How often have we heard that God is Love? It is not surprising then that a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus would become popular. The devotion was evident in the early church by writings of St. Justin Martyr and in the seventh century with Pope Gregory the Great. The devotion became more popular after a vision by St. Gertrude the Great. However, it became widespread after a series of visions received by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque instructing her to spread this devotion.
The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on the second Friday after Pentecost by the Catholic Church. It was recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque is the patron saint of polio victims. She was born in 1647 in Burgundy, France. She was bedridden for five years as a child with rheumatic fever. She had a devotion to the Eucharist. Refusing marriage, she entered the Visitation convent. St. Margaret Mary was a visionary. She had a series of visions of Christ which instructed her to spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When she shared her visions, she met great resistance. However, eventually the devotion was officially approved. We celebrate the feast day of St. Margaret Mary on Oct. 17. In one of her visions Jesus gave her twelve promises to those devoted to His Sacred Heart.
The Twelve Promises of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary for those Devoted to His Sacred Heart:
- I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
- I will establish peace in their families.
- I will console them in all their troubles.
- They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
- I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
- Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
- Tepid souls shall become fervent.
- Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
- I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
- I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
- Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
- The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
- From Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque’s Vision of Jesus
The devotion to the Sacred Heart includes contemplation on the wounds of Christ, especially his side pierced by a sword and the graces which flow from the Heart of Jesus, healing and forgiving souls. The wound in the heart of Jesus symbolized the wound of love: He was "pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins." (Is 53:5)
From the time of St. Margaret Mary the devotion to the Sacred Heart has steadily grown. Many prayers have been written in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The following prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can inspire us and deepen our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.