The Irish-Scottish province of the Society of the Sacred Heart went on pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. In preparation for this journey, I wrote a series of reflections on the life of Sophie Barat. These appeared n the Provincial Newsletteri and on the Madeleine Sophie Barat website.


This is a new version of these reflections, to accommodate a wider context and readership.

The format is simple. Each section contains reflections on a theme in the life of Sophie Barat. Each theme presented includes pointers for further thought. Unless otherwise stated, all page references are based on the English edition: Madeleine Sophie Barat, 1779-1865 A Life. (2nd Impression, Cork University Press, 2000)


It may be helpful to have a notebook to jot down your thoughts and reflections as you work through the themes presented here. Over many years, and through reflecting on the experiences of her life, Sophie Barat became the author of her life and gradually recognised and accepted her destiny task. By the interaction of her biography with yours, this inner journey of Sophie Barat speaks to yours, and enriches your insight. Such is the art and gift of spiritual biographical work.

Phil Kilroy


This story begins in France in 1779, in the little Burgundian town of Joigny, and then moves to Paris in 1800, when Sophie Barat sets out on a long, adventurous journey. Sophie could never have imagined then that she would found the Society of the Sacred Heart, and that by the time of her death in 1865 she would preside over an international community of 3,359 women, who were inspired by a spiritual ideal and offered a service of education in Europe, north Africa, north and south America.


Yet this happened, and in the process Sophie herself was shaped and enriched by the interaction between her personal inner journey, her network of relationships and the spiritual ideals which motivated her and her friends. These three elements informed, modified, and transformed Sophie Barat over the course of a long life.


She emerged from this crucible of formation as a pioneer who, in the company of many gifted companions, had forged her own style of leadership and undergone a long and searching inner journey.When she died at eight-five years of age, sixty-three of them had been spent in leadership of the Society of the Sacred Heart.


This is Sophie Barat's biography in a nutshell.To unpack this long and full life, I propose that we look at themes in Sophie's life, so that over time we grasp something of her journey.

Caution! Try and let Sophie Barat live in her own time and history. Otherwise we judge her too quickly on our terms!


What image have you of Sophie Barat? Has it changed over the years?

What would you like to know about Sophie, herself, as she makes her own life journey?

What aspects of your life concern you now? Will you talk to Sophie about them?

Further Reading

Introduction to the biography: Madeleine Sophie Barat A Life pp 1-6

Not copyright. May be downloaded and translated.

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Madeleine Author - Phil Kilroy