Thousands of people flocked to venerate the relics of two Sacred Heart saints in London last week.

The relics of St Margaret Mary Alacoque and St Claude de la Colombière SJ, from Paray-le-Monial, France, arrived at the Jesuit Farm Street Church before stopping off at Our Lady of Victories, Kensington, Wormwood Scrubs prison, Tyburn Convent, the Hospice of St John and St Elizabeth, London Oratory School and St Patrick’s Church in Soho.

Auxiliary Bishop John Wilson of Westminster celebrated the welcoming Mass at Farm Street. This marked the start of a Sacred Heart of Mercy mission in London by the Emmanuel Community, a Catholic association of the faithful founded in France in 1976.

St Claude was a Jesuit priest who served in London during penal times. He was also the spiritual director of St Margaret Mary Alacoque, a nun and mystic whose revelations led to the devotion to the Sacred Heart.

In 1676, St Claude was sent to England to become the private spiritual guide of Mary of Modena, soon to be Queen of England, But two years later St Claude was accused of being part of the non-existent “Popish Plot”. He was imprisoned for more than a year, with a detrimental impact on his health. He was released from prison but died three years later aged 41. He was beatified in 1929 and canonised in 1992.

Initially, St Margaret had been dismissed when she spoke of her visions, but St Claude supported her. The devotion to the Sacred Heart was officially recognised 75 years after her death.

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