The Society of the Sacred Heart was founded in the turmoil of post-Revolutionary France by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat. It was brought to North America in 1818, when St. Rose Philippine Duchesne established the first school here in St. Charles, Missouri. Our history is the story of strong and dedicated women true to the Society’s motto, “Cor unum et anima una in Corde Jesu” (One Heart and One Mind in the Heart of Jesus).
A brief overview of our history can be found below. You migh also enjoy this video, created by the Philippines District shortly after the typhoon struck in November, 2013. (Note: If you are looking for more in-depth research, try the RSCJ National Archives. They can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The logo currently used by the Society of the Sacred Heart was originally designed for an international meeting of Religious of the Sacred Heart in 1988. The design is by Oonah Ryan, RSCJ, a member of this province, with the assistance of Neighborhood Artisans, a group of artists in Detroit. The logo, so simple and yet expressive of Society spirituality, was embraced by the delegates and has been used and adapted by communities, schools and other institutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart ever since.
Introduction to the Feast of the Sacred Heart
The modern origins of the celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart may be traced to Saint John Eudes who in 1670 composed a Mass and Office in honor of the Sacred Heart based on the theology of St. John. In 1856 the feast was extended to the universal Church in praise of the peaceful triumph of Christ’s boundless love. In 1899 Leo XIII elevated the feast to the rank of First Class, now Solemnity, and dedicated the whole Catholic world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Madeleine-Sophie Barat was born in France in 1779 in the little Burgundian town of Joigny. She went to Paris in 1795, at the height of the French Revolution, and initially considered becoming a Carmelite. However, her experience of Revolutionary violence in Joigny and Paris led her on another path. In 1800 she founded the Society of the Sacred Heart whose purpose was to make known the love of God revealed in the Heart of Christ, and take part in the restoration of Christian life in France through the education of young women of the rich and the poor classes.
Rose Philippine Duchesne was born in Grenoble, France on August 29, 1769, one of seven sisters and one brother. Her family was known for its strong will and forceful personalities. Educated by the nuns at Sainte Marie-d’en-Haut, the Visitation convent in Grenoble, and expected by her mother to serve the poor, Philippine felt called to religious life at an early age. Her fervent desire to serve God gave her the courage to overcome her father’s objections and enter the Visitation convent at age 18.
Janet Erskine Stuart was born November 11, 1857 in the Anglican Rectory of Cottesmore, Rutland, England. As a child of thirteen, she set out on a solitary search for Truth, having been urged to this venture by a casual remark of one of her brothers that every rational creature must have a last end. The search for this last end took, she said, seven years and brought her to the Catholic Church at the age of twenty-one. In 1882, she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton, outside of London, where she was to spend 30 years of her religious life.
In 1828, Pope Leo XII invited the Society of the Sacred Heart to found a community and school at the Trinità dei Monti, a monastery at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome. For 300 years, the monastery had housed a community of Minims, an order founded by St. Francis of Paola in the 15th century. The Order of Minims had abandoned the property during the French Revolution, and by 1828 the buildings were in need of repair.
Mary Aloysia Hardey, a central figure in the expansion of the Society of the Sacred Heart in North America, was born in Piscataway, Maryland, December 8, 1809. As a child Mary moved with her family to Opelousas, Louisiana and in 1822 enrolled as a student at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in nearby Grand Coteau.
Upon completing her studies Mary entered the novitiate of the Society of the Sacred Heart at Grand Coteau and took the name Aloysia. A young religious of many talents, she was put in charge of a school in St. Michael's, LA and soon after making final vows was named Superior.