While Louis XIV was King of France, the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary was founded in 1610 in Annecy by Bishop Francis of Sales and Mother Jeanne de Chantal. This congregation is intimately linked to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as evidenced by the words of the two founders: “Our little congregation is a work of the Heart of Jesus and Mary. The Savior, in dying, gave birth to us through the opening of His Sacred Heart ". The emblem of the Order is a heart surmounted by a cross, surrounded by a crown of thorns and pierced by two arrows, engraved with the names of Jesus and Mary. At the request of the Jesuit Fathers, a convent of the Sisters of the Visitation settled in Paray-le-Monial in 1626. It is in this convent that Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque would become a nun and receive the message of the Heart of Jesus through three great apparitions. She would be supported and helped in the work of spreading the message of the Sacred Heart by her spiritual father, Saint Claude la Colombière.
Subsequently, several great spiritual figures each gave new impetus to the worship of the Heart of Jesus.
The message of the Sacred Heart as revealed to Sister Marguerite Marie Alacoque is an invitation to contemplate the Heart of Jesus. To enter into the mystery of Christ's infinite love for men. The Lord knows how difficult it is for men to touch spiritual mysteries with their fingers. By showing us his Heart, Christ wants to show us his love. This is why the heart is represented with rays, a bright radiance, surrounded by a great light, shining like a sun, etc. All this is the symbol of a boundless love that Jesus wants to express. His Heart is also surrounded by thorns, just as the Immaculate Heart of Mary is pierced with a sword. This is a sign of the suffering that it cost Jesus and Mary to love men. Jesus expressed his love through his painful Passion and he still expresses it through his heart pierced with thorns. Christ made it clear to Sister Margaret Mary that what makes her suffer most is not the sin of men but their indifference. All devotion to the Heart of Jesus is only an invitation to bear witness to his love and to contemplate and welcome Christ's immeasurable love.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has spread throughout the world and today there are representations of the Heart of Jesus, statues, paintings, icons, etc. in an immense number of churches and shrines. These representations are accompanied by prayers to be recited in order to enter into a relationship with "that Heart which loved men so much". For example, these invocations can be repeated often "Sacred Heart of Jesus I trust in you", "Sacred Heart of Jesus, may your reign come". Many Brotherhoods of the Heart of Jesus also exist all over the world to live in group devotion to the Heart of Jesus.
Jesus entrusted to Sister Margaret Mary his request to institute a new feast to honor her Heart. He insisted on the importance of communing with special love on that day. The Feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated on Friday, three weeks after Pentecost. It was officially instituted in 1765 and extended to the whole Church in 1856.
Saint Margaret Mary insisted on Jesus' request to be honored through the image of her Sacred Heart: "And he made me see that it was necessary to honor (the Heart of God) under the figure of this Heart of the flesh, whose image he wanted to be exposed and carried on himself and on the heart, to impress on it his love and fill it with all the gifts with which it was full and to destroy in it all the disturbed movements. And that wherever this holy image was exposed to be honored, he would pour out his graces and blessings. "Sister Margaret Mary evokes the “promises” attached to the practice of devotion. The wearing of the scapular of Mount Carmel, on which the image of the Heart of Jesus appears, is a widespread form of devotion and a source of great graces.
Given the magnitude of devotion to the Heart of Jesus all over the world, there are many beautiful prayers at the Sacred Heart. Here are some of the most important: