Apparitions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret – A Supplication from God

Just as roses bloom amidst thorns, so also the many struggles faced by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque formed the setting for the illustrious mission God had in store for her.

“I thirst” (Jn 19:28)! For centuries, Catholic piety has attributed a profound spiritual meaning to these words of Our Lord on Golgotha. They do not express merely the physical torment suffered by the Saviour, but above all, a mysterious plea for the souls He had come to redeem. Yes, the Creator of all things, the only Being who is sufficient in himself, thirsts for the love of His creatures.

Throughout the ages, this moving cry has echoed in the most diverse places. However, on few occasions has its resonance been so intense and poignant as in the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century.

A life of suffering: the setting for the apparitions

July 22, 1647, feast of St. Mary Magdalene. In the small town of Lautecourt, France, Margaret was born, the daughter of Claude Alacoque, a royal notary and judge, and Philiberte Lamyn.

From earliest childhood, the girl felt inwardly impelled to repeat: “My God, I consecrate my purity to Thee, and I vow perpetual chastity to Thee.”1 When her father died in 1655, she was entrusted to the care of a community of Poor Clares in Charolles, where she made her First Communion at the age of nine. She no longer found any pleasure in life other than being close to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

However, as she grew older, Margaret found her heart divided between her family and the contemplative life. Her family wanted her to contract a favourable marriage; the cloister, however, demanded total consecration. In the midst of this hard battle, the Lord came to her aid and, reminding her of the vow of chastity she had made since childhood, promised: “If you are faithful to Me, I will never leave you and I will be your victory against all your enemies.2 After this grace, the virgin firmly resolved to take the religious habit.

When, on May 25, 1671, she set foot for the first time in the locutorium of the Visitation monastery in Paray-le-Monial, she heard the words: “This is where I want you to be.”3 On June 20, Margaret left the world forever, entering the cloister of the Daughters of Holy Mary.

Providence took this consecration seriously, treating the newly professed as a chosen victim to be immolated on the Calvary of religious life. Just as roses bloom amidst thorns, so also the many struggles Margaret faced would be the setting for the extraordinary graces bestowed upon her. The trials were chiselling her soul so that the heavenly words would reach all corners of the earth with clarity, integrity and penetration.

Once the nun was thus prepared, it was time for the Sacred Heart of Jesus to announce His message to the world through her.

The first apparition

It was the liturgical feast of St. John the Evangelist, December 27, 1673. Margaret was praying in profound recollection before the Blessed Sacrament when Our Lord, making her rest on His Breast in the likeness of the Beloved Disciple, declared:

“My Divine Heart is so aflame with love for men, and in particular for you, that since it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its ardent charity; it must pour them out through you, and manifest itself to them in order to enrich them with its precious treasures.”4

He added: “I have chosen you as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance, for the realization of this great plan, so that everything may be done by Me.”5

Then, mystically taking the heart of His chosen one, the Lord placed it within His own, like a spark placed in a burning furnace, and then returned it transformed into a flame.

First Fridays

From that day on, the Saint would suffer terrible pains in her side as a pledge of the apparition’s authenticity. These pains were renewed especially on the first Fridays of each month. On these occasions, however, the Divine Master would appear to her in all His splendour in order to console her and communicate His designs to her.

In the adversities she endured in religious life, the Sacred Heart was preparing Margaret to receive His message
Chapel of the Apparitions – Monastery of the Visitation, Paray-le-Monial (France)

On one of these occasions, the Redeemer’s wounds shone like suns. Opening His pierced side, the Saviour revealed His adorable Heart, which was burning like a furnace, consuming itself in pure love for men – even for those who did not reciprocate His affection.

He then complained: “If they responded to Me with a little love, I would think nothing of all that I have done for them, and would do yet more, were it possible; however, they show only coldness and rejection towards all my efforts to do them good.”6 Such ingratitude caused the God-Man to suffer more cruelly than He did in the Passion.

And with moving ardour, He beseeched that chosen soul: “At least give Me the pleasure of making up for their ingratitude as much as you possibly can. […] You are to receive Communion every first Friday of each month; and every Thursday evening I will make you share in that terrible sadness that I experienced in the Garden.”7

Our Lord then instructed her to arise between eleven o’clock and midnight to keep vigil with Him, and to pray prostrate for an hour in order to appease divine wrath.

This is the origin of two well-known devotions that are highly recommended in our day: the holy hour and the Communion of reparation on the first Friday of every month, done by the faithful with the intention of atoning for the offences committed against the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Suffering in reparation for sins

Inside the cloister, Margaret had to suffer many misunderstandings and humiliations, which she offered in reparation for so much unrequited love and to appease divine wrath for the sins of men, especially of consecrated souls.

More than once, some priests and even her sisters in the community thought she had been deceived by the devil, to whom they attributed the revelations. The Saint herself went as far as trying to evade the charms of her Divine Spouse, who, however, complained to her: “Why do you fight against Me, who am your pure, true and only friend?”8 One day, finding herself particularly confused in the midst of such hardships, the Visitation nun heard a voice promise her: “Be patient and wait for my servant to come.”9

The servant that Providence reserved for her was Fr. Claude de La Colombière, superior of the Jesuits in Paray-le-Monial. Having been invited to give a talk to the Visitation Sisters, he met in private with Sr. Margaret, who told him of her difficulties. The priest reassured her of the divine origin of the phenomena she was experiencing and ordered her to write down everything she heard, taking it upon himself to plead the cause of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From that day on, he would be a true support for the nun.

The great revelation

On June 16, 1675, during the octave of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the best known of the revelations to St. Margaret Alacoque took place.

The virgin was praying in front of the tabernacle when Our Lord appeared to her over the altar and, pointing to His Divine Heart, uttered this sublime complaint:

“Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself in order to testify its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this Sacrament of love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me that treat Me thus.”10

With touching goodness, the Saviour then asked that, on the first Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, a feast be specially dedicated to making reparation to that most sweet Heart for the offences against the Holy Eucharist, charging his “servant”, Fr. La Colombière, to obtain this from the ecclesiastical authorities.

“Behold the Heart which has so loved men; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude”
Apparition of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque – Church of St. Leodegar, Delle (France)

And, as if to move the faithful of all times to heed His appeal, the God-Man pledged His words of eternal life: “I promise you that my Heart shall expand itself to shed in abundance the influence of its divine love upon those who shall thus honour it and cause it to be honoured.”11

The triumph of the Sacred Heart

Until this moment, however, the Saviour’s words had found little echo in the hearts of Margaret’s sisters. But nothing could dampen the spirits of the faithful nun, for she was encouraged by the Divine Spouse’s promise: “I will reign in spite of my enemies and all those who wish to oppose Me.”12

It was only towards the end of 1684 that those consecrated souls began to show openness to the new devotion. On June 21, 1686, the first feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was celebrated at the Visitation and, in 1688, a chapel in the monastery was dedicated in His honour.

Having conquered that core of consecrated souls, it was only a matter of time before devotion spread throughout the Catholic world, largely due to the zeal of Jesuit priests such as Fr. Jean Croiset and Fr. Ignatius Rolin. This dissemination was such a great source of consolation to the Saint that, as she confided to one of her Visitation sisters, since she no longer found any more occasions of suffering in this life, she felt close to the definitive encounter with her sole Love.

Great retreat

Thus, on July 22, 1690, the seer began a spiritual retreat with a view to preparing for her passage into eternity. Obedience, however, required an interruption to this period of recollection. The Saint was about to resume her exercises on October 9 when, shortly before the appointed date, she was struck down with a severe fever. Asked if she really had the strength to enter into such a regime of isolation, Margaret replied: “Yes, but it will be the great retreat.”13

In fact, her convalescence was short-lived. Although the doctors thought it was a passing illness, she knew she was in her final moments. “How sweet it is to die after having had a tender and constant devotion to the Heart of the One who will judge us,”14 she exclaimed at the time.

Finally, on the evening of October 17, the patient entered her agony. The community rushed to attend the sublime passage, and the chaplain hastened to administer the Last Sacraments. Before the priest had even finished the Extreme Unction, the dying woman exhaled her last breath after a gentle exclamation: “Jesus!”

The solace of reparation or the vinegar of indifference?

After St. Margaret’s death, devotion to the Sacred Heart spread widely through the Visitation monasteries and the dioceses of France, many of which approved their own liturgical feasts in response to the Saviour’s request for reparation. In 1856, Pius IX gave the celebration its universal character, inscribing it in the Roman Calendar, and on May 13, 1920, the “disciple of the Sacred Heart” was canonized by Benedict XV.

In this calamitous 21st century, in which outrages against the Heart of Jesus are multiplying everywhere, even among those who should honour it the most, the irrevocable promises made by the Sacred Heart are a pledge offered by the Redeemer to those who are willing to heed His call and to keep Him zealous company during the passion of His Mystical Bride, the Church.

Shall we follow St. Margaret’s example by answering this sublime plea with the solace of reparation? Or, like the Roman soldier, shall we offer Him the vinegar of indifference to quench His thirst? ◊

The Twelve Promises

Among the various excerpts from the sublime dialogues between Our Lord and St. Margaret, the promises made by the God-Man on different occasions to those who would respond to His appeal for love and reparation have become famous. For the spiritual benefit of the reader, they are listed below.

  1. I will grant them all the graces necessary for their state in life.
  2. I will establish peace in their homes.
  3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
  4. I will be their secure refuge in life, and especially at the hour of death.
  5. I will pour out abundant blessings on their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the origin and infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. The lukewarm will become fervent.
  8. The fervent will soon rise to great perfection.
  9. I will bless those places where an image of my Sacred Heart is displayed and honoured.
  10. I will give priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die without my grace nor without receiving the Sacraments; my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge at that last hour. ◊




1 ST. MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE. Vida de Santa Margarida Maria Alacoque escrita por ela própria. 3.ed. Braga: Apostolado da Oração, 1974, p.12.

2 Idem, p.31.

3 Idem, p.40.

4 Idem, p.57-58.

5 Idem, p.58.

6 Idem, p.60.

7 Idem, p.60-61.

8 Idem, p.80.

9 ROHRBACHER, René François. Vidas dos Santos. São Paulo: Editora das Américas, 1961, v.XVIII, p.280.

10 ST. MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE, op. cit., p.93-94.

11 Idem, p.94.

12 Idem, p.95.

13 GOBRY, Ivan. Sainte Marguerite Marie, la messagère du Sacré-Cœur. Paris: Téqui, 1989, p.252.

14 HERALDO DEL AMOR DE CRISTO. Margarita Maria Alacoque. Bogotá: Montoya e Araújo, 1988, p.136.



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