The relics of St Claude la Colombiere and St Margaret Mary Alacoque were welcomed to London as part of a Sacred Heart of Mercy Mission from 9 to 13 November. The visit was led by missionaries from the Emmanuel Community in collaboration with the parishes of Farm Street, Soho Square and Our Lady of Victories, Kensington.
St Margaret Mary received the first visions of the Sacred Heart and was supported and guided by St Claude who was then resident at St James’s Palace as chaplain to Mary of Modena, the wife of the soon to be King James II. At a time of great religious persecution in the country, Claude was arrested as a suspect in the fabricated ‘Popish Plot’. He was imprisoned and exiled back to France where he shortly died at the age of 41.
At a Mass to welcome the relics, Bishop John Wilson reflected on the love story the mission celebrates: ‘The love in this story is older than the heavens, but it’s as fresh as the present moment. The love in this story stretches wider than the entire human race, but it’s as personal as you and me...God’s tremendous love comes through Jesus Christ, whose Sacred Heart is beating now to pump mercy throughout the whole of creation.’
Bishop John reflected on the importance of this particular devotion: ‘When we seek the heart of Jesus, we encounter the deep truth of who he is…In the simple words of St Claude, “[Jesus’] heart is still the same, always burning with love, always open so as to shower down graces and blessings upon us, always touched by our sorrows, always eager to impart its treasures to us and to give himself to us, always ready to receive us, to be our refuge, our dwelling place, and our heaven even in this world.”’
Many people have ‘decommissioned God’ despite his constant search for us, he explained. ‘They are closed to his message and to the love story which he longs for us to embrace in and through his Son.’
St Margaret Mary and St Claude were chosen by God to bring this new vision to his people, continued Bishop John. ‘Together, their human hearts were united with Jesus’ Sacred Heart, to bring afresh to the Church and world of their day the love that is pure and gentle, the love that teaches God’s blessed will, the love that shows us the print of Jesus’ footsteps, the love that stays close to us when we fall.’
The full text of Bishop John’s homily is available here.