In 971, Count Lambert asked Saint Mayeul to set up an abbey in this town in the south of Burgundy. In the 12th century, the Benedictine monks built the current building, the flagship of Burgundy Romanesque art. The convent was tested by the black plague of 1346-1348, then by the Hundred Years' War, and finally by the wars of religion. The magnificent Romanesque basilica was restored in the 19th century
In the 17th century, it was the time of Catholic reform, and in 1609 a priory of Jesuit fathers was opened in Paray-le-Monial in this impetus of religious renewal. In 1626, a monastery of the Visitation was founded by Mother Jeanne Françoise de Chantal. The order of the Visitation was then newly founded by Saint Francis of Sales, the sisters providentially receive the name of daughters of the Heart of Jesus. In 1632, the Visitandine sisters exchanged their building with the Jesuit priests to settle at the present location of the convent. While little Louis XIV was already king of France, Marguerite Alacoque was born on July 22, 1647 in Verosvres. She entered the monastery of the Visitation of Paray-le-Monial on June 20, 1671. Margaret Mary would be one of the emblematic figures because of the revelations she would receive from the Lord concerning his Sacred Heart. In 1686, the sisters began to respond to Jesus' requests and built the first chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart. The feast of the Sacred Heart requested by Jesus takes place on the third Friday after Pentecost.
Thereafter, the community was dissolved during the French Revolution, but reinstituted in 1823.
The religious life of Saint Margaret Mary was marked by many mystical events. There are four episodes including the three major apparitions:
As a novice, Margaret Mary was in charge of looking after the donkeys. Praying under a hazel grove, Jesus revealed to her how his Passion had been a testimony of his infinite love for men, and he asked her to unite with him in the offering of his own sufferings. The sister then received Saint Francis of Assisi as a spiritual guide.
The first great apparition took place on December 27th, 1673, when Jesus invited Margaret Mary to rest her head on his chest and confided to her: "My divine Heart is so passionate about love for men and for you in particular that, since it can no longer contain in itself the flames of its ardent charity, it must spread them through you."
The second apparition took place in 1674, when Margaret Mary prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus presented himself to her in glory with his five wounds shining like suns. He reminded her of the extent to which his love for men has gone. Jesus proposed that Margaret Mary receive communion every first Friday of the month and every Thursday evening to join in prayer at her death in the Garden of Olives. This is the Holy Hour.
Finally, in 1675, Christ manifested himself for the third time, showing his Heart, he said: “This is the Heart that loved men so much, that it spared nothing to the point of exhausting itself and consuming itself to show them its love and for gratitude I receive nothing but ingratitudes.”
Today, Paray-le-Monial is a village that brings together many religious communities.
Throughout the year in Paray-le-Monial, a prayer for all is held. The Chaplains and the faithful take turns, day and night, to pray before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Saint John Chapel. Through their silent prayer of worship, they intercede for the salvation of the world, the comfort of those who suffer, and the intentions entrusted to them. Everyone can deposit their prayer intentions here so that they may be prayed at Paray-le-Monial.
The association “Villes Sanctuaires” in France organizes conferences and visits to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paray-le-Monial.