February Feast Days

St.Margaret of Cortona

Margaret of Cortona, penitent, was born in Loviana in Tuscany in 1247. Her father was a small farmer. Margaret’s mother died when she was seven years old. Her stepmother had little care for her high-spirited daughter.

Rejected at home, Margaret eloped with a youth from Montepulciano and bore him a son out of wedlock. After nine years, her lover was murdered without warning. Margaret left Montpulciano and returned as a penitent to her father’s house. When her father refused to accept her and her son, she went to the Friars Minor at Cortona where she received asylum. Yet Maragaret had difficulty overcoming temptations of the flesh. One Sunday she returned to Loviana with a cord around her neck. At Mass, she asked pardon for her past scandal. She attempted to mutilate her face, but was restrained by Friar Giunta. Margaret earned a living by nursing sick ladies. Later she gave this up to serve the sick poor without recompense, subsisting only on alms. Evenually, she joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and her son also joined the Franciscans a few years later. Margaret advanced rapidly in prayer and was said to be in direct contact with Jesus, as exemplified by frequent ecstacies. Friar Giunta recorded some of the messages she received from God. Not all related to herself, and she courageously presented messages to others. In 1286, Margaret was granted a charter allowing her to work for the sick poor on a permanent basis. Others joined with personal help, and some with financial assistance. Margaret formed her group into tertiaries, and later they were given special status as a congregation which was called The Poverelle (“Poor Ones”). She also founded a hospital at Cortona and the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy.

Some in Cortona turned on Margaret, even accusing her of illicit relations with Friar Giunta. All the while, Margaret continued to preach against vice and many, through her, returned to the sacraments. She also showed extraordinary love for the mysteries of the Eucharist and the Passion of Jesus Christ. Divinely warned of the day and hour of her death, she died on February 22, 1297, having spent twenty-nine years performing acts of penance. She was canonized in 1728. Her feast day is February 22nd.

February Feast Days

St.Peter Damian

St. Peter Damian is one of those stern figures who seem specially raised up, like St. John Baptist, to recall men in a lax age from the error of their ways and to bring them back into the narrow path of virtue.

He was born at Ravenna and, having lost his parents when very young, he was left in the charge of a brother in whose house he was treated more like a slave than a kinsman. As soon as he was old enough he was sent to tend swine. Another brother, who was archpriest of Ravenna, took pity on the neglected lad and undertook to have him educated. Having found a father in this brother, Peter appears to have adopted from him the surname of Damian. Damian sent the boy to school, first at Faenza and then at Parma. He proved an apt pupil and became in time a master and a professor of great ability.

He had early begun to inure himself to fasting, watching and prayer, and wore a hairshirt under his clothes to arm himself against the alurements of pleasure and the wiles of the devil. Not only did he give away much in alms, but he was seldom without some poor persons at his table, and took pleasure in serving them with his own hands. After a time Peter resolved to leave the world entirely and embrace a monastic life away from his own country. While his mind was full of these thoughts, two religious of St. Benedict, belonging to Fonte Avellana of the Reform of St. Romuald, happened to call at the house where he lived, and he was able to learn much from them about their Rule and mode of life. This decided him and he joined their hermitage, which was then in the greatest repute. The hermits, who dwelled in pairs in separate cells, occupied themselves chiefly in prayer and reading, and lived a life of great austerity. Peter’s excessive watchings brought on a severe insomnia which was cured with difficulty, but which taught him to use more discretion. Acting upon this experience, he now devoted considerable time to Sacred studies, and became as well versed in the Holy Scriptures as he formerly had been in profane literature. By the unanimous consent of the hermits he was ordered to take upon himself the government of the Community in the event of the superior’s death. Peter’s extreme reluctance obliged the abbot to make it a matter of obedience. Accordingly after the abbot’s decease about the year 1043, Peter assumed the direction of that holy family, which he governed with great wisdom and piety. He also founded five other hermitages in which he place Priors under his own general direction.

His chief care was to foster in his disciples the spirit of solitude, charity, and humility. Many of them became great lights of the Church, including St. Dominic Loricatus, and St. John of Lodi, his successor in the priory of the Holy Cross, who wrote St. Peter’s life and at the end of his days became Bishop of Gubbio. For years Peter Damian was much employed in the service of the Church by successive Popes, and in 1057 Stephen IX prevailed upon him to quit his desert and made him Cardinal-bishop of Ostia. Peter constantly solicited Nicholas II to grant him leave to resign his bishopric and return to the solitude, but the Pope had always refused. His successor, Alexander II, out of affection for the holy man, was prevailed upon with difficulty to consent, but reserved the power to employ him in Church matters of importance, as he might hereafter have need of his help. The saint from that time considered himself dispensed not only from the responsibility of governing his See, but from the supervision of the various religious settlements he had controlled, and reduced himself to the condition of a simple monk. In this retirement he edified the Church by his humility, penance and compunction, and labored in his writings to enforce the observance of morality and discipline. His style is vehement, and his strictness appears in all his works – especially when he treats of the duties of the clergy and of monks. He severely rebuked the Bishop of Florence for playing a game of chess. That prelate acknowledged his amusement to be unworthy, and received the holy man’s reproof meekly, submitting to do penance by reciting the psalter three times and by washing the feet of twelve poor men and giving them each a piece of money. Peter wrote a treatise to the Bishop of Besancon in which he inveighed against the custom by which the Canons of that Church sang the Divine Office seated in choir, though he allowed all to sit for the lessons. He recommended the use of the discipline as a substitute for long penitential fasts. He wrote most severely on the obligation of monks and protested against their wandering abroad, seeing that the spirit of retirement is an essential condition of their state. He complained bitterly of certain evasions whereby many palliated real infractions of their vow of poverty. He justly observed, “We can never restore primitive discipline when once it is decayed; and if we, by negligence, suffer any diminution in what remains established, future ages will never be able to repair the breach. Let us not draw upon ourselves so foul a reproach; but let us faithfully transmit to posterity the example of virtue which we have received from our forefathers.”

St. Peter Damian fought simony with great vigor, and equally vigorously upheld clerical celibacy; and as he supported a severely ascetical, semi-eremitical life for monks, so he was an encourager of common life for the secular clergy. He was a man of great vehemence in all he said and did; it has been said of him that “his genius was to exhort and impel to the heroic, to praise striking achievements and to record edifying examples…an extraordinary force burns in all that he wrote”. In spite of his severity, St. Peter Damian could treat penitents with mildness and indulgence where charity and prudence required it. Henry IV, the young king of Germany, had married Bertha, daughter of Otto, Marquee of the Marches of Italy, but two years later he sought a divorce under the pretense that the marriage had never been consummated. By promises and threats he won over the archbishop of Mainz, who summoned a council for the purpose of sanctioning the annulment of the marriage; but Pope Alexander II forbade him to consent to such an injustice and chose Peter Damian as his legate to preside over the synod. The aged legate met the king and bishops at Frankfurt, laid before them the order and instructions of the Holy See, and entreated the king to pay due regard to the law of God, the Canons of the Church and his own reputation, and also to reflect seriously on the public scandal which so pernicious an example would give. The nobles likewise entreated the monarch not to stain his honor by conduct so unworthy. Henry, unable to resist this strong opposition, dropped his project of a divorce, but remained the same at heart, only hating the queen more bitterly than ever. Peter hastened back to his desert of Fonte Avellana. Whatever austerities he prescribed for others, he practiced himself, remitting none of them even in his old age. He use to make wooden spoons and other little useful things that his hands might not be idle during the time he was not at work or at prayer. When Henry, Archbishop of Ravenna, had been excommunicated for grievous enormities, Peter was again sent by Alexander II as legate to settle the troubles. Upon his arrival at Ravenna he found that the prelate had just died, but he brought the accomplices of his crimes to a sense of their guilt and imposed on them suitable penance. This was Damian’s last undertaking for the Church.

As he was returning towards Rome he was arrested by an acute attack of fever in a monastery outside Faenza, and died on the eighth day of this illness, while the monks were reciting Matins round about him, on February 22, 1072. St. Peter was one of the chief forerunners of the Hildebrandine reform in the Church. His preaching was most eloquent and his writing voluminous, and he was declared a doctor of the Church in 1828. His feast day is February 21st.

February Feast Days, Our Lady of Fatima

St.Francisco Marto

Francisco was born 11 June 1908, the sixth of seven children of Manuel and Olimpia Marto. He was a handsome boy, with light hair and dark eyes. He loved games and other children, yet without the spirit of competition. He would not complain when treated unfairly, and gave up a treasured possession (a handkerchief stamped with the image of Our Lady) rather than contend for it. He was a peacemaker, but courageous, as his conduct under questioning by the Mayor would later show. He also had a mischievous turn. He was known to drop strange and inedible objects in his sleeping brother’s mouth. He had a love for nature, and animals in particular. He played with lizards and snakes, and would bring them home, to his mother’s chagrin. Once he gave a penny, all the money he had, to a friend for a captured bird, only to set the bird free. He played a reed pipe, to which Lucia and his sister Jacinta would sing and dance. In short, he was a kind, gentle boy, not yet a Saint, but one predisposed by God for the graces soon bestowed on him.

Alone among the three, Francisco never heard the Lady’s words, although he saw her and felt her presence. After the first apparition, Lucia conveyed the Lady’s message to him, that he would go to heaven if he prayed many Rosaries. In the second apparition, Lucia asked to be taken to heaven, and the Lady replied that Francisco and Jacinta would be taken soon, but Lucia would have to wait for a time. She died February 13, 2005 at the age of 97.

In the third apparition, the children were given a secret, including a vision of hell, which so changed them that they became more like adults than children. At this time the Mayor of the district, Artur de Oliveira Santos, a Freemason, devised a scheme to discredit the apparitions by terrorizing the children. He tried to bully them into admitting they lied, threatened to boil them in oil if they withheld the Lady’s “Secret” (Francisco showed extravagant courage in anticipation of going to heaven), and jailed them to keep them from their appointment with the Lady on the day of the fourth apparition (August 13). They kept their appointment two days later.

For the fifth apparition, tens of thousands attended, having been alerted by the press to the Mayor’s controversy with the children. Among the curious was a seminary professor from Santarem, Dr. Manuel Formigao, who questioned the children afterward and became convinced of their veracity.

When the public learned of a miracle promised for the next appointed day, many resolved to be there, and on October 13 perhaps 70 thousand people were present for the miracle of the sun.

After the apparitions ended, Francisco was enrolled in school but played truant as often as possible. He preferred to spend time praying to the “Hidden Jesus” in the Tabernacle. His great concern was to console His sorrowing Lord and the Heart of His Mother. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Francisco answered, “I don’t want to be anything. I want to die and go to heaven.”

In August 1918, when World War I was nearing an end, Francisco and Jacinta both contracted influenza. They had short reprieves, but their decline was inevitable. In April of the following year, Francisco, knowing his time was short, asked to receive the Hidden Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. The next morning, April 4th, at ten o’clock, he died with a glow on his shrunken face. He was buried the next day in a little cemetery in Fatima, across from the parish church, and later translated to the Sanctuary at Cova da Iria.

February Feast Days

St.Jacinta of Fatima

Jacinta Marto

(11 March 1910 – 20 February 1920)

Two years younger than Francisco, Jacinta charmed all who knew her. She was pretty and energetic, and had a natural grace of movement. She loved to dance, and was sorry when their priest condemned dancing in public. Sometimes willful, she would pout when she did not get her way. She took a special delight in flowers, gathering them by the armful and making garlands for Lucia. At a First Communion, she was among the little “angels” spreading petals before the Blessed Sacrament. She had a marked love for Our Lord, and at the age of five she melted in tears on hearing the account of His Passion, vowing that she would never sin or offend Him anymore.

She had many friends, but above all she loved her cousin Lucia, and was jealous of her time and attention. When Lucia, at the age of ten, became unavailable for play, being sent by her parents to pasture their sheep, Jacinta moped in loneliness-until her mother gave in and allowed her, with Francisco, to take a few sheep to pasture with Lucia.

Her sheep too became her friends. She gave them names, held their little ones on her lap, and tried to carry a lamb home on her shoulders, as she had seen in pictures of the Good Shepherd.

Her days were playful and happy, delighting with her brother and cousin in the things of nature around her. They called the sun “Our Lady’s lamp,” and the stars “the Angels’ lanterns,” which they tried to count as it grew dark. They called out to hear their voices echo across the valley, and the name that returned most clearly was “Maria.”

They said the Rosary every day after lunch, but to make more time for play, they shortened it to the words “Our Father” at the beginning of each decade, followed by “Hail Mary” ten times. This frivolity would soon change.

In the spring of 1916, as the children watched their sheep, an Angel appeared to them in an olive grove. He asked the children to pray with him. He appeared again in midsummer at a well in Lucia’s garden, urging them to offer sacrifice to God in reparation for sinners. In a final appearance, at the end of the summer, the Angel held a bleeding Host over a chalice, from which he communicated the children. This experience separated them from their playmates and prepared them for the apparitions to come.

As might be expected, the three were changed by the visitations of the Queen of Heaven. Jacinta, talkative sometimes to a fault, became quiet and withdrawn. After the first apparition, Lucia had sworn her and her brother to secrecy. But Jacinta, bubbling over, had let slip all they had seen to her family, who then told the village. The news was received with skepticism by many, with mockery by some, and with anger by Lucia’s mother. Jacinta was so contrite, she promised never to reveal another secret.

Her reluctance to reveal anything more of their experiences was increased by the vision of hell given the children in the third apparition seems to have affected Jacinta the most. To rescue sinners from hell, she was in the forefront of the three in voluntary mortifications, whether it was in giving up their lunches (sometimes to their sheep), refusing to drink in the heat of the day, or wearing a knotted rope around their waists. Involuntary penances included for her, as for her brother and cousin, the constant mockery of unbelievers, badgering by skeptical clergy, and needling by believers to reveal the Lady’s secret.

Following the miracle of the sun, Jacinta complied with many requests for her intercessions. On one occasion she seems to have bilocated, in order to help a wayward youth find his way home. Lost in a stormy wood, he had knelt and prayed, and Jacinta appeared and took him by the hand, while she was at home praying for him.

When she came down with influenza, she was removed from her family to a hospital a few miles away. She did not complain, because the Blessed Mother had forewarned her that she would go to two hospitals, not to be cured, but to suffer for the love of God and reparation for sinners. She stayed in the first hospital for two months, undergoing painful treatments, and then was returned home. She developed tuberculosis and was sent to Lisbon, first to a Catholic orphanage. There she was able to attend Mass and see the Tabernacle, and she was happy. But her stay there was short. She was soon transferred to the second hospital prophesied by the Blessed Mother, where Jacinta was to make her final offering in dying alone. Her body came to rest in the Sanctuary built at the Cova da Iria, where the Lady had appeared to her.

~Source:EWTN.com

February Feast Days

Blessed Edvige Carboni

She was born in Sardinia at Pozzomaggiore, Italy in 1880 and died in Rome in 1952 with a reputation for holiness. She always remained lay and lived with her sister Pauline for many years. In the midst of the misfortunes of two world wars, from Sardinia to Rome, her life was all simplicity and silence; she was ordinary and normal in every way, as her biographer Ernesto Madau, narrates. She received the gift of the stigmata and numerous mystical graces, including that of seeing and talking with the Lord, Our Lady, and with the Angels and Saints.She always nourished a very deep devotion to the Eucharist, to Our Lady and the poor souls in Purgatory, who often came to visit her to ask for her prayers.

A great mystic, she read hearts, foretold future events, was raised in ecstasy from the chair on which she was kneeling, and often sweat blood from her brow. The wheat she gave away for making bread doubled. Often she would obtain the grace of rain. With her prayer she brought back to life a boy who had killed by a kick from his horse. In her Diary we find these notes that go back to 1938 in which we read that the Angels helped her continually: “I was praying to the good Jesus, when all at once an Angel presented himself to me and wounded my heart. To this day I still feel the wound; it is a wound that makes me burn with love for Jesus… One evening, while I was praying, an Angel took my heart. Feeling a great pain, I said: ‘Jesus, I love you even though I am repulsive to you. Chase me away as much as you wish, but I will always follow you.’

Edvige had continual contact also with her Guardian Angel who, according to her spiritual director, helped her even in carrying out her domestic duties, like making the bed for her sister Pauline, who was sick. On May 25, 1941, she wrote in her Diary :“While praying before the Most Blessed Sacrament, I was suddenly snatched from my senses: I saw Jesus on the cross dripping with blood from every wound. The blood was falling in streams that were wetting the floor. I saw some Angels, with golden chalices in their hands, putting the chalice near the wounds; in a moment the chalice was full. One would leave and another one would come, with a new chalice. Some of the blood was getting lost. Jesus was crying. ‘Why are you crying’, I asked. ‘Daughter, I am crying because I see that much of my blood, which I shed during my painful Passion, is getting lost without any benefit.’… One night, while I was praying, an Angel appeared with a crown of thorns in his hands. He put it on my head and I felt a great pain, because it was piercing my head, so much so that for several days, I could no longer open one eye, because it had gotten red, and it seemed that inside the eye there was a thorn.”

divine mercy, February Feast Days

Blessed Michael Sopocko

Michał Sopocko was born on November 1st,1888 in Juszewszczyzna (known also as Nowosady) in Oszmiana district. After graduating municipal school in Oszmiana, he joined the Theological Seminary in Vilnius in 1910 and received the sacrament of his Holy Orders in 1914. His first parish was Taboryszki, where he performed his pastoral duties in the years 1914-1918. In 1918 he went to Warsaw to study moral theology at the Department of Theology of the Warsaw University. In 1923 he received his master’s degree and in 1926 his doctoral degree in theology.

In the years 1922-1924 he also studied at the Higher Pedagogical Institute while performing the duties of military chaplain. In 1924 Fr Sopoćko was appointed Head of the Military Chaplaincy for the Vilnius Region and returned to his own diocese where he remained until 1929. In 1927 he was also appointed spiritual father and confessor of the seminary In Vilnus and in 1928 he became the Head of the Department of Pastoral Theology at the Batory University. In 1932 he withdrew from his spiritual activities to devote himself to scientific work. He received his post-doctoral degree in 1934 at the Pastoral Theology Department of the Warsaw University. He received a positive opinion for the title of professor , however he did not get the nomination due to financial difficulties existing at the Theological Faculty of the Batory University. He carried on educational and scientific work up to the closure of the University and Seminary during World War II. His scientific achievements from this period revealed in numerous publications on pastoral theology, homiletics, catechetics and pedagogy. He also wrote numerous studies on popular religious and social issues.

During the German occupation, he managed to avoid arresting and for two and a half years was hiding in the vicinity of Vilnius. In 1944 after the resumption of activity of the Seminary in Vilnius he taught there until it was closed in 1945 by the Soviet authorities and was relegated to Bialystok. In the meantime he was performing pastoral ministry at the church of St. John, catechized, secretly organized catechetical courses. Threatened with arrest for this activity, he left in 1947 to Bialystok. Here he gave lectures at the Seminary in his specialties: pedagogy, catechetics, homiletics, pastoral theology, ascetic theology. He also taught Latin and Russian. An important part of his post-war activities within the Anti-Alcohol Social Committee were his educational programmes promoting sobriety in a society. Then, in the years 1951-1958 he organized a series of monthly and annual catechetical courses for nuns and lay people, and in the 50s and 60s also organized public lectures on religion at the parish church in Bialystok. In 1962, he retired, but devoted himself to pastoral work at the chapel of the Missionary Sisters of St. Family in Poleska Street, which he had expanded in 1957. At that time he also made efforts to build a church in Wiejska Street in Bialystok. Almost to the end of his days he participated actively in the life of the diocese, worked scientifically and published his work. He died in the house of the Missionary Sisters in Poleska Street on February 15, 1975.

Father Michał Sopocko devoted his all life to God and the Church. He was a man of extraordinary zeal for the glory of God which expressed in his numerous activities, rooted in a deep spiritual life. The diversity of his work was astonishing. He was a spiritual leader of a parish, a catechist, an organizer of education, a teacher, a lecturer at the University and Seminary, spiritual father, confessor of seminarians, priests and nuns, army chaplain, anti-alcohol activist, a builder of churches. However, in his life full of various activities, dominant and most beautiful path was the service to the idea of Divine Mercy., He is undoubtedly entitled to the honorable title of Apostle of Divine Mercy, beside St. Faustina Kowalska. As her confessor and spiritual director during the Vilnius period, inspired by her revelations, he devoted himself completely to spreading the truth and Divine Mercy cult. He published a number of works on Divine Mercy, sought to establish the feast, helped to paint the first picture of the Most Merciful Savior Jesus and co-founded the religious congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus. Recognizing his extremely zealous service to God and the Church in the priesthood and the sanctity of his life, in 1987 Fr. Sopoćko’s beatification process was initiated on the diocesan level, which lasted until 1993. In 2002, the documentation of the process, along with an extensive biography of Fr. Sopoćko, compiled in the so-called „Positio”, was forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. In 2004 the commission of theologians appointed by the Congregation positively assessed the Positio and then commission of cardinals affirmed the judgment of the theologians. Following this work of the Congregation on 20th December, 2004 in Vatican in the presence of the Holy Father the decree on the heroic virtues of the Servant of God was officially announced. In December 2007 at the Vatican a miracle was approved through the intercession of the Servant of God. The solemn beatification of Fr. Michał Sopocko took place on 28th September 2008 at the Shrine of Divine Mercy, where the mortal remains of the Blessed rest in peace.

-Bishop Henryk Ciereszko

February Feast Days

St.Claude de la Colombiere

CLAUDE LA COLOMBIÈRE, third child of the notary Bertrand La Colombière and Margaret Coindat, was born on 2nd February 1641 at St. Symphorien d’Ozon in the Dauphine, southeastern France. After the family moved to Vienne Claude began his early education there, completing his studies in rhetoric and philosophy in Lyon.

It was during this period that Claude first sensed his vocation to the religious life in the Society of Jesus. We know nothing of the motives which led to this decision. We do know, however, from one of his early notations, that he “had a terrible aversion for the life embraced”. This affirmation is not hard to understand by any who are familiar with the life of Claude, for he was very close to his family and friends and much inclined to the arts and literature and an active social life. On the other hand, he was not a person to be led primarily by his sentiments.

At 17 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Avignon. In 1660 he moved from the Novitiate to the College, also in Avignon, where he pronounced his first vows and completed his studies in philosophy. Afterwards he was professor of grammar and literature in the same school for another five years.

In 1666 he went to the College of Clermont in Paris for his studies in theology. Already noted for his tact, poise and dedication to the humanities, Claude was assigned by superiors in Paris the additional responsibility of tutoring the children of Louis XIV’s Munster of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert.

His theological studies concluded and now a priest, Claude returned to Lyon. For a time he was teacher in the College, then full-time preacher and moderator of several Marian congregations.

Claude became noted for solid and serious sermons. They were ably directed at specific audiences and, faithful to their inspiration from the gospel, communicated to his listeners serenity and confidence in God. His published sermons produced and still produce significant spiritual fruits. Given the place and the short duration of his ministry, his sermons are surprisingly fresh in comparison with those of better-known orators.

The year 1674 was a decisive one for Claude, the year of his Third Probation at Maison Saint-Joseph in Lyon. During the customary month of the Exercises the Lord prepared him for the mission for which he had been chosen. His spiritual notes from this period allow one to follow step-by-step the battles and triumphs of the spirit, so extraordinarily attracted to everything human, yet so generous with God.

He took a vow to observe all the constitutions and rules of the Society of Jesus, a vow whose scope was not so much to bind him to a series of minute observances as to reproduce the sharp ideal of an apostle so richly described by St. Ignatius. So magnificent did this ideal seem to Claude that he adopted it as his program of sanctity. That it was indeed an invitation from Christ himself is evidenced by the subsequent feeling of interior liberation Claude experienced, along with the broadened horizons of the apostolate he witnesses to in his spiritual diary.

On 2nd February 1675 he pronounced his solemn profession and was named rector of the College at Paray-le-Monial. Not a few people wondered at this assignment of a talented young Jesuit to such an out-of the-way place as Paray. The explanation seems to be in the superiors’ knowledge that there was in Paray an unpretentious religious of the Monastery of the Visitation, Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom the Lord was revealing the treasures of his Heart, but who was overcome by anguish and uncertainty. She was waiting for the Lord to fulfill his promise and send her “my faithful servant and perfect friend” to help her realize the mission for which he had destined her: that of revealing to the world the unfathomable riches of his love.

After Father Colombière’s arrival and her first conversations with him, Margaret Mary opened her spirit to him and told him of the many communications she believed she had received from the Lord. He assured her he accepted their authenticity and urged her to put in writing everything in their regard, and did all he could to orient and support her in carrying out the mission received. When, thanks to prayer and discernment, he became convinced that Christ wanted the spread of the devotion to his Heart, it is clear from Claude’s spiritual notes that he pledged himself to this cause without reserve. In these notes it is also clear that, even before he became Margaret Mary’s confessor, Claude’s fidelity to the directives of St. Ignatius in the Exercises had brought him to the contemplation of the Heart of Christ as symbol of his love.

After a year and half in Paray, in 1676 Father La Colombière left for London. He had been appointed preacher to the Duchess of York – a very difficult and delicate assignment because of the conditions prevailing in England at the time. He took up residence in St. James Palace in October.

In addition to sermons in the palace chapel and unremitting spiritual direction both oral and written, Claude dedicated his time to giving thorough instruction to the many who sought reconciliation with the Church they had abandoned. And even if there were great dangers, he had the consolation of seeing many reconciled to it, so that after a year he said: “I could write a book about the mercy of God I’ve seen Him exercise since I arrived here!”

The intense pace of his work and the poor climate combined to undermine his health, and evidence of a serious pulmonary disease began to appear. Claude, however, made no changes in his work or life style.

Of a sudden, at the end of 1678, he was calumniously accused and arrested in connection with the Titus Oates “papist plot”. After two days he was transferred to the severe King’s Bench Prison where he remained for three weeks in extremely poor conditions until his expulsion from England by royal decree. This suffering further weakened Claude’s health which, with ups and downs, deteriorated rapidly on his return to France.

During the summer of 1681 he returned to Paray, in very poor condition. On 15th February 1682, the first Sunday of Lent, towards evening Claude suffered the severe hemorrhage which ended his life.

On the 16th of June 1929 Pope Pius XI beatified Claude La Colombière, whose charism, according to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, was that of bringing souls to God along the gospel way of love and mercy which Christ revealed to us.