Sacred Heart

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For other uses, see Sacred Heart (disambiguation).
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
An embroidery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Saint Nicholas' Church, Ghent, Belgium.
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Lutheran Church
Feast 19 days after Pentecost (Friday)
Attributes Burning bloodied heart, surmounted with cross and thorns
Patronage Apostleship of Prayer

The devotion to the Sacred Heart (also known as the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus) is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions, taking Jesus Christ's physical heart as the representation of his divine love for humanity.

This devotion is predominantly used in the Catholic Church and among some high-church Anglicans and Lutherans. The devotion especially emphasizes the unmitigated love, compassion, and long-suffering of the heart of Christ towards humanity. The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a Roman Catholic nun from France, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus during a series of apparitions which occurred between 1673 and 1675,[1] and later, in the 19th century, from the mystical revelations of another Roman Catholic nun, in Portugal, Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, the countess Droste zu Vischering and religious of the Good Shepherd who requested, in the name of Christ Himself, that Pope Leo XIII consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Predecessors to the modern devotion arose unmistakably in the Middle Ages in various facets of Catholic mysticism.[2]

In the Roman Catholic tradition, the Sacred Heart has been closely associated with Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ. In his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI stated: "the spirit of expiation or reparation has always had the first and foremost place in the worship given to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus".[3] The Golden Arrow Prayer directly refers to the Sacred Heart.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart is sometimes seen in the Eastern Catholic Churches, where it remains a point of controversy and is seen as an example of Liturgical Latinisation.

The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross, and bleeding. Sometimes the image is shown shining within the bosom of Christ with his wounded hands pointing at the heart. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus' death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart has been in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar since 1856, and is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost. As Pentecost is always celebrated on Sunday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart always falls on a Friday.

History of Devotion[edit]

Sacred Heart of Jesus in Saint Vincent De Paul Parish Church of Manila

Early devotion[edit]

Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pompeo Batoni, 1767

Historically the devotion to the Sacred Heart is an outgrowth of devotion to Christ's sacred humanity.[4] There is nothing to indicate that, during the first ten centuries of Christianity, any worship was rendered to the wounded Heart of Jesus.[5]

Sacred Heart by José María Ibarrarán y Ponce, 1896

The revival of religious life and the zealous activity of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Francis of Assisi in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, together with the enthusiasm of the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land, gave a rise to devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ and particularly to practices in honour of the Sacred Wounds.[6]

Devotion to the Sacred Heart developed out of the devotion to the Holy Wounds, in particular to the Sacred Wound in the side of Jesus. It is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that the first indications of devotion to the Sacred Heart are found. It was in the fervent atmosphere of the Benedictine or Cistercian monasteries, in the world of Bernardine thought, that the devotion arose, although it is impossible to say positively what were its first texts or who were its first devotees.

Saint Bernard (d.1153) explained that the piercing of Christ's side reveals his goodness and the charity of his heart for us. The earliest known hymn to the Sacred Heart, "Summi Regis Cor Aveto" is believed to have been written by the Norbertine, Blessed Herman Joseph (d.1241) of Cologne, Germany. This hymn begins: "I hail Thee kingly Heart most high."

From the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, the devotion was propagated but it did not seem to have developed in itself. It was everywhere practised by individuals and by different religious congregations, such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, Carthusians, etc. Among the Franciscans the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has its champions in Saint Bonaventure (d. 1274) in his Vitis Mystica ("Mystic Vine"), B. John de la Verna and the Franciscan Tertiary and Saint Jean Eudes (d. 1680).[7] Bonaventure wrote: "Who is there who would not love this wounded heart? Who would not love in return Him, who loves so much?”[8] It was, nevertheless, a private, individual devotion of the mystical order. Nothing of a general movement had been inaugurated, except for similarities found in the devotion to the Five Holy Wounds by the Franciscans, in which the wound in Jesus's heart figured most prominently.

In the sixteenth century, the devotion passed from the domain of mysticism into that of Christian asceticism. It was established as a devotion with prayers already formulated and special exercises, found in the writings of Lanspergius (d. 1539) of the Carthusians of Cologne; the Louis of Blois (Blosius, 1566), a Benedictine and Abbot of Liessies in Hainaut, John of Avila (d. 1569) and St. Francis de Sales, the latter belonging to the seventeenth century.

The historical record from that time shows an early bringing to light of the devotion. Ascetic writers spoke of it, especially those of the Society of Jesus. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was everywhere in evidence, largely due to the Franciscan devotion to the Five Wounds and to the habit formed by the Jesuits of placing the image on their title-page of their books and the walls of their churches.

Nevertheless, the devotion remained an individual, or at least a private, devotion. The first to establish the theological basis for that was Polish Jesuit Kasper Drużbicki (1590-1662) in his book Meta cordium - Cor Jesu (The goal of hearts - Heart of Jesus). Not much later Jean Eudes (1602–1680) made it public, gave it an Office, and established a feast for it. Père Eudes was the apostle of the Heart of Mary, but in his devotion to the Immaculate Heart there was a share for the Heart of Jesus. Little by little, the devotion to the Sacred Heart became a separate one, and on August 31, 1670, the first feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated in the Grand Seminary of Rennes. Coutances followed suit on October 20, a day with which the Eudist feast was from then on to be connected. The feast soon spread to other dioceses, and the devotion was likewise adopted in various religious communities. It gradually came into contact with the devotion begun at Paray-le-Monial and resulting in a fusion of the two.

Saint Lutgarde[edit]

According to Thomas Merton, Saint Lutgarde (d.1246), a Cistercian mystic of Aywieres, Belgium was one of the great precursors of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A contemporary of St. Francis, she "... entered upon the mystical life with a vision of the pierced Heart of the Saviour, and had concluded her mystical espousals with the Incarnate Word by an exchange of hearts with Him."[9] When, in a visitation, Christ came to Lutgarde, offering her whatever gift of grace she should desire, she asked for a better grasp of Latin, that she might better understand the Word of God and lift her voice in choral praise. Christ granted her request and, after a few days, Lutgarde’s mind was flooded with the riches of psalms, antiphons, readings and responsories. However, a painful emptiness persisted. With disarming candor she returned to Christ, asking to return His gift, and wondering if she might, just possibly, exchange it for another. “And for what would you exchange it?” Christ asked. “Lord, said Lutgarde, I would exchange it for your Heart.” Christ then reached into Lutgarde and, removing her heart, replaced it with His own, at the same time hiding her heart within His breast.[10]

Saint Mechtilde[edit]

Saint Mechtilde of Helfta (d.1298) became an ardent devotee and promoter of Jesus’ heart after it was the subject of many of her visions. The idea of hearing the heartbeat of God was very important to medieval saints who nurtured devotion to the Sacred Heart.[11] One of the visions recounted by Mechtilde states that Jesus, having appeared to her, commanded her to love Him ardently, and to honor His Sacred Heart in the Blessed Sacrament as much as possible. He gave her His Sacred Heart as a pledge of His love, as a place of refuge during her life and as her consolation at the hour of her death. From this time Mechtilde had an extraordinary devotion for the Sacred Heart, and she received such great graces from It that she was accustomed to say that if she had to write down all the favors and all the blessings which she had received by means of this devotion, a large book would not contain them.[12]

Saint Gertrude[edit]

One of the most esteemed woman saints of the Christian West, Saint Gertrude the Great was a notable early devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.[13] Book 2 of the Herald of Divine Love is notable within the history of Christian devotion because its vivid descriptions of Gertrude's visions show a considerable elaboration on the long-standing but ill-defined veneration of Christ's heart. Perhaps its most famous articulation is by St Bernard in his commentary on the Song of Songs. The women of Helfta—Gertrude foremost, who surely knew Bernard's commentary, and to a somewhat lesser extent the two Mechthilds— experienced this devotion centrally in their mystical visions.[14]

Visions of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque[edit]

Painting representing the famous apparitions of the Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque.

The most significant source for the devotion to the Sacred Heart in the form it is known today was Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690), a nun from the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, who claimed to have received apparitions of Jesus Christ, the first on 27 December 1673, and the final one 18 months later. The apparitions revealed to her the form of the devotion, the chief features being reception of Holy Communion on the first Friday of each month, Eucharistic adoration during a "Holy hour" on Thursdays, and the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. She stated that in her vision she was instructed to spend an hour every Thursday night to meditate on Jesus' Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • On December 27, 1673, the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, Margaret Mary reported that Jesus permitted her to rest her head upon his heart, and then disclosed to her the wonders of his love, telling her that he desired to make them known to all mankind and to diffuse the treasures of his goodness, and that he had chosen her for this work.
  • In probably June or July, 1674, Margaret Mary claimed that Jesus requested to be honored under the figure of his heart, also claiming that, when he appeared radiant with love, he asked for a devotion of expiatory love: frequent reception of Communion, especially Communion on the First Friday of the month, and the observance of the Holy Hour.
  • During the octave of Corpus Christi, 1675, probably on June 16, the vision known as the "great apparition" reportedly took place, where Jesus said, "Behold the Heart that has so loved men ... instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part (of mankind) only ingratitude ...", and asked Margaret Mary for a feast of reparation of the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, bidding her consult her confessor Father Claude de la Colombière, then superior of the small Jesuit house at Paray. Solemn homage was asked on the part of the king, and the mission of propagating the new devotion was especially confided to the religious of the Visitation and to the priests of the Society of Jesus.

A few days after the "great apparition", Margaret Mary reported everything she saw to Father de la Colombière, and he, acknowledging the vision as an action of the Spirit of God, consecrated himself to the Sacred Heart and directed her to write an account of the apparition. He also made use of every available opportunity to circulate this account, discreetly, through France and England. Upon his death on February 15, 1682, there was found in his journal of spiritual retreats a copy in his own handwriting of the account that he had requested of Margaret Mary, together with a few reflections on the usefulness of the devotion. This journal, including the account and an "offering" to the Sacred Heart, in which the devotion was well explained, was published at Lyons in 1684. The little book was widely read, especially at Paray. Margaret Mary reported feeling "dreadful confusion" over the book's contents, but resolved to make the best of it, approving of the book for the spreading of her cherished devotion. Outside of the Visitandines, priests, religious, and laymen espoused the devotion, particularly the Capuchins, Margaret Mary's two brothers, and some Jesuits. The Jesuit Father Croiset wrote a book called The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a book which Jesus is said to have told Margaret to tell Fr. Croiset to write, and Fr. Joseph de Gallifet, also a Jesuit, promoted the devotion.

Visions of Estelle Faguette[edit]

Scapular of the Sacred Heart as revealed to Estelle Faguette

On the night of 14 February 1876, as she lay in Pellevoisin dying of pulmonary tuberculosis, Estelle Faguette, a domestic servant, reportedly saw the Virgin Mary. Four days later, during the fifth apparition, Estelle seemed to be healed instantaneously. Altogether she experienced fifteen apparitions in the course of 1876. On 9 September, the apparition drew attention to a small piece of white cloth, a scapular, resting over her chest. Estelle had seen it there before, as plain white cloth, but on this day it bore the red image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The following day the lady appeared again, saying she had come to encourage people to pray.[15]

The final and culminating vision took place on Friday 8 December 1876, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.[15]

You will go yourself to the prelate and will present to him this copy that you have made. Tell him to do everything within his power to help you, and that nothing would be more pleasing to me than to see this livery on each of my children. They should all strive to make reparation for the outrages my Son is subjected to in the sacrament of His love. See the graces that will be poured forth on those who will wear it with confidence and help you to spread this devotion.[15]

Immediately following this last apparition, Estelle sought and was granted an audience with the then Archbishop of Bourges, Monsignor de La Tour d'Auvergne. By 12 December 1876 she had received his permission to make and distribute copies of the Scapular of the Sacred Heart.[16]:109

Visions of Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart[edit]

Painting representing the vision received by Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart Droste zu Vischering. Jesus had revealed her: "By the brightness of this light, peoples and nations will be illumined, and they will be warmed by its ardour."

Another very significant source for the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart (1863–1899), the countess of Droste zu Vischering and religious from the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, who reported to have received several interior locutions and visions of Jesus Christ. The first interior locution of Maria Droste zu Vischering occurred during her youth spent with the family in the Castle of Darfeld, near Munster, Germany, and the latest vision and private revelation occurred during her presence as Mother Superior in the Convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Porto, Portugal.

Based on the messages received in her revelations of Christ, Sister Mary of the Divine Heart wrote "upon the order of Our Lord" two letters to Pope Leo XIII requesting the consecration of the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The first letter on June 10, 1898, and the second letter on January 15, 1899. Here is an important extract from her second letter to the Holy Father:

"When, last summer, Your Holiness was suffering from an indisposition which, given your great age, filled the hearts of your children with cares, Our Lord gave me the sweet consolation [of knowing] that He would prolong the days of Your Holiness, so as to bring about the consecration of the entire world to His Divine Heart. [...] On the eve of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lord gave me to know that by means of this new impetus given to the worship of His Divine Heart, He would make a new light shine upon the whole world [...] I seem to see this light (interiorly), the Heart of Jesus, this adorable sun, sending down its rays upon the earth, at first narrowly, and then more widely, and finally illumining the entire world. I recognized the ardent desire He has to see His adorable Heart more and more glorified and known, and to spread abroad His gifts and blessings upon the whole world. And He said: "By the brightness of this light, peoples and nations will be illumined, and they will be warmed by its ardour". [...] One might find it strange that Our Lord should ask for this consecration of the entire world and not content Himself with [that of] the Catholic Church. But His desire to reign, to be loved and glorified, and to set ablaze all hearts with His love and His mercy is so ardent that He wants Your Holiness to offer Him the hearts of all those who belong to Him by Baptism to facilitate their return to the true Church, and the hearts of those who have not yet received spiritual life by Holy Baptism, but for whom He has given His life and His Blood, and who are equally called to be one day children of the Holy Church, to hasten by this means their spiritual birth."

Sister Mary of the Divine Heart died in her monastery in Portugal when the Church was singing the first vespers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 8, 1899. The following day, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Papal Approvals[edit]

The Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart was a religious Sister of the Good Shepherd who requested, in the name of Christ Himself, that Pope Leo XIII consecrate the entire World to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.[17]

The death of Margaret Mary Alacoque on October 17, 1690, did not dampen the zeal of those interested; on the contrary, a short account of her life published by Father Croiset in 1691, as an appendix to his book "De la Dévotion au Sacré Cœur", served only to increase it. This in spite of all sorts of obstacles, and of the slowness of the Holy See, which in 1693 imparted indulgences to the Confraternities of the Sacred Heart and, in 1697, granted the feast to the Visitandines with the Mass of the Five Wounds, but refused a feast common to all, with special Mass and Office. The devotion spread, particularly in religious communities. The Marseilles plague, 1720, furnished perhaps the first occasion for a solemn consecration and public worship outside of religious communities. Other cities of the South followed the example of Marseilles, and thus the devotion became a popular one. In 1726 it was deemed advisable once more to importune Rome for a feast with a Mass and Office of its own, but, in 1729, Rome again refused. However, in 1765, it finally yielded and that same year, at the request of the queen, the feast was received quasi-officially by the episcopate of France. On all sides it was asked for and obtained, and finally, in 1856, at the urgent entreaties of the French bishops, Pope Pius IX extended the feast to the Roman Catholic Church under the rite of double major. In 1889 it was raised by the Roman Catholic Church to the double rite of first class.

After Pope Leo XIII received several letters from Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, the countess of Droste zu Vischering and Mother Superior in the Convent of the Good Shepherd in Porto, Portugal, asking him to consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he commissioned a group of theologians to examine the petition on the basis of revelation and sacred tradition. The outcome of this investigation was positive, and so in the encyclical letter Annum Sacrum (on May 25, 1899) he decreed that the consecration of the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should take place on June 11, 1899. The encyclical letter also encouraged the entire Roman Catholic episcopate to promote the First Friday Devotions, established June as the Month of the Sacred Heart, and included the Prayer of Consecration to the Sacred Heart.[18]

Pope Pius X decreed that the consecration of the human race performed by Pope Leo XIII be renewed each year. Pope Pius XI in his encyclical letter Miserentissimus Redemptor (on May 8, 1928) affirmed the Church's position with respect to Saint Margaret Mary's visions of Jesus Christ by stating that Jesus had "manifested Himself" to Saint Margaret and had "promised her that all those who rendered this honor to His Heart would be endowed with an abundance of heavenly graces." The encyclical refers to the conversation between Jesus and Saint Margaret Mary several times[3] and reaffirmed the importance of consecration and reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Finally, Venerable Pope Pius XII, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Pope Pius IX's institution of the Feast, instructed the entire Roman Catholic Church at length on the devotion to the Sacred Heart in his encyclical letter Haurietis aquas (on May 15, 1956). On May 15, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, on the 50th Anniversary of the encyclical Haurietis Aquas. In his letter to Father Kolvenbach, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the importance of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Worship and devotion[edit]

Stained glass depiction of Jesus and His Most Sacred Heart, in Germany.

The Roman Catholic acts of consecration, reparation and devotion were introduced when the feast of the Sacred Heart was declared. In his Papal Bull Auctorem Fidei, Pope Pius VI praised devotion to the Sacred Heart. Finally, by order of Leo XIII, in his encyclical Annum Sacrum (May 25, 1899), as well as on June 11, he consecrated every human to the Sacred Heart. The idea of this act, which Leo XIII called "the great act" of his pontificate, had been proposed to him by a religious woman of the Good Shepherd from Oporto (Portugal) who said that she had supernaturally received it from Jesus. Since c. 1850, groups, congregations, and States have consecrated themselves to the Sacred Heart. In 1873, by petition of president Gabriel García Moreno, Ecuador was the first country in the world to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart, fulfilling God's petition to Saint Margaret Mary over two hundred years later.

Peter Coudrin of France founded the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary on December 24, 1800. A religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, the order is best known for its missionary work in Hawaii.

Mother Clelia Merloni from Forlì (Italy) founded the Congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Viareggio, Italy, May 30, 1894.

Worship of the Sacred Heart mainly consists of several hymns, the Salutation of the Sacred Heart, and the Litany of the Sacred Heart. It is common in Roman Catholic services and occasionally is to be found in Anglican services.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart is a solemnity in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, and is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost. As Pentecost is always celebrated on Sunday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart always falls on a Friday.

The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic ceremony in which a priest or head of a household consecrates the members of the household to the Sacred Heart. A blessed image of the Sacred Heart, either a statue or a picture, is then "enthroned" in the home to serve as a constant reminder to those who dwell in the house of their consecration to the Sacred Heart. The practice of the Enthronement is based upon Pope Pius XII's declaration that devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is "the foundation on which to build the kingdom of God in the hearts of individuals, families, and nations..."[19]

Alliance with the Immaculate Heart[edit]

Saint John Eudes was the great defender of the mystical unity of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary is based on the historical, theological and spiritual links in Catholic devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.[20][21][22] The joint devotion to the hearts was first formalized in the seventeenth century by Saint John Eudes who organized the scriptural, theological and liturgical sources relating to the devotions and obtained the approbation of the Church, prior to the visions of Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque.[23][24][25]

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the devotions grew, both jointly and individually through the efforts of figures such as Saint Louis de Montfort who promoted Catholic Mariology and Saint Catherine Labouré's Miraculous Medal depicting the Heart of Jesus thorn-crowned and the Heart of Mary pierced with a sword.[26][27][28] The devotions, and the associated prayers, continued into the twentieth century, e.g. in the Immaculata prayer of Saint Maximillian Kolbe and in the reported messages of Our Lady of Fatima which stated that the Heart of Jesus wishes to be honored together with the Heart of Mary.[29][30]

Popes supported the individual and joint devotions to the hearts through the centuries. In the 1956 encyclical Haurietis Aquas, Pope Pius XII encouraged the joint devotion to the hearts. In the 1979 encyclical Redemptor Hominis Pope John Paul II explained the theme of unity of Mary's Immaculate Heart with the Sacred Heart.[31] In his Angelus address on September 15, 1985 Pope John Paul II coined the term The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and in 1986 addressed the international conference on that topic held at Fátima, Portugal.[32][33][34][35]

Institution Names[edit]

For a list of institutions named Sacred Heart, see Sacred Heart (disambiguation)

Sacred Heart is a widely used name for many Roman Catholic institutions, including schools, colleges, and hospitals in many countries around the world. It is also the name of many Roman Catholic parishes, religious orders, and stores selling Roman Catholic goods.

Sacred Heart imagery[edit]

The Sacred Heart crowned with thorns, appearing on the Miraculous Medal.

The Sacred Heart has also been involved in (and been depicted) in saintly apparitions such as those to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830, and appears on the Miraculous Medal.[36] On the Miraculous Medal, the Sacred Heart is crowned with thorns. The Immaculate Heart of Mary also appears on the medal, next to the Sacred Heart, but is pierced by a sword, rather than being crowned with thorns. The M on the medal signifies the Blessed Virgin at the foot of the Cross when Jesus was being crucified.

Religious imagery depicting the Sacred Heart is frequently featured in Roman Catholic, and sometimes Anglican and Lutheran homes. Sometimes images display beneath them a list of family members, indicating that the entire family is entrusted to the protection of Jesus in the Sacred Heart, from whom blessings on the home and the family members are sought. The prayer "O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee" is often used. One particular image has been used as part of a set, along with an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In that image, Mary too was shown pointing to her Immaculate Heart, expressing her love for the human race and for her Son, Jesus Christ. The mirror images reflect an eternal binding of the two hearts.

The Scapular of the Sacred Heart and the Scapular of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary are worn by Roman Catholics.[37][38]

In Eastern Catholicism[edit]

Devotion to the Sacred Heart may be found in some Eastern Catholic Churches, but is a contentious issue. Those who favour purity of rite are opposed to the devotion, while those who are in favour of the devotion cite it as a point of commonality with their Latin Catholic brethren.

Promises of the Sacred Heart[edit]

The Estrela Basilica situated in Lisbon, Portugal, was the first church in the world dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Sanctuary of Christ the King in Almada is a famous monument dedicated to the Sacred Heart.

Promises made to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque[edit]

Jesus Christ, in his apparitions to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, promised these blessings to those who practice devotion to his Sacred Heart. This tabular form of promises was not made by Saint Margaret Mary or her contemporaries. It first appeared at 1863. In 1882, an American businessman spread the tabular form of the promises profusely throughout the world, the twelve promises appearing in 238 languages. In 1890, Cardinal Adolph Perraud deplored this circulation of the promises in the tabular form which were different from the words and even from the meaning of the expressions used by Saint Margaret Mary, and wanted the promises to be published in the full, authentic texts as found in the writings of Saint Margaret Mary.[39]

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will give peace in their families.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
  5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
  9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
  10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
  11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
  12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

The last promise has given rise to the pious Roman Catholic practice of making an effort to attend Mass and receive Communion on the first Friday of each month.

Great efficacy of converting people has been attached to the use of the image of the Sacred Heart.

"Even at the hour of death, incredulous, indifferent, hardened souls have been converted by simply showing them a picture of the Sacred Heart, which sufficed to restore these sinners to the life of hope and love, in a word, to touch the most hardened. It would, indeed, be a great misfortune to any apostolic man to neglect so powerful a means of conversion, and in proof of this I will mention a single fact which will need no comment. A religious of the Company of Jesus had been requested by the Blessed Margaret Mary to make a careful engraving of the Sacred Heart. Being often hindered by other occupations, there was much delay in preparing this plate. ' This good father,' writes the saint, 'is so much occupied by Mon- signor d'Autun in the conversion of heretics, that he has neither time nor leisure to give to the work so ardently desired by the Heart of our Divine Master. You cannot imagine, my much-loved mother, how greatly this delay afflicts and pains me. I must avow confidently to you my belief that it is the cause of his converting so few infidels in this town. I seem constantly to hear these words: 'That if this good father had acquitted himself at once of his promise to the Sacred Heart, Jesus would have changed and converted the hearts of these infidels, on account of the joy He would have felt at seeing Himself honoured in the picture He so much wishes for. As, however, he prefers other work, even though to the glory of God, to that of giving Him this satisfaction, He will harden the hearts of these infidels, and the labours of this mission will not be crowned with much fruit." [40]

Promises made to Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart[edit]

During the mystical experiences of Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, Jesus inspired her to built a shrine dedicated to His Sacred Heart and made a prodigious promise related to the temple. The imposing Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (also referred as Church of the Good Shepherd or Sanctuary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) was built between July 14, 1957 and April 21, 1966, in the civil parish of Ermesinde, north of Portugal, and consecrated to the Heart of Christ in fulfillment of the vow made by the religious. According to the writings of Sister Mary of the Divine Heart Droste zu Vischering,[41] Jesus had revealed her this promise in relation to this church-shrine:

«For a long time, as you know, I have wanted to build a church on the Good Shepherd property. Uncertain as to whom this church should be dedicated, I have prayed and consulted many people without reaching a decision. On the First Friday of this month, I asked Our Lord to enlighten me. After the Holy Communion, He said to me: "– I desire that the church be consecrated to My Heart. You must erect here a place of reparation; from My part I will make it a place of graces. I will distribute copiously graces to all who live in this house [the Convent], those who live here now, those who will live here after, and even to the people of their relations." Then He told me that He wished this church, above all, to be a place of reparation for sacrileges and for obtain graces for the clergy.»

This church-shrine has become, by this promise, in an important place of pilgrimage by all Christians that seek to deepen their devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the life, virtues and work of Sister Mary of the Divine Heart. Inside this temple, there is the tomb with her incorrupt body exposed to public veneration.

Scapular of the Sacred Heart[edit]

The devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus also involve the Scapular of the Sacred Heart. Prior to the existence of a formal Roman Catholic devotional scapular, Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque made and distributed badges bearing an image of the Heart of Jesus.[42] In 1872 Pope Pius IX granted an indulgence for the badge.

Following the claims by Estelle Faguette that the Virgin Mary had appeared to her in 1876 and requested a Scapular of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a scapular of the proposed design was approved by the Congregation of Rites in 1900. It bears the representation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on one side, and that of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Mother of Mercy on the other side.


Eastern Orthodox Christians disapprove the actual worship of the physical heart of Jesus as being a form of naturalism[disambiguation needed] and Nestorianism. It is for this reason that the Feast of the Sacred Heart has not been inserted in the Calendar of Western Rite Orthodoxy.[43] These criticisms are explicitly addressed at length in Pope Pius XII's encyclical Haurietis Aquas, that the Sacred Heart is venerated as belonging to the Divine Person of the Eternal Word and as 'a symbolic image of His love and a witness of our redemption'.

Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus[edit]

Dates for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, 2009-2020
Year Date
2012 June 15
2013 June 7
2014 June 27
2015 June 12
2016 June 3
2017 June 23
2018 June 8
2019 June 28
2020 June 19

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially to the Word of God.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise.
Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts.
Heart of Jesus, in whom art all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon Thee.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses.
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities.
Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints.

V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart,
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jean Ladame, Marguerite-Marie, La sainte de Paray, Éditions Resiac, 1994 ISBN 2-85268-118-8
  2. ^ Bainvel, Jean. "Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus II. Historical Ideas on the Development of the Devotion, para (3-4)". Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. Retrieved 11 July 2006. 
  3. ^ a b Pope Pius XII, Miserentissimus Redemptor
  4. ^ Hardon, John. Modern Catholic Dictionary
  5. ^ Bainvel, Jean. "Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus II. Historical Ideas on the Development of the Devotion, para (1)". Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent. Retrieved 11 July 2006. 
  6. ^ Holweck, Frederick. "The Five Sacred Wounds." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 1 Jun. 2013
  7. ^ "Catholic Devotions", The Franciscans in Nebraska
  8. ^ Mendés SFO, Patrick. "Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus"
  9. ^ Merton, Thomas. What are These Wounds? the Life of a Cistercian Mystic, Saint Lutgarde of Aywieres, Clonmore and Reynolds Ltd., Dublin, 1948
  10. ^ Kirby, Dom Mark Daniel. "Draw Me to Thy Piercèd Side", June 15, 2008, Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland
  11. ^ Bergström-Allen, T.O.C., Johan. "Carmelites and the Sacred Heart"
  12. ^ Croiset, S. J., John. The Devotion to the Sacred Heart, 1691
  13. ^ "St. Gertrude the Great", Catholic News Service
  14. ^ Jenkins, Eve B., "St Gertrude's Synecdoche: The Problem of Writing the Sacred Heart", Essays in Medieval Studies, Vol. 14, 1997, Illinois Medieval Association
  15. ^ a b c *A Brief Account of the Apparitions, archived from the original on 2014-08-13, retrieved 2014-08-13 
  16. ^ Estelle Faguette (1993). Pellevoisin: Estelle nous parle... : autobiographie et récit des quinze apparitions par la voyante. Monastère des dominicaines. 
  17. ^ CHASLE, Louis; Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, Droste zu Vischering, religious of the Good Shepherd, 1863-1899. Burns & Oates, London, 1906.
  18. ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 166
  19. ^ Pope Pius XII. "Haurietis Aquas". Vatican Archives. Retrieved November 17, 2006. 
  20. ^ Mary's Immaculate Heart by John F. Murphy 2007 ISBN 1-4067-3409-8 pages 59-60
  21. ^ Heart of the Redeemer by Timothy Terrance O'Donnell, 1992 ISBN 0-89870-396-4 page 272
  22. ^ Arthur Calkins, The Theology of the Alliance of the Two Hearts, Missio Immaculatae (English Edition) Year III, N° 4 (May to December 2007).
  23. ^ Roman Catholic worship: Trent to today by James F. White 2003 ISBN 0-8146-6194-7 page 34
  24. ^ From Trent to Vatican II: historical and theological investigations by Raymond F. Bulman, Frederick J. Parrella 2006 ISBN 0-19-517807-6 page 182
  25. ^ Praying with the saints by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker 2001 ISBN 0-8294-1755-9 page 134
  26. ^ In Prayer With Mary the Mother of Jesus by Jean Lafrance 1988 ISBN 2-89039-183-3 page 310
  27. ^ Companion to the Calendar: A Guide to the Saints and Mysteries by Mary Ellen Hynes 2007 ISBN 1-56854-011-6 page 24
  28. ^ Butler's lives of the saints, Volume 12 by Alban Butler, Kathleen Jones, 2000 ISBN 0-86012-261-1 page 245
  29. ^ Youngest Prophet by Christopher Rengers 1998 ISBN 0-85342-815-8 page 38
  30. ^ The children of Fatima: Blessed Francisco & Blessed Jacinta Marto by Leo Madigan 2003 OSV Press ISBN 1-931709-57-2 page 248
  31. ^ Peter Stravinskas, 2002, Catholic Dictionary, OSV Press ISBN 978-0-87973-390-2 page 485
  32. ^ Pope John Paul II 1986 Speech at the Vatican Website
  33. ^ Arthur Calkins, The Alliance of the Two Hearts and Consecration, Miles Immaculatae XXXI (July/December 1995) 389-407.
  34. ^ Proceedings of the International Theological Symposium on the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, September 1986, Fátima, Portugal
  35. ^ Vatican website: Pope John Paul II Angelus address of September 15, 1985 (Spanish and Italian)
  36. ^ Catholic encyclopedia
  37. ^ Catholic encyclopedia
  38. ^ Ann Ball, 2003, Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 517
  39. ^ The Fr. Paul Wenisch. Promises of Our Lord to Saint Margaret (1920) pg. 3
  40. ^,M1
  41. ^ Letter from Sister Mary of the Divine Heart dated August 13, 1897, in Autobiography of Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, Religious of the Good Shepherd. Lisbon: Edition of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, 1993.
  42. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia
  43. ^ On the Question of the Sacred Heart Devotion by Fr. Aidan Keller

External links[edit]