January 20, 2017
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Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart, was born in Joigny, France on December 12, 1779. She was a frail, intensely thoughtful child. She grew up in the simple home of a barrel maker where she received a remarkable education under the guidance of her brother, Louis. At age 16, Sophie went to Paris with Louis to study, following a demanding program that included mathematics, Latin, theology, and biblical studies. It was in Paris that she learned from Father Joseph Varin of plans for a new religious congregation whose end would be to glorify the Heart of Jesus. It was to be rooted in prayer and devoted to the ministry of education. On November 21, 1800, with three others, she consecrated her life “to make known the revelation of God’s love, whose source and symbol is the Heart of Christ.” The first school was in Amiens, France. On January 18, 1806, at the age of 26, Mother Barat was elected superior general of the order, an office she held until her death in 1865. On Ascension Thursday, May 25, 1865, Madeleine Sophie Barat died in Paris. She was beatified in May 1908 and was canonized a saint in 1925. Her feast is celebrated on May 25.