Sister Mary Martha Chambon
APOSTLE OF THE FIVE WOUNDS
(reproduced with permission of the author from his article in the Garabandal Journal, July-August 2013)
When Jesus Christ transmitted the inestimable Treasures of His Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary Alaçoque, He foresaw a spiritual catastrophe, first for France, and then the rest of the world, which was being secretly engineered by godless men and would require Divine intervention to stop it. Christ thus commanded Margaret Mary on June 17, 1689, to instruct the King, Louis XIV, to make a public consecration of France to his Sacred Heart. For fear of offending the heretics of the day, the King did not do it, and neither did his son nor his grandson - King Louis XV and King Louis XVI respectively – onto whom the obligation subsequently fell. On June 17, 1789, exactly one hundred years to the day of Jesus’ request for this consecration, the common people (known as the Third Estate) proclaimed themselves to be a National Assembly, and deposed King Louis XVI from his throne. Realizing his error in ignoring Heaven’s command, the King made a consecration of France in his prison cell, but this did not fulfill Christ’s desire for a public consecration by which all of France would have recognised Our Lord’s sovereignty and the tremendous graces His Sacred Heart would have granted her after this most solemn ceremony. France would then have become a showcase for the rest of the world to imitate, and likewise participate in the bounties of the Sacred Heart. The French Revolution began as a result of this failure, King Louis XVI was decapitated on January 21, 1793, and a humanistic manifesto devoid of any acknowledgement of God was drafted and executed. Battles, dictatorship, and the murders of tens of thousands of people followed. All authority exercised by the Catholic Church in societal affairs was abolished, and Catholics were mercilessly persecuted, as all power formerly held by the Church was transferred to the state, and all the property of the Church was placed at the disposal of the nation. A systematic de-Christianization of France began, and a secular cult established that declared the perfection of mankind could only be achieved through the exercise of human reason.
Sister Mary Marta Chambon
St Margaret Mary Alacoque, apostle of the Sacred Heart devotion
A NEW MESSENGER IS BORN
Out of this chaos, a child was born on March 6, 1841, in the humble farming village of La Croix-Rouge, France. Baptized immediately after her birth, Françoise Chambon was the first of eight children, one of whom died in infancy. The Chambons lived in dire poverty, but what they lacked in material goods, they possessed abundantly in the supernatural virtues derived from their devout practise of the Catholic Faith. François had a great appetite for prayer, particularly the Rosary and the Way of the Cross, and the Child Jesus first appeared to her at the age of five to begin her instruction in the way of perfection. At the age of nine she received her first vision of Our Lord nailed to the Cross, a sight that so profoundly deepened Françoise’s fervour for His Passion that she constantly sought out ways to make sacrifices in reparation to Him for these grievous sufferings. On the occasion of her First Communion at the age of eleven, Jesus made Himself visible to her as an Infant, and continued to keep her company in this manner in her following Communions.
The parish priest meanwhile was monitoring Françoise’s progressing sanctity, and allowed her to receive Holy Communion frequently, a rare grace for the times. The girl soon began to aspire to the religious life when it became apparent that she could not satisfy her longing for God while remaining in the world. When her vocation became perfectly clear to him, the parish priest directed Françoise to join the Third Order of St. Francis until Christ gave indication as to which religious Order He wanted her to join. Françoise became a Franciscan tertiary in 1861 until, a year later, she was drawn to the Visitation Sisters in Chambéry and was immediately accepted as a postulant at the age of twenty-one. Two years later, on August 2, 1864, she took her sacred vows, and the name Sister Mary Martha. Her first two years in the convent were relatively uneventful in the way of Heavenly communications. Sister Mary Martha engaged herself in continuous prayer and meditation in such a way that she was never distracted from adhering to the rule. “Obedience is everything for her,” her Superior, Mother Thérèse-Eugénie Revel would later write. “Her candour, mortification, and above all, her sincere and profound humility appear to us the surest guarantees of the conduct of God over her soul. The more she receives, the greater her self-contempt, being habitually crushed by the fear (that all is) illusion. Docile to advice, the words of the priest and of the superior are powerful in preserving her peace of soul. Our greatest assurance is her passionate love for the hidden life; her dominant need of escaping all notice, and her terror lest (her Heavenly favours) be discovered by others.”
Saints Francis de Sales and Jane Frances de Chantal, founders of the Visitation Order
THE GREAT REVELATIONS BEGIN
Sister Mary Martha’s primary commission from Heaven began in September 1866 when Our Lord appeared to her daily with all His Sacred Wounds displayed for her contemplation. She also received frequent apparitions of Our Lady, the Holy Angels, and the Souls in Purgatory. With the cautious permission of her Superiors, Mother Thérése-Eugénie Revel and Mother Marie-Alexis Blanc, Sister Mary Martha fulfilled Our Lord’s request that she wear a hair shirt, a crown of thorns hidden beneath her veil, and sacrifice her sleep, which was to be replaced with adoration of Him in the Blessed Sacrament while the rest of the convent slumbered. Although she suffered physically from these penitential practises, her mental and emotional health remained completely unaffected and her strict observation of the rule never faltered, results recognised by her Superiors as proof of Divine guidance in this affair. Her Superiors also witnessed her numerous ecstasies which rendered her senseless to the outside world, and which allowed her Superiors to test their genuineness and profundity.
Mother Revel reported everything to the diocesan Bishop, who ordered her to keep an exact account of everything that transpired with Sister Mary Martha. Mother Revel began her journal by writing: “We hereby certify in the presence of God and of our holy founders, through obedience and as exactly as possible, what we believe to have been sent to us from Heaven though a loving predilection of the Divine Heart of Jesus for the happiness of our Community and the good of souls.
“God seems to have chosen in our humble family the privileged soul whose mission it is to renew in our time devotion to the Holy Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ… Each day He shows her His Divine wounds, in order that she may constantly employ their merits for the wants of the Holy Church, the conversion of sinners, the necessities of our Institute, and above all for the relief of the souls in Purgatory.”
On April 18,1867, Our Lord directed Sister Mary Martha to request of these gracious Superiors the favour of receiving daily Communion, and this request was promptly granted.
On October 2, 1867, Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Foundress of the Visitation Order, appeared to Sister Mary Martha along with Venerable Margaret Mary Alacoque, whom the Church had not yet declared a Saint. Saint Jane, smiling joyfully, said: “The Eternal Father has given His Son to our Holy Order in three ways:
“First: Jesus Christ, His Cross and His Wounds, to this House (Chambéry) more particularly;
“Second: His Sacred Heart;
“Thirdly: His Holy Infancy to be honoured.
“You must have a childlike simplicity in your relations with Him.”
Saint Francis de Sales, the co-founder of the Order with St Jane, made the first of numerous appearances and stated: “My daughter, the ways of God are not the ways of man; the creature judges according to human views (whereas) God gives His graces to a poor soul who has nothing, in order that all may rebound to His glory. You should be contented with your imperfections, because they hide the gifts of God. God has chosen you to complete the devotion to the Sacred Heart. This Heart was manifested to my daughter Margaret Mary, and the Holy Wounds to my little Mary Martha! It is a happiness for (me) that this honour may be rendered by you to Jesus Crucified; it is the completion of the Redemption that Jesus has so much desired.”
On the Feast of the Visitation the following year, Our Lady appeared, accompanied by St. Francis de Sales, St. Jane de Chantal, and Venerable Margaret Mary, and declared: “I give my Treasure to the Visitation Order as I bore It to my cousin Elizabeth; your Holy Founder (de Sales) has reproduced the labours, meekness, and humility of my Son; your Holy Mother de Chantal, my generosity in surmounting all obstacles in order to be united to Jesus and accomplish his Holy Will; your blessed Sister Margaret Mary has reproduced the Sacred Heart of my Son to give it to the world. And now you, my daughter, are chosen to restrain the Justice of God by appealing to the world to profit by the merits of the Passion and the Holy Wounds of my only beloved Son, Jesus! My daughter, let not yourself, nor your Mother Superiors be anxious over this; my Son controls all. As for you, do each day what Jesus wills.
“If you wish some riches, you must draw them from the Holy Wounds of my Son. All the lights of the Holy Spirit proceed from (these Wounds), but you will receive these gifts in proportion to your humility...Go draw from the Wounds of my Son!… (A)pply the Wounds of my Son to the wicked for their conversion.”
The Saviour Himself would later lament: “What pains Me is that there are souls who consider the devotion to my Wounds strange, contemptible, something unsuitable. For this reason the devotion is neglected and forgotten. In Heaven I have Saints who have had a great devotion to My Holy Wounds, but on earth now there is hardly anyone who honours me in this manner.
“I have chosen you to reveal the devotion to My Holy Passion in the unhappy times in which you live.” Here Our Lord showed Sister Mary Martha his Five principal Wounds as a Book to be read, memorised, and implemented. “Take not your eyes from this Book and your learning will exceed that of great scholars. The prayer (I give you) to the Holy Wounds includes everything.”
On another occasion during the month of June, Christ appeared with His Sacred Heart on His breast and said: “I have chosen my faithful servant Margaret Mary to make my Divine Heart known, and My little Mary Martha to (propagate) devotion to my other Wounds. My Wounds will save you infallibly; They will save the world.
“Your way is to make Me known and loved by means of My Holy Wounds, above all in the future… Offer My Divine Wounds incessantly for the salvation of the world. My daughter, the world will be more or less disturbed, according to the way you have performed your task. You are chosen to offer satisfaction to My Justice, to pray to Me unceasingly through My Holy Wounds in order to appease My vengeance.
“I want that by this devotion not only the souls (of your convent) become holy, but many others also. Some day I will demand account of you whether you have drawn well from this Treasure for all My creatures . . . I have chosen you to make known the merits of My Holy Passion for all, but I want you to remain hidden. It is my responsibility to manifest later (how) by this means the world will be saved – and also by the hands of my Immaculate Mother!”
THE DISCOURSE ON THE HOLY WOUNDS
“No soul, after My Holy Mother, has had like you the grace of contemplating My Holy Wounds day and night. My daughter, do you recognize the Treasure of the world? The world does not wish to recognize It. I want that you should thus consider Them in order to comprehend better what I have done in coming to suffer for you.
“(E)ach time you offer to My Father the merits of My Divine Wounds, you win an immense fortune … but you cannot keep it. God takes it back, and my divine Mother also, in order to restore it to you at the moment of death and apply the merits to souls that need it, for you should make them all profit by the fortune of My Holy Wounds. "You must not remain poor, because your Father is very rich. What are your riches? It is My Holy Passion. You must not go astray from It! You must borrow constantly from the Treasure of My Passion and from the cavities of My Wounds. This Treasure is yours; all is there! All!
"One of my creatures betrayed Me and sold My Blood, but It can be bought back so easily, Drop by Drop. A single Drop is sufficient to purify the earth, but It is not thought of. Its value is not known.
"The executioners did well in piercing My side, My Hands and My Feet, since they thereby opened Fountains whence will eternally flow the Waters of My Mercy... My Father is pleased with the offering of My Sacred Wounds and the Sorrows of My divine Mother. To offer Them to Him is to offer Him His Glory, to offer Heaven to Heaven. Behold how to pay for all debtors! For in offering to My Father the Merit of My Holy Wounds, you satisfy for the sins of men. You must confide everything to My Divine Wounds and through Their merit work for the salvation of souls.
"When My Holy Wounds were made, vain men believed that these Wounds were at an end; but They will be eternal and They will be seen eternally by all My creatures. I tell you this that you may not look at Them through routine, but venerate Them with great humility.
"Your life is not of this world; take away My Wounds and you become terrestrial. You are too material to understand the whole extent of the graces bestowed through Their merits…
"My Priests [sic] themselves are not assiduous enough in urging devotion to the Crucifix. I wish that they would honour Me perfectly. One must not be afraid to display My Wounds to the souls: the Way of My Wounds is such a simple and easy manner of going to Heaven.
"Pray much that the knowledge of My Holy Wounds may be diffused throughout the world..." After hearing these words, Sister Mary Martha beheld the globe of the earth beneath Our Lord and five dazzling rays - one from each of His Five principal Wounds - shoot forth and envelope the globe. "My Holy Wounds sustain the world. Ask Me for fortitude in the love of My Holy Wounds, for they are the Sources of all graces. Invoke Them often and induce others to do so.… (R)epeatedly speak of Them, in order to imprint this devotion in souls.
"A long time will be required for the establishment of this devotion! Work at it courageously. All words said on the subject of My Holy Wounds gives Me pleasure, an intense pleasure! I keep count of them all. Even should there be some who do not want to come to My Wounds, you, My daughter, must make them enter Them.
"Come to Me, and I will give you Water that will quench your thirst! In the Crucifix there is everything; there, all souls may be satiated.... Offer your actions with those of your Sisters in union with My Holy Wounds, nothing can render them more meritorious, nor more agreeable in My eyes. (These actions) contain incomprehensible riches, even the least of them."
THE SACRED HEART REVISITED
Whenever Our Lord presented Himself before Sister Mary Martha with His Wounds visible, each Wound shone with a dazzling radiance equal to each other, with the exception of the Wound in His Sacred Heart which blazed with a splendour that made the Others seem dim in comparison. He often reaffirmed that Sister Mary Martha was chosen to complete the work He had begun through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and He insisted that she approach Him with the same confidence that St. Margaret Mary had possessed. "Come then into My Heart, and fear nothing. Fasten your lips here to draw charity from This Wound, and pour it forth upon the world. Place inside your hand, and fill it with My Treasures. Take, because the measure is quite full! I cannot contain them any longer, so great is My desire to impart them!... Keep very close to this Heart in order to take and distribute My Blood.
"If you wish to know the tenderness of the Mercy of Him Who loves you so ardently, you must attach your lips to the (Wound) of My Sacred Heart with respect and humility. Behold your Centre; none can prevent you from loving It, nor make you love It without your own consent… I wish that (all) Religious souls be entirely detached, for in order to come to My Heart there must not be even a thread of attachment to earth; you must win possession of the Lord by a complete union, a heart to heart with Him, seeking His Heart within your own. "The Religious who does not lean upon the breast of her Spouse in her pains and labours loses her time. When she commits faults she should draw close to My Heart with great confidence. In the burning Furnace her infidelities disappear; Love burns them, consumes them all!… With this, my daughter, I beg like a pauper. I am a Beggar for love! I call My children one by one… I look on them with pleasure as they come to Me… I wait for them!
“I beg for love, but the greater number, even among religious souls, refuse Me this love! My daughter, love Me purely for Myself without considering chastisement or reward.”
PROMISES OF OUR LORD TO DEVOTEES OF HIS WOUNDS
“I will grant all that is asked of Me through the invocation of My Holy Wounds. You must spread their devotion.
“You can always purify yourself in My Wounds. My Wounds will repair yours… Those who honour Them will have a true knowledge of Me. In meditating on Them, you will always find a new love. My wounds will cover all your sins. [It must be noted that this promise does NOT replace the obligation to go to Confession to confess any mortal sins, especially before receiving Holy Communion].
“Plunge all your actions into My Wounds and they will become greatly valuable. Even the least of your actions, soaked in My Blood, will acquire by this alone an infinite merit and will please My Heart. In offering them for the conversion of sinners, even though the sinners are not converted, you will have the same merit before God as if they were.
“When you have some trouble, or endure suffering, quickly submerge it in My Wounds and your sufferings will be alleviated.
“To give solace to the soul and body of a sick person, repeat in their presence the aspiration: “My Jesus, pardon and mercy through the merits of Thy Holy Wounds!”
“A sinner who will say the invocation: ‘Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Holy Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ to heal the wounds of our souls’, will obtain conversion. Many will experience the efficacy of this aspiration. I desire that Priests [sic] give it often to their penitents in the (Confessional).
“When you offer My Holy Wounds for sinners you must not forget to do so for the Souls in Purgatory, as there are few who think of their relief. Every time you look at Me Crucified, with a pure heart, you will obtain the liberation of five Souls in Purgatory, one through each Wound.
“Devotion to My Holy Wounds is the Remedy for these iniquitous times! I Myself want it, and your aspirations must be made with great fervour.
“If you do not profit by all the Riches with which My Wounds are filled for you, you will be very guilty. The souls that do not venerate My Holy Wounds but who, on the contrary, mock them, I will reject. Sinners despise the Crucifix, and though I keep my Patience, a day will come when I shall be avenged.”
THE HOLY WOUNDS, OUR LADY, AND THE CHURCH
On many occasions, Our Lord assured Sister Mary Martha that in the future the Church and the world would be fully restored through the power of His Holy Wounds and the intervention of His Blessed Mother. “My daughter, you must perform your charge well, which is to offer My Divine Wounds to My Eternal Father, because from Them must come the Triumph of the Church, which will come to pass through My Immaculate Mother… The invocations of My Holy Wounds will obtain an incessant victory for the Church, but you must draw incessantly from these Sources for Her Triumph.. I promise to give the Triumph, but little by little… Whilst guarded by My Wounds there is nothing to be feared either for yourself or the Church! Should this Benefit fail, you would then understand what you possess."
St. Francis de Sales appeared to his favoured daughter soon after to urge her not to relax the practice of this devotion, even if things seemed to be going smoothly: "Even though Our Lord promises the Triumph through Mary Immaculate, you must not relax in prayer and in the offering of the Holy Wounds!"
SISTER MARY MARTHA'S FINAL YEARS
Contrary to all the obstacles Saint Margaret Mary encountered with her Visitation Superiors over her revelations of the Sacred Heart, the Superiors at Chambéry presented no such resistance to Sister Mary Martha's visions. The Visitation Order had been an eyewitness to the national disaster caused by the failure of the Sovereigns to consecrate her to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; the Visitation Order itself had suffered grievously under the resulting Revolution, as many of its convents were destroyed and its nuns displaced by the anti-Catholic revolutionaries. The convent at Chambéry had been suppressed early on, though eventually restored, and even up until Sister Mary Martha's lifetime the godless powers continued to imperil it with various dangers. We should not be surprised, then, that Our Lord's new revelations were given ready - though prudent - acceptance as they unfolded at Chambéry. But the external evidence that accompanied these revelations was also obvious: from January 1869 until September 1873, Sister Mary Martha took no food other than her daily Communions, and on June 12, 1874, this Apostle of the Holy Wounds was appropriately marked with the visible Stigmata in her hands, feet, and side. On several occasions the Stigmata of the Crown of Thorns was also added. Mother Thérèse-Eugénie Revel wrote in her journal regarding Sister Mary Martha's powerful intercession: "Jesus makes her the object of His Love and the victim of His good pleasure, and we, filled with gratitude, constantly experience the efficacy of her prayers on the Heart of God."
The supernatural phenomena ceased completely, however, once Mother Revel passed away on December 30, 1887. For the remaining twenty years of her life, Sister Mary Martha lived the normal life of her fellow sisters, and spent every spare moment that was granted to her in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and in the ceaseless offering of the Holy Wounds for the Church and the world. On July 23, 1893, Mother Marie Alexis Blanc also passed away, after which Sister Mary Martha began the torment of the "Dark Night of the Soul" whereby God completely withdrew from her even all natural signs and consolations of His Presence. This crucible would last until her death thirteen years later.
In February, 1907, Sister Mary Martha came down with a severe cold that quickly decimated her health, and she was administered Extreme Unction on February 13. On March 21, after a night of acute suffering during which Satan endeavoured to induce her to despair, an intense peace was finally restored to her soul. All the Sisters of her Community surrounded her, praying incessantly the Chaplet of Mercy, until at 8 o'clock in the evening, at the first Vespers of Our Lady's Dolors, this beloved Mother descended from Heaven to personally escort her Son's chosen Apostle of His Holy Wounds home with her. Sister Mary Martha was 66 years old.
Sister Mary Martha was buried two days later in the city cemetery, but several years later, under the order of the diocesan Bishop, she was entombed in the chapel at Chambéry. On October 4, 1956, the dwindling community at Chambéry was merged with the convent at St. Pierre d'Albigny, and finally, in September 2005, this remnant was absorbed into the Visitation Convent in Marclaz, where the sacred remains of Sister Mary Martha Chambon rest today.
The inquiry into Sister Mary Martha's canonization was begun at Chambéry on September 8, 1934, and on October 15, 1934, the informative process into her life began. She was swiftly declared Venerable, and the process for her beatification was begun in 1937.
Sister Martha in state
THE CHAPLET OF MERCY GIVEN BY OUR LORD TO SISTER MARY MARTHA IN 1867
(To be recited using an ordinary rosary beads. If you are in the habit of praying St Faustina's Chaplet at 3pm, then you could recite this one at noon, the time the Holy Wounds were made on Good Friday. It can be prayed at any time and as many times a day as one desires).
On the Crucifix: "O Jesus, Divine Redeemer, be merciful to us and to the whole world. Amen. "Holy God, Holy Almighty God, Holy In mortal God, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Amen.
"Grace and Mercy, O Jesus, during present dangers; cover us with Thy Precious Blood. Amen." "Eternal Father, grant us Mercy through the Blood of Jesus Christ, Thine only Son; grant us Mercy, we beseech Thee. Amen, Amen, Amen!"
On the Our Father beads: "Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Holy Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to heal the wounds of our souls." (300 days' indulgence for each recital)
On the Hail Mary beads: "My Jesus, pardon and mercy through the Merits of Thy Holy Wounds." (300 days' indulgence for each recital)
At the end on the Medal finish with the invocation "Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Holy Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to heal the wounds of our souls." three times. (300 days' indulgence each time)
*** In 1912 the Holy See granted the above indulgences for the Visitation Order only; on January 16, 1924, this privilege was extended to all the faithful, toties quoties (without limit), and are applicable to the Souls in Purgatory. On March 23, 1999, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith gave its full approval for the Chaplet of Mercy in its entire form.
*** Regarding this Chaplet, given by Our Lord to Sister Mary Martha in September of 1867, Jesus promised: "This Chaplet of Mercy is a counterpoise to My Justice; it restrains My vengeance. At each word that you pronounce of the Chaplet of Mercy I allow a Drop of My Blood to fall upon the soul of a sinner."