I saw Jesus saying to my heart by means of a brilliant light, that he willed his Eucharistic Heart to be the special object of Adoration at Montmartre and the Blessed Sacrament should be exposed there day and night. 

This description left to us by the Servant of God Marie Adele Garnier (1838-1924), is the best summary of her call and mission to serve the Church and humanity. 

Despite the fact that she was born 180 years ago in France, there are comparisons to be made between the religious environment in which Marie Adele found herself and that of present day Ireland. The forces of darkness being rampant, secular society had been vigorously undermining religious belief and devotion in France which, like Ireland, had for centuries stood as a strong pillar of the Church and Mother of countless saints. Faith was weak even among practising Catholics due to the widespread Jansenist heresy which made even the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist seem remote and unattainable. 

When Marie Adele was in her thirties, the Prussian invasion brought France to its knees, placing the country in dire distress. Then came Divine and Marian intervention: The Apparition of Our Blessed Lady in the French village Pontmain on 17th January 1871 is not well known, but has similarities to the apparition in Knock. As the Prussian army was approaching the village, Our Lady appeared above a thatched barn to some children playing outdoors. The gathering villagers were aware only of the vast number of stars in the sky. She appeared in five different stages accompanied by symbolic signs and gestures, and finally letters appeared in the sky : “But Pray, my Children, my Son deigns to be moved”. That same night, the Prussian army retreated for no apparent reason, while the army general was heard speak of a “Strong Woman at the bridge”. Marie Adele was among those fleeing the invasion and had been encamped close by in Laval. She saw the extraordinary sky and was one of the first to interview the child visionaries. From their accounts she drew the images of Our Lady of Pontmain, which were taken as the basis of all future portrayals of her. 

To become perfect, say a Rosary a day.

St. Louis De Montfort

Our Lady’s message of hope bore fruit not in victory for France but in sufficient revival of Religious sentiment to see the building of a Basilica on the hill of Montmartre (Mount of Martyrs) in honour of the Sacred Heart and in reparation for the sins of France. This is the context of the revelation which Mother Marie Adele received as I have already quoted at the beginning of this article. At Our Lord’s command she relayed His message to the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris and after much hesitation he inaugurated perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in a temporary chapel on site, as the Montmartre Basilica was being constructed. Adoration has continued unceasingly on Montmartre ever since. In the meantime Marie Adele herself underwent a long process of spiritual refinement and purification under the direction of holy priests who guided her in the path of complete self-surrender to the Divine Will, which led her to the fullest possible human experience of what it means to Adore God. In 1898 when she was by now in her 60s, she founded the Congregation of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of Montmartre, which was later incorporated into the Order of St Benedict. 

Due to more persecution in France the nascent Congregation was exiled to England, and from Tyburn Convent, London, has now spread to nine other countries. The eleven monastic chapels of the Congregation are “little Montmartre Basilicas”, with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament taking place all day and as much of the night as possible. Here in Ireland St. Bene- dict’s Priory in Cobh is one such monastery – a light amidst the darkness of moral and spirital turmoil. There is no greater source of hope and strength for the Church of our day than Adoration of the living Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. 

By Mother M Catherine Underwood OSB