St Madeleine Sophie Barat’s Feast Day

One hundred years ago the first RSCJ arrived in Brisbane at the invitation of Archbishop Duhig. They spent the first three years in the suburb of Annerley where the Archbishop had asked them to open a Primary School while they looked for a site for their future Boarding School. One of the foundresses, Mother Kathleen O’Donovan, had a great devotion to Sophie whom she had come to love in the year she spent teaching English in Marseilles where memories of Sophie were really alive. Each month from the 15th to the 25th Mother O’Donovan made a novena to Sophie, who she said, granted her many favours.
After her arrival at Annerley Mother O’Donovan promoted devotion to Blessed Madeleine Sophie Barat and the early records recount a number of favours that were attributed to Sophie.
Our children and the good people of the parish are beginning to know and love Our Blessed Mother foundress, and she had shown her love for them by curing one of their children, Frank Mahoney, aged thirteen.
The young lad had a severe attack of rheumatic fever which left him with a twisted knee so the doctors gave him little hope of ever walking again. When the boy’s father told Mother O’Donovan, she gave him a relic and a prayer to say each day of a novena.
The following Sunday after first Mass, the father arrived, beaming with joy, saying:
‘When I brought home the relic Frank asked me not to put the liniment on his leg but only the relic. We said the novena every evening, and on the sixth day he was completely cured, ran around the yard playing football, without the slightest pain or twist in his knee. He is coming to the second Mass, and will you take us all to thank Madeleine Sophie after it.’
After Sunday school Frank with his father and little brother and sister knelt before the picture and thanked Madeleine Sophie. Then Reverend Mother gave the dear boy her only medal of Madeleine Sophie, which he loves and says he will always wear.
This is only one of several stories of favours granted through the intercession of Sophie in the early days in Brisbane as we can read in the records that
Many graces and reliefs were obtained at the Mater Misericordie Hospital, so much so that a good number of relics had to be given to satisfy the patients who heard of the relief it was giving to fellow sufferers.
As we celebrate Sophie’s feast at the beginning of a new century of Sacred Heart Education in Brisbane, these lovely stories remind us of her continued interest in the concerns and struggles of the members of her earthly family.
(Image: Sophie under a Jacaranda tree at Stuartholme.
Painting by Maureen Hansen former Artist in Residence at Stuartholme)                                                                    Rita Carroll, RSCJ

St Madeleine Sophie Barat’s Feast Day

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