Devotion to the Sacred Heart
When we think of saints who have promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we often call to mind the Visitation sister St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and her confessor St. Claude de la Colombière, S.J. And that is for good reason. Both of these saints were very important in spreading this devotion. Although, prior to St. Margaret Mary, there had been a long history of devotion to the heart of Jesus which was practiced by others such as St. Catherine of Sienna, it is through her and her private revelations of Jesus that the devotion became more widely known and practiced.
Over the course of eighteen months, beginning on December 27, 1673, St. Margaret Mary received several visions of our Lord in which she received information about the form of the devotion and a call to promote the devotion to the Sacred Heart. After much resistance to her efforts to fulfill this mission to promote the devotion, she finally received support from St. Claude who believed that the visions were genuine. Following her death, the devotion grew in a large part due to the spreading of the message of the Sacred Heart by the Society of Jesus.
What is perhaps a lesser known story about this popular devotion is how the consecration of the whole world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was accomplished in 1899. The story involves a daughter of a count and countess who became a nun, the Holy Father being healed from an illness, and the sister’s obedience to our Lord’s wishes. Through the faithfulness of Blessed Maria of the Divine Heart, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus shortly before the Twentieth Century.
The Daughter of a Count who became a Religious Sister
Due to pneumonia, she left the school and remained at home in order to recover from her illness. During the time of her illness, she heard within her heart, Jesus say, "Thou shalt be the wife of My Heart." The call surprised her because she knew who she was and did not consider herself someone who would be worthy of this grace. In response, she tried to live the life of a religious within in her own home. She lived simply with less furniture in her room and kept to a schedule modeled after the life of a nun. It was noted, however, that she was not so resolute that she would not take time to break her schedule to hear the family news and local gossip. It was also during this time that she kept a precious statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Heading up the Mission in Porto
In 1894, she was sent by her congregation to join its mission in Porto, Portugal. The mission was troubled with a lack of devotion, discipline, and finances. After arriving in Porto, Bl. Maria started to learn the language and help the mission move in the right direction. She once again demonstrated her ability to connect with the young women. Over time, the young girls and women whom the congregation served viewed her as a dear mother, and as her reputation spread, the locals were curious about this holy sister from Germany. Within two years, Bl. Maria was appointed the superior, and she took direct control of turning the mission around.
Jesus asks her to Write the Holy Father
The Pope Consecrates the World to the Sacred Heart
Learn More About Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Dr. Timothy O'Donnell, President of Christendom College and frequent presenter on EWTN,
presents the background for devotion the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His book traces the devotion from its roots in Catholic Teaching, especially the Holy Eucharist, through the teaching of the Church Fathers, growth of the devotion in the Middle Ages, promotion of the devotion by various saints, and more recent Magisterial teachings of Vatican II and St. John Paul II.
This book will help you grow in your understanding and practice of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
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Image: Bl. Maria of the Divine Heart
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