ST. MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE
Margaret Mary was the young lady and nun who was not believed.
Born in Burgundy, not far from the Swiss border, in 1647, she was the only daughter of a pious couple. Since she only had brothers to play with, she preferred the quiet of prayer to the tumultuous activities of boys. Very early, Margaret developed an intense love for the Blessed Sacrament.
All was well for a while, until her father died when she was about eight. The relative in charge of taking care of the family finances was not honorable and left the family to its own devices for years, plunging the family into poverty. Little Margaret sought consolation in visiting the Blessed Sacrament at church.
At that time, First Holy Communion was given to children a little older than now. She was nine when she was allowed to receive the first time. Soon afterwards, the child developed secret severe corporal mortifications, such as denial of food. This lasted until she came down with rheumatic fever and was paralyzed for four years. During this time, the young girl had visions of Jesus, which she thought was normal. Eventually, Margaret was a teenager and looking forward to her future. She made a vow to consecrate herself to a religious life. Almost instantly, she was healed. In honor of this miracle, Margaret added Mary to her name.
She was around 17 when the relative finally gave the family back their money. The brothers and their sister were drawn into the bright social life of the area. Her mother wanted her to find a husband. One night, after attending a carnival, Margaret Mary, had a vision of Jesus, all scourged and bloody. He reproached her for forgetting her vow from a few years before. But he also demonstrated his love for her. After that, Margaret Mary determined to retake up her vow.
When she was 24, our saint finally was accepted into the Visitation Convent in Paray-le-Monial, a village eighteen miles from the hamlet where she grew up. There was a problem, however. She had a problem proving to the Mother Superior and others that she really had a vocation. She was allowed to wear the habit, and work in the infirmary. She was humble, simple, frank, kind and patient. But she was inept at dealing with patients. Instead of waiting twelve months to make her vows as a nun, the Mother Superior made her wait 15 months.
A year after she professed, two days after Christmas, Sr. Margaret Mary began seeing visions of the Sacred Heart. It lasted eighteen months. Jesus revealed several devotions He wanted practiced: First Friday Communion, Holy Hour Eucharistic adoration on Thursdays and a Feast of the Sacred Heart every year 19 days after Pentecost.
When the little nun tried to get people to listen, she was not believed. Since she had trouble proving her vocation, they said the visions were probably not valid. Her sister nuns would not believe her. It was some time before the convent confessor, Claude de la Colombiere, heard and believed her. Later, when a new Mother Superior was elected, Sr. Margaret Mary was nominated her assistant. This is when the promulgation of the requests began.
The Feast of the Sacred Heart began, privately, in the convent thirteen years after the visions began. A chapel was built on the premises two years later. Sr. Margaret Mary died in 1690. The concept of First Friday Communion was officially recognized only 75 years after her death. Her writings were minutely examined for years before she was declared a Servant of God. This blessed woman was declared a saint by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.