Blessed Marie de Jesus Deluil-Martiny: A Life of Fire, Struggle and Holocaust

An example for us today, Mary of Jesus Deluil-Martiny foresaw tragic trials to come and offered herself as an expiatory victim for Holy Church and the priesthood, suffering with a strong and combative spirit, confident in the final victory of the good.

Newsroom (10/03/2022 13:19, Gaudium Press) Blessed Mary of Jesus Deluil-Martiny is practically unknown. In the history books of the Church there is hardly any mention of her, but her biography and writings reveal surprising horizons.

A woman of biblical stature, blessed with an extremely elevated viewpoint and a more than mere strong courage, she deserves to be counted among the greatest Saints of the 19th century. Her life, brutally interrupted at the age of forty-three by an assassin’s hand, opened a path of fire, holocaust and admirable struggle, giving rise to a work, still existing today, of virgins called to be “Seraphim of the earth”: the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Mary Deluil-Martiny was born in Marseilles, France, on 28 May, 1841, to a well-to-do family. The first of five children, she was taken the day after her birth to the Church of St. Vincent de Paul to receive Holy Baptism.

A typical Marseillaise, Mary was intelligent and cheerful, but she possessed a seriousness and tenacity uncommon to the inhabitants of this Mediterranean city. From an early age she was used to mortifying her spirit and overcoming the whims of childhood with a spirit of faith.

Mary made her First Holy Communion on 22 December 1853, after having prepared herself with the zealous nuns of the Visitation Convent where the heart of the Venerable Anne-Madeleine Rémusat, her maternal great-aunt, was kept. During the two years of catechesis, the nuns were amazed by her ability to communicate, her unusual intelligence, and an unalterable good disposition.

Meeting with Saint John Mary Vianney

After receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation in 1854, a mysterious veil of sadness descended over Mary’s lively and innocent soul, perhaps because of a lack of clarity about her own vocation.

At the age of fifteen, she “founded” among the pupils of the Visitation school an “Order” with a rule, novitiate, and something like religious profession: the Oblates of Mary. The initiative, however, was short-lived: on learning of its existence, the Sisters kindly “dissolved” it…

This name, however, would give meaning to the future institute of perfection that she would found as an adult: her spiritual daughters, members of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, would be “oblates”, because they would offer themselves to Jesus through Mary as mirrors of the immolation of the Divine Victim and His Blessed Mother.

At seventeen, her time at the boarding school of the Sacred Heart in La-Ferrandière, Lyon came to an end. Before leaving, she made a retreat under the direction of Fr. Bouchaud, a Jesuit. On this occasion Mary soaked up the spirituality of St. Ignatius, which she was to live with an exquisite logic and fervour, applying it ardently in the future rules of her congregation.

She was also able to read the writings of St. Teresa of Jesus, which seemed as familiar to her as if she herself had experienced the graces described by the giant of mysticism.

Even before returning to Marseilles, Maria decided to make a journey to Ars to consult the holy parish priest about her vocation. The stay in the small village, later world-famous, ended without the desired Confession.

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Resigned, Mary decided to go to the parish church to say goodbye to the Lord in the tabernacle with a last prayer. During these moments of recollection, she felt a presence beside her… It was St. John Mary Vianney who was praying, kneeling on the same kneeler!

She then expressed the desire to consult him about her vocation, to which the priest replied: “Your vocation, my child, ah! Before you know it, you will have to recite many ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus‘” (Come Holy Spirit). And he led her to the confessional. No one could know what confidences and good advice the penitent and the confessor exchanged at that moment.

She surrenders herself as an expiatory victim

At the age of twenty-two, the young woman was still walking in the shadows of a terrible, dark night. On one occasion, however, she learned from the Visitation nuns that the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Heart had been founded. Her enthusiasm was immediate and her resolution fulminant; she joined the confraternity with great consolation.

The founding nuns of Bourg-en-Bresse named her “First Caretaker”, for, as a result of her acute intelligence, admirable organizational capacity and ardent zeal, the work took on surprising proportions in a short time.

Years later, in 1866, during an evening exercise on the Good Death, Mary was deeply impressed by the words of Fr. Calage, a wise and virtuous Jesuit, and took him as her spiritual director. At the age of twenty-seven, she gave herself irrevocably to God, with the permission of that priest. In this act of preparation for the vow of perfect chastity, this blessed soul knew well not only that she had given everything to Our Lord, but that He had accepted everything! Finally, on 8 December 1868, Mary made her vow of virginity in a private way.

The day before, however, she struggled against horrible suggestions from an impure demon. So violent was the struggle that her innocent soul was troubled at the thought of having somewhat tarnished the whiteness of her Baptismal robe.

Her spiritual director reassured her with inspired words, written down by the Blessed in her intimate diary: “What I am telling you does not come from me, but from Our Lord, who has charged me to tell you this by giving me clear light on your soul. I know that you are very dear to Jesus, and that Satan has made every effort against you since your childhood. But after these last lights, I have understood everything more than ever. Remember that the lily of your virginity is no ordinary lily, but is the lily of Jesus and Mary, which They themselves cared for with immense love. When you go to Heaven, you will carry a lily as a palm. You will be among the virgin martyrs. This lily, for you, is a lilium inter spinas (a lily among thorns). Your temptations are your martyrdom!

To these acts of perpetual consecration to God, Mary added, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1868, her surrender as an expiatory victim. Fr. Calage, on that occasion, said to her: “My formal intention is that you give yourself to the Heart of Jesus as a victim. I will offer you up at Mass: Our Lord will do the rest”.

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Immolated with Mary at the foot of the Cross

Having firmly and boldly taken these first steps, the moment had come to establish a new institute, born of her innocent, daring, and fiery heart: the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Finally, on 20 June 1873, under the auspices of the fearless Cardinal Dechamps, the new congregation was founded in Berchem, Belgium. A red and white flower blossomed at the foot of Calvary in order to make reparation for the sins of the world against the Heart of Jesus, through Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in their chapels.

The prayers of the Sisters would be offered for Holy Church and the priesthood, in a spirit of oblation, like the Blessed Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross. This is how this blessed woman herself explained it: “Some will be apostles, active combatants thrown into the confusion of battle! We will be, together with the most sweet Virgin Mary, the holocausts, hidden in Jesus Christ, immolated with Jesus Christ, and purchasing with Him, for Him, in Him, the salvation of the world”. But there is more: The spirituality of Blessed Maria Deluil-Martiny consists completely of intrepid faith, of broad horizons, of a fighting spirit against the mortal enemy of good.

She and her spiritual daughters, in the seclusion of the cloisters, always confronted the hosts of evil with sacrosanct zeal. They prayed for the expulsion of the devil from the fabric of events and for the destruction of the occult powers that sustain the action of the Hydra of Evil.

The congregation was born in a politically and religiously troubled period. The nation of France, the first-born daughter of the Church, as a consequence of the sins of the French Revolution, was shaken throughout the 19th century by terrible upheavals.

In Italy, the hosts recruited by Garibaldi were usurping the Pope’s territories, and winds of chaos and persecution were disturbing the general panorama of Christendom. In these agitated circumstances, the Blessed made explicit the sublime call of her daughters, affirming: “Your vocation is to fight spiritually, with the weapons of prayer and immolation, against Satan and the present form of his assaults”, so that “what you must obtain is the exaltation of that which he strives to lower, overthrow and destroy”.

Now, before what manifestation of diabolical power would the daughters of the Heart of Jesus have to fight?

“Evil is much greater than you can imagine,” asserted Mother Antonia, explaining that they were facing an explosion of man’s rebellion against the order established by God.

Sin has always existed, but “never before has it dared to wage war with such audacity, cynicism and perfidy as today. […] It is no longer, as formerly, a partial attack against any point of Catholic dogma and morals […], or an accidental and local revolt against any prince; in our days it is a vast general movement against all religious dogmas, against all principles of morality, and against all the foundations of religious and civil society. This evil is universal, and is spreading among all the peoples of the world.”

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It has a name: “Social and religious revolution”. It is supported by false prophets and by structures which ensure its universal domination. The evildoers, prophesies Blessed Mary, dream of “the coming of a day when a hand may be laid on the Papacy and one of its members may sit on the Throne of Peter, so that the Revolution may truly become master of the world and the reign of Satan may replace the reign of Jesus Christ”.

Suffering for the Church, awaiting Her triumph

Faced with such a dramatic and paroxysmal panorama, the vocation of the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus is not only to offer themselves in holocaust, but to keep alive the flame of hope in the irreversible triumph of the Church. “Jesus Christ has overcome Satan and the world! […] The nations have been given to Him for an inheritance. While He lets the infernal beast flounder at His feet between passing and lying successes, victorious He triumphs, and His Angels in Heaven sing, as of now, His definitive victory!”

On the other hand, her splendid and indomitable magnanimity led her to affirm: “It is much grander, nobler and more meritorious to live in difficult times. And so, from century to century, the efforts of Satan will become ever more furious and more desperate, and the holiness of the just will become ever greater, until the end of time, when Satan will be forever driven back into the abyss”.

A life of prophetic combat, crowned by martyrdom

Such a chosen and sublime soul had to end her days with the most glorious of battles: her fight against the Revolution would culminate in martyrdom.

Finding herself in the monastery of La Servianne in Marseille, she fell victim to the hatred of the occult forces that she wished to extinguish with her sacrifices. The convent’s gardener, a veiled anarchist, murdered her with the utmost cruelty, hitting her in the jugular with several pistol shots. Her last words were: “I forgive you … for the Work”.

It was 27 February 1884. Her blood, in fact, fertilized the young congregation which, protected by her dearest Mother from Heaven, spread to various European countries.

Her incorrupt body is venerated in Rome, in the Monastery of the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus.

Blessed Marie de Jesus Deluil-Martiny, whose spirituality was centred on a love of holocaust to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, was a soul of choice.

May her luminous figure and her strenuous life serve as a stimulus to all the children of the Church who wish to fight against today’s chaos. May those few faithful, without closing their eyes to the evil that seems to dominate all fields, know how to trust in the certain victory of the good cause, when the promise consigned in the motto of Blessed Mary will be fulfilled: “Opportet Illum regnare” (I Cor 15:25), Jesus must reign!

By Fr. Carlos Javier Werner Benjumea, EP

Text taken, with adaptations, from the Magazine Heralds of the Gospel, February 2020, n. 218.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm


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