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The Catholic Defender: Saint Claude de la Colombière

St. Claude de la Colombiere, SJ (1641-1682)

He is remembered principally as the spiritual director who recognized the truth of the revelation that St.Margaret Mary Alacoque received; he also showed heroic virtue in enduring imprisonment that weakened his health and led to an early death.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

On Feb. 15 the Catholic Church honors Saint Claude de la Colombiere, the 17th century French Jesuit who authenticated and wrote about Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque's visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

He was born in 1641 from the ancient Province of Dauphiné, the third child of the notary Bertrand La Colombière and of Margaret Coindat. The family soon moved to the nearby city of Vienne, where he began his education, before attending the Jesuit school in Lyon for his secondary studies.

Claude La Colombière, SJ was a Jesuit priest and the confessor of Margaret Mary Alacoque.

In 1658, at the age of seventeen, Colombière entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Avignon.

Colombière was sent to Paris in 1666 to study theology at the College de Clermont. He was also assigned to be the tutor of the children of the Royal Minister of Finances,

This is a special day for the Jesuits, who claim today’s saint as one of their own. It’s also a special day for people who have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus—a devotion Claude de la Colombière promoted along with his friend and spiritual companion, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. The emphasis on God’s love for all was an antidote to the rigorous moralism of the Jansenists, who were popular at the time.

In 1674, after 15 years of life as a Jesuit, Colombière did his next period of probation known as the tertianship, which was to prove decisive in his life. As a result of this experience of the Spiritual Exercises, he made a personal vow, as a means of attaining the utmost possible perfection, to observe faithfully the Rule and Constitutions of the Society under penalty of sin. Those who lived with him attested that this vow was kept with great exactitude.

Claude showed remarkable preaching skills long before his ordination in 1675. Two months later, he was made superior of a small Jesuit residence in Burgundy. It was there he first encountered Margaret Mary Alacoque. For many years after he served as her confessor.

After professing the Fourth Vow of the Society at the end of his tertianship on 2 February 1675, Colombière was appointed the rector of the Jesuit community at Paray-le-Monial, where he also became the spiritual director of the nuns of the Monastery of the Visitation Sisters located next to the church. In this way he came to know Margaret Mary Alacoque.

She later wrote that she saw that his spiritual gift "was that of bringing souls to God along the Gospel way of love and mercy which Christ revealed to us". After speaking with her a number of times and after much prayer, as a result, he was convinced of the validity of her visions and became both her supporter and a zealous apostle of the devotion.

He was next sent to England to serve as confessor to the Duchess of York. He preached by both words and by the example of his holy life, converting a number of Protestants. Tensions arose against Catholics and Claude, rumored to be part of a plot against the king, was imprisoned. He was ultimately banished, but by then his health had been ruined.

Thanks to his position at the Royal Court and to the protection of the King of France, Louis XIV, whose subject he was, he escaped death but was expelled from England in 1679. He returned to France with his health ruined by his imprisonment.

He died in 1682. Pope John Paul II canonized Claude de la Colombière in 1992. He died on 15 February 1682, as a result of a severe hemorrhage.

The eve of this feast, Sister Maria Elia shared how special it was for the Sisters to witness the miracle that helped canonize today's saint! The miracle of the healing of Fr. John Houle, S.J. took place on February 22, 1990 at Santa Teresita Hospital, Duarte.

On the 16th of June 1929 Pope Pius XI beatified Claude La Colombière, whose charism, according to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, was that of bringing souls to God along the gospel way of love and mercy which Christ revealed to us.

31 May 1992, Vatican City, by Pope John Paul II


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