She was daughter of Jacques Barat, a cooper who worked with the vineyards. Naturally bright, she was educated by her older brother Louis, a monk. When she was ten years old, France underwent Revolution with its suppression of Christian schools. The education of the young, particularly young girls, was in a troubled state.
As Madeline grew older, her brother feared she would be exposed to too much of the world, and so brought her to Paris with him. She wanted to be a Carmelite lay sister, but with Father Joseph Varin and three other postulants, she founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1801, who are devoted to the Sacred Heart, and dedicated to teaching girls. She became Superior General of the Society at age 23, and held the position for 63 years. Receiving papal approval of the Society in 1826, she founded 105 houses in many countries; Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne and four companions brought the Society to the United States. Mother Barat died in Paris. She was canonized on May 24, 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Mother Barat had a college named after her located in Lake Forest, IL which was merged with Depaul University from 2001 until 2005 when DePaul decided to close the school and focus its financial resources towards their other campuses in Chicago and surrounding suburbs where they had a satellite campus. The final class at Barat College finished June 11th, 2005 exactly 100 years to the day the first graduating class finished at Barat in the spring/summer of 1905. Currently Old Main on the Barat campus sits because under laws with Lake Forest and because Barat College is also on the national registry of historical places making it a landmark which under legal statutes can't be touched for any reason. So the land developer who ended up buying the campus can't alter it because they can be sued for altering a historical landmark giving the fact that there's also a cemetery to the rear of the school where the Sisters of the Sacred Heart were buried which also increases the historical value of the college grounds. Pictures of the college can be seen online since nobody can actually visit the grounds at this point.