Come and draw from the well

Spiritual center operated by the religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sophie Barat

Sophie Barat (1779-1865) is the foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart: a woman on fire with love for Christ and the desire to make Him known throughout the world.

Portrait of Sophie by Dolores Aleixandre, religious of the Sacred Heart

In the beginning was a woman among whose names was inbuilt wisdom.
She had grown up contemplating the vine stock of her native land, and the branches that cling to the vine; it was from that life born of roots that she learned the secret of bearing fruit.

She felt God’s love as a spring pouring out of her very depths, like a torrent that flooded her soul, like the water that gives itself not to be curbed, but to be offered, dissipated, lost.

Everything in her was openness, welcome, capacity, silence, not as the fruit of an effort or a commitment, but from an attraction that had seized on her, fascinating her gaze, centering her search and her desire on the One she loved above all.

Time kept ripening and the very moment came: she knew she was only a tiny sign, a pinch of the Kingdom’s leaven from the fingers of the Other, an ember in the fire. That was why fermenting could begin and the fire be lit.

No sign that she was prepared for, only the trust and generosity of a handful of women gathered around Sophie, infected by the dream born in the wavering light of a candle: to live in the love of Jesus, grafted onto the tree of his Life and blown by the wind of his Spirit, forming one heart and one soul around His Eucharist, to show forth amid a wounded world the fidelity and compassion of His Heart.

Two hundred and fifty years later, we still continue the little Society that Sophie planted, won by her dream, delighted to have found the treasure in the field she left us as a heritage, ready to sell everything, to release our energies and our resources and possess that treasure. It is a living spring bursting from the open side of Christ and leading us into the depths of His mystery.

It is the paschal ferment that urges us to be women of relationships, able to suffer with and to reconcile, moved by the desire to be always on the side of life, to give it freely to the smallest and most vulnerable.

It is a flame that kindles in us the passion to educate in reciprocity, to offer and share with others a solid piece of ground and a Gospel outlook, spaces where people will be able to stand erect and to build together a world that is home to all, a table open to the taste of bread and of festivity.


Sophie Barat was born in 1779 in Joigny, in the heart of Burgundy. Her father was a self-employed cooper, making and mending wine-barrels. From childhood, there was a fire burning in her heart: captivated by God, she was attracted by the contemplative form of religious life. She grew up in a profoundly Christian family, and received an education extremely advanced for the time, under the direction of her brother Louis, who was aiming to become a priest.

1789 turned everything upside down. Sophie was profoundly marked by the French Revolution. The shock would later reinforce her plan to honour the Heart of Christ and to spread God’s love, by creating a new women’s congregation consecrated to the education of girls.

The Society of the Sacred Heart was born in 1800. Sophie and four other young women consecrated themselves to a new form of religious life, combining prayer and work, the one inspiring and stimulating the other. Sophie Barat was named Superior General in 1806.

Exceptional spiritual guide that she was, she helped countless people to discover and deepen their relationship with God. An inspired educator, she was convinced that those who educate others must first cultivate in themselves knowledge and virtue. A competent administrator, she saw her little Society grow to over 3,500 members, spreading across Europe, North and South America, and Africa as well. She died in 1865.

Sophie Barat was canonised in 1925. Today, you can pray to her in the church of St Francis Xavier (Paris VIIe) where her body rests.