Devotion and History of the Sacred Heart

by | Festivity

The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a movable celebration of the Church that pays homage to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord, through which God’s eternal love for all was manifested to us.

In 1675, Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque his desire that the Feast of the Sacred Heart be held on the Friday following the octave of Corpus Christi. In 1856, this holiday was established as universal.

St. John Paul II, a fervent devotee of the Sacred Heart, said: “This feast reminds us of the mystery of God’s love for humanity throughout the ages.

 

Note: Remember that you can use the Catholic Mass Times app to find the nearest Catholic church with Mass, Confession, and Adoration schedules. You can also find the schedule and links to live broadcasts, as well as search for Mass times filtered by location, time, or day.

Churches dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paray-le-Monial, France

Image of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paray-le-Monial, France. Discover the Devotion and History of the Sacred Heart, and the Churches associated with it in the Catholic Mass Times app on your cell phone.

From Chabe01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61630117

    The visions and revelations that St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had took place in a Chapel of the Basilica of Paray-le-Monial in France, where Mary Alacoque lived with the Sisters of the Visitation, and where her remains are found today.

    Sacré Coeur Basilica in Paris, France

    Image of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paris, France. Discover the Devotion and History of the Sacred Heart, and the Churches associated with it in the Catholic Mass Times app on your cell phone.

    From Superchilum – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15811025

      This is a well-known church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Paris. It is number 1 in our article of the 11 Unmissable Churches in Paris, where we discuss more details about this magnificent church.

      Devotion to the Sacred Heart

      Below is St. John Paul II ‘s Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

      “Lord Jesus Christ, redeemer of the human race, we turn to your most sacred heart with humility and trust, with reverence and hope, with deep desire to give you glory, honor and praise. Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, we thank you for all that you are and all that you do for the little flock and the twelve million people who live in this archdiocese of Delhi, which includes also those who have been entrusted with the administration of this nation.

      Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we praise you for the love you have revealed through your sacred heart, which was pierced for us and has become the source of our joy, the wellspring of our eternal life. Gathered together in your Name, which is above every other name, we consecrate ourselves to your most sacred heart, in which dwells the fullness of truth and charity.

      In consecrating ourselves to you we renew our fervent desire to correspond with love to the rich outpouring of your merciful and full love.

      Lord Jesus Christ, King of love and Prince of peace, reign in our hearts and in our homes. Overcome all the powers of the evil one and lead us to participate in the victory of your sacred heart. May we all proclaim and give glory to you, the Father and the Holy Spirit, the only God who lives and reigns forever and ever! Amen.”

      The History of Devotion to the Sacred Heart

      St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had several visions of Jesus, in which He spoke to her and consulted her on different matters, and four (4) of them were revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The fourth is considered the most important, being the apparition in which Jesus asks Maria Alacoque to institute the feast of Corpus Christi.

      First revelation of the Sacred Heart

      One day, on December 27, 1673, Margaret Mary was as usual kneeling before the Lord at the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the chapel.

      Maria Alacoque relates, “While I was before the Blessed Sacrament, I found myself completely penetrated by His divine presence. The Lord made me rest for a very long time on His divine bosom, in which He unveiled to me all the marvels of His love and the inexplicable secrets of His Sacred Heart.”

      Jesus said to her, “My Divine Heart is so impassioned with Love for men, particularly for you, that, not being able to contain in it the flames of its ardent charity, it is necessary for it to pour them out through you and manifest itself to them in order to enrich them with the precious gifts that I am discovering to you, which contain the sanctifying and salutary graces necessary to separate them from the abyss of perdition. I have chosen you as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance, in order that it may be all my doing.”

      Margarita recounts that “then, he asked me for my heart, which I begged him to take, which he did, placing me then in his adorable one, from which he made me see it as a small atom that was consumed in the burning furnace of his, from where he took it out as a flame lit in the form of a heart, placing it next in the place from where he had taken it, telling me at the same time:

      “Behold, my well-beloved, a precious garment of my love, which encloses in your side a spark of its most lively flames, so that it may serve as your heart and consume you until the last instant, and whose ardor will neither be extinguished nor cool. In such a way I will mark you with the Blood of My Cross, which will bring you more humiliations than consolations. And as proof that the grace I have just granted you is nothing imaginary, although I have closed the wound in your side, its pain will remain in you forever, and if up to the present you have only taken the name of My slave, I now give you that of most beloved disciple of My Sacred Heart.”

      After receiving this immense grace, Margaret felt for several days as if she were on fire, so out of her mind that she could barely speak and eat without great effort. She did not even manage to share what happened with her superior, despite her great desire to do so. Nor could she sleep, for the wound, whose pain was so pleasurable to her, generated in her a burning so intense that it consumed her completely.

      From the first revelation, Marguerite would experience every first Friday of the month a recreation of the mysterious wound in her side, a phenomenon that would continue until her death. These moments were specially chosen by the Lord to reveal to her what he desired of her and to show her the secrets of his merciful Heart.

      Between these visits, the Lord said to her, “I am looking for a victim for my Heart, who wants to sacrifice herself as an immolation host in the fulfillment of my designs.” In her great humility, Margaret presented him with several souls that, according to her, would correspond more faithfully. But the Lord replied that it was she whom he had chosen. This was only an occasion of confusion for Marguerite because her fear was that the graces she received from the Lord would be attributed to her.

      Source: Corazones.org

      Image of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and Sacred Heart. Discover the Devotion and History of the Sacred Heart, and the Churches associated with it in the Catholic Mass Times app on your cell phone.

      Second revelation of the Sacred Heart

      About two or three months after the first apparition, the second great revelation occurred. Maria Alacoque writes:

      “The divine Heart appeared to me on a throne of flames, brighter than the sun, and transparent as crystal, with the adorable wound, surrounded by a crown of thorns and signifying the punctures produced by our sins, and a cross on the top….

      …which meant that, from the first moments of His Incarnation, that is to say, from the moment the Sacred Heart was formed, He was planted on the cross, being filled, from the first moment, with all the bitterness which the humiliations, the poverty, the pain, and the contempt which His Sacred Humanity was to suffer during the whole course of His life and in His Holy Passion were to produce in Him.”

      “He made me see,” Marguerite continues, “that the ardent desire He had to be loved by men and to lead them away from the path of perdition, into which Satan has precipitated them in great numbers, had caused Him to form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, mercy, graces, sanctification, and salvation that it contains, so that all who wish to render Him and procure Him all the love, honor, and glory that they can, may be abundantly and profusely enriched with the divine treasures of the Heart of God, whose source it is, which is to be honored under the figure of His Heart of flesh, the honor and glory that they can, may be abundantly and profusely enriched with the divine treasures of the Heart of God, whose source it is, which is to be honored under the figure of his Heart of flesh, whose image I wanted to see exposed and carried by me on the heart, to engrave in it, his love and fill it with the gifts with which it is replete, and to destroy in it all disorderly movements.

      And he continues, “That he would spread his graces and blessings wherever his holy image was exposed to pay him honors, and that such a blessing would be like a last effort of his love, desirous of favoring men in these last centuries of the loving Redemption, in order to remove them from the empire of Satan, whom he intends to ruin, to place us in the sweet freedom of the empire of his love, which he wants to reestablish in the hearts of all those who decide to embrace this devotion.”

      During this second great revelation, Our Lord began to reveal His intentions and make promises. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus represents his fervent love for us, a love he gave without reserve. The Lord wanted this image to be displayed in homes or worn on the chest as a medal, thus offering promises of graces and blessings to those who would venerate it. However, Margarita could not share what she had seen at that moment, as the time was not yet right. These disclosures would first have to pass various tests and face much opposition. Moreover, Jesus had even more to reveal.

      Source: Corazones.org

      Third revelation of the Sacred Heart

      On what was probably the first Friday of June 1674, the feast of Corpus Christi, Marguerite had her third great revelation.

      Once among others, writes Maria Alacoque, “when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, after I felt myself withdrawn in my interior by an extraordinary recollection of all my senses and powers, Jesus Christ my Beloved appeared before me all resplendent with Glory, with his five bright wounds, like five suns and giving off from his sacred humanity rays of light from everywhere but especially from his adorable breast, which seemed like a burning furnace; and, having opened, he unveiled to me his loving and kind Heart.”

      Then Jesus explained to him the wonders of his pure love and to what excess his love for men from whom he received nothing but ingratitude. This apparition is brighter than the others. Passionate lover, he complains of the lack of love of his own and so divine beggar, the Lord reaches out to us to ask for our love.

      He addresses the following requests to you:

      • You will receive communion as many times as obedience will allow me to do so.
      • Thursday to Friday I will make you participate in that mortal sadness that I wanted to feel in the Garden of Olives; a sadness that will reduce you to a kind of agony more difficult to suffer than death.
      • For accompanying me in the humble prayer I then made to my Father in the midst of all my distress, I will raise you from eleven to twelve o’clock at night to prostrate yourself for an hour with me; your face to the ground, both to calm the divine anger, asking for mercy for sinners, and to soften, in a certain way, the bitterness I felt at being abandoned by my apostles, forcing me to throw in their faces the fact that they were unable to keep vigil for an hour with me….

      “Once, while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, Jesus Christ appeared resplendent with glory, with His five wounds that appeared like so many suns, flames coming out from all parts of His Sacred Humanity, but especially from His adorable chest, which seemed like a burning furnace. Having opened herself, she unveiled to me her most kind and loving Heart, which was the living spring of the flames. It was then that she discovered to me the inexplicable wonders of her pure love with which she had loved men to excess, receiving from them only ingratitude and ignorance.

      “That,” Jesus says to Margaret, “was what hurt me most of all that I suffered in my Passion, whereas if they had returned me some love, I would have considered little all that I did for them and, if it were possible, I would still have wanted to do more. But they have only coldness and rebuffs for all my eagerness to procure good for them. At least give me the pleasure of making up for their ingratitude with all that is given you according to your means.”

      At these words, Marguerite could only express to the Lord her helplessness, He replied, “Here, there you have what you need to make up for what you lack.” And from the open Heart of Jesus came a flame so fiery that she thought it would consume her, for she was so penetrated that she could not bear it, and she asked Him to have compassion on her weakness. He replied:

      “I will be your strength, fear nothing, you only have to be attentive to my voice and to what I demand of you in order to prepare you for the realization of my designs.”

      Then the Lord described to Margaret exactly how the practice of devotion to His Heart was to be carried out, along with its purpose, which was reparation. Finally, Jesus himself warns her about the temptations that the devil will raise to make her fall.

      “First of all, you will receive Me in the Blessed Sacrament as much as obedience will permit; some mortifications and humiliations will have to take place for this, which you will receive as a reward for My love. You will also receive Communion every first Friday of the month, and on the night of Thursday to Friday, I will make you participate in the mortal sadness that I wanted to feel in the Garden of Olives, whose sadness will reduce you, without your being able to understand it, to a kind of agony more difficult to bear than death.

      “To accompany Me in the humble prayer that I then raised to My Father, in the midst of all your anguish, you will rise between eleven and twelve o’clock at night to prostrate yourself with Me for an hour, with your face to the ground, both to appease the divine anger, asking for sinners, and to sweeten in some way the bitterness I felt for the abandonment of My apostles, which led Me to reproach them for not having been able to keep vigil with Me for an hour.

      “During that hour you will do what I tell you. But, my daughter, do not believe every spirit lightly, nor trust it, for Satan is raging to deceive you. Therefore, do nothing without permission from those who guide you, so that, relying on the authority of obedience, he may not be able to deceive you, for he has no power over the obedient.”

      Source: Corazones.org

      Image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Discover the Devotion and History of the Sacred Heart, and the Churches associated with it in the Catholic Mass Times app on your cell phone.

      Fourth and final revelation of the Sacred Heart

      The Lord wanted to establish in the Church a liturgical feast in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This revelation took place during the octave of Corpus Christi in the year 1675, that is, between June 13 and 20.

      Margaret recounts: “Being before the Blessed Sacrament one day of its octave, and wanting to render love to Him for His so great love, the Lord said to me:

      “You can pay me no greater tribute than by doing what I have asked of you so many times already.” Then the Lord unveiled His Heart to her and said, “Behold the Heart that has loved men so much and has spared nothing to the point of exhausting and consuming itself to bear witness to His love for them. And, in compensation, I only receive, from the majority of them, ingratitude through their irreverence and sacrileges, as well as for the coldness and contempt they have for me in this Sacrament of love.

      “But what hurts me most is that the hearts that have been consecrated to me behave like this. For this reason I ask that on the first Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi a special feast be celebrated to honor my Heart, and that communion be taken on that day to ask for forgiveness and to make reparation for the outrages received by it during the time it has remained exposed on the altars. I also promise you that my Heart will be dilated to spread in abundance the influences of his divine love upon those who do him that honor and seek to have it paid tribute to him.”

      Father Colombiere ordered Marguerite to fully comply with the Lord’s will and to write down all that He had revealed to her. Margaret obeyed diligently, since her greatest desire was to see the divine plan fulfilled.

      It was more than ten years before devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was instituted in the Visitation monastery. These were difficult years for Margarita. Mother Superior, who finally believed in her, was transferred to another monastery. Before leaving, he ordered Margarita to tell the whole community what the Lord had revealed to her. Margaret agreed only out of obedience and communicated to all the nuns the revelations and punishments that the Lord was warning.

      When the others, enraged, rebuked her harshly, Margarita remained silent, humbly bearing their words. The next day, many nuns, feeling guilty, went to confession. Margaret then heard the Lord say that peace had returned to the monastery and that her suffering had placated His Divine Justice.

      Against her will, Margaret was appointed novice mistress and assistant superior, part of the divine plan to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. However, Margaret never saw full recognition of this devotion during her lifetime.

      On the afternoon of October 17, 1690, having previously predicted this date as the day of her death, Margaret commended her soul to the Lord, whom she had loved with all her heart. He died between 7 and 8 PM, at the age of 43 and after 18 years of religious life.

      Only three years after his death, Pope Innocent XIII initiated a movement that would open the doors to this devotion. He proclaimed a papal bull granting indulgences to all Visitation monasteries, which resulted in the institution of the feast of the Sacred Heart in most convents. In 1765, Pope Clement XIII introduced the feast in Rome, and in 1856, Pope Pius IX extended the celebration of the Sacred Heart to the whole Church. Finally, in 1920, Margaret Mary Alacoque was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.

       

      Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, deeply rooted in the mystical experience of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, has transcended the centuries to become a universal celebration in the Catholic Church.

      Through her revelations and the arduous road she traveled for this devotion to be recognized, we are reminded of the profound love and mercy that the Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolizes.

      Today, the Feast of the Sacred Heart is not only an opportunity to pay homage to this divine love, but also to renew our faith and commitment to the values of compassion and sacrifice that the Sacred Heart represents.

      Note: Remember that you can use the Catholic Mass Times app to find the nearest Catholic church with Mass, Confession, and Adoration schedules. You can also find the schedule and links to live broadcasts, as well as search for Mass times filtered by location, time, or day.