Once upon a time, about three or four months ago, a dear friend who has a talent for shopping (more like a super power, really), bought and gave me an antique French medal with the most adorable image of Little Jesus on the front. We knew it was French because not only did she buy it from France (thanks to the wonders of modern technology, i.e. the internet), but on the back of the medal there were French words. Specifically:
(and please mentally insert an accent mark over that final "e" in Bonte!)
Translated literally, this prayer says:
"O Jesus, King of Love, I have confidence in Your merciful goodness."
What a beautiful set of words to go with the truly beautiful image of Little Jesus!
When my friend gave me the medal, she explained that I didn't have to wear it but could instead place it where I would see it often.
"Au contraire!" I replied (though in English). "I must wear something this beautiful. I want it always with me."
And thus my association with Little Jesus, King of Love began. He was a bit anonymous, and I did not often remember to speak to Him in the words of His flip-side-prayer, but He accompanied me everywhere, attached as He was to a rosary bracelet our sister St. Therese had given me on our last day together in Lisieux last May.
Then recently (it was All Souls Day, to be exact), another kind friend sent me a link to a devotion she had just discovered which she - knowing nothing of the medal dangling from my wrist - thought I would love too.
She was right! But add in the dangling medal bearing sweet Little Jesus as my constant companion, and I more than loved the new devotion. I was bowled over, delighted, thrilled, and in a word, awestruck.
I was, in fact, once again overwhelmed with God's tender solicitude, for it often seems that He loves us so much that He can't stop sending new tokens of His affection. Considering that He said twice in the Bible, "Behold I make all things new," (in both Isaiah and in the Book of Revelation), I don't think His ever-new tokens are merely figments of my imagination. Sometimes He sends a new version of something ancient - like each day's sunrise and sunset - and sometimes He sends something entirely new, like this devotion that the Holy Spirit was determined I would "discover," with the help of angels both heavenly and earthly.
For what my dear friends had sent me, each unaware of the other's find, were first the medal with invocation, and then the story of the invocation and subsequent medal of Jesus, King of Love.
The invocation was revealed on August 28, 1922 to a humble French laywoman, Yvonne Beauvais, who became an Augustinian Canoness, a Hospitaller of the Mercy of Jesus, known later as Mother Marie Yvonne Aimee de Jesus, or in English, Yvonne Beloved by Jesus.
And just as when Jesus spoke to Servant of God Marcel Van, and so many other mystics, He promised that His words were not only for the original recipient who then transcribed the message, but for all little souls, so, too, Jesus told Yvonne that the short invocation He gave her was not only for herself but also for all little souls.
Quite understandably, then, Yvonne spent the rest of her life - when she wasn't busy running a convent, serving the poor, singing the Divine Praises, helping priests, advising Abbots, hiding Jewish men, women, and children from Nazi's, and so on - spreading this invocation, gaining indulgences and endorsements from Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII, and Pope St. John XXIII, and even painting a picture to go with the prayer.
In 1940, the world was full of sadness and fear as war raged, so Mother Yvonne gave it a cause and source for serenity in the image of Little Jesus she painted. He holds an olive branch in one hand, while His other hand points to His Sacred Heart. He wears a crown on His curly topped boyish head to show He is King of Love, and His gaze looks out, waiting to meet the gaze of each little soul, waiting to fill each dear soul with His peace that passes all understanding.
Since the medal sent me some months ago was antique, when I heard more recently of the story behind it, I thought the devotion must have fallen into obscurity. Who knew of such a lovely person as Yvonne Beauvais? Who knew of the invocation Jesus had revealed to her nearly 100 years ago, and who had seen (besides my generous friend, myself, and the shopkeeper in far-away France who had sold the medal) Little Jesus as Mother Yvonne portrayed Him?
To my astonishment and great joy, I couldn't have been more wrong in my guess that Little Jesus was neglected. Thanks to the links sent by my second friend, I discovered there exists a monastery in Ireland, Silverstream Priory in County Meath, which in 2012 was consecrated to little Jesus King of Love. As if this wasn't enough (and it wasn't!) the monks at Silverstream have started a confraternity for those who wish to unite, simply, in the saying of the little invocation morning and night and in wearing (or carrying on their person) the medal of Jesus, King of Love.
The monks say a Mass for the confraternity members once a month, and also on 5 special days in January and February each year. There are no dues, no fees, no big commitments and no meetings - just a union of prayer under the King of Love, a union of confidence in Him, a union of saying the invocation morning and evening each day. If you want to join, you can click HERE and fill out the form online. I did so a week ago, and lo and behold, I have already received from the monks an enrollment card (with Jesus' adorable picture), a holy card of Mother Yvonne, who is now a Servant of God, and a blessed golden medal of Jesus King of Love!
As for the invocation, I have read varying translations of it. The one sent in the monk's welcoming letter (and the one that is most literal) says in English:
O Jesus, King of Love, I trust in Your merciful goodness.
The prayer on the back of the medal says
O Jesus, King of Love, I put my trust in Thy loving mercy.
Another possible translation is:
O Jesus, King of Love, I trust in Your merciful kindness.
I think each one of those translations does its own beautiful job of capturing in a sentence the invocation Jesus gave Mother Yvonne for us. As she said in her letter to Pope Pius XI when she requested an indulgence for the prayer:
"It is so sweet, so strong, so rich, this little invocation . . . This invocation is appreciated by the sick; it consoles them. They love this prayer because it appeals to the Kingship of Christ Jesus, to His Love, His Mercy, His Goodness; in some way, it compels us to trust. It condenses our familiar invocations to the Sacred Heart and sums them up."
On their website, the monks answer the question "Who may join?" the Confraternity, by saying it is perfect for those who have suffered or are suffering. I would add that this Confraternity, with its devotion to Jesus, King of Love, is tailor made for the scruppulous, for converts, for long-time and cradle Catholics, and finally for everyone! You can't help but notice the similarity between this invocation and the prayer our Savior taught us through St. Faustina, "Jesus, I trust in You." Who doesn't need an infusion of trust, confidence, and peace? And I can think of no better way to attain these desperately needed gifts than by igniting the spark of love in our hearts into a burning flame through the repetition of the cry, "O Jesus, King of Love, I trust in Your merciful goodness!"
If you go to the link for the confraternity (which is, again, HERE), you can follow other links provided therein to more information on this devotion. May God be praised for His infinite solicitude, His unending Love for us, and His mercies which are new each morning.
Draw me, we will run!
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