Saint Claude de la Colombiere's
May 31st, 1992
Brother John Raymond
Blessed Claude de la Colombiere was born on February 2nd, 1641 in
a small town in the diocese of Grenoble, France. Claude's parents
were very devout as is evidenced by the vocations of their children
- a Jesuit, a Sulpician Father, a Diocesan Priest and a Visitation
In 1650 Claude was sent to a junior college in Lyons run by the
Jesuits. His character was noted to be reserved and even a bit
bashful. But he was always ready to help those in need. At the age
of seventeen Claude felt the inward calling to the religious life.
He entered the Jesuit novitiate house in Avignon.
In 1674 Claude prepared for his final religious vows. During this
time he wrote, "On the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the
Blessed Virgin, I resolved so to abandon myself to God that I am no
longer anxious about my behavior, either inwardly or outwardly."
This unbounded confidence in God continued to grow. Finally Claude
made a special vow of unreserved fidelity to God which bound him in
a special way to fulfill perfectly the rules of his Order.
On February 2nd, 1675 Claude bound himself to God by his Final
Vows as a Jesuit religious. Soon after this his superiors sent him
to the small town of Paray-le-Monial to work in a college there.
It would seem a bit strange to send someone with Claude's
abilities and commitment to such an out-of-the-way place. Yet,
Heaven willed this for in the Visitation Convent in this town was a
nun waiting for spiritual help: St. Margaret Mary. Our Blessed Lord
had promised her, "I will send you My faithful servant and perfect
friend who will teach you to know Me and abandon yourself to Me."
Thus Fr. Claude became her spiritual advisor. St. Margaret Mary had
received visions and revelations of Our Lord regarding His Sacred
Heart. Jesus told her to reveal everything about His Heart to Fr.
Claude so that "he would come to know It and make Its worth and
value known to all."
In September of 1676 Fr. Claude was sent to England to be a
Chaplain to the Duchess of York. This was no easy assignment as
Catholics at this time were being persecuted in England. In 1673 the
Test Act imposed an obligation on all those who aspired to public
office to declare that they did not believe in Our Lord's Real
Presence in the Holy Eucharist. In 1677 Fr. Colombiere wrote, "In
this country they make it a point of honor to doubt Your Real
Presence in this Holy Sacrament. I feel much consolation in making
acts of faith many times a day in the reality of Your adorable Body
under the appearances of bread and wine. I would willingly give my
blood to persuade them of this truth which I believe and which I
One year later his apostolic zeal started to break down his
health. On the eve of the Assumption he began to cough up blood. Yet
he remained in England. In 1678 Titus Oates accused the Pope of
claiming sovereignty over England and of having delegated his powers
to the Jesuits who resided in the country. With his lies Oates
convinced many that the Catholics were going to overthrow the
country. All were suspect, especially the Jesuits. In November Fr.
Claude was falsely accused of speaking against the king by a young
man who pretended to be converted by him for three months. Soon he
was arrested and brought before the court. After some questioning
the only thing he could be charged with was converting people to
Catholicism. So Fr. Claude was placed in jail for three weeks until
they could come up with more charges against him.
In the dungeon, besides his serious physical ailment, he suffered
from cold, dampness and hunger. Witnesses were still being summoned
against him. They hoped to accuse him of high treason so that he
would receive the death sentence. But no serious charge could be
brought against him. So on December 6th it was decided to exile him
from the country.
In 1678 Fr. Claude was back in France. One year later, when his
health improved a little, he was given the care of some young Jesuit
religious at the College of the Trinity in Lyons. In these religious
he instilled his own burning love for the Sacred Heart. This was
prompted by a letter Sister Margaret Mary had written to him
regarding devotion to the Sacred Heart saying, "My Father, I entreat
you, don't overlook any occasion to inspire everybody with it. Jesus
Christ has made me understand that it is by means of the fathers of
the Society of Jesus that He wishes to establish this devotion
In 1681 the Jesuit superiors decided that Fr. Claude, for health
reasons, would be better off at the little college in
Paray-le-Monial. Fr. Claude's health continued to decline. At the
beginning of February, 1682 Fr. Claude had a violent attack of
fever. On February 15th at seven in the evening he died.
Fr. Claude de la Colombiere was beatified on June 16, 1929. He
will be canonized this May 31st by Pope John Paul II. Let us ask him
to help us become perfect friends of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The following prayer was written by St. Claude for a young
religious at the point of despair:
Lord, I am in this world to show Your mercy to others. Other
people will glorify You by making visible the power of Your grace by
their fidelity and constancy to You. For my part I will glorify You
by making known how good You are to sinners, that Your mercy is
boundless and that no sinner no matter how great his offences should
have reason to despair of pardon. If I have grievously offended You,
My Redeemer, let me not offend You even more by thinking that You
are not kind enough to pardon Me. Amen.