The geographic and historic center of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is in Paray-le-Monial, a small village in Burgundy, where St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) lived. She was a Visitation nun to whom Jesus appeared.
The message Jesus gave this French religious, whose first vision was on Dec. 27, 1673, was an image of God that was in great contrast to the Jansenist tendency of that century.
"My Divine Heart is so intense in its love for men, and for you in particular, that, being unable to contain within itself the flames of its ardent charity, it must spread it through you," Christ said to her on that occasion, an intention she later committed to writing.
John Paul II's visit to Paray-le-Monial on Oct. 5, 1986, gave a new thrust to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Spiritual assistance for pilgrims at Paray-le-Monial Shrine has been entrusted to the priests of Emmanuel Community, a new ecclesial reality that arose from Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
For several years now, Emmanuel Community has organized summer sessions -- prayer and formation retreats -- for young people and families. Some 20,000 people attend, and the sessions are translated simultaneously into 15 languages, including Japanese and Chinese.