Today’s saint received an extensive education, thanks to her brother Louis. He was 11 years older and her godfather at baptism.

A seminarian, Louis decided that his younger sister would likewise learn Latin, Greek, history, physics and mathematics. Her education was without interruption and with a minimum of companionship. By age 15, she had received a thorough exposure to the Bible, the teachings of the Fathers of the Church and theology. Despite the oppressive regime Louis imposed, young Sophie thrived and developed a genuine love of learning.

Meanwhile, this was the time of the French Revolution and of the suppression of Christian schools. The education of the young girls was in a troubled state. Sophie, who had desired a call to the religious life, was persuaded to become a teacher. She founded the Society of the Sacred Heart, which focused on schools for the poor as well as boarding schools for young women of means. Today, co-ed Sacred Heart schools also can be found, along with schools exclusively for boys.

In 1826, her Society of the Sacred Heart received formal papal approval. By then she had served as superior at a number of convents. In 1865, she was stricken with paralysis; she died that year on the feast of the Ascension.

Madeleine Sophie Barat was canonized in 1925.

Adapted by A.J. Valentini from: St. Madeleine Sophie Barat | Franciscan Media. (n.d.). Franciscan Media. Retrieved May 19, 2021, from