In the Catholic Church, the month of June, is dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a popular devotion among the faithful that was prompted by Jesus Christ Himself during an apparition in 1673 to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

After the Vatican later deemed St. Margaret Mary’s visions credible and allowed promulgation of the devotion, it spread around the world.

St. Margaret Mary was born in France in 1647 and educated by the Poor Clares. At the age of 20, she entered the Order of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial in France. On Nov. 6, 1672, during a retreat prior to entering the order, the future saint had her first apparition of Christ. It was then that Our Lord told her to “Behold the wound in my side, wherein you are to make your abode, now and forever.”

On December 27, 1673, during adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Jesus again appeared to Margaret Mary and told her that “My divine Heart is so inflamed with love for mankind that it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its burning charity and must spread them abroad by your means.”

Over the next year and a half, she had three more visions of Jesus. During those visions, He taught her devotion to His Sacred Heart.

During one apparition of Our Lord to Margaret Mary, He promised that “The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.”

That promise was one of 12 made by Jesus for those faithful who would devote themselves to His Sacred Heart. In this time of uncertainty and fear as we cope with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, it is comforting to consider this other promise of Jesus for those who venerate His Sacred Heart: “I will console them in all their troubles. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.”

Jesus also requested that a Feast in Honor of His Sacred Heart be celebrated on the Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ). This year, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is Sunday, June 14, and the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is Friday, June 19.

St. Margaret Mary died Oct. 17, 1690. Her writings and accounts of her visions were examined – and later approved – by the Vatican and officially recognized by Pope Clement the XIII in 1765. In 1824, Pope Leo XII pronounced Margaret Mary Venerable. She was declared Blessed by Pope Pius IX in 1864, and canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XV in 1920. Although she died Oct. 17, her feast day is Oct. 16. Her body rests under the altar in the chapel of the convent where she lived and spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A traditional prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus includes the petition that Jesus grant “protection in the midst of danger, comfort in afflictions, health of body, assistant in temporal needs and the grace of a holy death.” 

Surely there can be no more fitting time than now to make that prayer.