Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Sacratissimi Cordis Iesu, in Latin) is one of the most widely practiced and well-known Roman Catholic devotions, with a feast day occurring on the Friday nineteen days after Pentecost. It began in Paray-le-Monial, a small village in Burgundy, where St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) lived. She was a Visitation nun to whom Jesus appeared. The message Jesus gave this French religious, whose first vision was on Dec. 27, 1673, was “My Sacred Heart is so intense in its love for men, and for you in particular, that not being able to contain within it the flames of its ardent charity, they must be transmitted through all means.”
Jesus showed Himself to Sr. Margaret Mary in a way that she could understand – with a human heart aflame with love. He told her that He would be present in a special way to those devoted to His Sacred Heart and that His presence would lead to peace in families, the conversion of sinners, blessings in abundance, and perseverance when death was near. To know God’s love in Jesus and to share it with others is the central message of the gospels. The message of the Sacred Heart is one of God’s deep and intimate love for us. This devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a powerful way of drawing closer to our Lord by joining our hearts to His Sacred Heart in a spirit of love, trust, adoration, and most importantly, reparation for the many sins and insults He has endured.
At one time most Catholic families would have pictures of Jesus and his Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in their homes as a source of strength and support during the daily struggles of life and as a reminder of Jesus’ constant presence in our lives and Mary’s intercession.
True devotion to the Sacred Heart means devotion to the Divine Heart of Christ insofar as His Heart represents and recalls His love for us. In honoring the Heart of Christ, our homage lingers on the Person of Jesus in the fullness of His love. This love of Christ for us was the moving force of all he did and suffered for us — in Nazareth, on the Cross, in giving Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, in His teaching and healing, in His praying and working. When we speak of the Sacred Heart, we mean Jesus showing us His Heart, Jesus all love for us and all lovable.
The image of the Sacred Heart is often depicted 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. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus’ death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have Mercy on us.