he said: 'I wish to declare to you who I am, that you may know the extent of the love which your Divine Spouse bears to you. I am one of those angels who stand near to the throne of the Divine Majesty, and who most fully participate in the glowing ardours of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. I desire to make you share in them, as much as you are capable of receiving them.'"

Angels of the Eucharist

A still more extraordinary privilege was vouchsafed to her on another occasion. "While kneeling in the vicinity of the Blessed Sacrament," she said, "the Sacred Heart of my Adorable Savior appeared to me more brilliant than the sun. It seemed to rest in the midst of flames--the flames of pure Love--while around it were seraphs hymning canticles of praise. These Blessed Spirits invited me to join them in intoning the glories of the Sacred Heart. But, when through reverence, I hesitated, they reproved me, saying, that, they had come to associate themselves with me in rendering to It a perpetual homage of love, adoration and praise. For this object they would, supply my place before the Blessed Sacrament, that through them, I might love It without interruption. Moreover, they declared, by this association with me, they would share in my suffering love, while I would be enabled to share in their love of exultation. They then inscribed on the Sacred Heart this Association in letters of gold, traced in ineffaceable letters of love!"

Resolutions: We draw from these visions of Blessed Margaret Mary
three practical resolutions.

First--After her example, to associate ourselves with the Holy Angels in adoring, praising and loving the Sacred Heart. "We shall unite ourselves with the Angels," says the servant of God, " in order that they may offer our homage to the Sacred Heart to supply what is wanting in us, to make reparation for our irreverences, and to love this Divine Heart for us."

Second--Not satisfied with assisting at one daily Mass, "we shall offer to Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament all the Masses which are celebrated all over the world during that day, and we shall entreat the Angels to assist at them for us, and offer them to God to appease His justice."

Third--Far from limiting ourselves to one or more brief visits to the Blessed Sacrament in the day, we should endeavor to make such a visitation of love perpetual by means of continued spiritual visits. "This we can do," says Blessed Margaret Mary, "by entreating the Angels as we leave the church at the end of each visit, to make reparation for any faults we may have fallen into in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament--to keep watch for us, in our absence, before the Tabernacle--and to offer to the good God, there sacramentally present, all that we ought to do for His greater glory and our own spiritual welfare."

Thrice happy shall all be, if, rising from the perusal of these recommendations of Blessed Margaret Mary, we efficaciously endeavor to weave them like golden threads into the web of our daily, hourly lives! To what a height of holiness should we all speedily attain, if our lives were thus sanctified by companionship with the Holy Angels! Distracted or absorbed in worldly toils, or cares, or sorrows, or worries, what a joy to think that we can, if we will, have the angels watching and praying for us before the altar--bringing endless blessings and favors from the Heart of Jesus into our lives! And how this thought should fill our souls with consolation and strength and confidence at Holy Communion, when assisting at Mass, paying our visits to the Blessed Sacrament, or making the Holy Hour!

The Promises by our Lord Jesus Christ to Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque
in favor of persons devoted to His Divine Heart

1. "I will give them all the grace necessary for their state of life."
2. "I will establish peace in their families.''
3. "I will console them in all their pains and trials."
4. ''I will be their assured refuge in life and especially in death."
5. "I will shed abundant blessings upon all their undertakings."
6. "Sinners shall find in My Heart an infinite ocean of Mercy."
7. ''Lukewarm souls will be rendered fervent."
8. "Fervent souls shall rise rapidly to greater perfection."
9. "I will bless every house in which an image to My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored."
10. "I will give to Priests the talent of moving the hardest hearts."
11. "The names of those who propagate this devotion shall be written in My Heart, from which they shall never be effaced."
12. "Publish, and cause it to be published, over all the world, that I will set, no limits to My graces for those souls that come to seek them in this. My Heart."