THE DOCTORS AND MYSTICAL HEARTS
The order they are included: St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila, St Therese of the Child Jesus, St Padre Pio, Sr Mary Martha Chambon, Ven Maria Villani of Naples, St Lutgarde, St Charles of Sezze, St Clare of Montefalco, St Veronica Giuliani, St Catherine of Siena, Dominica A Paradiso, St Magaret Mary Alacoque, St Michael of the Saints, Bl Margaret of Citta-Di-Castello, St Gerard Majella, St Joseph of Cupertino, St Philip Neri, St Paul of the Cross, St Francis De Sales, and St Jane Frances de Chantal.
THE DOCTORS AND MYSTICAL HEARTS is one section created on the Doctors of the Catholic Church.com website taken from the book entitled Mysteries, Marvel, and Miracles in the Lives of the Saints, by author, Joan Carroll Cruz., TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC. P.O. 424, Rockford, Illinois 61105. Their web site is www.tanbooks.com. There are thirty-five exciting chapters listed in this book and in the author's own words I quote from her book: she says:
"Since the very beginning of my work I seem to have a great interest in the wonders related in the lives of the Saints. This interest is revealed in the many marvels mentioned in my first non-fiction book, The Incorruptible. The subject of phenomena also found its way, in large part, into my other works: Relics, Eucharistic Miracles, Miraculous Images of Our Lady and Miraculous Images of Our Lord. This present volume, therefore, is a culmination of my interest in this subject of phenomena." Some of the author's books can be found on this site in the Doctoral Sources/Links found on the sidebar listed on the homepage.
This will be the only full chapter included on this site because it is, in my opinion, at the heart of the gospel, and in the hearts of each doctor of the church: The love of God and neighbor and union with God. Chapter V of the author's book is entitled Mystical Hearts and I have titled the subject on the Doctor's web site: Doctors and Mystical Hearts. This Chapter covers all the women doctors and two of the men. Overall, the author's books contain nearly 300 saintly men and women who we know are in heaven and to whom we can implore their help and intercession. This particular group of the communion of saints also received or was associated with profound miracles and marvels not only in their lifetime but after their death and their influences over nature.
Many have been fascinated about the heart and it is the central part of Christianity, and it has been said that: remembering is the heart's own way of holding loved one close and keeping us in constant touch with those who mean the most...
The author continues to write as an introduction: "Since the heart is regarded as the seat of affections and emotions, it seems appropriate that the heart would figure in the mystical life of the Saints, since it is God Himself who repeatedly tells His Saints that it is there He wishes to reside...that He wants to capture our hearts and have our love, as He has repeatedly expressed through visions and Holy Scripture."
The author continues: "As a reward for those Saints who have permitted His dominion over their hearts and have proved by their sanctity that He has all their love, the good Lord has seen fit by many miracles to reward them and has blessed them with signs and wonders that are related here."
The spiritual wounding of the heart, known as transverberation, is explained for us by St John of the Cross, in his Living Flame of Love. The work was originally a poem, but the Saint wrote a commentary, his first redaction, between the years 1585 and 1587. Since the commentary was written three to five years after the death of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John might have used her experience in explaining how transverberation takes place. St. John of the Cross writes.
It will happen that while the soul is inflamed with the love of God it will feel that a seraphim is assailing it by means of an arrow or dart which is all afire with love. And the seraphim pierces and cauterizes this soul which like a red-coal, or better a flame, is already enkindled. And then in this cauterization, when the soul is transpierced with that dart the flame gushes forth, vehemently and with a sudden ascent, like a fire in a furnace or an oven when someone uses a poker or bellows to stir and excite it. And being wounded by this fiery dart, the soul feels the wound with unsurpassable delight.
This is what transpired in most of the cases mentioned here, especially in that of St Teresa of Avila (d.1582). Above the main altar of the Church of S. Maria della Vittoria in Rome is a magnificent sculpture of Bernini depicting a life-sized Angel holding a spear which is aimed at the heart of a slightly reclined and ecstatic figure of St. Teresa of Avila. This figures reflect an event that actually occurred which is undoubtedly the best-known case of a heart mystically wounded by an arrow of love. In her Autobiography, the Saint describes how her wounding, or transverberation, took place. St Teresa writes:
It pleased the Lord that I should see this angel in the following way. He was not tall, but short and very beautiful, his face so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest types of angel who seem to be all afire...In his hand I saw a long golden spear and at the end of the iron tip I seemed to see a point of fire. With this he seemed to pierce my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he drew it out, I thought he was drawing them out with it and he left me completely afire with a great love for God. This pain was so sharp that it made me utter several moans; and so excessive was the sweetness caused me by this intense pain that one can never wish to lose it, nor will one's soul be content with anything less than God.
During an exhumation of the Saint's body, the heart was removed and placed in a crystal reliquary. The heart has been medically examined on a number of occasions, especially in 1972, when it was meticulously studied by three physicians of the University of Salamanca. They noted the perforation made by the dart of the Angel and agreed that the preservation of the organ could not be credited to any natural or chemical means. The relic is kept at the Incarnation, one of the Saint's convents of the Carmelite reform.
St. Teresa's transverberation is perhaps the best known, but there are several other Saints who had an almost similar experience, although few have had an apparition of an Angel in conjunction with the happening. One of the Saints was a spiritual daughter of St. Teresa of Avila. Popularly known as "The Little Flower," "St Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face (d.1897) was on her deathbed when she described the event to her sister Pauline, whose name in religion was Mother Agnes of Jesus. During the Little Flower's final illness, Mother Agnes made notes. These were later published in a little book entitled Novissima Verba, and it is from this little book that we learn about the Saint's experience.
Soon after the Little Flower had composed her Oblation to Merciful Love, she experienced the following, which she related to Mother Agnes:
I had commenced the Stations of the Cross in the choir then all at once I felt myself wounded by a dart of fire so ardent that I thought I must die. I do not know how to explain it; it was as if an invisible hand had plunged me wholly into fire. Oh what fire, and what sweetness at the same time! I was burning with love and I thought one minute, nay, one second more, and I shall not be able to support such ardor without dying. I understood then what the Saints have said of those states which they had experienced so often. For me I have but experienced it that once, only for an instant, and afterwards I fell back again into my habitual dryness. From the age of fourteen I have also experienced the assaults of love. Ah! how much I love God! But it was not at all to be compared to what I experienced after my offering to Love.
The Saint also revealed:
I have had several transports of love, and one in particular during my Novitiate when I remained for a week far removed from this world. But, I was not then consumed by a real fire. I was able to bear those transports of love without expecting to see the ties that bound me to earth give way; whilst, on the day of which I mentioned (the dart of fire), one minute, one second more and my soul must have been set free...True, the Divine Hand had withdrawn the fiery dart - but the wound was unto death!
A great admirer of St Therese of the Child Jesus was Padre Pio (d. 1968), the stigmatic priest of Pietrelcina, Italy. He too experienced a mystical wounding of love, but unlike the Little Flower, he, like St. Teresa of Avila, received the wound during a vision. The event took place on August 5, 1918 and was explained by Padre Pio in these words:
I was hearing the confessions of our boys...when suddenly I was filled with extreme terror at the sight of a heavenly Being who presented Himself in the eye of my intellect. He held some kind of weapon in His hand, something like a long, sharp-pointed steel blade, which seemed to spew out fire. At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that Personage hurl the weapon into my soul with all His might. It was only with difficulty that I did not cry out. I thought I was dying. I told the boy to leave because I felt ill and did not feel that I could continue ...This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my internal organs were torn and ruptured by that weapon...From that day on I have been mortally wounded. I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and causes me continual agony.
Padre Pio's biographer recorded in a deposition made in February, 1967 that Padre Pio "stated unambiguously that a visible, physical wound in his side resulted from the experience. For a time, he was able to conceal it so successfully but not even Padre Benedetto or Padre Agostio knew that the wound was physical as well as spiritual.”
Both of the religious companions of Padre Pio identified the experience as a "transverberation," or piercing of the heart. Padre Benedetto once wrote in response to Padre Pio's question about the event: "Everything that is happening to you is the effect of love. It is a trial, a calling to co-redeem, and therefore, it is a fountain of glory!" And again Padre Benedetto writes: "Kiss the hand that has given you the transverberation and sweetly cherish this wound, which is a stamp of love."
A fiery dart also figures in the life of Sr. Mary Martha Chambon (d. 1907), whose cause for beatification has been introduced. While Sr. Mary Martha was seriously ill in September of 1867, a great light illuminated her humble cell. In this light was the Holy Trinity. She watched with great joy as God the Father presented a Host to her while saying: "I give you Him Whom you have offered to Me so often." He then placed the Host upon her tongue. Next He revealed to her the mysteries of Bethlehem and the Cross, filling her soul with special insights into these mysteries. Then, He bestowed upon her the Holy Spirit as fiery dart, saying, "Here are light, suffering and love! Love will be for Me; for you light to discover My will. Finally suffering in order to suffer from moment to moment as I wish you should do."
Sometime after this vision Our Lord revealed to Sr. Mary Martha the Devotion of the Holy Wounds with the accompanying chaplet, which bears numerous promises for the good of souls.
In his biography of Ven. Maria Villani of Naples (d.1670), which was written four years after her death, Fr. Francis Marchese, O.P. revealed that Ven. Maria believed she had been wounded in the side and heart by a fiery spear of love. The wound was definitely apparent and was carefully examined by three of her confessors, who signed affidavits to what they had seen and touched. One of these confessors was Dominican Leonardo di Lettere, a man of great reputation and sanctity whose cause for beatification was introduced soon after his death.
The fire of love sparked by the flaming arrow produced a great deal of heat which brought about a great thirst, so that Maria was compelled to drink an excessive amount of water.
Following her death and autopsy, her biographer declared that a formal affidavit regarding the condition of the heart was made by the surgeons, Domenico Trifone and Francesco Pinto. They recorded that the open wound found in the heart corresponded exactly to the wound on the outside of the body. The biographer wrote that he had seen and touched and examined the wound in the heart and described the wound this way: "The lips of the wound are hard and seared, just as happens when the cautery is used, to remind us, no doubt that is was made with a spear of fire." (See Chapter 12, "Fire and Heat of Love," for more details about the heat produced by the heart.)
What might be the first case of transverberation took place in favor of St. Lutgarde (d. 1246), a Cistercian mystic who was a devotee of the Roman martyr, St. Agnes. For some time she had had a burning desire to suffer martyrdom as St. Agnes had done, and often expressed this wish to Our Lord. One night, when she entered her room, she began praying beside her bed when the thought of St. Agnes' martyrdom again stirred her heart. As Thomas Merton writes in his biography of St. Lutgarde:
Suddenly a vein near her heart burst and through a wide open wound in her side, blood began to pour forth, soaking her robe and cowl. As she lost her senses and sank to the floor, Jesus appeared to her in glory, His face radiant with joy and said to her: "Because of the great and fervent desire of martyrdom with which thou has now shed thy blood; know that thou shalt receive the same reward in Heaven as the most blessed Agnes received in the severing of her head for My faith: because by thy desire even unto the shedding of blood, thou has equaled her martyrdom.”
Thomas Merton's biography of the Saint continues, "Thus wounded once with a wound like the spear wound in Christ's Heart, Lutgarde was never wounded again: but she kept the scar until the end of her life."
St. Charles of Sezzle (d. 1670) was reared by his grandmother, whose influence led him to a great love of God. At the age of seventeen, due to his love of the Virgin Mother of God, he made a vow of chastity and thereafter was seized with a great desire for holiness. After joining the Franciscan Order he was sent to Rome, where he received remarkable enlightenment concerning mysteries of the faith, so that learned theologians were astonished by his knowledge and consulted with him on difficult questions. Even cardinals, and especially Pope Clement IX, sought his advice.
One day, while St. Charles was adoring the Holy Eucharist, "a ray of light like an arrow went out from the Sacred Host and impressed a wound in his left side. This wound was still visible after his death."
Symbols of the Passion
St. Clare of Montefalco (d. 1308), an Italian mystic of the Augustinian Order, was graced with an apparition of Our Lord during which He said to her: "I have sought a place in the world where I might plant My Cross, and have found no better site than your heart." She later told her sisters in religion, "If you seek the Cross of Christ, take my heart; there you will find the suffering Lord."
After her death, the Sisters remembered her words and had the heart extracted. The larger-than-average heart, when it was opened, revealed clearly distinguishable symbols of Our Lord's Passion, all composed of cardiac tissue. These figures included:
. The crucifix, which is about the size of one's thumb. The head of the Crucified is inclined toward the right arm. The clearly formed corpus is pallid white except for the tiny wound of the lance, which is a livid reddish color. White tissue covers the loins of the Crucified.
. The scourge is formed of a hard, whitish nerve which has knobbed ends representing the cruel instrument of the scourging. The column is formed of a round white nerve, hard as stone, that is entwined by a nerve representing the cord which fastened Christ to the pillar.
. The Crown of Thorns is composed of tiny sharp nerves.
. The three nails are formed of dark fibrous tissue, exceedingly sharp. A nerve represents the lance, while the sponge is formed of a single nerve with a tiny cluster of nerve endings resembling the sponge at its tip.
. The incorrupt heart is enclosed in a bust of the Saint and can viewed under a crystal which is located in the chest portion of the figure. The incorrupt body of St. Clare can also be viewed in the Sanctuario S. Chiara da Montefalco. In art the Saint is depicted holding a crucifix, the bottom of which penetrates her heart.
Some four hundred years after the death of St. Clare of Montefalco, St Veronica Giuliani (d. 1727) was the recipient of a similar manifestation. A stigmatist and visionary St Veronica told her companions at the Capuchin Monastery at Citta di Castello that symbols of Christ's Passion were kept in her heart. She even drew a picture indicating their location. A post-mortem examination, performed in the presence of a bishop and many witnesses, revealed the symbols of the Passion which corresponded to those she had drawn. Although the body was incorrupt for many years, it was eventually destroyed by an inundation of the Tiber River. However, the heart is still kept in a special reliquary and is said by physicians to be well preserved, although the figures of the Passion have become less defined in recent years.
An Exchange of Hearts
One day while St. Catherine of Siena (d. 1380) was in prayer she continued to recite these words from Psalm 51 v. 12: "Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels."
Over and over again she asked the Heavenly Father to take her own heart and will from her. Our Lord heard the prayer and appeared to her. It then seemed to the Saint that He opened her left side, took out her heart and then went away with it. The Saint afterward told her confessor that she no longer had a heart. Needless to say, even though she attempted a number of times to convince him, he did not believe it and in a kind and charitable manner dismissed her claim.
Another time, when St. Catherine was in the Dominican church in Siena, she fell into an ecstasy. After retreating from it a light from Heaven encircled her and in this light appeared the Savior, who held in His hands a bright red human heart. Approaching Catherine, He opened her left side once again and placed the heart within her chest, saying: "Dearest daughter, as I took your heart away, now, you see, I am giving you Mine so that you can go on living with it forever. He closed the opening He had made, but as a sign of the miracle, a scar remained.
St. Catherine's biographer Bl. Raymond of Capua, reassures us that the Saint's companions saw this scar and told him and the others about it. Bl. Raymond writes:
When I determined to get to the truth, she herself was obliged to confess to me that this was so, and she added that never afterwards had she been able to say, "Lord, I give You my heart," since He already had it.
The scar was not the only sign that proved the reality of what had taken place. Bl. Raymond continues:
Seeing or receiving the Sacrament of the Altar always generated fresh and indescribable bliss in her soul, so that her heart would very often throb with joy within her breast, making such a loud noise that it could be heard even by her companions. At last having noticed this so often, they told her confessor Fra Tommaso about it. He made a close inquiry into the matter and on finding it was true, left the fact in writing as an imperishable record. This noise bore no resemblance to the gurgling that goes on naturally in the human stomach; there was nothing natural about the noise at all. There is nothing surprising in the fact that a heart given in a supernatural way should act in a supernatural way too, for as the Prophet says, "My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the Living God."
St. Catherine seemed to reaffirm the prophet's words when she declared: "My mind is so full of joy and happiness that I am amazed my soul stays in my body."
Ven. Dominica A Paradiso (d. 1553), a Florentine member of the Dominican Order, received word from Our Lord that He no longer wanted her concealed and retired from the world, but to do great things for His glory. She prayed that she was not fit for great things unless He changed her. To this Our Lord replied,
And I will change you and will give you a noble and magnanimous heart; wherefore prepare for keen and terrible sufferings; for it is by them that your heart and blood are to be purged and renovated and fitted for My service in the eyes of men.
The Venerable immediately felt the approach of sufferings and began to experience fainting and weakness. After a number of weeks in this state, she received another vision of Our Lord, who extracted her heart from her chest and substituted one of burning fire. She rose immediately from her sick bed and realized a renewal of her body and mind. Her sight became keen, a fragrance emanated from her body which attached itself to everything she touched, her smell, touch and hearing were acute to an extraordinary degree. A strange eloquence was now heard to flow from her lips while infused knowledge enlightened her mind.
Ven. Dominica's spirituality soon attracted a number of young ladies, who placed themselves under her direction. After moving into a small house they began to observe the Dominican Rule. Eventually a regular convent was built in which Dominica served as superior until her death.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (d. 1690) had many apparitions of Our Lord in which He gave instructions for the implementation of the Devotion of the Sacred Heart. In her autobiography she writes that Our Lord "asked me for my heart, which I begged Him to take. He did so and placed it in His own adorable heart, where He showed it to me as a little atom which was being consumed in this great furnace, and withdrawing it thence as a burning flame in the form of a heart."
When only twelve years of age, St. Michael of the Saints (d. 1625) left his hometown of Vich in Catalonia to join the Trinitarian Order that had been founded some five hundred years earlier by St. John of Matha. It has been said of St. Michael of the Saints that he lived in a constant state of rapture, although this mystical experience ebbed at times and seemed less vehement. He is said to have performed every obligation of his religious and priestly life. Appearing more as an angel than a man, it was written of him:
Wherefore Our Lord was pleased to bestow a very great and singular grace upon His faithful servant, and on a day when Miguel was in ecstasy, He deigned to make the mystical exchange of his Most Sacred Heart with the heart of the Saint.
St. Michael of the Saints died at Valladolid in 1625 and was canonized by Pope Pius IX on Whit Sunday, 1862.
Bl. Margaret of Citta-Di-Castello (d. 1320), who is also known as Bl. Margaret of Metola, was abandoned by her parents when a cure for her blindness was not granted at a favorite shrine. Margaret was adopted by a poor family, even though she was blind, dwarfed, hunchbacked and lame. In spite of these afflictions she served her neighbors, taught catechism, and recited by heart and memory the Office of the Blessed Virgin, as well as the Psalter. She became a Dominican tertiary and, although she was blind all her life, she was the recipient of many visions. She performed many miracles and was often heard to exclaim: "Oh, if you only knew what I have in my heart!"
After her death at the age of thirty-three, permission was received to open the heart which she had mentioned so often. In it were found three pellets, or pearls, on which were carved religious symbols which some recognized as being the images of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. This, of course, is what she referred to when she often sighed, "Oh, if you only knew what I have in my heart!" The body of Bl. Margaret remains incorrupt.
Toward the end of his life, St. Gerard Majella (d. 1755), the mystic member of the Redemptorist Order, was inundated with the love of God - so much so that he often heaved sighs to relieve the excessive ardor and sweetness that he felt for Our Lord. Sometimes these sighs were so audible that he received looks of curiosity and astonishment. One day Fr.Cajone reproved him for the sounds, which he felt could be restrained. Without a word, the Saint took the priest's hand and laid it on his heart. Thoroughly surprised by the vehemence of the beating, Fr. Cajone asked how he could possibly endure the beating and live?
Concerned about the condition of the Saint's heart, Dr. Santorelli was called to examine him. Taking the doctor's hand, the Saint placed it on his heart which was beating with unusual violence as though trying to escape from his chest. To the doctor's amazement, the Saint exclaimed: "Were I alone on a mountain, it seems to me that I would set fire to the world with my flames of love.
A different case is submitted by St. Joseph of Cupertino (d. 1663), who is known for his many ecstatic levitations. When St. Joseph was sixty years old and on his deathbed, he expressed his love for Our Lord and the Blessed Mother in many ways and even encouraged his companions to suggest ejaculations of love for him. Then, turning to the crucifix, he spoke these words: "Take this heart, burn and rive this heart, my Jesus". "Rive" means to tear, split or cleave. After praying the Ave Maris Stella, he surrendered his soul to his Creator.
It was decided by his superiors that his body should be embalmed. During this process the body was opened and the heart examined. The attending embalmers must have been quite surprised to find that the pericardium, the tissue around the heart, was shrivelled. This amazement must have reached a peak when they discovered that the ventricles of the heart were without blood and the heart itself withered and dry.
The Saint had apparently lived by means of the mystical workings of God. It would seem his deathbed request, that his heart be taken and burned, had actually been realized long ago, since the consensus of opinion was that the condition of the heart was the effect of his burning love of God.
The Hearts Enlarged and Enflamed
When Philip Neri (d. 1595)was twenty-nine years old he was praying with extreme earnestness for the gifts of the Holy Spirit in preparation for the feast of Pentecost. During his prayer he seemed to see a globe of fire that entered his mouth and fell into his heart. At once he felt an intense physical heat that was so overwhelming that the Saint took off his shirt and threw himself on the ground in an attempt to cool himself. When he stood up he was overwhelmed with joy. Instinctively he placed his hand on his chest and felt a swelling as large as his fist. At once there began the loud palpitation of the heart, similar to that experienced by St Gerard Majella. St Philip was to experience this unnatural palpitation of the heart for the rest of his life, particularly when he was praying, hearing confessions offering Holy Mass or distributing Holy Communion.
Those who hear these palpitations described them as being like the blows of a hammer, and they observed a shaking or trembling, that shook the chair on which the Saint sat.
The Saint always felt a burning heat in region of the heart and throat, so that he sought relief, even in the depths of winter, by opening his windows wide.
After the Saint's death physicians and surgeons who had known St. Philip were called to investigate the mysterious swelling on his chest. The Saint's biographer writes:
Examination proved that the two ribs over the heart were broken and arched outwards; the heart was unusually large, while the great artery leading from it was twice the normal size; there was no sign of any disease.
The situation, was so unusual that the physicians, after their lengthy examination and a detailed consultation, attested in the form of a written oath that the cause of the phenomenon was supernatural and miraculous.
Recalling that St. Gerard Majella had a strong and audible beating of the heart through an excess of love, so too did St Paul of the Cross (d. 1755) experience this, and like St. Philip Neri, he also experienced the displacing of ribs due to an enlargement. St Paul's biographer writes:
His heart, burning with love, and in continual excitement for the Sovereign Good, and put thereby into continual vehement action, produced in his bodily frame a quick, strong palpitation which, on certain days and occasions - as on Friday, on feast, and when he was absorbed in prayer - became so impetuous that it caused him excessive pain, and forced him to break forth into groans and deep sighs of love, which it was most touching to hear.
There also took place the elevation of two ribs on the Saint's left side which he did not succeed in keeping concealed because of the physical evidence it produced. The biographer again writes:
Among others, an experienced professor of medicine observed it, and in the processes deposed to the fact as one resulting from a supernatural cause. This interior furnace of the love of God can alone account for what the religious remarked from time to time about the undergarments which the Saint had used, and especially the linen vests which, where they had touched his hearts, were found scorched, as though they had been near a great fire.
Manna and the Heart
Following the death of St Frances de Sales (d. 1622)the founder, with St. Jane de Chantal, of the Visitation Order, his heart was extracted for placement in a silver coffer and is of particular interest since it began to exude a clear oil (or manna) at intervals throughout the years. Because the crystal in which the heart was kept was not hermetically sealed, permission was received in March of 1948 for the wrapping of the heart in a new piece of linen. Found dry at this time, the heart was covered with a piece of linen and an outer layer of tissue the same color as the heart. Spots of white appeared between the relic and the sides of the crystal container during the spring of 1952. The superior then ordered another examination of the relic which took place the same year on August 27. At this time the heart was not examined scientifically. The witnesses thought the powder resembled salt, which was considered a natural phenomenon because the seal of the container was not perfect, permitting the penetration of air.
After the white powder and the layer of tissue were removed, the linen cloth that was wrapped around the heart was found to be imbued with blood. This cloth was placed in a container for safe keeping. The heart was then wrapped in a new linen and was placed in a hermetically sealed crystal especially made for the enshrinement of the heart. This, in turn, was then placed inside the original reliquary.
The heart was carefully examined on August 28 1953 by two distinguished men of medicine and Church officials, who declared that the preservation of the heart was "Not a common occurrence." One of the professors surmised that the bleeding of the heart was actually caused by "atmospheric humidity which soaked the external material." But others declared that the irregular pattern of the stain and its depth within the fabric could only have been, and was indeed, human blood.
A theory was suggested as a reason for the appearance of blood. Following World War II religious houses in Europe were in sad condition, with their religious suffering various kinds of privations. To remedy the situation, Church officials decided to organize various orders into federations and confederations. The Visitation Order was the first to be organized by Rome with the appointment of the order's first mother general. Since all the foundations of the Visitation Order were previously independent in following the Rule of St Francis de Sales, this appointment was thought to be the reason that the heart bled as a sign of the founder's dissatisfaction with the arrangement. The confederation was eventually dismissed, although the federation of the order is still functioning for the purpose of offering mutual assistance.
The incorrupt heart is still intact by the Visitation nuns of Trevisor.
The co-founder of the Visitation Order with St Francis de Sales was St Jane Frances De Chantal (d. 1641). Just as his heart was attended by a phenomenon which was an exudation of oil and blood; the heart of the foundress also was an exudation of oil and blood, the heart of the foundress also displayed a prodigy, but one of a different kind. During one of her body's exhumations, the heart was extracted and was given to the convent of the order at Nevers. The heart was always somewhat shrunken in size, but at times:
It would swell like a heart under the pressure of sorrow. On the eve of great crises that have desolated the Church, it has been seen to expand and swell like a heart about to burst into groans.
The heart is kept in a bronze and crystal urn that is found in the sanctuary of the Basilica of the Visitation in Annecy, France.
This book also has many interesting pictures revealing what the text explains. This is another reason to explore the purchasing of this fascinating book in how God treasures our loving hearts and desires. Truly, Jesus Christ is most willing to share with us, to an amazing degree, what we could have never imagined possible. Let us give thanks that God has inspired some writers to convey these personal, supernatural, and intimate happenings, and experiences, deeply related to the mind, heart and soul of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, who died for each, and to share his precious love with us now and forever.