Paray-le-Monial: Portal into the Catholic Mystery


Portal into the Catholic Mystery at Paray-le-Monial in France. Doorway above the Visitation chapel (see below). The French inscription reads ‘In this church Our Lord revealed His Heart to St Margaret Mary. Photo by Christophe.Finot (Own work) CC-BY-SA-2.5 ( By Christophe.Finot (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 ( , via Wikimedia Commons.



Chapel of the Apparitions, Paray-le-Monial. Photo: Kelly Calegar

Over the years, we have been experimenting with a few posts that are more images than words.

Today we return to that, at last, with this entry on Paray-le-Monial, the birthplace of public devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

For in this small town in Eastern France,  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque once beheld the Sacred Heart, beginning in 1673.

Here, here in this chapel of the Visitation convent, the Saint – a cloistered nun –  beheld the heart of Jesus blazing like the sun …


His heart blazing like the Sun - mural above the

His heart blazing like the Sun – mural above the relics. Photo: Kelly Calegar.



And there in Paray, you can pray next to her relics.



Relics of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Visitation Chapel of the Apparitions, Paray-le-Monial. Photo: Kelly Calegar.


O Paray! It is for my wife Kim and myself the most wondrous place on earth.

For by the grace of God, Kim and I were able to go on pilgrimage there more than twenty times, when we lived in France.

And staying there, praying there, changed my life forever. Here is why I call it a portal into the Catholic Mystery. For although I was confirmed a Catholic in the year 2000, it was only after being repeatedly re- immersed in the mysterious power of Paray-le-Monial that I finally renounced my still subtly Protestant-liberal ways and became truly Catholic …

St. Claude-chapel

Chapel of St. Claude La Colombiere, Paray-le-Monial. Photo: Kelly Calegar.

(But here is not the place for words, though I say a few more about this here.)

And the prayer, the silence in those chapels there! What incredible silence.

Chapels did I say?

Indeed, for there is not only the chapel wherein St. Margaret Mary Alacoque beheld His Most Sacred Heart (Cor Jesus Sacratissimum). There is also the Jesuit chapel wherein lay the relics of her confessor St. Claude La Colombiere. St. Claude who became the first Apostle of the Sacred Heart.

Here is how the chapel of St. Claude La Colombiere appears from outside …

And then one steps inside to see …

Paray - Sacred Heart mural

Interior of St. Claude La Colombiere chapel, Paray-le-Monial. Photo: Kelly Calegar.

And here is the beautiful mural at the back of the chapel – depicting a vision St Margaret Mary had of the Sacred Heart with St Claude in heaven, after St. Claude had died.

mural-st.claude la colombiere chapel

Mural of the Sacred Heart in the St. Claude La Colombiere chapel, Paray-le-Monial

Prayer is very different there, I found. In the chapel of the Sacred Heart, I felt my heart open and soften in the stillness. But praying next to the relics of St. Claude, it was as if my prayer became far more mental. There are life-changing insights I experienced praying by your bones, St. Claude, for which I can never be sufficiently grateful …

St. Claude-relics

Relics of St. Claude La Colombiere, Paray-le-Monial. Photo: Kelly Calegar.




Statue of St. Claude La Colombiere, outside his chapel in Paray-le-Monial. Photo: Kelly Calegar.

But once again: this is a space primarily for words, not pictures.

So little more of that for now …

Except to say that we offer our heartfelt thanks to Kelly Calegar, who provided most of the pictures here (upon making a pilgrimage there, after reading this website).

We will also note that Paray, however, is filled with many more beautiful sites of worship.

For example, we will leave you with this image of the ancient Cluniac church founded in the town, around the twelfth century, long before the age of St. Margaret Mary. Only much later was it renamed and established as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart …

City of the Sacred Heart

City of the Sacred Heart, Paray-le-Monial in France

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  1. […] nor an Anthroposophical Catholic, nor a liberal Catholic. By the mercy of His Sacred Heart in my 2006-2008 pilgrimages to Paray-le-Monial, I am simply a […]

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