The heart as a symbol of love dates back to ancient times and the writings of philosophers. In the Middle Ages (12th to early 14th centuries), the heart appeared in popular artwork of the time, gradually finding a place in many religious representations associated with Christ. In the Renaissance period (late 14th to 17th centuries), depictions of references to the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” became commonplace.
Today, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most popular Catholic traditions. It is rooted in Christ’s human incarnation as well as the fullness of his love for humankind. The “Heart” of Jesus — True God and True Man — represents his Divine and Human compassion and mercy.
In 1353, Pope Innocent VI created a Mass honoring the Sacred Heart. In 1670, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, with a Mass and Divine Office, was established in France by Father later St. John Eudes (1601-1680). Three years later, French Sister later St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) reported visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to her superior shortly after Christmas, telling her that Jesus allowed her to rest her hand upon his beating heart.
In the course of these visions, Jesus told Sister Margaret Mary how his Sacred Heart should be honored with prayer, Eucharistic adoration and reception of Holy Communion of the First Friday of each month. Additionally, acts of consecration, reparation for sin and devotion to the Sacred Heart were prescribed. The feast day, raised to the rank of Solemnity, is celebrated 19 Days after Pentecost, always on Friday. Representing Divine love for all humanity, the month of June is annually dedicated to the Sacred Heart. This year, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is celebrated on Friday, June 8.
Let us pray. Father, we rejoice in the gifts of love we have received from the heart of Jesus, your Son. Open our hearts to share his life and continue to bless us with his love. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.