The Patroness of our parish family was born in 1779, in Burgundy, France. She grew up in the simple home of a wine barrel-maker where her brother Louis, unable to complete his training for the priesthood because of the political upheaval of the French Revolution, gave her a remarkable intellectual formation for a young girl of the time. He introduced her to mathematics, ancient history, the classics, literature and languages. At the age of sixteen, she went with Louis to Paris where she continued her studies in philosophy, theology and scripture.
It was in Paris she learned of plans to form a new congregation for women whose end would be to make known the universal and unconditional love of God revealed in the person of Jesus. On November 21, 1800, Madeleine Sophie and three others consecrated their lives to God in the Society of the Sacred Heart. In this act, they committed themselves to a way of life that would be deeply rooted in prayer and devotion to the service of others in union with Jesus.
Madeleine Sophie saw the education of women as the primary means by which the Society would enable others to come to know God's love and be empowered to bring about social change. Gradually she opened schools throughout France and Europe. In 1818, Mother Barat sent future saint Philippine Duchesne to North America and the Society spread through the United States and Canada.
Madeleine Sophie is said to have predicted her own death, which took place on Ascension Thursday, May 25, 1865. She was canonized in 1925 at which time the Church recognized her virtues of wisdom, humility and charity. On the Feast of the Sacred Heart, June 19, 2009, Madeleine Sophie's incorrupt body was moved from Brussels to the Church of Saint Francis Xavier in Paris.
St. Madeleine Sophie's Daily Prayer
Sacred Heart of Jesus, give me a heart that is one with your own:
A humble heart that knows and loves poverty,
A gentle heart that holds and calms its own anxieties,
A loving heart that has compassion for the suffering of others;
A pure heart that seeks only the face of God;
A detached heart that longs for nothing other than the goodness of heaven;
A heart detached from self-love and embraced by the love of God, its attention
focused on God, whose goodness is its only treasure in time and in eternity.