The Catholic Defender: Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat
The legacy of Madeleine Sophie Barat can be found in the more than 100 schools operated by her Society of the Sacred Heart, institutions known for the quality of the education made available to the young.
Madeleine Sophie Barat is remembered for her dedication in education individuals regardless of their socioeconomic status in life. Whether a student was wealthy or poor, she felt compelled to provide equal educational opportunities to all students. She was canonized in 1925. Her feast day is May 25th.
Sophie herself received an extensive education, thanks to her brother Louis, 11 years older and her godfather at baptism. Himself a seminarian, Louis decided that his younger sister would likewise learn Latin, Greek, history, physics and mathematics—always without interruption and with a minimum of companionship. By age 15, she had received a thorough exposure to the Bible, the teachings of the Fathers of the Church and theology. Despite the oppressive regime Louis imposed, young Sophie thrived and developed a genuine love of learning.
Meanwhile, this was the time of the French Revolution and of the suppression of Christian schools. The education of the young, particularly young girls, was in a troubled state.
Sophie, who had discerned a call to the religious life, was persuaded to become a teacher. She founded the Society of the Sacred Heart, which focused on schools for the poor as well as boarding schools for young women of means. Today, co-ed Sacred Heart schools also can be found, along with schools exclusively for boys.
In 1826, her Society of the Sacred Heart received formal papal approval.
Saint Madeleine Sophie died in Paris on 25 May, 1865. Ascension Day. She was buried in the cemetery at Conflans. When the French nuns were expelled by the Combes laws, her body was transferred to the Sacred Heart at Jette, Brussels, in 1904.
By then she had served as superior at a number of convents. In 1865, she was stricken with paralysis; she died that year on the feast of the Ascension.
Madeleine Sophie Barat was canonized in 1925. Her liturgical feast is celebrated on May 25.
Sophia is known for teaching and speaking the truth even when it results in the death of her own family. Faith, Hope, and Love are pure examples of defending their faith no matter their age. Many students pray to St. Sophia and her daughters for strength and courage in any persecution they are facing in their lives.
Madeleine Sophie Barat lived in turbulent times. She was only 10 when the Reign of Terror began. In the wake of the French Revolution, rich and poor both suffered before some semblance of normality returned to France. Born to some degree of privilege, Sophie received a good education.
It grieved her that the same opportunity was being denied to other young girls, and she devoted herself to educating them, whether poor or well-to-do. We who live in an affluent country can follow her example by helping to ensure to others the blessings we have enjoyed.
Prayer: Saint Sophia, you did blossom in the courts of the Lord as a fruitful olive tree, O holy Martyr Sophia; in your contest you did offer to Christ the sweet fruit of your womb, Love, Hope and Faith, your daughters. With them intercede for us all. Amen.
St. Madeleine Sophie's Daily Prayer
Sacred Heart of Jesus, give me a heart that is one with your own:
A humble heart that knows and loves poverty,
A gentle heart that holds and calms its own anxieties,
A loving heart that has compassion for the suffering of others;
A pure heart that seeks only the face of God;
A detached heart that longs for nothing other than the goodness of heaven;
A heart detached from self-love and embraced by the love of God, its attention
focused on God, whose goodness is its only treasure in time and in eternity.