The Sacred Heart

Q. Was the idea of Jesus’ Sacred Heart revealed to a saint? If so, who was it? If not, how did the devotion come about?

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:

Jesus’ Sacred Heart calls us to understand the immense value of our human hearts. Jesus says, “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29, RSV), and he tells us we will find our hearts where we find our treasure. The Catechism of the Catholic Church observes, “The heart is our hidden center … only the Spirit of God can … know it fully. The heart … is the place of truth, where we choose life or death” (No. 2563).

The popularity of devotion to the Sacred Heart owes a great deal to interest in individuals to whom Jesus has revealed himself. Devotion to the Sacred Heart began when St. Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) wrote, “You glow altogether red in the spring-like loveliness of the festival of your love.” Four hundred years later, a young Visitation nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), received visions of Jesus, who taught her that his human heart was to be the visible symbol of his love for humanity.

In a similar way St. Teresa of Avila popularized devotion to the Infant Jesus. Tradition says she saw a young boy who asked who she was. She replied: “I am Teresa of Jesus. Who are you?” He said, “I am Jesus of Teresa.”