Devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary Its Origin and History
In Sacred Scripture
The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are mentioned explicitly only briefly
in the text of the New Testament. Nevertheless the many
references to the love and compassion of Jesus and Mary, as well
as implied references to their Hearts, provide a vivid revelation
of the Two Hearts. It is remarkable that the few explicit
references all bear upon the work of redemption. Some of the more
important references are:
"Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart."
This passage refers to Our Lord's invitation to imitate
the dispositions and virtues of His own human Heart,
reflecting upon His ineffable humility in becoming man
and being born in a stable; His remarkable patience in
living a hidden, obscure life for 30 years; His
unsurpassed charity in preaching, teaching, working
miracles, healing the bodies and souls of believers and
unbelievers; His perfect obedience to the Father in
enduring without complaint the bitter agony and infamy
of death on the Cross.
"Mary kept in mind all these things, pondering them in
This passage refers to the visit of the shepherds to
the Child Jesus in His crib at Bethlehem. It refers
directly to what they reported regarding the heavenly
host of angels that came to announce the birth of the
Messiah, and how all marveled at what the shepherds had
"His Mother kept all these things carefully in Her
This passage refers to the events surrounding the loss
of Jesus for three days during a visit to Jerusalem,
and how Mary and Joseph found Him teaching the doctors
of the Mosaic Law in the Temple, to the amazement of
all who heard Him.
"Your own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts
of many hearts may be revealed."
This passage is spoken by the old man Simeon on the
occasion of Mary bringing Jesus to the Temple in
Jerusalem to offer Him to God according to the custom
of the Mosaic Law. In it Simeon prophesies that Mary
will share in the salvific sufferings of Her Son.
"From His Heart will flow rivers of living water."
This reading is based on the most reliable texts of the
Gospel of St. John. It refers directly to the Heart of
the Messiah, and recalls the prophesies of Isaiah
(Isaiah 12:3) And St. John goes on to explain in verse
39, that Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit, which
He Himself will give, from His Heart, to those who
believe in Him. The reading which is found in most
translations-referring to the hearts of believers-is a
variant believed to have its source in a textual
mistake by Origen, a famous theologian who complied a
multi-lingual edition of the Bible in the Third
Century, A. D..
"One of the soldiers opened His side with a lance, and
immediately there came out blood and water."
This passage refers to the piercing of Christ's Heart
as He hung in death upon the Cross. The blood and water
have always been seen by Roman Catholics to mystically
symbolize and effect the origin and the Sacraments of
the Catholic Church. It was at the piercing of Christ's
Heart in death that Mary's Heart was pierced in spirit,
thus fulfilling Luke 2:35 (cf. above), and exemplifying
the profound mystical union of the Heart of Jesus with
the Heart of Mary in the work of our redemption. This
union began when by the power of the Holy Spirit Mary
conceived the Heart of Jesus beneath Her own Heart. It
is consummated when at one and the same time these Two
Hearts are immolated for our salvation. And now in
heaven it continues forever as the sole source of
mankind's salvation and sanctification.
Each of these passages are very significant, for they clearly
indicate that Admirable Alliance of Hearts, which worked the
salvation of the whole world: the Heart of Jesus, which suffered
to the point of being pierced so as to pour forth upon all who
believe in Him, the grace of the Holy Spirit, which makes them
partakers of the Holy Eucharist in the communion of fellowship in
the Catholic Church; and the Heart of Mary, always focused on Her
Divine Son, which was predestined by God to suffer with Him for
the salvation of mankind.
In the Fathers of the Church
"The holy Fathers, true witnesses of the divinely revealed
doctrine, wonderfully understood what St. Paul the Apostle had
quite clearly declared; namely; that the mystery of love was, as
it were, both the foundation and the culmination of the
Incarnation and Redemption. For frequently and clearly we can
read in their writings that Jesus Christ took a perfect human
nature and our weak and perishable human body with the object of
providing for our eternal salvation, and of revealing to us in
the clearest possible manner that His infinite love for us could
express itself in human terms. (from Hauretis Aquas by Venerable
Pope Pius XII, n. 44)
Likewise these same Fathers of the Church often meditated and
praised the singular love and faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
who so generously offered Herself to God to fulfill His plans for
our redemption, and who so steadfastly persevered with Her Son
Jesus Christ in His ignominious crucifixion and death.
In both these approaches the Fathers of the Church laid the
foundation for true devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and
Mary by clearly indicating the union of charity which bound Them
both in the work of redemption.
In the Writings of the Saints
Chief among the saints of the Catholic Church who fostered
devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary are St.
Bonaventure and St. John Eudes.
St. Bonaventure, a Cardinal and Doctor of the Roman Catholic
Church, was a learned theologian and bishop of the Franciscan
Order in the 13th Century. He wrote extensive theological works and
is considered by the Papal Magisterium to be one of the two
primary Doctors of the Catholic Church since the patristic era.
St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican priest and contemporary of St.
Bonaventure, is the other.
St. Bonaventure's writings on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the
Immaculate Heart of Mary are scatter throughout all his works,
but a passage on the Sacred Heart that is particularly poignant
is found in his devotional work The Mystical Vine, a description
of the Passion of Jesus Christ. This passage is found in the
Liturgy of the Hours for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart in
St. John Eudes (1601-1680), however, is the founder of the modern
public devotion to the Two Hearts. It was his mission to organize
the scriptural, theological, patristic, and liturgical sources
relating to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and to popularize
them with the approbation of the Church. His chief writings on
this topic were: The Admirable Childhood of the Most Holy Mother
of God, The Admirable Heart of the Mother of God, the Life and
Kingdom of Jesus, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, The Admirable Heart
of Mary. Included among his works was a mass and office for the
Sacred Heart of Jesus, and one for the Admirable Heart of Mary.
He was the first to dedicate churches in the world to the Sacred
Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
St. Albert the Great, St. Gertrude, St. Catherine of Siena, Bl.
Henry of Suso, St. Peter Canisius, and St. Francis of Sales also
did much to propagate and promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of
Jesus; and Eckbert of Schonau, who wrote the first extant prayer
to the Heart of Mary, St. Mechtild of Hackeborn, St. Gertrude the
Great, St. Bernard, St. Herman Joseph, St. Bridget of Sweden, St.
Bernadine of Siena and St. Francis de Sales also did much to
promote devotion to the Heart of Mary.
In the Nineteenth Century the Abbe Desgenettes consecrated his
parish church, the Notre Dame des Victoires, in Paris, to the
Immaculate Heart of Mary and founded the Archconfraternity in Her
honor. Later Father William Chaminade, founder of the Society of
Mary, as well as St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the
Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, did much to promote
devotion to Mary's Heart.
In the Liturgy
Even before the beginning of private revelations of the Sacred
Hearts of Jesus and Mary in modern times, St. John Eudes had
obtained permission from the ecclesiastical authorities to
celebrate the Feast of the Heart of Mary liturgically. This was
done for the first time at Autun, France, on May 8, 1648 A. D..
In 1799 Pope Pius VI permitted religious societies in the
archdiocese of Palermo, Sicily, to celebrate a similar feast. In
1805 Pope Pius VII extended this permission to all religious
societies and dioceses throughout the world. On July 21, 1855,
the Sacred Congregation of Rites approved for the universal Roman
Catholic Church an Office and Mass in honor of the Most Pure
Heart of Mary. It was Venerable Pope Pius XII who had the joy to
institute the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the
universal Church in 1945 A.D..
St. John Eudes also obtained permission to honor the Sacred
Heart of Jesus in the liturgy. This was done for the first time
at the Grand Seminary of Rennes, France, on August 31, 1670 A.
D.. This liturgical commemoration of the love of the Redeemer
began just two years or so before Our Lord appeared to St.
Margaret Mary Alaqoque, asking her to reveal His Heart to the
world. These celebrations thus served Divine Providence, for they
drew down upon the world a new era of Mercy and Grace. Spurred on
the Revelations to St. Margaret the liturgical celebration of the
Sacred Heart gradually grew in popularity throughout Europe. At
the request of innumerable petitions, in particular that of the
entire Polish hierarchy, Pope Clement XIII requested the Sacred
Congregation of Rites to examine the devotion. On January 25,
1765 A. D., devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was formally
approved. Venerable Pope Pius IX extended the Feast of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus to the entire Catholic Church in 1858 A. D.. And
Pope Leo XIII approved the litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Consecration to the Two Hearts in Papal Teaching
In 1864 A. D. Cardinal Gousset of Rhiems, supported by Archbishop
de la Tour-d'Auvergen of Bourges, Bishop Mermillod and other
bishops of France and Spain petitioned Venerable Pope Pius IX to
consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The
Archbishop of Bourges renewed this petition at Vatican I. During
the council Father Pere Henri Ramiere, S.J., the great promoter
of the Apostleship of Prayer, presented a request to consecrate
the whole Church to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This petition was
supported by 272 Bishops, but was not acted upon due to the
outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war. In 1874 A. D. Cardinal
Desprez, the archbishop of Toulouse, France, wrote to all the
bishops of the world to promote once again the petition of Father
Ramiere. By April of 1875 A. D., Father Ramiere was able to
present this petition to Venerable Pope Pius IX along with the
names of 534 Bishops and 23 superiors general of Religious
institutes. In response to this petition, the pope had the Sacred
Congregation of Rites compose and publish an "Act of Consecration
to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" and he himself invited all the
faithful to consecrate themselves on the 200th anniversary of Our
Lord's apparition to St. Margaret, June 16, 1875 A. D..
In 1891 A. D. the archbishops of Milan and Turin led a movement
to consecrate the dioceses of Italy to the Most Holy Heart of
Mary. In September, 1898 A. D., the Marian Congress of Turin, at
the promptings of Pope Leo XIII, unanimously approved to petition
Pope Leo XIII to this effect. On December 12, 1989 the Sacred
Congregation of Rites approved a formula for diocesan
consecration to the Heart of Mary.
After the letters of Mother Mary of the Divine Heart (1863-1899)
requesting, in the name of Christ Himself, that Pope Leo XIII to
consecrate the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy
Father commissions a group of theologians to examine the petition
on the basis of revelation and sacred tradition. This
investigation was positive. And so in the encyclical letter Annum
Sacrum (May 25, 1899 A. D.) this same pope decreed that the
consecration of the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of
Jesus should take place on June 11, 1899 A. D.. In this
encyclical letter the Pope attached Later Pope Leo XIII
encouraged the entire Roman Catholic episcopate to promote the
devotion of the Nine First Fridays and he established June as the
Month of the Sacred Heart. Pope St. 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 (May 8, 1928 A. D.) 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
Catholic Church at length on the devotion to the Sacred Heart in
his encyclical letter Haurietis aquas (May 15, 1956 A. D.)
It was Venerable Pope Pius XII who first consecrated the Church
and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 31 and
again, solemnly on December 8, 1942 A. D.. In recent times, moved
by millions of petitions and by the occasion of the attempted
assassination of his own person on the Feast of Our Lady of
Fatima, May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II consecrated the world and
every nation to the Immaculate Heart in 1982, and repeated this
act in union with all the Catholic Bishops again in 1983 A.D.
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