June is the month of the year that the Catholic Church dedicates to a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But do you know there is a devotion to the Immaculate Heart, too? In fact, popes throughout the history of the Church have consecrated the entire world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
Do you know what a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means? Here are seven little known facts to help you grow closer to the heart of Christ through the heart of Mary:
1. Mary’s Immaculate Heart is our path to God
“Be not afraid,” Our Lady told Lucia at Fatima. “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and your safe path to God.”
2. Devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart is scriptural
Before Christ is born, Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who proclaims that Mary is blessed. In Luke’s Gospel, the Beloved disciple writes about Mary’s ability to ponder things in her heart.
Luke also tells us about Simeon’s prophesy, in which Mary was told that her heart would be pierced by a sword. The image of Mary’s heart, pierced through with a sword is a popular image of Mary’s Immaculate heart.
Later, Christ himself says “Blessed rather are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” At the time of Christ’s death, John emphasizes Mary’s heart when she stands at the foot of the cross.
3. Countless saints had a devotion to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart
Saint Augustine points out that Mary was not just a passive observer at the crucifixion. Instead, “she cooperated through charity in the work of our redemption.” Saint Augustine also tells us that Mary was more blessed to have “born Christ in her heart than in having conceived him in the flesh.”
Other saints to practice a devotion the Immaculate Heart include Saint Bernard, Saint Anslem, Saint Thomas Becket, Saint Bernadine of Siena, and Saint Francis de Sales.
4. Saint John Eudes popularized the devotion
Saint John Eudes was born in the 1600s in France. He became a priest in the Congregation of the Oratory of France in 1625. The saint was known for his continuous preaching on the hearts of Mary and Our Lord.
In honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Saint John composed Masses and Offices for liturgical celebration. He also celebrated the first Feast of the Holy Heart of Mary on February 8, 1648 in France. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 31, 1925.
5. Devotion to Our Lady points us back to Christ
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus focuses on the fact that Christ’s heart is full of love for humankind. He offers us His heart, yet we often reject it. Mary’s Immaculate Heart emphasizes that her heart is on fire for God.
Mary’s heart always points us back to a love of God. Her Immaculate heart is a sign that she is the only human being who has been able to love Christ’s Sacred Heart in a way that honors Him fully.
6. Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart in 1944
Thanks in part to Mary’s appearance to Saint Catherine Labouré in 1830, the Congregation of Rites approved the Office and Mass of the Most Pure Heart of Mary in 1855. However, the Congregation did not impose this decision on the Universal Church.
It wasn’t until 1944 that Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The feast coordinated with the octave day of the Assumption. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration to the Saturday immediately following the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Now the Church observes this feast on the third Saturday after Pentecost.
The Church omits the celebration of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart in the liturgy on days when it is impeded by a higher feast day. For instance, if the celebration falls on the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, or on the feast of the Visitation, it is omitted from the liturgical calendar for the year.
7. Saint Pope John Paul II consecrated the world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart
Saint Pope John Paul II solemnly consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in front of the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Fatima on March 25, 1984. Later, in 2000, John Paul again entrusted the entire world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart at the start of the millennium.
Pope Francis consecrated the world was again to the Immaculate Heart in 2013.