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The Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

From the whole History of Salvation, known from the Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, it is clear that the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was instituted by God Himself.

During ages, beginning from the Apostolic times, many Saints practiced the Devotion privately or in certain congregations in different countries. Finally in 1944 A.D., Pope Pius XII instituted the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be celebrated in August coinciding with the traditional octave day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Due to the various evidences that the Feast of the Immaculate Heart received a full acknowledgment among Catholics, Pope Pius XII extended the Feast to the whole world to be celebrated with a special Office and Mass on August 22 as a double of the second class. Two years earlier, on December 8, 1942, Pope Pius XII made special solemn Consecration of the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Here the official Church's Teaching on the Immaculate Heart of Mary follows:


IN CONNECTION with the extension of the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the universal Church, our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, pointed out that beyond serving as a memorial and reminder of his solemn consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart in the Basilica of St. Peter, December 8, 1942, the feast might, with the assistance of her in whose honor we celebrate it, be instrumental also in preserving peace among all nations and liberty for the Church of Christ; and further, with the repentance of sinners, it might be a strengthening of the faithful in the love of purity and the practice of virtue.* (*Pius XII, AAS, Vol. XXXVII, 1945, p. 51.) (p. v).

In the devotion to the Immaculate Heart which prompts men to imitate the virtues of the Blessed Mother we see a true blending of love and sacrifice, the very core and spirit of the Christian life. Through a devotion to her Immaculate Heart Mary will certainly form in us the likeness and virtues of her Son, and seeing more perfectly His image in us, she will love Him anew in us; and we, resembling our blessed Lord the more, will profit greatly from this closer union with Him. (p. v, vi)


Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, has pointed out that the remote vestiges of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother are to be found in the commentaries of the Fathers on the Sponsa of the Canticle of Canticles.* (*Pius XII, "Urbis et Orbis," AAS, XXXVII, 1945, p. 50.) Although it must be admitted that there is no unequivocal reference to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Old Testament literally interpreted, still, as the Holy Father indicates, the commentaries of the Fathers on certain passages constitute the beginnings of the devotion. And it is with this understanding that this chapter proceeds.

Among the typical interpretations to which the Canticle of Canticles lends itself, this interpretation of the most beloved spouse as the Blessed Virgin Mary is one which has been employed from antiquity, and which, according to the Doctors of the Church and students of Sacred Scripture, is most fitting.* (*Cf. Lepicier, In Canticum Canticorum Commentarius, Rome, 1936, p. 20; Cornely-Merk, Introductions in S. Scripturae Libros Compendium, Paris, 1940, p. 503; M. Scheeben, Dogmatik, III, Freiburg, 1933, p. 462; Alanus de Insulis, Elucidatio in Cantica Cantic. (PL, 210, 53): "Unde, cum canticum amoris . . . specialiter et spiritualiter ad Ecclesiam referatur, tamen specialissime et spiritualissime ad gloriosam Virginem reducitur quod divino nutu (prout poterimus) explicabimus.")

Prior to the twelfth century, however, we find no systematic or complete treatment of the Canticle from a purely Mariological point of view, though many Fathers, among whom we find SS. Hippolytus, Ephraem, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter Chrysologus, John Damascene, and especially Ambrose, associate certain phrases of the Canticle with the Blessed Virgin.* (*Cf. G. Roschini, Mariologia, II-1, Rome, 1948, p. 127.)

St. Epiphanius, in one of his homilies,* (*St. Epiphanius, Homilia V in Laudes Sanctae Mariae Deiparae (PG, 43, 491)) refers to the Blessed Mother in connection with the phrase "a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up" (Cant. 4:12). And St. Theodotus of Ancyra associates the Blessed Virgin with the preceding verse (Cant. 4:11).* (*6 St. Theodotus of Ancyra, Hom. VI In S. Deip. (PG, 77, 1427).)

There are innumerable passages in the Canticle of Canticles which the Fathers apply to the Singula Anima Fidelis, or adoring soul.* (*E.g., St. Ambrose, Commentarius in Cantica Cantic. (PL, 15, 1919); St. Gregory the Great, Super Cantica Canticorum Expositio (PL, 79, 517 and 541).)

The Holy Father implies, however, that the Fathers in commenting on the Canticle of Canticles have found in the inspired book cause for observations which have served as the remote foundation for the devotion to the Immaculate Heart itself, and upon investigation we find in the Canticle two special texts which are particularly associated with the Heart of the Beloved: I sleep, and my heart watcheth: the voice of my beloved knocking: Open to me my sister, my love, my undefiled (5:2); and Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon the arm . . . (8:6).

The Fathers and early ecclesiastical writers in their commentaries on the above verses sometimes give us an insight into the qualities of the heart of the Beloved Bride. Commenting on the words of the Canticle (5:2), St. Isidore of Seville says, "Open to me, that is, reveal to me thy heart, my sister, my undented, because you alone are worthy of my sight."* (*St. Isidore of Seville, Append. VI, Expositio in Canticum Canticorum (PL, 83, 1125): "Aperi mihi, id est cor pande mihi, soror mea . . . Immaculata mea, quia sola aspectu meo digna.")

Alanus de Insulis uses the verse (Cant. 5:2) as referring to the words of the Blessed Virgin before the Incarnation. “I sleep” refers to the Holy Virgin's freedom from worldly anxieties; and “my heart watcheth” has reference to her contemplation of divine things.* (*Alanus de Insulis, op. cit. (PL, 210, 85): "Inducitur ergo Virgo loquens secundum statum ante Incarnationem, Ego dormio, a saeculari cura, et cor meum vigilat in contemplatione.")

Commenting on the Canticle (8:6), he says that the Virgin Mary so carried Christ as a seal on her heart that through imitation of Him she came more and more to resemble Him,* (*Ibid. (PL, 210, 105): "Sic Virgo Maria Christum [super] cor suum posuit ut signaculum, quia ipsi per imitationem conformata est eiusque gratia consignata.") and on the words . . . he set in order charity in me (Cant. 2:4), "In whom was charity formed, if not in the Virgin Mary; who loved Christ from the depths of her heart. . . ."* (*Ibid. (PL, 210, 65): "In quo fuit charitas ordinata, nisi in Virgine Maria; quae dilexit Christum ex toto corde."

It is the Blessed Virgin again who above all others most perfectly fills the requirements implied, according to the Fathers, in the words, Put me as a seal upon thy heart (Cant. 8:6), for it is she who bears Christ as a seal that she might forever love Him, that she might excel in the power of contemplation,* (* Theodoret, Episcopus Cyrensis, In Canticum Cantic. Lib. III (PG, 81, 139): "Cor quidem appellat animae vim contemplativam, brachium autem activam.") and while devoting herself ardently to meditation, might never cease to imitate Him in her external actions.* (* Gregory the Great, op. cit. (PL, 79, 541): "Signum quippe mens interius et exterius Christum portat, quia dum in eius meditationibus assidue laborat, in exteriori actione eum imitari non cessat.")


Apart from the history of the infancy and boyhood of Christ we find in the books of the New Testament comparatively little concerning the Mother of God. It is in the recording of the events of these very days, however, that St. Luke twice mentions the Heart of our Blessed Mother. First, on occasion of the arrival of the shepherds at Bethlehem, we read where all who heard marveled at the things told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept in mind all these words, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:18-19). And again, upon finding our blessed Lord in the Temple, after which the Holy Family returned to Nazareth, St. Luke writes that our Blessed Mother, reflecting on what had come to pass and on the words of her Son, kept all these things carefully in her heart (Luke 2:51). It is because of these two instances wherein St. Luke mentions the Heart of Mary that St. John Eudes can say that the devotion to the virginal Heart of the Mother of God has its origin and foundation in the Holy Gospel itself. The Holy Ghost, he says, through the inspiration of the Evangelist St. Luke, willed that the Heart of Mary be depicted as the sacred repository and faithful custodian of the ineffable mysteries and treasures contained in the life of our Lord; and explicit mention of the Heart of Mary must have been made, he continues, that men might forever honor her august Heart.* (* St. John Eudes, Le Coeur admirable de la Tres Sacree Mere de Dieu, Oeuvres Completes, Tome VII, Livre 6, Paris, 1908, p. 234: "De sorte que cette devotion a son origine et son fondement dans le saint Evangile. Car, piusque le Saint-Esprit, qui a dicte aux Sacres Evangelistes tout ce qu'ils ont ecrit, a voulu que Tun d'entre eux nous ait parle si dignement et si honorablement du Coeur virginal de la Mere du Sauveur, nous le representant comme le sacre depositaire et le fidele gardien des mysteres ineffable et des tresors inestimables qui sont contenus dans la vie admirable de ce divin Redempteur sans doute que c'est aim qu'a son imitation, nous honorions ce Coeur tres auguste et tres digne d'un honneur eternel.")

It is in St. Luke's Gospel again that we find recorded another text which centers our attention on Mary's Heart namely, the text containing the words of the aged Simeon to our Blessed Mother: And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:35). It is certainly from this text that one of the most popular representations of the Heart of Mary has been adapted; that of the heart pierced by a sword. Even in Patristic times the sword is understood as piercing the Heart of Mary. (26) The exact nature of this sword of sorrow in the commentaries of the Fathers is a much-mooted question, but seems universally accepted today as Mary's sorrow in the realization of the division among men concerning her divine Son, and for her this sword is greatest when it pierces her Heart beneath the cross. (27) Here she sought not whatever encouragements and consolations she might have received, but by her deep suffering and compassion she shared more fully in the Passion of her Son. Paradoxically, it was here beneath the Cross that Mary's love for all mankind was, through the will of Christ, augmented in her maternal Heart. (28) She saw beyond the immediate surroundings of Calvary and willingly made the sacrifice of her divine Son that all souls of all ages might through the love of her maternal Heart be born to a new life in God. (29)

(26) Origen, In Lc. Horn. 17 (PG, 13, 1845): "Quis est iste gladius qui . . . Mariae cor pertransivit?"
(27) Cf. St. Augustine, Epistolarum Classis III, CXLIX (PL, 33, 644); Paulinas, Epistola L (PL, 61, 415 and 903). M. J. Lagrange, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, London, 1947, pp. 4O-41: ". . . hence it is into the heart of Mary that Simeon sends an arrow of sorrow by addressing to her this prediction. . . . This was the first deep affliction of the Mother . . . while she awaits the day when she shall be made a partner in her Son's Passion." Ceuppens, op. cit., p. 168: ". . . dolor quasi gladius cor suum maternum pertransibit, et iste dolor summum suum attiget, quando stabit Maria mater dolorosa iuxta crucem lacrimosa." Knabenbauer, op. cit., p. 140: ". . . . gladium enim nominat dolorem acutissimum maximeque dividentem qui penetravit cor matris, dum films eius cruci affixus est."
(28) Lepicier, Tractatus de Beatissima Virgine Maria (Mariologia), Rome, 1926, p. 459: "Ergo si Christus hanc commendationem tune fiery decrevit cum beatae Virginis animam, iuxta Simeonis prophetiam doloris gladius pertransivit, signum est ilium voluisse ut summa materni amoris passio, quae est amor, in illius corde tune vehementer excitaretur, cuius quidem solus loannes fuisset impar obiectum, sed cuius totum fidelium genus erat obiectum omnino adaequatum."
This increase of Mary's love for all mankind on Calvary seems plausible whether or not one considers the text (John 19:25-27) as an evidence of it.
Leo XIII, "Octobri Mense," ASS, 1891, p. 196: ". . . quum Mariae subesse et obtemperare ut matri filius sponte voluit: talem de cruce praedicavit, quum universitatem humani generis, in loanne discipulo curandum ei fovendamque commisit. ..."
(29) Benedict XV, "Inter Sodalicia," AAS, Vol. X, 1918, p. 182: "Scilicet ita cum Filio patiente et moriente passa est et paene commortua, sic materna in Filium iura pro hominum salute abdicavit placandaeque Dei iustitiae, quantum ad se pertinebat, Filium immolavit, ut dici merito queat, Ipsam cum Christo humanum genus redemisse." Pius XI, "Explorata Res," AAS, Vol. XV, 1923, p. 104: ". . . Virgo Perdolens redemptionis opus cum lesu Christo participavit, et, constituta hominum Mater ..."


We have seen how references to the Heart of Mary in Sacred Scripture could well serve as a foundation for a consequent development of a devotion to the Immaculate Heart. It is to be noted, however, in connection with the Immaculate Heart, that as in the case of the doctrine of the Assumption with which the Feast of the Immaculate Heart is connected not only liturgically, being celebrated on the Octave Day of that Solemnity, but also dogmatically, ...

There are innumerable references to the mind and interior life of the Blessed Virgin, and to her sanctity; and though often many of these texts have a direct relationship to the object of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart, at present we will concern ourselves with only the passages wherein the Fathers actually use the word cor.

We cannot expect to find in Patristic times the use of the word in the full and exact sense or understanding with which it is employed today; yet many of the texts have a direct bearing on the present-day devotion in that they have greatly influenced the saints and theologians of later centuries through whom the clarification and promulgation of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart has been effected. (33)

A goodly number of the Fathers make some mention of the Heart of Mary; (34) most of them mention it in connection with the references to her Heart in Sacred Scripture, some of which texts we have already seen. A few Fathers refer to it in relation to her person or her prerogatives.

The majority of the Patristic texts can perhaps best be divided, for the main part, into those referring to Mary at the time of the Annunciation, and to Mary standing at the foot of the cross.

In connection with the Annunciation and Incarnation of our Lord, St. Augustine speaks of the Heart of Mary as playing a definite role in the conception of the Word Incarnate. He regards the Blessed Mother as having formed and carried Christ in her heart prior to her conceiving Him in her womb. (35) It is these very words of St. Augustine which St. Thomas later uses to show the congruity of the Annunciation to Mary prior to her consent and the Incarnation. (36)

The conception of Christ in the Heart of Mary is of course used figuratively, not literally (proprie); but figuratively with a foundation in the sense that, prior to receiving the Incarnate Word in her womb, Mary had first to conceive Him in faith and spirit, which mental and spiritual orientation is symbolized by her Heart. (37) It is with this understanding that the liturgy on the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord uses the phrase Confirmatum est cor Virginis, in quo dimna mysteria, angelo nuntiante, concepit. (38)

(33) J. Bover, "Origen de la Devocion al Corazon de Maria," Estudios Marianos, Vol. IV, 1945, pp. 59-61.
(34) St. John Eudes in Books VII and DC of his classical work, Le Coeur admirable de la Tres Sacree Mere de Dieu, mentions the following Fathers as referring in their writings to the Immaculate Heart: St. Augustine, St. Leo, St. John Chrysostom, St. Peter Chrysologus, St. John Damascene, St. Ephraem, and St. Irenaeus. It is to be noted, however, that many of the references from these Fathers employed by St. John Eudes refer to the Heart of Mary only implicitly.
(35) St. Augustine, De Sancta Virginitate, Lib. I (PL, 40, 398): "Beatior ergo Maria percipiendo fidem Christi, quam concipiendo carnem Christi. … Sic et materna propinquitas nihil Mariae profuisse, nisi felicius Christum corde quam carne gestasset." Cf. also St. Leo, Sermo XXI, In Nativitate Domini nostri Jesu Christi (PL, 54, 191): "Virgo regia Davidicae stirpis eligitur, quae sacro gravidanda fetu divinam humanamque prolem prius conciperet mente quam corpore."
(36) III, q. 30, a. 1.
(37) Lepicier, Mariologia, p. 71: "Dicendum igitur, si quando apud sacrum auctorem legitur Maria Christum corde concepisse figurante, non proprie, locutionem istam esse accepiendam: eo videlicet sensu, quod priusquam Christum carne utero suo complecteretur, ilium fide ac spiritu, quae per cordis motum significantur, conceperit."
We note however that this figurative conception in the heart has not always been properly understood. This was certainly true at the time of Cajetan as is evidenced by his drawing attention to the too literal interpretation of those who held the Word Incarnate to have been actually conceived in Mary's Heart. Cf. Comm. in III, q. 31, a. 5, 2.
(38) Response to Lesson V, Matins.


In the centuries following the Patristic era up to the time of the great St. Bernard in whose writings, according to some, we see the first traces of a devotion directed especially toward the Heart of Mary, we find but few allusions to the Heart of the Blessed Mother. St. Ildephonse mentions the Heart of Mary in a sermon on the Assumption. But it seems it is not until just prior to St. Bernard that we have writings which again mention the Heart of Mary in any way repeatedly. There is reference to her heart in connection with her joys and sorrows and in a work often attributed to St. Anselm but quite certainly written by his disciple Eadmer, there is one instance where the author seems to associate the Immaculate Heart with Mary's role as Coredemptrix. For the most part, however, in these centuries we have but little reference to the Heart of the Mother of God. Certainly we have still no traces of a special devotion to her Heart, but we do have carried on in tradition the seeds of the devotion which were present in the Scriptures, and which soon through the instrumentality of St. Bernard, and later through St. Bernardine of Siena, and then especially through St. John Eudes, grew into the marvelous devotion of the Immaculate Heart.


We find also in this period numerous references to the Heart of Mary in connection with the sufferings of the Blessed Mother, especially on Calvary. The Heart of the Blessed Virgin is depicted as the mirror of the Passion of Christ, suffering with Him. In his sermons on the Assumption, St. Thomas of Villanova frequently makes references to the virginal Heart of Mary as united with her suffering Son. (55)

(55) St. Thomas of Villanova, De Assumptione Virginis, Concio II and IV. Cf, especially Concio VII, n. 2, Opera Omnia, 1757.

A special mention must also be made of St. Bonaventure, the Seraphic Doctor, whose influence and spirituality confirmed and gave impetus in later years to the growing devotion. It is he who carries on and develops St. Bernard's early and correct notion of associating Mary's Heart with her sanctity and her extraordinary charity. In the work Stimulus Amoris, for many centuries attributed to St. Bonaventure, we find reference to the sorrowful Heart of Mary and scattered indications of a devotion to her virginal Heart.

In the following ages we must note St. Antoninus, St. Lawrence Justinian, John Gerson, Ernest Pragensis, and Nicholas of Salicetus, in whose Antidotarium one finds evidences of devotional practices to the Heart of Mary. In these years also it was St. Bernardine of Siena who in an exceptional manner discovered and understood the significance and nature of Mary's Immaculate Heart. Because of his writings he has often been called the "Doctor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary," and it is from him that we receive the three lessons of the second nocturn of the Office for the Feast of the Immaculate Heart. Especially in his sermons do we find traces of the great saint's devotion to Mary's virginal Heart. In them he exalts the perfection of the corporeal heart of Mary as the symbol of her love for God and mankind, but further as the symbol of her purity, humility, and sanctity. At the beginning of the sixteenth century we have evidence of further devotional practices in regard to the Immaculate Heart. Julius II, the great Renaissance Pope, promulgated certain invocations to the Immaculate Heart to be recited at the sound of the Angelus. In the same century mention ought to be made of the Carthusian, Lanspergus, in whose Pharetra one also finds traces of a devotion to the Heart of Mary. Other writers of this period worthy of note are Cornelius a Lapide, St. Peter Canisius, Louis de Blois, St. Philip Neri, and the Spanish Dominican Luis de Granada. Special mention must be made of St. Francis de Sales who was a connecting link between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and one of the greater lights, the immediate predecessor of St. John Eudes.

Others, just prior to St. John Eudes, who ought to be mentioned for their writings or devotion to the Immaculate Heart, are: Suarez; St. Robert Bellarmine; P. Poire; Cardinal De Berulle; J. De La Cerda; Bartholomew de Los Rios; J. Olier, the founder of the Sulpicians; P. Barry; and V. Contenson. St. John Eudes mentions, as other apostles of Mary's incomparable Heart, Orsius, Sebastian, Baradius, John Eusebius of Nieremberg, John Baptist St. Jure, Stephen Binet, Christopher de Vega, and Honorat Nicquet. (74)

(74) Ibid., pp. 303-332.


The entire Christian world is cognizant of the role played by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in promoting the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and although the Feast of the Sacred Heart was approved for reasons quite apart from the saint's private revelations, yet without a doubt her great influence in this matter was largely due to the revelations our Lord deigned to grant her. There is not a perfect parallel in regard to the development of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, (75) but in the earliest centuries of the devotion, and even in our own day, we learn of private revelations concerning the most pure Heart of Mary given to certain chosen souls.

(75) Cf. Olmi, op. cit., pp. 27-28.

The Church approves private revelations only after long and careful investigation and even then the faithful are not commanded to accept them. The matter itself, with its ramifications in dogma and matters liturgical, is thoroughly investigated long before any ecclesiastical pronouncement is made. Ecclesiastical approbation in its turn guarantees only that the revelations are plausible and not to be condemned, and the Church declares simply that approved revelations contain nothing against faith and morals and can prudently, piously, and without superstition be believed on human faith. (78)
True, these revelations cannot be considered to have played any role in the clarification of the dogmatic implications connected with the Immaculate Heart, but inasmuch as they have helped further the devotion to the Heart of the Mother of God, we will consider the more important of them briefly.

St. Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (ob. 1170), had a special devotion to the joys of the Heart of Mary, and our Lady is said to have appeared to him and revealed her desire to help others who practiced this devotion, especially at the hour of death. (79)

(78) Cf. Merkelbach, Summa Theologiae Moralis, Vol. I, Paris, 1947,
p. 519; De Guibert, Theologia Spiritnalis Ascetica et Mystica, Rome, 1946, pp. 23 and 153.
(79) Cf. Bainvel, art. cit., p. 169.

Among the earliest and most famous private revelations are those granted the Benedictine nun, St. Mechtilde (ob. 1298). It is especially in the first two parts of her Book of Special Grace that we find, more than in any saint or writer before her, tangible and evident expressions of a devotion to the Heart of Mary. (81)

In the same convent with St. Mechtilde, and doubtlessly inspired by her in many ways, another saint given special graces by God and the extraordinary privilege of private revelations was St. Gertrude the Great (ob. 1302 ). (83) Throughout her writings we find indications of her great devotion to Mary's most holy Heart, for like St. Mechtilde, she speaks of it with some frequency. (84)

(81) Cf. St. Mechtilde, Revelationes, "Liber Specialis Gratiae," Paris, 1877; L. Meregalli, II S. Cuore di Maria, Torino, 1919, p. 33; Dublanchy, art. cit., p. 352; St. John Eudes, Le Coeur Admirable, Lib. VIII, pp. 374-380.
(83) St. Gertrude, Revelationes, "Legatus Divinae Pietatis," Paris, 1875. Cf. St. John Eudes, op. cit., Lib. VIII, pp. 380-382; J. Gorbach, Le Coeur Immacule de Marie et le Pretre (translated from the original by R. Guillaume), Mulhouse, 1947, p. 8.
(84) Cf. N. Nilles, De Rationibus Festorum 55. Cordium, I, Oeniponte, 1875, pp. 507-509; Bover, art. cit., p. 133 ff. In her Revelationes, "Legatus Divinae Pietatis," Lib. IV, c. XIII, we read how, while at Matins, in the recitation of the Ave Maria she saw as in a vision three streams flowing from the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, penetrating the Heart of the Virgin Mother and returning again to their source, signifying Mary to be after the Father the most powerful, after the Son the greatest in wisdom, and after the Holy Ghost the most benign of persons.

In the following century God again raised up a saint similar to SS. Mechtilde and Gertrude: St. Brigid of Sweden (ob. 1373). She too was destined to receive private revelations concerning the virginal Heart of the Mother of God and to play a role in furthering the devotion. We read in her Revelations the words of Mary: "When He suffered, I felt as though my Heart endured the sufferings also . . . when my Son was scourged and torn with whips, my Heart was scourged and whipped with him . . . His Heart was my Heart ... so that my beloved Son and myself redeemed the world as with one Heart." (85)

The above are the most celebrated instances of early private revelation in connection with the Heart of Mary and are those which have been an influence in the early spread of the devotion. However, we read of other similar incidents in the middle ages and in modern times, some of which are not without great significance. (86)

(85) St. Brigid, Revelationes, Rome, 1606, Lib. I, C. 35, p. 56.
(86) In 1830 the Blessed Mother gave a great impulse to the spread of the devotion to her most holy Heart by appearing to St. Catherine Laboure, a member of the Sisters of Charity. To St. Catherine was given the vision of the Miraculous Medal, which, representing the Hearts of Jesus and Mary side by side, thus symbolizes their intimate union.
We note also the appearance of the Blessed Mother "of the Miraculous Medal" to Alphonse Ratisbonne in the Church of St. Andrea delle Fratte in Rome.
Another great influence in regard to the spread of the devotion to Mary's Immaculate Heart, a phenomenon of our own time, namely the apparitions of our Blessed Mother at Fatima, have certainly been a major factor in bringing the devotion to the attention of the faithful in recent years.

If for no other reason, the early private revelations noted above merit mention because of their influence on St. John Eudes, who in the seventeenth century initiated the devotion to Mary's Heart as a public one, and figured strongly in bringing liturgical worship to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.


It is most appropriate to note that the Church in the course of the process of beatification and canonization of St. John Eudes has emphasized his role in establishing the liturgical devotion to Mary's Heart.

As early as 1644 St. John Eudes wished to observe the Feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary as the patronal feast of his congregations of priests and nuns; he celebrated it on the twentieth of October. The first public feast in honor of the Heart of Mary was celebrated in Autun in 1648, the result of the saint's efforts and with episcopal approval. The Holy See, when petitioned in 1669, refused approbation of this Office and Mass. However, by this time many French bishops, according to custom and what was then considered within Episcopal rights, were allowing the feast to be celebrated in their dioceses on February 8.

By 1672 the feast was celebrated more or less throughout all France. In 1729 the Holy See when petitioned again refused official approbation of the proposed Office and Mass, although the Papal Legate to France had approved an office as early as 1668. Somewhat later, in 1773, a proper office for the first time received papal approval; this by Pope Clement XIV. The feast received further papal approbation when Pope Pius VI, in 1787, permitted the nuns of Notre Dame de Corbeil to celebrate the Feast of the "Most Holy Heart of Mary" as a double of the first class on the twenty second of August. (96) In 1799 the same Pontiff conceded the feast to some churches of the diocese of Palermo.

It was not until 1805 that a general papal approbation was granted. Pope Pius VII gave the faculty for the celebration of the Feast of the "Most Pure Heart of Mary" on the Sunday after the Octave of the Assumption to all dioceses and religious institutes which asked for it. (97) In 1855 under Pope Pius IX a complete proper Office and Mass for this feast was approved by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. (98) The Office of St. John Eudes universally used in France for over a hundred years was finally approved for the Eudists in 1861. (99) The Office which we find in the Appendix of the old Roman Breviary was granted in the year 1857. (1)

In the ensuing years we see the liturgical cult gaining popularity, due partially to the success of the cause with which it was in earlier decades united that of the Sacred Heart. (2) But it was a number of years later and due to various influences that the Office and Feast of the Immaculate Heart received full acknowledgment, for finally Pope Pius XII in 1944, to commemorate the special solemn consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on December 8, 1942, extended the feast to the whole world, to be celebrated with a special Office and Mass on the twenty-second of August as a double of the second class. It was decided that the Office and Mass approved by Pius IX (3) would not be suitable for a feast of this rite extended to the universal Church since there were already some secondary feasts of the Blessed Virgin, e.g., the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Feast of the Seven Dolors, which had fully proper Offices and Masses. Hence from the Office of the Most Pure Heart of Mary the only parts retained were the antiphon to the Magnificat, the oration with the word Immaculati replacing the word Purissimi, and the Fourth and Fifth Lessons of the Second Nocturn taken from a sermon by St. Bernardine of Siena. In the Missal an almost completely new text was prepared. (4) The new Office and Mass therefore give a new orientation to the cult of the Immaculate Heart. It is of interest to note that the Gospel, in emphasizing the love of the Immaculate Heart for mankind, stresses a point on which in earlier years there had been some difference of opinion.

Where by special indult the Feast of the Most Pure Heart was already celebrated, the new Mass should now be used. Even where the Mass of the Most Pure Heart was already granted by special indult as a votive Mass, the new Mass replaces it. (5)

(96) The feast has been observed by various groups on many different dates including at least 16 set dates and over 20 movable Saturdays and Sundays. Cf. F. Holweck, Calendarium liturgicum festorum, Philadelphia, 1925.
(97) Cf. AAS, XXXVII, 1945, p. 50. The Mass used was to be the same as on the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows (August 5), Salve Sancta Parens. Cf. H. Pujolras, "La Festa Liturgica del Cuore Immacolato di Maria," II Cuore Immacolato di Maria, 1946, p. 140.
(98) This Mass for the Feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, with the reformation of the Roman Missal in 1914, was transferred to the appendix for Masses celebrated in "aliquibus locis."
(99) It is of interest to note that St. John Eudes employed the Canticle of Canticles to a great extent in the composition of his Office and Mass. From it he draws the Epistle of the Mass, the lessons of the First Nocturn, and several of the antiphons and capitula. The Gospel of the Mass is from St. Luke 2:l5 ff. The selections from St. Bernardine of Siena for the lessons of the Second Nocturn are retained to a very great extent in today's universal Office.
(1) Cf. E. Campana, Maria nel Culto Cattolico, Vol. II, Turin, 1933, p. 169; Postius, art. cit., p. 49; Geenen, op. cit., pp. 55-60; Dublanchy, art. cit., pp. 353-354.
(2) In seeking papal approval the causes were separated in 1765 to insure the approbation of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
(3) Cf. AAS, Vol. XXXVII, 1945, p. 50.
(4) The new Introit, Adeamus, is from the Epistle to the Hebrews, not from a psalm. The Epistle is from Ecclesiasticus, not from the Canticle of Canticles. The Gospel is from that of St. John, evidently meant to recall the maternity of Mary in relation to men. The oration, secret, and postcommunion use the word immaculate instead of most pure.
(5) Cf. G. Montague, "Liturgy," The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Jan , 1949.

As we mentioned, it was in order to keep alive and meaningful in the minds of the faithful the import of this solemn consecration, that Pope Pius XII extended the feast of the Immaculate Heart to the whole Church (11) to be celebrated on the Octave Day of the Assumption.

(11) Pius XII, AAS, XXXVII, 1945, p. 51. (1.1)



May the divine heart of Jesus and the immaculate heart of Mary be known, praised, blessed, loved, worshipped, and glorified always and in all places. Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Aug. 18, 1807, granted:
AN INDULGENCE OF SIXTY DAYS, once a day, to those who, with at least contrite heart and devotion, shall say this prayer, together with the acts of praise to the SS. Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, on the feasts of the Nativity, of the Assumption and of the S. Heart of Mary, to all those who shall have said them, every day, during the year; provided that, on these feasts, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church, or an altar in any church, dedicated to the blessed Virgin Mary, and pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, at the hour of death, to those who, during life, shall have practised this pious exercise every day.


Sweet heart of Mary, be my salvation!

His Holiness, Pope Pius IX., by a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Sept. 80, 1852, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say this ejaculation:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all those who shall have said it every day for a month, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray there, for some time, for the intention of his Holiness.


V. Deus in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine ad adjuvandum me festina.
V. Gloria Patri, etc.
R. Sicut erat, etc.

V. Incline unto my aid, O God!
R. O Lord! make haste to help me.
V. Glory be to the Father, etc.
R. As it was, etc.

I. Immaculate virgin, who, conceived without sin, didst direct every movement of thy most pure heart to that God who was ever the object of thy love, and who wast ever most submissive to his will: obtain for me the grace to hate sin with my whole heart, and to learn of thee to live in perfect resignation to the will of God.

Our Father once, Hail Mary seven times.

Heart transpierced with pain and woe!
Set my heart with love aglow.

II. I marvel, Mary, at thy deep humility, through which thy blessed heart was troubled at the gracious message brought thee by Gabriel the archangel, that thou wast chosen mother of the Son ot the Most High, and through which thou didst proclaim thyself his humble handmaid: wherefore, in great confusion at the sight of my pride, I ask thee for the grace of a contrite and humble heart, that, knowing my own misery, I may obtain that crown of glory promised to the truly humble of heart.

Our Father, etc. Heart, etc.

III. Blessed virgin, who in thy sweetest heart didst keep, as a precious treasure, the words of Jesus thy Son, and, pondering on the lofty mysteries they contained, didst learn to live for God alone: how doth my cold heart confound me! O dearest mother! get me grace so to meditate within my heart upon God's holy law, that I may strive to follow thee in the fervent practice of every Christian virtue.

Our Father, etc. Heart, etc.

IV. Glorious queen of martyrs, whose sacred heart was pierced in thy Son's bitter passion by the sword whereof the holy old man Simeon had prophesied: gain for my heart true courage and a holy patience to bear the troubles and misfortunes of this miserable life, that so, by crucifying my flesh with its desires, while following the mortification of the cross, I may, indeed, show myself to be a true son of thine.

Our Father, etc. Heart, etc.

V. O Mary, mystical rose, whose loving heart, burning with the living fire of charity, did accept us for thy sons at the cross's foot, becoming thus our tender mother! make me feel the sweetness of thy maternal heart and thy power with Jesus, that, when menaced by the perils of this mortal life, and most of all in the dread hour of death, my heart, united with thine, may love my Jesus then and through all ages. Amen.

Our Father, etc. Heart, etc.

Let us now turn to the most sacred heart of Jesus, that he may inflame us with his holy love.
O divine heart of Jesus! to thee I consecrate myself, full of deep gratitude for the many blessings I have received and daily do receive from thy boundless charity. With my whole heart I thank thee for having, in addition to them all, vouchsafed to give me thy own most holy mother, giving me to her as a son, in the person of the beloved disciple. Let my heart ever burn with love for thee, finding in thy sweetest heart its peace, its refuge, and its happiness.

His Holiness, Pope Pius IX., by a decree of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Dec. 11, 1854, granted to all the faithful who, with at least contrite heart and devotion, shall say this little chaplet:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all those who have the pious custom of saying it every day for a month, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray there devoutly, for some time, for the intention of his Holiness. (2.2)


Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Mary

O Sacred and Immaculate Heart of Mary ever Virgin! O heart, most holy, most pure, most noble, most august, and most perfect which the omnipotence of God has formed in a pure creature! O exhaustless source of goodness and mildness, of mercy and of love! model of all virtues; perfect image of the adorable Heart of Jesus! O Heart, which didst always burn with the most ardent charity, which didst love God more than the Seraphim - more than the angels and the saints!
O Heart of the Mother of the Redeemer, which hast so lively a sense of our miseries, which didst suffer so much for our salvation, which hast loved us with such ardent love, and which claimest, by so many titles, the respect, love, and veneration of all creatures - vouchsafe to accept my unworthy homage. Prostrate before thee, O Sacred Heart of Mary, I honor thee with the most profound respect of which I am capable. I thank thee for the sentiments of mercy and of love with which thou hast been so often moved at the sight of my miseries.
I return thee thanks for all the benefits which thy maternal bounty has procured for me. I unite myself with all pure souls, who find their delight in honoring, praising, and loving thee.
O most amiable Heart! thou shall be henceforward, after the Heart of Jesus, the object of my veneration, of my love, and of my devotion. By thee will I approach my Savior; and by thee shall I receive His graces and mercies. Thou wilt be my refuge in affliction, my consolation in suffering, and my assistance in all my necessities. I will learn from thee purity, humility, and obedience: and derive from thee love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Master. Amen.


O God of goodness, who hast filled the holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary with the same sentiments of mercy and tenderness for us, with which the Heart of Jesus Christ, thy Son, and her Son, was always overflowing; grant that all who honor this Virginal Heart may preserve until death a perfect conformity of sentiments and inclination with the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns. One God, forever and ever. Amen. (3.3)


Nihil obstat: JOHN A. SCHULIEN, S.T.D., Censor librorum
Imprimatur: +MOYSES E. KILEY, Archiepiscopus Milwaukiensis
Die 22a Novembris, 1950
Made in the United States of America
pp. v, vi, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, 22,
23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32,
34, 35, 36, 37, 39.

OR Collection of Prayers and Good Works,

Archbishop of New York. New York, Sept. 5th, 1878.
Imprimatur: +JACOBUS, ARCHIEP. BALTIMORENSIS. Die xxii Sept., 1878.
pp. 229-232


The Month of Mary
+CHAS. H. COLTON, Bishop of Buffalo
Bp. Arath. and Coadj. Bp. of Philadelphia.
25th day of April, 1840.
p. 267-268, 270

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