I Love The Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who Lives Within Me, Now and Forever. Amen

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The History of the Sacred Heart

By Juan Rodriguez

The Sacred Heart is a devotion to the Heart of Christ, which was pierced by the Lance for love of humanity (John 19:31-37). The image or idea began in the 13th century with the writings of St. Gertrude, (1256-1302)of the Benedictine monastery of Helfta in Saxony. It is known that she received the stigmata of Christ, her heart also being pierced by the light of Christ, the light which flowed from His Heart. The devotion was spread in the convent by the nuns, who linked it to the passion of Christ.

A man by the name of Ludolph the Carthusian (1295-1378), who was inspired by the devotion, helped spread it to other Carthusians, who then in turn wrote in dedication to the Sacred Heart. The greatest writer among them was Jan Gereecht (Lanspergius 1489-1539) who titled his work "Quiver of Divine Love" (Pharetra divini amoris); in it, he recommended all the monks at the Charterhouse of Cologne to have a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their cells. The picture looked like a heart that had been pierced by a lance, with representations of feet and hands to associate it with the Five Wounds that Christ received on the Cross.

The devotion grew in the Rhineland and slowly spread through many religious orders in Germany. The Jesuit missionaries carried this devotion to the Sacred Heart into other lands. One Jesuit by the name of Fr. Druzbicki (1590-1662) composed the first office of the Sacred Heart

The devotion of the Sacred Heart reached France, wherein a priest named Fr. Joseph of Paris (1577-1635) founded the Benedictines of Our Lady of Calvary in 1617. He imposed on them the devotion of the "Exercises of the Five Wounds" and the "Exercise of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin." These were forms of contemplation centered on the Heart of Christ through His passion.

Then came St. John Eudes (1608-80), who required the priest of the congregation of Jesus and Mary, as well as nuns from the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, to have a devotion to the Sacred Heart. It was his love for the Sacred Heart that established a liturgy centered on the devotion. The office and mass of the Sacred Heart, was approved by the bishop of Rouen, and later by other bishops throughout France. St. John later produced a mass for the Sacred Heart in 1670. In 1861, Rome approved of the devotion, while at the same time the devotion was slowly spreading throughout the people. It had inspired confraternities to form devotional centers on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, now under Papal recognition.

However, the devotion mainly began its growth in popularity through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1648-90) and was later promoted by the Visitation nuns and Jesuits who knew the Saint very well. In a private revelation to Margaret, Our Lord said He wished for the feast to be established in reparation on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi. Pope Innocent XII (19th of May 1893) granted all a plenary indulgence in so far as they receive communion in a church of the Visitation Nuns on the Friday mentioned in the revelation.

On August of 1856, the feast day of the Sacred Heart was prescribed for the whole Church. It was raised in rank first in 1889, then in 1929. Pope Pius IX later asked that all Catholics consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart. Pope Leo XIII then recommended that all Catholics dedicate the entire world to the Sacred Heart (11th of June 1899). Pope Pius X recommended the consecration be renewed annually, and Pope Pius XI recommended that the consecration be done on the feast day of Christ the King.

In various appearances to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Jesus manifested His great love for human beings and made the following promises to those who give particular honor to His Sacred Heart.

1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.

2. I will establish peace in their homes.

3. I will comfort the sick in all their afflictions.

4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death.

5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.

6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.

9. I will bless every place in which an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.

12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of Final penitence. They shall not die in My disgrace now, without receiving their Sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.


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