St. Madeleine Sophie Barat: Courageous Visionary for Women
Today, May 29, we honor St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. She was born in Joigny, France on December 12, 1779, the third child of a Burgundy vine-grower and barrel-maker.
As a young child, Madeleine Sophie showed exuberance, optimism, good judgment and common sense as well as a strong dedication to God. Louis, her older brother and a priest, was responsible for her early education. At an early age, Madeleine became skilled in Latin, Greek, Spanish and Italian. He also instructed her in the Bible, the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, and theology.
Through her brother, she met Father Varin who desired to found a female counterpart of the Jesuits which should do for girls’ education what they did for boys’ education.
On November 21st, 1800, Madeleine with three companions dedicated herself to the Sacred Heart and so the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was begun. From the first house at Amiens it was to spread in the lifetime of its foundress all over Europe and to Africa and America, and its boarding schools have become famous.
Madeleine’s energy in extending the work was seconded by her reliance on God which enabled her to succeed in times of great difficulty. “Too much work is a danger to an imperfect soul,’ she said, ‘but for one who loves our Lord it is an abundant harvest.”
Madeleine Sophie Barat was a courageous visionary who fought fiercely for the education of girls at a time when the education of females was almost wholly ignored. In fact, during the early 1800’s, it was basically unheard of for a girl to receive a sound education. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat believed that all girls, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, should have the right to an education. She envisioned communities of learning, stretching around the world, which would provide girls with a complete and well-rounded education.
n May 25, 1865, the Feast of the Ascension, Madeleine Sophie Barat died at the age of 85. Her body, incorrupt, is in Jette, Belgium. She was beatified in 1908 and canonized in 1925.
“Be humble, be simple, and bring joy to others.”
“Let us attach ourselves to God alone, and turn our eyes and our hopes to Him.”
“To suffer myself, and not to make others suffer.”
“Our Lord who saved the world through the Cross will only work for the good of souls through the Cross.”
“God does not ask of us the perfection of tomorrow, nor even of tonight, but only of the present moment.”
“Your example, more than words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world.”
~ St. Madeleine Sophie Barat
Prayer to St. Madeleine Sophie
St. Madeleine Sophie, wonderfully chosen by God to make the Divine Heart of Jesus known and loved, and ever faithful to that apostolate, accept this day our confidence and prayers in proof of our allegiance. Guide us in the path of meekness and humility; set our hearts on fire with the zeal with which thine own was devoured; protect us, that we may deserve to see our names written in that most Sacred Heart, and to make in It our home for time and for eternity. Amen.