Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Let us pray for the holiness of priests

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on the Friday following the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, almost as if to suggest to us that the Eucharist is nothing other than the Heart of Jesus itself, of the One who wholeheartedly cares for us. On this same date, the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

It was precisely a priest, the Norman John Eudes, who celebrated this feast for the first time on October 20, 1672. But already some German mystics of the Middle Ages—Matilda of Magdeburg (1212-1283), Matilda of Hackeborn (1241-1298) and Gertrude of Helfta (1256-1302)—as well as the Dominican Blessed Enrique Suso (1295–1366)—had cultivated devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The private revelations received by the Visitandine nun Margarita María Alacoque (1647-1690) contributed to the spread of the cult. Margarita Alacoque lived in the convent of Paray-le-Monial (France) since 1671. She already had a reputation as a great mystic when on December 27, 1673, she received the first visit from Jesus, who wanted to share with her the sufferings of his Heart overflowing with love for the Father and for all humanity, in the same way that he shared them with the disciple John during the Last Supper. My divine heart is so passionate with love for humanity that, unable to contain within itself the flames of his burning charity, he must spread them. I have chosen you for this great project, he tells her.

The following year, Margarita had two more visions. In the first the heart of Jesus appeared on a throne of flames, brighter than the sun and more transparent than crystal, surrounded by a crown of thorns. In the second, Margaret contemplated Christ resplendent with glory, with rays of light coming out of her chest and expanding everywhere. Jesus spoke to her again and asked her to take communion every first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months, and to prostrate herself on the ground in prayer for one hour on the night between Thursdays and Fridays. Thus, the devotions of the nine Fridays and the holy hour of adoration were born.

In a fourth vision, Christ asked her to institute a festival to honor her Heart and repair, through prayer, the offenses he receives. From Jesus, Margaret also received a great promise of forgiveness: whoever approaches the Eucharist worthily and takes communion for nine consecutive months on the first Friday of the month, with a spirit of atonement for the offenses committed against the Blessed Sacrament, loving, honoring and Consoling the Heart of Jesus, he will receive the gift of final perseverance, that is, he will end his life with the grace of the sacraments and the remission of his offenses to God and his neighbor.

In 1856, Pius IX ordered that the feast of the Sacred Heart be universally extended to the entire Church. In 1995, Saint John Paul II established on this same day the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy, so that Jesus would guard the priesthood in his heart.