Chapter One- France qui m’a accueilli tendrement
I came to France thirty-five years ago, profoundly shocked and not really conscious about it, by my Russian and Israeli experiences. Almost immediately, without any understanding or desire, I was absorbed by a tender, silent for me – I didn’t know a word in French ambience of the French human atmosphere. Year after year, working in France or abroad, I quietly learned to know my new homeland and to grasp the majesty of its spiritual history – and to live this all in its noble quietude, or in Biblical Hebrew – “Kol demama dakka” :
Then the Lord said [to the Prophet Elijah] : Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord – but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake – but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire – but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent voice [Kol demama dakka]. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him : “Why are you here, Elijah ?” (The First Book of Kings 19 :11-12)
And Me, Why Am I Here, in France?
I can tell it now, thirty-five years later, to know and to acquire personally my new homeland, the noble Catholic nation which has been chosen by the Sacred Heart to live in Their presence and to teach about Them all humanity. Thank you, my France!
The featured image for this article is the Sacred Heart: Christ appearing to Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque, December 17, 1673, Feast of St. John the Apostle. The apse fresco, painted in 1966 by Luc Barbier (1903-1989) in the Chapel of the Visitation, Paray-le-Monial.
Winds, Earthquakes, Fire: What It Means for France
The last king of the French Bourbon monarchy, Louis XVI, was writing in September 1789 to his loyal Bishop, after just the first four months of the French revolution lasting 10 years, 6 months and 4 days – the revolution which finally perished him too:
Monseigneur the Bishop of Treguier, You know the troubles that are desolating my kingdom … So, come to my aid, come to the assistance of the State by your exhortations and by your prayers. I invite you to do so, and I count on your zeal and your obedience. On this, I pray to the Lord that he will help you, Monseigneur the Bishop of Treguier, in His holy guard.
As we know today, it was too late to save the kingdom by just prayer alone from the new ideological winds, social earthquakes, and revolutionary fire …at least by such a panicked and unaccustomed prayer. Because the divine instinct of this royal plea and the hope behind it came, more than two hundred years before, from well established divine sources, true, elaborate, diverse and very reliable – those of the Sacred Hearts. Instead, the prayers advanced and demanded by Louis XVI at the end of the 18th century looked like – and really were – a sudden involuntary souvenir of the profound cordial union of his recent ancestry with the Sacred Hearts, the Catholic devotion born in France.
Saint Joan of Arc: Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490, dated to the second half of the 15th century.
“The later, fifteenth-century manuscript of Charles, Duke of Orleans contains a miniature of Joan in armour; the face has certain characteristic features known from her contemporaries’ descriptions, and the artist may have worked from indications by someone who had known her.” Joan M. Edmunds, The Mission of Joan of Arc (2008), p. 40.
We speak here about the union attending its highest, miraculous, paternal confidences in the 17th century, even if since then, and especially during the 18th century, such confidences have been forgotten and betrayed by the Kings and many Bishops and priests of France. But not by the Heaven and the French faithful.
It is about the extraordinary divine actions of the Sacred Heart’ Family toward the Catholic France that we will talk, think and pray here. Inviting you, my readers, to join with love and trust the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, Joseph – for your and my salvation and for the salvation of our families, peoples, countries, humanity.
Wonderful Adoption of France by the Sacred Heart
France, as we know it today, was divinely conceived in the beginning of the fifteenth century through the miracle of the apparition and actions of Saint Joan d’Arc : starting from 1428, when Joan was 16 years old, to 1430, when she died at the age of 19 as a martyr, this incredible French girl hasunexpectedly re-established the French Kingdom and its noble Catholic life. Later, in the sixteenth century, the Reformation brought to France, with its population being 90% Catholic and 10% Protestant, the terrible thirty years long Religious wars, of which one counts more than 3 million victims – only the WWII was later worse! The wars were ended by the first Bourbon king of France, the wise protestant king becoming Catholic, Henry IV (1553- 1610), with his Edict of Nantes, 1598.
After a certain Catholic fanatic killed Henry IV in 1610, his eldest son, only 9 years old, became Louis XIII (1601-1643). From this moment on and until the end of the century, through the faithful service of several French Sacred souls and Saints, the Sacred Hearts have bestowed on Kings, Queens, and people of France their unbelievable graces.
Countless episodes of this marvellous divine story are known and presented, often in a minute detail, in many authentic documents, books, blogs – French, German, English, Italian and Spanish. Still, what is most unfortunately missing, it is the recognition, understanding and public avowal of the Sacred Hearts’ divine plan and the admirable historic integrity of its realisation.
Brother Fiacre – The Birth of the King Louis XIV
At the age of fourteen, Louis XIII married a girl of his age, Anne of Austria, the pious daughter of Philip III, the King of Spain and Austria. Both Louis and Anne were very positive and believing persons (please, ignore the vulgar stories of Alexandre Dumas!), but during more than twenty years of their marriage, they didn’t receive children.
In 1629, Louis XIII founded in Paris the church of Notre-Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories), in thanksgiving for the victory of the royal troops in La Rochelle against the Protestant Huguenots, whose surrender was commonly attributed to the intervention of the Virgin.
On December 8, 1629, the eve of the laying of the first stone of the church, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Brother Fiacre, an Augustinian friar in Paris, saw the Virgin Mary in a vision. She presented to him the child that God wanted to give France, the future Louis XIV, saying:
My child, do not be afraid, I am the Mother of God. My child, this is not my son, it is the child that God wants to give to France.
In this vision, reported to the King and the Queen, the Virgin asked for three novenas to be offered to Our Lady of Graces – a Marian shrine located in Cotignac, the southern region of Provence, Our Lady of Paris and Our Lady of Victories. Still, the Royal couple was reluctant.
Eight years later and after twenty-three years of marriage and four still-births, Anne had reached the age of thirty-seven and was, by all means, an old woman, according to XVIIth century standards. Nobody, including herself, thought she would be still able to give birth to a healthy child.
It was then that Brother Fiacre – after many thoughts, discussions with his confreres, and the pilgrimage to Cotignac in the company of the sub-prior of his order – decided to pray the demanded three novenas to Our Lady of Graces, from November 8 to December 5, 1637.
The French Kingdom is Devoted to Notre Dame.
Exactly nine months later, on September 5, 1638, the queen gave birth to a son, Louis, called also Dieudonné – God Given. On account of the vision of Brother Fiacre, Louis XIII consecrated himself and France to the Virgin Mary and fixed the date of the official consecration of France to August 15th, the future feast of the Our Lady’s Assumption, in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.
It is evident that Brother Fiacre’s sincerity had made a great impression on Queen Anne when they met. Six years later she called the monk to her presence again with the words:
I have not forgotten the signal grace you have obtained for me from the Blessed Virgin who gave me a son. I have had a great picture made where he [her husband, Louis XIII] is represented in front of the mother of God to whom he offers his crown and sceptre.
Mother Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement (Catherine de Bar, 1614- 1698), the foundress of the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament.
And the monk duly travelled once more to Cotignac with the picture. Nor was this the end of the connection. Brother Fiacre, even as an old man, was allowed privileged access to Louis XIV, for the role he was believed to have played “in the happy birth of Your Majesty”. When the monk died, it was on the orders of the mature King that his heart was taken to Notre-Dame-des- Grâces.
And Now Saint Joseph Enters the French Royal Scene
Twenty-two years after the birth of the future King Louis XIV (1638- 1715), on June 7th of 1660, a young shepherd coeval with the king, was herding his sheep in Cotignac, to the east side of Mount Bessillon. Very tired and thirsty, he decided to lay upon the rocky ground for a rest when suddenly a tall man stood next to him and pointed to a nearby rock saying: I am Joseph, lift the rock and you will drink.
The startled young man saw that the large rock looked heavy and hesitated to lift it, stating that it would take about eight men to move it. Saint Joseph reiterated his instruction to lift the rock. Gaspard obeyed and, moving the rock, found fresh water flowing from underneath.
Saint Joseph reiterated his instruction entered the Visitation Convent at Paray on 25 May 1671, and in November 1672, pronounced her final vows. From the time she was twenty, she experienced visions of Christ, and on December 27, 1673, she began a series of revelations of the Sacred Heart that were to continue over the next year and a half.
Saint Joseph had nothing else to say besides his simple instruction to lift the rock and drink. But in the absence of words – Kol demama dakka ! – he has told us much: water is both the sign of healing and new life in the Roman Catholic Church. He is given to us as an intercessor, leading us to drink of the fountain of life in Jesus.
As a result of these occurrences, King Louis XIV decreed that day to be a holiday and, after making his own pilgrimage to this place, he consecrated France – as well as himself – to Saint Joseph. He did it at the age of 22, three days after taking direct control of his kingdom. To avoid appearing to contradict his father’s previous vow, Louis did so quietly in the chapel of the Louvre.
The Sacred Heart Turned Toward France
At this moment of its history, the French Kingdom had been already saved from the childless royal confusion. Its Kings, Louis XIII and miraculously granted Louis XIV, and Queen Anne consecrated their royal persons and France to the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph
Now comes Jesus Christ. First, it was Mother Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement (Catherine de Bar, 1614-1698)who succeeded to convince the Mother Queen, Anne of Austria, that the outrages perpetrated by Protestants against the Saint Sacrament should be repaired. Mother Mectilde of Saint Sacrament was the foundress of the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, an Institute that is still flourishing in France and in Italy.
Then Saint John (Jean) Eudes, C.J.M. (1601-1680), a French missionary and priest, who founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary and the Order of Our Lady of Charity, started to teach the mystical unity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary.
Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque (1647-1690) entered the Visitation Convent at Paray on 25 May 1671, and in November 1672, pronounced her final vows. From the time she was twenty, she experienced visions of Christ, and on December 27, 1673, she began a series of revelations of the Sacred Heart that were to continue over the next year and a half.
The Queen will manifest herself with the same piety, love, and resolve as she was known before. But the young Louis XIV will begin to lose his Catholic cordiality and French priesthood was in its majority happy and rich but also ignorant or indifferent.