Mary of the Divine Heart

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Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart
Maria Droste zu Vischering.jpg
Portrait of Blessed Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, countess of Droste zu Vischering and Mother Superior of the Good Shepherd Convent in Porto, Portugal.
Blessed / Religious of the Good Shepherd / Messenger of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Born (1863-09-08)September 8, 1863
Münster, Germany
Residence Erbdrostenhof Palace (birth); Castle of Darfeld (childhood); Convent of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Porto (until her death)
Died June 8, 1899(1899-06-08) (aged 35)
Porto, Portugal
Honored in Catholic Church
Beatified November 1, 1975, St. Peter's Square, Vatican by Pope Paul VI
Canonized (Cause in process)
Major shrine Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Ermesinde)
Feast June 8
Patronage Priests and devotees of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sister Mary of the Divine Heart (Münster, September 8, 1863 – Porto, June 8, 1899), born Maria Droste zu Vischering, was a personality of the highest German nobility and Roman Catholic nun from the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, best known for having influenced Pope Leo XIII to make the consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Leo XIII himself called this solemn consecration "the greatest act of my pontificate".[1]

Biography[edit]

The Erbdrostenhof Palace (Münster, Germany) was her birthplace.
The Castle of Darfeld (near Münster) where she spent her childhood.

Birth[edit]

Maria Anna Johanna Franziska Theresia Antonia Huberta Droste zu Vischering was born with her twin brother Max on September 8, 1863, solemnity feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, in the Erbdrostenhof Palace, in Münster, an independent city in the North Westphalia region, Germany, being daughter of one of the noblest German families who distinguished themself by them fidelity to the Catholic Church during the persecution of the Kulturkampf – her parents were Klemens Heidenreich Franz Hubertus Eusebius Maria, the count Droste zu Vischering, and Helene Clementine Maria Anna Sybille Huberta Antonia, the countess of Galen.[2]

Because the fragility of her health, Maria Droste zu Vischering was baptized immediately at birth; years later, her mother told that on the day of the birth of the two children, she experienced such a supernatural comfort and great joy as ever felt in her entire life. In fact, we could say that it was a sign of divine grace manifesting as both, and especially Maria, would tread the path of perfection and love of God.

The early years[edit]

Maria Droste zu Vischering spent her childhood with her family in Castle of Darfeld, near Münster, one of the most beautiful castles in the region of Westphalia, and was a child full of life: she loved to run through the endless corridors of the castle, she threw herself up the bushes and the wet grass in the garden, she enjoyed horseback riding, she used to ice skate on the lake of the castle and she did everything to be the first in any game with the brothers.

Since an early age that her innocent soul was drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For Maria Droste zu Vischering, the devotion to the Heart of Christ always merged entire with the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, as she herself said: "I could never separate the devotion to the Heart of Jesus to the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and I never be able to explain how and how much the Sacred Heart of Jesus deigned to favor me in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist".

On April 25, 1875, Maria Droste zu Vischering did, with her twin brother Max, her First Communion: "I waited that day the grace of a religious vocation, but in vain...". This grace she received only on 8 July of the same year, but only after receipt of Confirmation.

In 1878, however, Maria Droste zu Vischering heard a sermon on the biblical passage that says "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul" and responded as follows: "At that moment I thought, you should became a religious! I would have preferred that my ears had not heard, but it is impossible to resist to the voice of God".

During the spring of 1879, in one of the ways of their particular devotion to the Heart of Christ and after a first experience of religious life held in the Convent of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Riedenburg, Maria Droste zu Vischering reached an important conclusion: "[...] I began to understand that without the spirit of sacrifice the love of the Heart of Jesus is merely an illusion".

Religious life[edit]

Painting of Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart and Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in adoration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In 1883, inside the chapel of the Castle of Darfeld, Maria Droste zu Vischering heard an interior locution of Jesus Christ who said her: "Thou shalt be the wife of My Heart". On 5 August of that same year, when the Silver Jubilee of his parents' marriage, Maria Droste zu Vischering showed them her ultimate desire to become religious and not long time passed for this become a reality.

In 1888, she visited with her mother the Hospital of Darfeld and there she found a girl who had given scandal. Maria Droste zu Vischering, overcoming their shyness and disgust in relation to her mother, reached out to the unfortunate. This episode can be considered her first contact with the charism of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. In the Parish Church, a short time later, she heard again the voice of Jesus who told her: "You must enter in the Convent of the Good Shepherd". Maria Droste zu Vischering then decided to enter to the novitiate of the Convent of the Good Shepherd of Münster.

At the age of twenty-five, Maria Droste zu Vischering joined the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. After she received the white religious habit of the religious congregation – at the same day and at the same time that, in France, in the Carmel of Lisieux, a young girl received the Carmelite religious habit (and became, years later, in the famous Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face) –, Maria Droste zu Vischering also received the name that has become for her a program of life: Sister Mary of the Divine Heart.

In 1891, she devoted herself to the girls sent to the Good Shepherd Sisters in Münster for rehabilitation and care. With an ardent love for youth ministry, she maintains: "the most needy, the most miserable, the most forsaken are the children I love best".[2]

Sister Mary of the Divine Heart spent only five years in Münster, because she was called by obedience to a special mission. In 1894, at the age of 31, she was transferred to Portugal, where she was initially sent as assistant of the Mother Superior of the Convent of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Lisbon. Since February to May 1894 she remained in the Portuguese capital, but soon she was appointed to her final position of Mother Superior of the Convent of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Porto.[2]

While she was in Porto, Portugal, Sister Mary of the Divine Heart reported several messages from Jesus Christ in which she was asked to contact the pope, requesting the consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

World Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus[edit]

Painting representing the vision received by Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart Droste zu Vischering. Jesus had revealed her: "By the brightness of this light, peoples and nations will be illumined, and they will be warmed by its ardour."

On June 10, 1898, her confessor at the Good Shepherd monastery wrote to Pope Leo XIII stating that Sister Mary of the Divine Heart had received a message from Christ, requesting the pope to consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart. The pope initially did not believe her and took no action. However, on January 6, 1899 she wrote another letter, asking that in addition to the consecration, the first Fridays of the month be observed in honor of the Sacred Heart. In the letter she also referred to the recent illness of the pope and stated that Christ had assured her that Pope Leo XIII would live until he had performed the consecration to the Sacred Heart. Theologian Laurent Volken states that this had an emotional impact on Leo XIII, despite the theological issues concerning the consecration of non-Christians.[3][4]

Pope Leo XIII commissioned an inquiry on the basis of her revelation and Church tradition. In his 1899 encyclical letter Annum Sacrum, Leo XIII decreed that the consecration of the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should take place on June 11, 1899. In the encyclical Annum Sacrum, Pope Leo XIII referred to the illness about which Sister Mary had written, stating:[5]

"There is one further reason that urges us to realize our design; We do not want it to pass by unnoticed. It is personal in nature but just as important: God the author of all Good has saved us by healing us recently from a dangerous disease."

Pope Leo XIII also composed the Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart and included it in Annum Sacrum. Pope Pius X later decreed that this consecration of the human race performed by Pope Leo XIII be renewed each year.[6]

Death and incorruptibility[edit]

Tomb with the incorrupt body of Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart inside the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Ermesinde).

Sister Mary of the Divine Heart died on June 8, 1899, the feast of the Sacred Heart, two days before the consecration, which had been deferred to the following Sunday.

Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart's incorrupt body is exposed for public veneration in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Ermesinde, in northern Portugal.[7] The church is adjacent to the Convent of the Good Shepherd Sisters.[8] There is also a relic of her body exposed for public veneration at the Sanctuary of Christ the King in Almada, near Lisbon, Portugal.

Veneration[edit]

In 1964, Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, the countess of Droste zu Vischering, officially received the title of Venerable by the Catholic Church. On November 1, 1975, she was declared blessed by Pope Paul VI. Doctor Waldery Hilgeman is the Postulator of the cause of canonization.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bainvel, Jean. "Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 1 May 2013
  2. ^ a b c "Blessed Maria Droste", Good Shepherd Sisters, Philippine Province
  3. ^ Laurent Volken, 1963, Visions, Revelations and the Church P.J. Kenedy Publishers
  4. ^ Niels Christian Hvidt, 2007, Christian Prophecy: The Post-Biblical Tradition, OUP Press ISBN 0-19-531447-6 page 242
  5. ^ Vatican website: Annum Sacrum [1]
  6. ^ EWTN [2]
  7. ^ Photo of the incorrupt body of Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart Droste zu Vischering
  8. ^ Civil Parish of Ermesinde - The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Louis Chasle; Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, Burns & Oates, London (1906).
  • Max Bierbaum; Maria vom Göttlichen Herzen Droste zu Vischering: Ein Lebensbild. Unter Benutzung unveröffentlichter Quellen, (1966).
  • Antonio Ricciardi; Più nobile per Carità: Beata Maria Droste zu Vischering (1863-1899), 261 pp., Edizioni Agiografiche, (1975).
  • Joaquim Abranches; Beata Maria do Divino Coração, Mensageiro do Coração de Jesus, Braga, (1970).

External links[edit]