Devotion to the Heart of Mary goes back as early at the twelfth century. St. Anselm (1109) and St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1153) wrote extensively about Marian devotion. St. Bernardine of Siene (1444) is known as the “Doctor of the Heart of Mary” because of his writings on Mary’s heart including “from her heart, as from a furnace of Divine Love, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words of the most ardent love.”
St. John Eudes (1680) began a renewal in the devotion to the Heart of Mary. He has been called the “father, Doctor, and Apostle of the liturgical cult of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary” by Pope Leo XIII and Pope St. Pius X.
Devotion to Mary’s Heart began to flourish after the Miraculous Medal was revealed to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 as well as the Appearances of’ Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal to Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Lucia DosSantos from May 13 to October 13, 1917. On July 13 she told them: “to save poor sinners, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” The entire Fatima message is one of prayer, penance and making sacrifices and reparation to God for the many offenses against Him.
In 1942, the twenty-fifth anniversary of Fatima, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That same year, he assigned the feast day to August 22, the octave of the Assumption. On May 4, 1944, he extended the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Universal Church. With the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council in 1969, the feast was given a more suitable place on the day following the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. That is the Saturday after the second Sunday after Pentecost.
The opening prayer for the liturgical celebration helps us focus on the important message of this feast day. “God prepared the heart of Mary as a fitting home to the Holy Spirit. May we, His chosen people, become temples of His glory. We ask Mary to help us- her spiritual children, so dear to her heart, to stay ever united in friendship with her Son and never separate ourselves by sin.”
FAITH ACTION: Pray the prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear my prayer. As you child, I implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions I place before you today, especially …(speak to the Virgin Mary just as you would to any other person).
I am comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. I trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom I love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help me, Holy Mother, to bear my burdens in this life until I may share eternal life and peace with God forever.