Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 5, 2006
Basilica place to venerate Sacred Heart
Canada gave the statue of Sacred Heart to mark the death of Bishop de Laval
Sacred Heart – June 23
By TED FITZGERALD
- Photo by Ted Fitzgerald
The statue of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus adorns the façade of Sacre-Coeur.
Bernard of Clairvaux and Gertrude the Great devised prayers specifically honouring the Sacred Heart and more recently, Margaret-Mary Alacoque, after experiencing apparitions of Christ, was the first to urge that a feast day be instituted.
St. John Eudes later promoted the devotion and in 1899, Pope Leo XIII consecrated all humanity to the Sacred Heart and established a solemn festival which is now celebrated on the Friday following the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) - June 23 in 2006.
The basilica is situated in an auspicious place, on the mountain where tradition maintains that third century Saint-Denis and his companions were slain for their faith. The present church, of Romano-Byzantine design, was begun in 1875, but was not consecrated until after the First World War in 1919.
The vast interior of the basilica is a treasure trove of works by many famous artists. Noteworthy are portrayals of the Sacred Heart in glory in the great mosaic of the choir ceiling, in a solid silver statue and in stained glass with St. Margaret-Mary.
Historic figures associated with veneration of the Sacred Heart and many French saints are also given prominence here.
There is an interesting Canadian connection in the form of an impressive statue of Our Lady of the Cape, "the Madonna of Canada," a replica of a statue of Canada's premier Marian shrine in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Que. The basilica acquired this work of art in 1959 as a gift from the people of Canada on the occasion of the tercentenary of the death of Bishop de Laval.
For a site of its importance it's not surprising that le Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre enjoys an extremely full parish life. Perpetual adoration exists in the church that also sees four Masses celebrated each day, including Sunday with some dedicated to pilgrims. Accommodations for those on pilgrimage are present on site and many of the Masses are sung by the renowned Montmartre Benedictine Sisters.
Following prayers or attendance at the Eucharist in the great basilica, most visitors will spend some time admiring the city view and the outdoor displays of art that the area is famous for, or relaxing in one of Montmartre's regional eating places.
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