Two women of vision and courage stand at the origin of our Congregation, women who lived in response to the Spirit, attentive to the needs of the time, open to the challenges of the future.
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Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat was born in 1779 in Joigny, France. From a very early age she heard the call to follow Jesús in the religious life. On 21st November 1800, at the age of twenty, she made her first vows in Paris with other companions, and so the Society of the Sacred Heart was born. In her own heart was a twofold desire: to lead a life of prayer, and to help the society of her day.
Throughout her life she kept trying to do God’s will; it led her to open innumerable houses in various countries, and to overcome every kind of difficulty and contradiction, in spite of her frail health. Her roots were in Jesus, and so she faced all her troubles with humility and trust, out of her deep desire to discover and show forth to others the love of the Heart of Jesus, a love that she herself experienced so powerfully.
She died at the age of 85, leaving 3539 religious in 99 communities in Europe, America and Africa.
Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne was born in Grenoble, France, in 1769. She was very young when she first heard the call to show forth the love of the Heart of Jesus in distant lands. After long years of hoping, her wish was at last granted: to go to America and begin the first community of the Sacred Heart on the American Continent.
The difficulties of those times (hunger, cold, extreme poverty, epidemics) were no obstacle to the joy and generosity she brought to all her tasks. Other women felt drawn by her witness, and so the Congregation was able to minister to new needs.
Rose Philippine remained in America for 33 years, until her death. She devoted herself energetically to the mission there, and shortly before she died, she was able to see her dream come true: she went to live with the Potawatomi. Although she was too old for the work, the Indians would remember her as “the woman who always prays”.
Today, both laypeople and Religious of the Sacred Heart throughout the world live the spirituality and mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart, wholly contemplative and wholly apostolic.