Feast: June 19

Church: Troy

Christians have meditated on the mystery of Christ’s heart being poured out in love for all humanity since the very early days of the Church, but the way in which we celebrate the Sacred Heart today comes to us from a Visitation nun named St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

Born in 1647, Margaret Mary entered the Order of the Visitation Nuns in 1671; three years later, while praying before the Blessed Sacrament, she began to experience the first of three revelations in which Jesus appeared to her, showing her His heart surrounded by thorns and crowned with a cross and flames.

He told her He wanted to make His love for all people evident through her. He asked her to share that image of His heart with everyone. “Wherever this sacred image would be exposed for veneration,” she said, “He would pour forth His graces and blessings.” Special graces were promised to those who received Holy Communion on nine consecutive First Fridays; a holy hour was to be observed every Thursday night in commemoration of Jesus’ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane; and a special feast day was to be instituted to honor His Sacred Heart.

As is the case with many holy people, St. Margaret Mary was met initially with scorn for her visions. Finally, with help from her confessor, both she and her revelations were accepted as genuine, and the Feast of the Sacred Heart is now celebrated 19 days after Pentecost. This year, that falls on June 19.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church was established in 1940, and it is part of St. Andre Bessette Parish. This church has a relic of St. Andre. “Many traditional Catholic families build up this church,” said Father Sahaya Paul Siluvai Sebastian, parish administrator. “The Family Retreat in this church is well known, and many people from other states participate.” Family faith formation and religious education are conducted in the church for the whole parish. There is day of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every third Friday of the month. Confessions are heard every First Friday after Mass in the morning. “We honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the feast day with a Mass and Benediction,” the parish priest said. “Our church is happy with all the parishioners for they are much rooted in faith.”

—Originally published in the Summer 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.