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The Sacred Heart and Carmel

Today is the feast of St Claude de la Colombiere (1643-1682). This French Jesuit should be especially close to the hearts of British Catholics because he spent three years in London (1676-1679), at the end of which he was the victim of false accusations which led to his deportation. He is particularly remembered in the Church because of his support for the Visitation Nun St Margaret Mary Alacoque, promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart. I have always thought that this devotion should be close to the heart of Carmelites, not least because it points us to the favourite Scripture book of our saints, The Song of Songs. Today I have learnt through the internet the existence of a practice of wearing a Sacred Heart badge. To be honest, I have never yet seen one - but there are pictures on the net. Apparently the badge became very popular in eighteenth-century France after an extraordinary event in Marseilles. The city was being ravaged by the plague and the Bishop asked local nuns to produce a quantity of the badges. Then he led a procession into the centre of the city and dedicated it to the Sacred Heart; everyone present put on a badge - and not one case of the plague was reported thereafter.

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