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Patsy and St Margaret Mary Feast 16th May

A highlight of our recent September Pilgrimage was a visit to Paray-le-Monial. Margaret Mary Alacoque was born in 1647 in Burgundy. From early childhood, she showed intense love for the Blessed Sacrament. Rheumatic fever confined her to bed for four years, but having made a vow to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, she was instantly restored to perfect health. It seems she also had visions of Jesus Christ, which she thought were a normal part of human experience. The death of her father plunged her family into poverty, and her only consolation was visits to the Blessed Sacrament in the local church. When she was 17, however, the family regained their fortune and her mother encouraged her to socialise, in the hopes of finding a suitable husband.
One night, after returning home from a ball, Margaret Mary experienced a vision of Christ. He reproached her for her forgetfulness of him, yet he also reassured her by demonstrating that his Heart was filled with love for her, because of the childhood promise she had made. As a result, she determined to fulfil her vow, and when she was 23 she entered the Visitation Convent at Paray-le-Monial in 1671, making her profession as a nun the next year.
Over 18 months from 27 December 1673 she received several private revelations of the Sacred Heart. The visions revealed to her details of devotion to the Sacred Heart, such as reception of Holy Communion on the first Friday of each month, Eucharistic Holy Hours on Thursdays, and the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Margaret Mary claimed that Jesus had permitted her to rest her head upon his heart, and disclosed to her the wonders of his love. He told her that he wanted to make them known to all, and that he had chosen her for this work. Initially discouraged in her efforts, she eventually received the support of Claude de la Colombière, S.J., the community’s confessor. The monastery observed the Feast of the Sacred Heart privately from 1686, and St Margaret Mary died in October 1690.
Later, the devotion to the Sacred Heart was fostered by the Jesuits, but the practice was not officially recognised until 75 years later. She was canonised by Pope Benedict V in 1920, and her body rests in the Chapel of the Apparitions.
Finally in an encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI affirmed the Church’s position regarding the credibility of her visions of Jesus Christ by speaking of Jesus as having “manifested Himself” to Saint Margaret

Fr Matthew

Newman to be canonised next Sunday

Pope Francis will canonise Blessed John Henry Newman in St Peter’s Square next Sunday 13 October. This will make Newman the first English person who has lived after the 17th century to be officially recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church.

John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890) was ordained as a Church of England priest and soon became the leader of the Oxford Movement, but converted to Catholicism in 1845. He founded the Oratory in England and was later made a cardinal. He is widely considered to be one of the most significant figures of the 19th century. When he died at the age of 89, more than 15,000 people lined the streets of Birmingham for his funeral.

The cause for his sainthood was opened in 1958. Pope Benedict XVI declared him Blessed in Birmingham in 2010 on his visit to Britain. The canonisation was made possible by a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman, consisting in the medically inexplicable healing of a pregnant Chicago woman with life-threatening complications due to her pregnancy.

During the beatification ceremony in 2010, Pope Benedict said that Newman tells us that “our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a ‘definite service’, committed uniquely to every single person. The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing subjects of the day. His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilised society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world.” Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said John Henry Newman is known “for many great qualities, but we remember him particularly for the kindness and compassion of his ministry to the people of Birmingham. At his death they turned out in their thousands to salute a much loved priest on his funeral procession through the streets of Birmingham.”

Edited from – a comprehensive website

St Vincent – A hard act to follow

Friday was the feast day of St Vincent de Paul, whose name lives on in many of our Parishes through the work of the St Vincent De Paul Society (SVP). He did not actually found the organization which bears his name, but a brief look at his life and work should explain why the Society formed in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam is named after this Apostle of Charity.  

Vincent was born in south-west France in 1581, experiencing poverty from an early age. He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 20, and in 1607 (following 3 years of slavery in North Africa) he moved to Paris and was appointed Chaplain to the house of Gondi – a family of wealthy Florentine merchants. Whilevisiting the hospitals of the poor in Paris, Vincent realised his true vocation lay in the service of the suffering and needy rather than in the courts of the wealthy. He was to spend the rest of his life in answer to that calling, with encouragement and financial support from the Gondi family and others of ‘high rank’ who responded to his appeals for assistance.

In the course of his work, Vincent established several organisations, all in existence today, devoted to the material and spiritual needs of the poor, including: 

The Confraternity of Charity formed in 1617 – an organisation of women who worked together in organising regular visits to the sick and needy, feeding and nursing them in their own homes.

Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) founded in 1625 – a society of apostolic life (religious order) for men formed for the spiritual education and needs of the ordinary people, and for training young men for the Priesthood. Its work now includes the provision of chaplaincies to hospitals, prisons, and the armed forces.

Daughters of Charity, a society of apostolic life for women established by Vincent and St Louise de Marillac in 1633. The Daughters, many of whom were country girls, were trained in the spiritual life, the care of the sick and education of the poor. Hospitals and soup kitchen were set up, as well as schools and homes for orphaned children. At the time of St Louise’s death in 1660 there were more than forty houses of the Daughters of Charity, and the sick poor were cared for in their own dwellings in twenty-six parishes in Paris. They have a house in Grand Avenue, Ely.  

Louise was canonised in 1934 and pronounced patron saint of social workers in 1960. Vincent also died in 1660 but had already been canonised in 1737. He is the patron of all works of charity

Hard acts to follow indeed!

Peter Morris, President 3 Churches SVP.