St. SIGFRID, BISHOP; CLAUDE LA COLOMBIÈRE, PRIEST
By Richard P. Mc Brien
Sigfrid (d. ca. 1045) was bishop of Vaxjo and the “apostle of Sweden.” English by birth and a monk of Glastonbury, he was sent by King Ethelred to Chris tianize the Swedes and the Norwegians, baptizing Olaf, the king of Sweden. During a missionary trip to the more remote areas of the region, Sigfrid’s three nephews, who were also his principal helpers, were murdered. On his return Sigfrid persuaded the king not to execute the killers. His cult was established in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark by the thirteenth century.
His feast is not on the General Roman Calendar, but he is commemorated by the Church of England.
Claude La Colombière (1641–82) was the confessor of Margaret Mary Alacoque [October 16], who was the recipient of private revelations about the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Born into a wealthy French family near Lyons, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1658 and, even before ordination in 1675, displayed a remarkable talent for preaching.
Claude often appealed to the new and growing devotion to the Sacred Heart (with its emphasis on the love of God for all) as a spiritual weapon against Jansenism, a largely French movement that incorporated elements of Calvinism and Lutheranism. Shortly after his arrival at his first priestly assignment in Paray-le-Monial in Burgundy, Claude paid a call at the Visitation convent there and met Sister Margaret Mary. She told him of her visions, and together they worked for the approval of a new feast in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Claude was shortly thereafter transferred to Protestant England, where he was eventually arrested for traitorous speech. While he was imprisoned in a damp dungeon, his health deteriorated rapidly. At the request of King Louis XIV, he was saved from execution and banished to France. He never regained his health and died in Paray on February 15, 1682.
Claude’s feast is not on the General Roman Calendar, but is celebrated on this day by the Jesuits.