|St. Madeleine Sophie Barat|
(The above portrait hangs in the Sacred Heart School of Montreal)
Madeleine Louise Sophie Barat was born two months premature and on a night that her parents would soon not forget. On December 12, 1779 a fire broke out in Joigny, France. It is said that the stress and terror that her mother Madame Madeleine Fouffe Barat experienced brought her third child into this world earlier than expected and she was considered to be very fragile. Baby Madeleine's parents took her very early the next morning to be baptized in St. Thibault Church. A local woman by the name of Louise-Sophie Cedor was also heading to the 5 am mass and so she and baby Madeleine’s brother Louis Barat were chosen to stand in as her godparents.
"Sophie had once overheard someone telling the story of the fire on the night of her birth, and the grown-ups would ask: "What brought you into the world, Sophie?" for the pleasure of hearing her grave reply: "It was fire." This answer became a family legend, and grew into a symbol of the destiny of this "child of fire". But at the time none of them could have given it its true significance, the fiery devotion to the Divine Heart to which Sophie's life was to be given. This devotion had not yet penetrated into Joigny."
Taken from the book: St. Madeleine Sophie - Her Life and Letters by Margaret Williams, R.S.C.J.