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Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Meaning, Celebration, Devotion, Prayers

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Meaning, Celebration, Devotion, Prayers

In June, in the octave of the feast of the Blessed Sacrament, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, also known as the “feast of the Heart of Jesus”. Finding its origin in the apparitions of Christ to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in Paray-le-Monial, the devotion to the Sacred Heart helps us enter into the deep mystery of God's love for us.

Discover everything about the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which invites us to contemplate the loving, compassionate, and merciful heart of Jesus!

Why do we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

What is the Sacred Heart?

In the Catholic Church, the Sacred Heart of Jesus refers to devotion to the heart of Christ, which symbolizes the merciful love of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—for humanity, which Jesus showed by giving his life for us on the cross.

The Congregation for Divine Worship explains what this devotion to the heart of Jesus means: “The expression “Heart of Jesus”, understood in the sense contained in the divine scripture, refers to the mystery of Christ himself, that is to say the totality of his being, or the intimate and essential center of his person […] The “Heart of Christ” identifies itself with Christ himself, the Incarnate Word and Redeemer”.

In Christian art, the Sacred Heart of Jesus is represented as a burning heart pierced by a spear, as it was after the death of Jesus by the spear of a Roman soldier. It is also surrounded by a crown of thorns and adorned by a small cross. It shines with a divine light, the rays of which represent the divine love of Christ for each of us. 

The meaning of the Feast of the Sacred Heart

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an invitation for Christians to meditate on the infinite and merciful love that God has for humanity, through his son Jesus.

This solemnity reflects one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith: that of divine love, which goes so far as to take our human condition and die on the cross, because “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly pierced by human distress, is the greatest consolation in the face of the mystery of suffering. It is that loving, compassionate, and merciful heart that burns with love for us!

Feast of the Sacred Heart: Origins, Celebration and Liturgy

History of the Feast of the Sacred Heart

The feast of the Sacred Heart appears in the 17th century, following the apparitions of Christ to Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque, a Burgundian nun from Paray-le-Monial. Jesus asked her to spread devotion to his Sacred Heart

A century later, in 1765, Pope Clement XIII instituted the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, which was then extended to the universal Church and inscribed in the liturgical calendar in 1856 by Pope Pius IX. At this time, the construction of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre, built as a sign of the consecration of France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, also began. 

Celebration and Liturgy of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost Sunday, that is to say, on a Friday. The next day, the closely linked feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary takes place. 

The biblical readings of this feast day, according to the liturgical year, are as follows:

  • Saint Luke leads us to reread the parable of the lost sheep: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4-7)
  • In the gospel of Saint Matthew, Jesus addresses us with a call that reflects his merciful love: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
  • Finally, we read the story of the pierced heart of Christ, source of love in the world: “But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” (John 19:37)

All the prayers of the Mass are a call to penetrate the heart of Jesus, and constantly repeat the love of God for men!

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: a call from Christ!

When Christ appeared to Saint Margaret Mary in 1673, He presented Himself to her, showing her His suffering heart and saying to her: “This is the Heart that loved men so much and in return is so little loved.” Jesus asked her to spread devotion to his Sacred Heart.

The invitation that Christ addresses to us personally through the intermediary of Saint Margaret Mary is to give ourselves entirely to His saving love, so that we may be shaped by Him! The love He shows us is a call we must answer!

And responding to it is simply for us to honor and love Jesus, to give ourselves to Him. For example, we can offer Him prayers or acts of reparation for sinners, dedicate ourselves personally to His divine heart, etc.

Two simple invocations allow us to approach Christ: “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours”, and “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you”.

(Find many prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesusa novena to the Sacred Heart as well as the litanies of the Sacred Heart in the prayer guide on Hozana.)


Prayer to Sacred Heart of Jesus

Eternal Father, I offer you the Heart of Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, as he offered himself as a sacrifice for me. Receive this offering that I make to you, as well as all the desires, all the feelings, all the affections, all the movements, all the acts of this Sacred Heart. They are mine, since he sacrificed himself for me, and I want in the future to desire only him. Receive them in satisfaction for my sins, and in thanksgiving for your blessings. Receive them and grant me by his merits, all the graces that are necessary for me, and above all the grace of the final perseverance. Receive them as so many acts of love, worship, praise that I offer to your divine majesty, since it is through the Heart of Jesus that you can be worthily honored and glorified.

Saint Margaret Mary

Pray with Hozana during the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

What a treasure the Sacred Heart of Jesus is! Let us give ourselves to him without reservation, for from his sacred heart, Jesus wants to pour out torrents of love on us and on the whole world. Take advantage of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to let yourself be touched by Christ by joining the prayer communities around the Sacred Heart on Hozana:

Association Hozana - 8 rue du Palais de Justice, 69005 Lyon

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