Saint Claude de la Colombière domain

Claude de la Colombière (1641 – 1682) is known primarily for his role as the spiritual director of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, the recipient of numerous visions of the Sacred Heart, devotion to which she was asked to spread, in a quiet, anonymous way.

But the good Jesuit – there are a few around – did much more than this, counseling future kings, princes and potentates. He was born in 1641 near the city of Vienne in France, and schooled by the Jesuits, whose novitiate he joined in 1658. It is reported that he found the life contrary to his inclinations, but knew that it was his vocation, so he persevered, even later making a vow to keep the rule perfectly, under pain of sin – perhaps because part of him rebelled against said rule.

It was in 1675 – providentially on February 2nd, the feast of the Presentation – that he was appointed spiritual director of the Visitation convent of Paray-le-Monial, where Margaret Mary was a sister. After discernment, he concluded her visions were authentic, and became one of her primary supporters, a great solace to Sister Alacoque. After all, as Saint Philip Neri cautioned, we should never desire visions.

The next year, Father Colombière was sent to England – he kept in touch with Sister Margaret Mary by letter – where, after fruitful ministry to many, including the royal family, he was falsely implicated in the false ‘Popish plot’ to kill Charles II, promulgated by the lies of Titus Oates – about whom the less said, likely the better. Cast into prison under brutal conditions, Father Colombière’s health – already weak – was broken. By the intervention of King Louis XV, he escaped death, but was exiled back to France, where he spent his final days as novice director and, again, as spiritual director at Paray-le-Monial. He died on this day, February 15th, 1682, beatified by Pius XI in 1929, and canonized by Saint John Paul II on May 31st, the feast of the Visitation, 2002.