Over the years, we have experimented with a few posts that rely more on images than words. Today we return to such, 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 His Most Sacred Heart—the Cor Jesu Sacratissimum—starting in 1673.
Here, here in this chapel of the Visitation convent, pictured above, the Saint (a cloistered nun) beheld the heart of Jesus blazing like the sun …
And, there in Paray, you can still pray next to her relics.
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 …
Here is not the place for words, though I do say more of it in this video just below. The image for the video is also a detail (as you may see below) from a mural in that holy city of Paray-le-Monial.
And the prayer, the silence in those chapels there at Paray! Such 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 …
And here is that beautiful mural, pictured on the video, 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.
Prayer is very different there, I found. In the chapel of the Sacred Heart, I felt my heart softening, opening 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 …
But once again: this post is primarily for pictures, not words. 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 . . .
My Two-Part EWTN Interview
I have also spoken of my conversion from the New Age to the Catholic Mystery in this EWTN interview. There is a lot there about my experience in Paray and about the Mystery of His Sacred Heart. The latter is mainly in the second video, but that second video can stand by itself. You can easily skip the first one, if you wish to focus on France, Paray and the Sacred Heart.
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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