St. Madeleine Sophie had a vision of forming saintes savants—wise saints and holy scholars! Her vision impels us to provide experiences that embrace both thought and action.
The Story of Mater
In 1844, a generation after the Society of the Sacred Heart was founded, Pauline Perdrau, a young novice living at the Trinità dei Monti in Rome, asked permission to produce a fresco of the Virgin Mary on a wall in a recreational area of the convent. As a child, Pauline had had a favorite pink dress, so she chose to paint Mary as a young woman in a rose-colored dress rather than a matronly Madonna in blue. The lily at Mary's side represented her purity; the distaff and spindle, her love of work; a book, her dedication to study. When the painting was complete, Pauline's inexperience with the technique of fresco did not produce the beautiful soft painting for which she had hoped. The colors were thought to be too bright, and it was covered with a cloth. Pope Pius IX, upon visiting the convent years later, requested that the curtain be removed. Seeing the fresco of our Lady, its colors inexplicably softened, he exclaimed, "Mater Admirabilis!" (Latin for "Mother Most Admirable") The pope blessed the painting of Mary under the title “Mater Admirabilis”, thus giving it the title it has today. Permission was given to offer Mass before the miraculous picture and to celebrate the feast of Mater Admirabilis on October 20.
Today, a statue or painting of Mater Admirabilis can be found in every Sacred Heart school around the world.