Today, June 19th, we celebrate the *Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,* a solemnity that falls 19 days after Pentecost, on a Friday and the feast day celebrates the devotion to the Heart of Jesus.
The heart is at its core, representing the very real life of Jesus our Saviour; a heart which was formed in Mary’s womb; a heart which beat as he preached the Good News and healed the sick; a heart that stopped on the cross and was then pierced by the soldiers lance.
It is also the heart that beat once more at the Resurrection and continues to do so for us today. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is therefore a powerful reminder of the love of Christ poured out for us all.
The first feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated on August 31, 1670, in Rennes, France, through the efforts of Fr. Jean Eudes (1602-1680). From Rennes, the devotion spread, but it took the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) for devotion to become universal.
The “great apparition,” which took place on June 16, 1675, during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, is the source of the modern Feast of the Sacred Heart. In that vision, Christ asked St. Margaret Mary to request that the Feast of the Sacred Heart be celebrated on the Friday after the octave (or eighth day) of the Feast of Corpus Christi, in reparation for the ingratitude of men for the sacrifice that Christ had made for them.
St. Margaret Mary was a cloistered nun and so to help her carry out the mission entrusted to her, Our Lord brought St. Claude la Colombiere, a Jesuit priest, to her to be her Spiritual Director. He was the first to believe in the revelations of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. Thanks to his support, her superior also believed, and widespread propagation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart in the Universal Church began.
The devotion became quite popular after St. Margaret Mary’s death in 1690. Almost 100 years later, in 1856, Pope Pius IX, at the request of the French bishops, extended the feast to the universal Church. The first Friday of each month is devoted to The Sacred Heart of Jesus. Since 2002, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is also a special Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.
*Blessed Feast wishes of the Sacred Heart!*