Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, 1779-1865
Born in the wine-producing Burgundy region of France, Sophie was educated by her brother, a priest. Through him she was introduced to Father Varin, who wanted to form an institute to teach young girls the virtues of living according to Christ’s plan. Sophie and three companions founded the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1800 when she was only twenty-one years old. They started their first convent and school at Amiens. Sister Sophie was appointed Superior General, although she was the youngest member of the group. She led it for sixty-three years.
The Society of the Sacred Heart founded convents and schools in many locations throughout the country. A community of Visitation nuns at Grenoble joined the Society, one of whom later became Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne.
The Society received formal approval from Pope Leo XII in 1826. Four years later, when a revolution ended Bourbon rule in France, the Society’s novitiate in Paris closed. Sister Sophie refused to let that stop the work for which Our Lord had chosen her. She went into neighboring Switzerland and founded a novitiate there. From there the Society spread into other European nations and abroad.
By the time of her death in Paris in 1865, the Sacred Heart Society had opened 105 schools and convents in twelve countries. Among her best-known words of advice were, “Let us attach ourselves to God alone, and turn our eyes and our hopes to Him.”
Discuss: What do you think Saint Madeleine meant by: “Let us attach ourselves to God alone, and turn our eyes and our hopes to Him.”
Thank a Catechist
Saint Madeleine taught others about God. Invite the group to tell about the people who have taught them about God.