The fruits of a pilgrimage: 
Our Father is still at the helm


Our pilgrimage, the first station of which was at Annecy, unfolded under the aegis of St. Jeanne-Françoise de Chantal, a model of humble and unvarying faithfulness to her « unique and incomparable Father ».

The day after the death of this saint, which occurred on 28 December 1622, St. Jeanne Françoise wrote from Lyon to one of her Daughters: « I am convinced, my daughter, that the Custumal needs no other authority than that of its author [St. Francis]. Since the monasteries are so certain that all is his, faithfulness alone is required. I hope that they will not fail to keep it, and that God will preserve our dear institute: it is He who created it and who is its architect; He will be its protector and our most holy Father will never abandon its helm. »

These words apply to the letter to our « unrecognised » Congregation of the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart. It lives according to a “provisional Rule” that « needs no other authority than that of its author », who « will never abandon the helm » of his congregation.

All that is required is not to squander the treasure that he left us, namely, « the most holy humility and love of our own abjection », which are our present lot in the Church:

« I implore and beseech you, all my very dear sisters, to put your only glory and satisfaction in it, and to keep always before your eyes what our Blessed Father said so often, that as long as we maintain affection for smallness and abjection, God’s blessings will abound, but as soon as we raise ourselves up above others, His graces will cease. I know full well that you do not have the intention to do it, but with these considerations, keep yourselves well-armed against the temptations of the vain and dangerous praises of the world. » (Letter to Sister Marie-Adrienne Fichet, May 1625)

This is how the unity and the fruitfulness of the monasteries of the Visitation of Holy Mary were safeguarded for more than three centuries until the days of the postconciliar aggiornamento exclusively. This demonstrates that only a vigorous Catholic Counter-Reformation will be able to take up the torch but only if we remain faithful to the work of our Father through devotion to the Holy Shroud, the standard of our victory, and through devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Her mysteries of the Rosary, in particular that of the Visitation, dear to our Blessed Father, Charles de Foucauld.


The Easter Sunday edition of La Croix, 4 April 2010, headlined: “What if the Shroud of Turin were authentic?” On the strength of a documentary broadcast on the Arte channel on Holy Saturday, 3 April 2010, « it can reasonably be believed that the shroud of Turin is not a fake fabricated in the Middle Ages ». The lower case letter is obligatory, and yet…

Thus, our late Father, for his 86th birthday (3 April 1924 –3 April 2010) won the day on this essential front of his « combats ».

« We remember, La Croix continues, that in 1988 the Carbon 14 dating of four samples taken from the shroud [not four! three; the “fourth one” was a “double” of the Holy Shroud…] determined an origin between 1260 and 1390. All the papers throughout the whole world [La Croix leading them all] therefore concluded at the time that the shroud of Turin was a hoax! This was, perhaps, too hasty a conclusion. Basing itself on the testimony and works of one of the scientists who had participated in the 1988 dating [wrong! He was not at all a member of the team of the forgers…], the American chemist Raymond Rogers, the documentary demolishes this theory of the medieval dating. » 

Our daily paper [La Croix], which once again became Catholic for the length of an article, then clearly stated the truth that we have not ceased to demonstrate since November 1988: « Not that science erred, but it became apparent that the samples that were analysed in 1988 are not part of the original fabric of the shroud. The hypothesis was certified by Raymond Rogers in 2005. »

This « hypothesis » was formulated by Fr. de Nantes when Cardinal Ballestrero proclaimed the manifestly fraudulent “results” of the analysis, on 13 October 1988. A searching study of the experiment’s report, which was not published until 16 February 1989 in the English review Nature, enabled us to suspect a sample substitution. It, however, was too late to avoid the devastating effect that Cardinal Ballestrero’s announcement of the results had four months earlier on 13 October 1988.

Twenty years later, La Croix does not go that far: « It became apparent that the samples that were analysed in 1988 are not part of the original fabric of the shroud. » The article says nothing further on this.

That is not all:

« Other questions that remain unresolved can be added to this: how was this image printed? To the present day, it is impossible to determine how it was formed scientifically [which is what the Ancients used to express by the term acheiropoietic, « not made by human hands »]. No one, for the present, has been able to reproduce seriously such a work. On the other hand, everything seems to indicate that it is really the body of a crucified man. But who is it? »

When it was taken to be a “medieval forgery”, everyone agreed that the “forger” had wanted to represent Jesus Christ. Now that the Relic is surely authentic… we no longer know: « It is a question that cannot be resolved and will undoubtedly never be by science [that is precisely the mark of its miraculous character]. If it is one day demonstrated [it has long been demonstrated!] that it is a shroud dating the first century of our era and that it bears the marks of a crucified man, nothing will be able to certify that this man is Christ. Those who were crucified in the first century were legion. » Was it also usual for them to be buried in beautiful linen shrouds, in order to come out of them on the third day without leaving one single mark of corruption on them?...

The bad faith of the Modernists is deep-rooted! All the more so is our Catholic Faith!


« At La Croix, they still crucify », Fr. De Nantes, a young priest, headlined in Aspects de la France, the journal of Action Française. He did so in answer to a nefarious article of the newspaper La Croix written against the one who was the saviour of France [Marshal Pétain].

To refuse today to recognise our great Relic, this « holy standard of our salvation », « the country’s shield », to speak as St. Francis de Sales did, is really tantamount to committing the crime of deicide, to crucifying Our Lord, Our Saviour, a second time!

In fact, Jesus has returned with His Holy Shroud, thanks to the scientific revelation of the miraculous nature of the imprint that He left on it. The photograph alone authenticates this image. It is Jesus who revealed Himself, in 1898, on the threshold of the twentieth century. It is He!

Fr. de Nantes, like the Apostle John, saw and explained the debates of our time concerning the Shroud as the continuation of the Gospel debates. To his horror he weighed up the offence made to God, to Jesus Christ and to His Holy Mother by a multitude of proud and corrupted men who thus pronounce their own condemnation and march into Hell!

« It seems to me that the Holy Shroud today is the key of the door of the true sheepfold of the Lord, he told us soon after the fraudulent dating. If you admire and adore the Holy Shroud, you have the key that opens the door and you can enter the sheepfold. Such is the faith of good Christians. The day will come when the whole world is attracted by the Holy Shroud.

« The Holy Shroud does not appeal, however, to those whom Jesus calls the thieves, brigands, strangers, enemies, mercenaries who come to plunder, steal, kill and destroy. They look at it and read their condemnation. They do not want to admit that it is the true Face of Jesus because this Face is severe to them. »

The devotion of St. Francis de Sales to whom this Face really appealed – even before its beauty was revealed by photography in 1898 – provides us with the counter-proof:

« The reproduction of this sacred effigy was his favourite image, wrote Msgr. Camus, Bishop of Belley, his friend and neighbour. He had it in embroidery, in painting, in oils, in line engraving, in illumination, in half relief and engraving. He put it in his bedroom, in his chapel, in his oratory, in his study, in his living room, in his gallery, in his breviary, everywhere. »

Like him, our Father lived with this photo in his breviary, on his desk, on the wall, everywhere… He, however, did not begin as early as St. Francis de Sales, whose devotion to the Holy Shroud dated from his conception: « Certainly, I have a particular reason for being devoted to it, he said, for my mother dedicated me to Our Lord, when I was in her womb, before this holy standard of our salvation », which was then kept in Chambery.

Our Father was ten years of age when he discovered the Holy Face, which Céline, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus’ sister, had painted from the photographic negative of 1898. This painting was in a little book that his governess had given him on her return from a pilgrimage to Lisieux.

« I was young, it was a painting, but I imagined that this portrait had been painted in the time of Jesus Christ! At ten years of age, we do not understand things correctly! I looked on this image as being the true portrait of Jesus. »

His devotion only increased with age:

« In 1941, I was a young student when I opened a little book, which I had bought: the unique model – the facsimile of passages from the Gospel copied out by Fr. de Foucauld. On its first page, there was the photographic negative of the Holy Face imprinted on the Holy Shroud. I immediately put it on my desk so that I always had it before my eyes. Curiously, not for an instant did I wonder how the photo of Jesus could have been taken! I had it there, on my desk, it was the photo of Jesus! »


In 1941, Georges de Nantes, a young student in Lyon, was in a political context similar to that of 1567, in the time of St. Francis de Sales’ first pilgrimage to Chambery, when he was still in the womb of his mother: « It is the country’s shield », he used to say. A shield against whom? It was against Geneva, this See from which he had been exiled by the Calvinist occupation: « What Rome is for Angels and Catholics, he said, Geneva is for the Devil and heretics. » The Holy Shroud was the standard of the Crusade for the Counter-Reformation led both by St. Francis, in the sixteenth century, in order to recover Geneva from the Calvinists and by our Father, in the twentieth century, to win Rome back from the Modernists.

« During my seminary, I was informed of Barbet’s first work and when I had to choose a holy card for my ordination, in 1948, it seemed to me that the only one possible was the Holy Shroud. I wrote this legend on it: « His death speaks to us of resurrections. »

Twenty five years later, for his Silver Jubilee in 1973, « I changed the formula because as I aged, I thought less about the happiness than about the sacrifice that is required to achieve resurrection. Since I had said: “His death speaks to us about resurrections” – therein I was seeking the easy way out and glory, His death speaks to us about resurrections –, I thought that it was time to reverse things and I wrote: “His Resurrection drives us to die”. The reason for this change was that, in order for us to rise, it is obviously necessary to take advantage of Christ’s death – what is quite true – but also to die ourselves. “No one can see God without dying”, i.e. one can not go to Heaven without dying. If we are Christ’s disciples, we must have the courage, by looking at this image of Christ handed over to death and stricken by the wicked, to see in it an appeal to ourselves to bear our cross and to follow Him in His Passion, in the light of His Transfiguration and Resurrection. »

Our father did so: his eyes fixed on « this image of Christ », our Head, the « Head of martyrs », as St. Augustine said, he confronted in turn the plot of the wicked.

« “They sharpen their tongues like a sword. Let not the Jews say: We did not kill Christ [...]. By pronouncing his sentence and by ordering that He be crucified, Pilate acted as though he did kill Him. But you, O Jews, it is you who really killed Him. How? With the sword of your tongues; for you sharpened your tongues.” » (Commentary on Psalm 63, in the second nocturn of the Matins of Good Friday)

A servant is not greater than his master. As Joan of Arc, who used to say: « Bishops, I die because of you! », we dare to say to Our Lord Bishops: « It is you who really killed Him. How? With the sword of your tongues, for you have sharpened your tongues » at each of the “communiqués” of your “permanent Council”. Through the sanctions lift on Fr. de Nantes without judgment, without reason, you really killed him!

Rereading the phases of this battle, we notice that our “standard”, the Holy Shroud, was on the front line and also an object of repeated “condemnations”…

It was first of all a first plot, the character of which was wholly evangelical. « Just as the Pharisees conspired with the Sadducees since Jesus’ beginnings in Galilee and became, in large part, responsible for His first failure, we had to fight against an international conjuration, the instrument of which was quite simply an American of little scientific value, Mc Crone. This man claimed to have found marks of painting on the Holy Shroud. Immediately broadcast throughout the whole world by all the enemies of Christ and God, the news was made known widely: it was a painting, nothing else than a painting of the Middle Age, an epoch when monks were capable of doing anything!

« This would have sufficed to destroy our Faith in the Holy Shroud, to cut us off from Christ without a counter-attack – which was passed on by us – led by the Americans of the Sturp who demonstrated that there was no painting on it. The enigma of the Shroud remained an “ongoing mystery”, and we were led to think that since it was not a painting, the only scientific solution was to return to what the Church had always said: it is the Shroud of Christ, and it is His Body that has imprinted Its image and left Its Blood, for it is blood! »

This first battle thus ended by the rout of our enemies.

Then, another combat began. Already started in the ‘70s, even before the Congress of Turin, the battle on the carbon 14 dating, the leitmotiv of all the enemies of the Shroud, would enable everyone to know the truth, and the truth was that it was a medieval forgery.

« This second campaign led to the result that the Enemy of Christ wanted, namely that the Church declared herself convinced by science, the most sophisticated, the most modern science, according to which it was a forgery! It was a new rupture, another death sentence of Christ. » (G. de Nantes, Contemplation of the Holy Face, “Where am I in this Passion?” Holy Week retreat from 22 to 27 March 1989)

St. Francis de Sales’ devotion to the Holy Shroud

St. Francis de Sales wrote to St. Jeanne-Françoise de Chantal with the same realism as Fr. De Nantes did:

Annecy, 4 May [feast of the Holy Shroud]1614.

« Whilst waiting to seeing you, my very dear Mother, my soul greets yours with a thousand greetings. May God fill your whole soul with the life and death of His Son Our Lord!

« At about this time, a year ago, I was in Turin [It was 4 May 1613; Saint Francis de Sales had returned from Milan, where he had spent the night at the tomb of St. Charles Borromeo], and, while pointing out the Holy Shroud among such a great crowd of people [St. Francis de Sales had therefore held up the Cloth together with other prelates, for only bishops were allowed to touch the Relic and to handle it.], a few drops of sweat fell from my face on to this Holy Shroud itself. Whereupon, our heart made this wish: May it please You, Saviour of my life, to mingle my unworthy sweat with Yours, and let my blood, my life, my affections merge with the merits of Your sacred sweat!

« My very dear Mother, the Prince Cardinal was somewhat annoyed that my sweat dripped onto the Holy Shroud of my Saviour 2; but it came to my heart to tell him that Our Lord was not so delicate, and that He only shed His sweat and His Blood for them to be mingled with ours, in order to give us the price of eternal life. And so, may our sighs be joined with His, so that they may ascend in an odour of sweetness before the Eternal Father.

« But what am I going to recall? I saw that when my brothers were ill in their childhood, my mother would make them sleep in a shirt of my father’s, saying that the sweat of fathers was salutary for children. Oh, may our heart sleep, on this holy day, in the Shroud of our divine Father, wrapped in His sweat and in His Blood; and there, may it be, as if at the very death of this divine Saviour, buried in the sepulchre, with a constant resolution to remain always dead to itself until it rises again to eternal glory. We are buried, says the Apostle, with Jesus Christ in death here below, so that we may no more live according to the old life, but according to the new. Amen. » (Œuvres complètes, édition d’Annecy, 1910, Vol. XVI, p. 177).

What wonderful devotion! Our Father really inherited this devotion, while adding new scientific and polemic considerations… Moreover, polemic was not absent from St. Francis’ devotion, which was a Catholic Counter-Reformation devotion directed against the Protestants inimical to relics, just as in our time!


Let us now continue our parallel: during the spring of 1594, Bishop de Granier asked for volunteers to restore Catholic religion and worship in Chablais. The previous year, Henry IV had recanted and ceased to support the Protestants of Bern and Geneva, who were making terror prevail throughout this territory, although it had been won back by the Duke of Savoy in 1589.

St. Peter Canisius was on the verge of winning German lands back from Lutheranism.

Who should be sent to Chablais?

« Your Excellency, I am ready to obey and will willingly set off », declared Francis, who had just been ordained priest and had just settled as “provost of Geneva” in Annecy.

Hearing of that, Mr de Boisy, his father, angered:

« Your Excellency, I permitted my eldest son, who was all the hope of my house, of my old age, of my life, to sacrifice himself to the Church of God to be a confessor, but I am quite unable to consent to his being a martyr, nor agree to your sending him as a victim to the slaughter to be mauled by wolves.

– Stand firm, My Excellency, Francis shouted out. What! Do you want me to become unworthy of the Kingdom of God?

– I do not pretend to resist God, I do not want, however, to be homicide of my son. »

Lord of Boisy’s fears were only too justified. Yet, his son escaped all murder attempts and so did our Father! The reconquest of Chablais remains the exemplar figure of the Catholic Counter-Reformation victory to come, in the twenty-first century…

There is something worse than martyrdom, our Father pointed out: it is failure, and Francis certainly headed for it. This Chablais was impossible to convert. It was held by Protestants. About twenty families hardly still had the courage to go to church in order to attend the Mass celebrated by a passing priest. Today it is the situation of our House St. Joseph after the death of Fr. de Nantes, who died alone after having fought alone, in the apparent failure of a good Friday evening. We have buried him and we now live an interminable holy Saturday while awaiting the resurrection of the Church, with which our Father identified himself on Bishop Le Couëdic’s own admission. This resurrection, of which St. Francis was the initiator in prophetic figure, will certainly come.

In fact, St. Francis succeeded for a reason that our Father explained very clearly with a view to justifying the title chosen for our monthly bulletin, Catholic Counter-Reformation in the twentieth century:

« The counter-Reformation was spontaneous, general. The condemnations of the hierarchy came; they were clear, constant and universal. Revolt appeared to Christians perhaps as a temptation, but as a crime. Under the influence of passions and soon above all of duress, entire peoples yielded to it, verifying what the Church teaches concerning the weakness of men when laws push them into revolting instead of protecting them from the evil. It was a collapse, even though in many countries, the Reform could only settle by concealing its break with Rome. Everywhere, however, honesty, loyal Faith and the serious membership in the Church became apparent through a keen repulsion for all that was connected with this “unfortunate sect” and its “appalling developments” (St. Thérèse of Avila).

« Everyone distinguished easily the Reform from the very expected sanctification of the clergy and the religious. I only think that the history of this Counter-reformist feeling has never been written before and its theological analysis never been attempted. A sentence of Cristiani could put us on the right track: “France did not want to have Lutheranism because it broke Catholic unity, because it created a deplorable confusion of doctrines and presented incessant variations – which is an absolute sign of error –, because it was opposed to the established dogma and to practices dear to French devotion, especially the devotion to the Eucharistic and the Virgin Mary.” (protestant insurrection, p. 75) It was that sentiment and not the taste for revolt that bore witness, even in the blood of martyrs, to the presence of the Holy Spirit in His Church.

« When there was a trivial liturgical change – but nothing is trivial! – or an isolated scandal – but nothing is then insignificant –, the Church, her clergy and her faithful as a whole, discerned that this supposed Reform was not a correction of abuses but the supreme Abuse. Nor was it the remedy to disorders but the Disorder that was turned to the essential. From then on, the whole Church, with the exception of those who were consciously passed on to rebellion, only yearned for the eviction of heretics and for the defeat of their military party. Those who, later on, submitted to heresy became its victims rather than its adherents. What used to be a truism is no longer today, alas! We had to wait our sad times to see Catholics put up a good show to heresy and accept schism.

« Likewise, Luther’s revolt appeared to all as a chastisement decreed by God. It was “the visible punishment”, said Bossuet, of a society that had not wanted to mend its ways in due time. Consciences remained sufficiently upright to voice such a judgment, which proves that souls were not so corrupted. Sheltered by the spontaneous “Counter-Reformation”, and by virtue of this repulsion of Catholics for the Heresy from the North, the reform of morals and discipline drew a new force and had happy results. The Church reacted to protestantism exactly as to a scourge, and St. Paul’s phrase “Oportet hæreses esse” really applies here… Saints had been preaching for one century and were hardly heeded; their promising efforts were unable to produce their full effect because of the dilettantism and sensualism in which the upper classes of this world and the princes of the Church were living. The Calamity, the great religious and political Calamity of protestantism wrought the conversion of a society that had remained catholic to the core.

« Let us still listen to St. Pius X: “Against this host of seducers, God raised up true reformers and holy men to stop this impetuous tide and stifle its effervescence or to repair the harm already done. Their assiduous action and their manifold efforts for the reform of discipline brought more consolation to the Church than the tribulation which has so gravely oppressed her. Thus was fulfilled the sacred words: God is faithful, He will give success with temptation (1 Co 10:13).” (encyclical Editæ sæpe Dei of 26 May 1910 on St. Charles Borromeo)

« Such was this Catholic Counter-Reformation. It was at first spontaneous and became more authorised and organised until its triumph in the incomparable work of the great Council of Trent (1545-1563) and its application by the following Popes who were as outstanding as one another in the next century. Even if religious Orders powerfully contributed to this triumph, its best workers were the bishops. If this great era seems to me to have come to an end with St. Francis de Sales’ death in 1622, it is because Protestant expansion was then over, its movement was broken. The recovery of Chablais by the holy bishop of Geneva remains the striking proof of this victory of the Church. » (CRC n° 4, January 1968, p. 8, French edition)

« The salvation of the Church in the sixteenth century thus resulted from two actions, which are distinct but convergent », our father concluded.

« The first one deserves the name of Counter-Reformation. It was the Catholic opposition, the resistance, the increasingly vehement and organised reaction to the pretentions of the Innovators to change the Church. This refusal culminated and found its dogmatic justification in the definitions and anathemas of the Council of Trent.

« The second action was the sanctification, at last decided, of the society, which had remained Catholic. This ecclesiastical Reform was the indirect consequence of the misfortunes engendered by the wars of religion. The fear of God’s Wrath helped to bring about this sanctification, even it was the powerful inspiration of the Counter-Reformation that strengthened its energies. It was necessary to help to the salvation of the Church without compounding, through sanctity. »

The foundation of the Visitation of Holy Mary powerfully contributed to this Catholic restoration.


How can we reanimate so many lukewarm souls who are misled by heresy throughout the world? It was possible through a mysterious outpouring of the very Love of God into the heart of St. Francis de Sales, so that, flowing from this heart, this torrent of love passed into the heart of St. Jeanne de Chantal and, through her mediation, it passed on to many others: her relatives, her father, her father-in-law, her children, her close friends and thus, in a chain, to infinity, as far as the most abandoned souls, the most humble, in order to make them friends of God and his saints. They imitated Mary when She brought to Elizabeth the great joy that was in Her.

St. Francis wrote: « Our small congregation is a work of the Heart of Jesus and Mary. » Now, during the night from 9 to 10 June 1611, he received the inspiration to give armorial bearings to the Visitation, founded one year ago. He wrote the very evening to Mother de Chantal in order to inform her of « the thought that God gave me last night. Our house of the Visitation is, by its grace, noble and considerable enough to have its arms, its blazon, its devise and its war cry; thus, I thought, my dear Mother, if you agree, that we must take as arms unique Heart pierced with two arrows and surrounded by a crown of thorns. This poor Heart is surmounted by a Cross planted in its cleavage [at the junction of the two auricles] and will be engraved with the two hearts of Jesus and Mary. »

This « unique heart » – we know this through their letters that our Father read us and commented on – is formed by that of these two saints whom God wanted to unite so intimately, not with their bodies by carnal instinct, but by grace, in spirit, that they no longer formed but one and the same heart. Torrents of grace and mercy must flow over the world from this unique heart of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jeanne de Chantal!

This « unique heart » is pierced with two harrows that figure the two great sacrifices they had made: she, by enclosing herself in this monastery of the Visitation and he, by supporting the trials of his life as bishop exiled from his diocese of Geneva.

« My Daughter, on my first visit to you, I will tell you thousands of minor thoughts that have come to mind on this matter: our small congregation is really a work of the Heart of Jesus and Mary; the dying Saviour gave us birth through the opening of His Sacred Heart. Thus, it is just that our heart [our « unique heart »] remains always surrounded through a careful mortification with the crown of thorns that remained on the head of Our Head, while love keeps our heart attach to the throne of His mortal pains. »


These thoughts date Friday 10 June 1611, the day after the octave of Corpus Christi. Sixty years later, Jesus would designate that same day to be the feast of His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret-Mary, a Visitation sister, daughter of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jeanne de Chantal, from the Visitation of Paray-le-Monial. She told the superior of Dijon, Mother de Saumaise, in 1688:

« I will tell you that, having had the happiness of spending the entire day of the Visitation before the Blessed Sacrament, my Sovereign deigned to favour His puny slave with numerous particular graces of His amorous Heart. He had me retired into His Heart and made me experience what I am unable to express. A very eminent, spacious and admirably beautiful place was shown to me. In the middle of this place was a throne with flames, wherein was the lovable Heart of Jesus with His Wound that sent out so ardent and luminous rays that this place was full of light and warmth. The Blessed Virgin was on one side, St. Francis de Sales on the other; along with holy Fr. de La Colombière, the Daughters of the Visitation appeared in that place with their good Angels at their side, each of them bearing a heart in their hand. The Blessed Virgin invited us with these words:

« “Come my beloved daughters, approach you for I want to make you as though the depositories of this precious treasure that the divine Sun of justice has formed in the virginal land of My heart. He has been hidden there, for nine months, and then He revealed Himself to the men who, unaware of the price, despised Him because they saw Him marked and covered with their land in which the eternal Father had thrown the whole filth and corruption of our sins. He purified them in the ardours of the fire of His charity for thirty three years.

« “The eternal Father, however, saw that men, far from being enriched and from taking advantage of such a precious treasure according to the end for which it had been given to them, rather strove to reduce Him to nothing and to exterminate Him – if they had been able to do so – from the earth. By an excess of His mercy, the eternal Father has used their malice to make this precious Golden even more useful. Through the blows they have given Him during His passion, they have transformed this Golden into an inestimable money bearing the stamp of divinity, so that they may pay their debts and negotiate the great matter of their eternal salvation.

« Then, this Queen of goodness, continuing to talk, said while showing them this divine Heart:

« “Here is this precious treasure, which is particularly manifested to you through the tender love that My Son has for your institute. He considers and loves it as His dear Benjamin and, therefore, wants to use this portion to advantage it over the others. Sisters must not only grow richer in this treasure but profusely distribute this precious money as much as they can, while trying to enrich everyone without fearing that it runs out, for the more they will take from it, the more they will find of it.” »


The Blessed Virgin then addressed to Fr. de La Colombière, to tell him that the task to make known « this precious treasure » was reserved for the Jesuits. Then, St. Francis de Sales talk to his daughters:

« O daughter of sweet odour, come and draw from the source of benediction the waters of salvation that have already moderately flowed into your souls through the brook of your constitutions, which came from it. »

St. Margaret-Mary concluded with this resolution: « We shall strive to pour the sweet odour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ out to the heart of the faithful, in order for us to be the crown and joy of this lovable Heart. » This was done by the hands of Angels, as in the “third secret” of Fatima:

« Thereafter, all the good Angels came nearer in order to present to Him those whom they held and who, having touched this sacred Wound, became beautiful and glimmering as stars. Other hearts became entirely black and horrible. »

Our Father drew a comparison between the dream of St. Francis de Sales and the vision of St. Margaret-Mary. In fact, in1685, the latter did a pen-and-ink drawing, which answered St. Francis de Sales’ dream point by point: a Heart, which is surmounted by a Cross, marked with two arrows or two hallmarks and surrounded with a crown of thorns surmounted by the names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Yet, our Father observed, in St. Francis de Sales’ dream, this unique Heart pierced with two arrows and enclosed in a crown of thorns is their personal heart, the heart of this very holy man and of this very holy woman, which is one and the same, to honour Jesus and Mary.

Sixty years after them, Jesus asked that this same image be reproduced to represent His own Heart and to receive the homage of the community of the Visitation Sisters of Paray-le-Monial. Jesus’ purpose was to show us to what extent the singular love that united St. Francis de Sales and St. Jeanne de Chantal had its source in the Heart of Jesus.

Love for neighbour is an essential part of Love for Jesus in His Sacred Heart so that, from the One to the other « it is the same torrent of Love of God that pours from Jesus and Mary out to us. We are thereby, on the one hand, strongly led to love our neighbour, even the crookest, the most disgraced, the most hostile, the poorest because he is already in the Heart of Jesus. On the other hand, insofar as this neighbour is extremely gracious to us, as St. Francis de Sales and St. Jeanne de Chantal are » – in this fourth centenary of the foundation of their « small congregation » –, this love for our neighbour, a very natural and supernatural love similar to the love that bound us to our « unique and incomparable Father », should lead us to love Jesus and Mary likewise. 

It is this mystery that Fr. de Nantes appropriated, he, the disciple of Blessed Fr. de Foucauld, the founder of our congregation of missionary monks, applying himself to the school of St. Francis de Sales like Don Bosco. Through the mediation of Our Lady Help of Christians, the latter succeeded in reaching the most abandoned souls of the youth of Turin.


The holy bishop said that « the preacher should better make himself wished rather than bore his listeners ». Fr. de Nantes never “bored” his listeners. Thousands of hours of recorded preaching testify it, as well as his worse enemies calling him a “seducer”.

« The youth needs and even longs to listen, yet it must never be tired of listening », Don Bosco said. He meant that the preacher ought to use a concrete and colourful language, as St. Francis did when he often resorted to comparisons and examples preferably taken from sacre history and the history of the Church. Throughout his life, Don Bosco recommended the educators of the youth to take examples. It was indeed through examples given in his philosophy classes that Fr. de Nantes, teacher of our senior year, enthralled us.

In the first rule of his youth club, formed in 1847, Don Bosco wrote: « We place this youth club under the protection of St. Francis de Sales because those who, out of devotedness, intend to dedicate themselves to this kind of apostolate must take this saint as model both in his charity and in his gracious way to behave. It is only in acting in this way that we will be able to reap the consoling benefits of this work. »

What is the reason for the name “St. Francis de Sales oratory”?

« It is to indicate that the foundation on which this congregation rests, not only for the one who is in charge but for the one who obeys, must be charity and sweetness, the characteristic virtues of this saint. » (prolog of the rule)

« Charity, reciprocal patience in supporting the defects of others, promoting the good reputation of the oratory and of its employees and encouraging everyone to benevolence and to confidence towards the rector, otherwise order will never be maintained nor the glory of God and the good of souls be promoted. »


As Brother Pierre reminded us during our 1998 pilgrimage, at that period Italy, divided into seven states, was ablaze. A series of revolutions gave birth to constitutional monarchies between 1847 and 1850. The Papal States themselves experienced trouble at the beginning of Pius IX’s reign, but they withstood this current. Piedmont, on the contrary, was the birthplace of the movement that would end in Italian unification in 1870.

Turin was the centre of all this agitation. The radical government adopted anticlerical legislation throughout the years from 1850 to 1860: expulsion of the Jesuits and the Madams of the Sacred Heart; religious corporations forbidden to acquire property without the authorisation of the State, restricted exemption from military service for priests and religious, purely contemplative convents suppressed and the secularisation of schools in preparation. The clergy was paralysed by fear. Under the guise of “caution”, no one did anything… except Don Bosco who was supported and guided by his « dreams ».

That of the “two conlumns” in 1862 represents the situation in the aspect of troubled streams on which « they are an incalculable number of ships in battle formation », as the Turkish fleet in Lepanto in 1571. « Their prows are fitted with terrible rams and on their sides they carry all kinds of weaponry, cannons, guns, incendiary devices and even books ». These « books » contained the revolutionary doctrines that were the soul of popular uprisings.

« They are all preparing to wage a formidable battle against another mightier ship that they wish to destroy »: the ship of the Church commanded by the Pope, on the troubled seasof the world. « This majestic and redoubtable vessel commands a full escort of smaller boats that try to repel the enemy flotilla escort. Alas, the winds and the waves are with the enemy. » In Lepanto, the wind favoured the Turkish fleet before miraculously changing direction. In Italy, the prevailing « wind » was that of Garibaldian anticlericalism and other revolutionaries.

« In the midst of the waves and soaring high above them, rise two massive columns, a short distance apart from one another. One is surmounted by a statue of the Immaculate Virgin, and on its pedestal I can read this inscription: Help of Christians. On the other, which is loftier and sturdier, there glows the Sacred Host, with these words: Salvation of believers”. The situation appears to be very worrying for the ship assuming general command, whose captain turns out to be the Sovereign Pontiff himself.

« Before the imminent danger, he immediately summons the helmsmen of the allied crafts to deliberate on the decisions to be taken. Soon they are all grouped around him; but the wind and the tempest, redoubling their fury, scarcely allow them time even to open the session and they are obliged to return to their posts. »

At this point, the dream becomes prophetic: right from 1862, it prophesied the meeting of the First Vatican Council (1869) that would be suspended because of the invasion of the Papal States by the troops of Victor-Emmanuel.

« During this time, the enemies multiply their assaults. Writings, books and incendiary materials are flung aboard; cannons, guns and steel pikes all wreak terrifying damage; and their prows collide furiously with the Pope’s vessel. But all their charges remain fruitless. Every new assault is yet one more failure and a waste of their energy and munitions. Calm and undaunted, the majestic papal ship continues on its way. »

« Writings », « books », « incendiary materials » represent the modernist doctrines that St. Pius X would condemn in the Encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis (1907).

« At a given moment, however, a formidable prow thrust opens a large gaping whole in its side. A mysterious gust of wind originating from the columns immediately seals up the opening. »

In 1917, the Russian revolution was followed by the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima.

« In the midst of the thundering cannon fire, the rattle of bullets and the creaking of tackle, the enemy vessels collide with each other, shatter, and start sinking. In blind fury the enemies take to hand-to-hand combat on the decks. Hands and fists become locked together in the confusion, whilst blasphemies and curses rain down in torrents. Suddenly the Pope himself is struck. He falls down; his subjects help him up, but a second blow fells him and this time his wound is mortal [this can only signify his spiritual death]. A shout of victory rings out. On the enemy vessels, they are jubilant and start dancing.

« But no sooner is the death of the Pope known about than his successor is elected. The adversaries lose their courage. The new Pontiff breaks through all the obstacles and steers his vessel between the two columns. There he moors his vessel securely, the prow tied to the column of the Host and the stern to that of the Virgin. »

This Pope is the one who willconsecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and prescribe the reparatory Communion of the First Five Saturdays of the month to all the faithful of the Catholic Church.

« At this there is general panic and indescribable disorder. All the enemies take flight and disperse. Their ships collide and scuttle each other. Those that start sinking try to make the others sink. Some of the vessels that had fought valiantly on behalf of the Pope now come up themselves and tie on to the columns. Others, who had kept out of danger and waited cautiously for victory, follow their example. Over the sea there reigns a great calm. »

It is the “time of peace” promised by Our Lady of Fatima …

It will not be long in coming! Amen!

Brother Bruno of Jesus.