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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
June 1, 2008

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart - Montmart

    The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,  which we celebrated this past Friday, is a Catholic devotion that is fairly unknown to the younger generations.  Although it is yet simply one more way of showing our love to Christ, it is not without merit.  Over the centuries, the French people have proven their strong devotion to the Sacred Heart.  A very visible sign of this devotion can we seen and experienced on the hill of Montmartre in the North of Paris.  Thousands of tourists visit this site yearly.  If you are a traveler you might want to include this site to your intinerary.  It is well worth the visit.

    The basilica of the Sacred Heart was built on the hill of Montmartre.  It rises 129 meters above sea-level.  The name signifies “mount of martyrs” because it is the place of the martyrdom of Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, and his companions in the 3rd century.  Many saints have visited this hill, not the least of which was St. Bernard, St. Joan of Arc, St. Vincent de Paul as well as St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier who together founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) here in 1534.

    Although the hill was a place of worship from earliest days by groups  including the Druids, the Gauls and the Romans, the basilica to the Sacred Heart of Jesus did not come into being until the mid-1870s. It was financed by gifts from all over France.  The names of the donors are carved in the stone.  At the time of its consecration in 1919, the church was declared a basilica.  It is not a parish church but rather an independent sanctuary, a place of pilgrimage where the Sacred Heart of Christ is venerated.

    The Basilica was preceded by a number of chapels and abbeys however.  Beginning in 475 St. Genevieve was responsible for the building of a chapel dedicated to St. Denys.  The hill soon became a popular place of pilgrimage in Europe.  Besides St. Denys there were many other Christian martyrs that gave their lives for the faith on this hill.  This helped to give the “hill of martyrs” its name.  As is common at all sites of pilgrimage, many pilgrims were cured of their illnesses.  Besides being a place of pilgrimage, it also became a place where the people of Paris would find recourse in time of despair. 

    Today, the Basilica stands tall and can be seen from all points in Paris.  Masses are celebrated daily and the Divine office is sung by the religious of the Benedictine Abbey.  The abbey is a place that welcomes travelers for retreats and spiritual guidance.

    The Carmelite sisters also have a monastery which is closely linked to the Basilica.  Although the monastery is located in the center of the City, the sisters are devoted to the Sacred Heart and are in unceasing prayer to the Heart of Christ, demonstrating also the strength of its everlansting love for mankind.