In 1779, Madeleine Sophie Barat was born in Joigny, France as fire raged in houses nearby. Truly a child of fire, Sophie’s heart was captivated by God from an early age, and she was drawn to a life of contemplative prayer. At the same time she recognized that post-revolutionary France had a pressing need for transformation through rigorous education and a spirituality of the Heart of Christ. Sophie and four companions made their first vows in 1800, giving themselves to a form of religious life which combined the contemplative and the apostolic, the one informing and enlivening the other. “Discovering and revealing the Heart of Christ” remains the mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart to this day.
Besides her all-embracing passion for God, Madeleine Sophie Barat had other passions as well: she was an exceptional spiritual guide who helped countless others to discover and deepen their relationship with God; she was an inspired educator who insisted that those who would educate others had to cultivate in themselves both learning and virtue; and she was a gifted administrator who, by the time of her death in 1865, saw her little Society grow beyond 3500 members in foundations throughout Europe, North and South America, and Africa.
Madeleine Sophie Barat was named a saint of the Church in 1925.