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May 25

St Madeleine Sophie Barat - May 25

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat


Foundress of Society of the Sacred Heart

(1779 – 1865)

“Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world.”

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

Saint’s Life Story

Her Birth

Madeleine was born on the night of December 12, 1779, in Joigny, Burgandy, France, next door to a house fire at a neighbor’s home. The stress and the terror of the fire caused Sophie’s mother, Madeleine Fouffé Barat, then pregnant with her third child, to go into labour. Her father, Jacques was a cooper who worked with the vineyards for whom he supplied barrels.

Older Brother Louis – Godfather

Born two months premature, Madeleine Sophie was considered so fragile that she was baptised early the next morning in Sainy Thibault Church, just a few yards from the Barat family home. Although her parents had arranged godparents in advance, there was no time to call them to the church and so at five o’clock on the morning of 13 December 1779, Louise-Sophie Cédor, a local woman on her way to early Mass, and Sophie’s older brother, Louis, stood in as her godparents.

Her Brother, Her Teacher

Naturally bright, Madeleine was rigorously trained in virtue and educated in secular and sacred subjects by her elder brother, Louis, who was a seminarian and later became a priest. His curriculum for her included Latin, Greek, history, physics, mathematics, Scripture, the Church fathers and doctrine. As Madeline grew older, her brother, Louis, fearing that she would be exposed to too much of the world, brought her to Paris, France with him. 

Foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart

Madeleine wanted to be a Carmelite lay sister. However, she abandoned her dream of becoming a Carmelite. On November 21, 1800, at the age of 20, along with three other women living in the Paris safe-house, Madeleine took her vows as one of the first members of this new religious congregation order, marking the foundation of the Society of the Sacred Heart.  

The First School Opened in Amiens, France

The first school was opened in Amiens in northern France in September 1801. Madeleine travelled to this important provincial city in order to teach. She made her vows on June 7, 1802.  A school giving classes to the poor of the town was opened. In December 1802, at the age of twenty-three, Sophie became Superior of the Society of the Sacred Heart.


In November 1804, Madeleine traveled to Sainte-Marie-d’en-Haut, near Grenoble, in southeastern France, to receive a community of Visitation nuns into the Society. Among them was Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, who would later introduce the Society to America. A second school was then established at Grenoble, followed by a third at Poitiers in western France. After the first establishments in France, foundations were established in North America (1818), Italy (1828), Switzerland (1830), Belgium (1834), Algiers (1841), England (1842), Ireland (1842), Spain (1846), Holland (1848), Germany (1851), South America (1853), Austria (1853) and Poland (1857). The July Revolution of 1830 banished the sisters’ novitiate for a time to Switzerland. Madeleine was glad to travel, opening schools outside as well as inside France. 

In January 1806 at the age of 23, Madeleine was elected Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart, a position she held for the next 65 years. In 1820, she called all of the superiors together in a council at Paris to establish a uniform course of studies for the quickly expanding network of Sacred Heart schools. The studies were to be serious, to cultivate the mind, and to create young women who would be devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and perform good deeds in God’s name.

Society of Sacred Heart Receives Papal Approval

As foundations continued to multiply, Madeleine saw the need for a greater degree of unity and sought the approval of the Vatican in Rome. In 1826, the Society of the Sacred Heart received its approval from Pope Leo XII. Madeleine  led a life of extraordinary laboriousness as she organized the life and work of an ever-growing congregation, which became one of the best-known and most efficient educational institutes under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church.

Her Death

Madeleine died at the general motherhouse in Paris, France on May 25, 1865. During her 65-year leadership, the Society of the Sacred Heart grew to include more than 3,500 members educating women in over four continents, North America, South America, Europe and Africa, in over a 100 houses. Today, her society extends to 41 countries. No authentic portrait of Madeleine exists from her lifetime, since she refused to allow her photograph to be taken.

Born:                   December 12, 1779 in Joigny, Burgandy, France

Died:                   May 25, 1865, in age 85 in Paris, France

Beatified:           May 24, 1908 by Pope Pius X

Canonized:        May 24, 1925 by Pope Pius XI

Feast Day:         May 25

Patron Saint:    Educators; Teachers



St. Madeleine Sophie Barat did not let the French Revolution and the oppression of Christian schools stop her from starting a new religious congregation – the Society of the Sacred Heart, an order dedicated to the education of young girls. She wanted these young girls to have the same opportunity that she had. Her dedication resulted in establishing over a hundred houses with 3,500 members educating young women in Europe, North Africa, North and South America. 

How can you share your blessings from God with those in need around you? While you may not start a new order dedicated to educating young women like St Madeleine Sophie Barat, pray to God for the grace to use your talents in serving others in tutoring or being a CCD teacher at your church.


St. Madeleine Sophie Barat’s Daily Prayer

Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Give me a heart that is one with your own;
A humble heart that knows and loves its nothingness;
A gentle heart that holds and calms its own anxiety;
A loving heart that has compassion for the suffering of others.
A pure heart that recoils even at the appearance of evil;
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, Its goodness its only treasure in time and in eternity.

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, pray for us. Amen.

Source: Saint Madeleine Sophie’s Daily Prayer |

Saint Links 

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 25 May – St Madeleine Sophie Barat RSCJ (1779-1865)

Catholic Ireland – May 24 – St Madeleine Sophie Barat (1779-1865) founder of the Sacred Heart nuns

Catholic Online – St. Madeline Sophie Barat

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Madeline Sophie Barat

CatholicSaints.Info – The Life and Work of Madame Barat by the Catholic World

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Madeleine (Mary Magdalen) Sophie Barat by Katherine I Rabenstein

Franciscan Media – Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

Madeline Sophia Barat – St. Madeline Sophie Barat, Founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart

New Advent – Power, A. (1907). Ven. Madeleine-Sophie Barat. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Sacred Heart Education – Quotes by St Madeleine Sophie Barat

Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

Society of the Sacred Heart – Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat (1779-1865)

Wikipedia – Madeleine Sophie Barat

Video Link