22 August – Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Octave Day of the Assumption).
Pope Pius XII instituted the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1944 to be celebrated on 22 August, coinciding with the traditional Octave Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.
In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII placed the whole world under the special protection of our Saviour’s Mother by Consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart and in 1944, he decreed that in the future, the whole Church should celebrate the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In the seventeenth century, St John Eudes, preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart. In the nineteenth century, Pope Pius VII and Pope Pius IX, allowed several Churches to celebrate a Feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pope Pius XII instituted today’s Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession, “peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue” (Decree of 4 May, 1944).
The attention of Christians was early attracted by the love and virtues of the Heart of Mary. The Gospel itself invited this attention with exquisite discretion and delicacy. What was first excited was compassion for the Virgin Mother. It was, so to speak, at the foot of the Cross that the Christian heart first made the acquaintance of the Heart of Mary. Simeon’s prophecy paved the way and furnished the devotion with one of its favourite formulae and most popular representations – the heart pierced with a sword. But Mary was not merely passive at the foot of the Cross; “she co-operated, through charity.” as St. Augustine says, “in the work of our redemption“.
It is only in the twelfth, or towards the end of the eleventh century, that indications of a regular devotion are perceived in a sermon by St Bernard (De duodecim stellis).
Stronger evidences are discernible in the pious meditations on the Ave Maria and the Salve Regina and also in the large book De laudibus B Mariae Virginis (Douai, 1625) by Richard de Saint-Laurent.
In St Mechtilde (died 1298) and St Gertrude (d.ied1302) the devotion had two earnest adherents. A little earlier it had been included by St Thomas Becket in the devotion to the joys and sorrows of Mary, by Blessed Hermann (died 1245), in his other devotions to Mary and somewhat later it appeared in St Bridget’s Book of Revelations.
St Ambrose perceived in her the model of a virginal soul. St Bernardine of Siena (died1444) was more absorbed in the contemplation of the virginal heart and it is from him, that the Church has borrowed the lessons of the Second Nocturn for the Feast of the Heart of Mary. St Francis de Sales speaks of the perfections of this heart, the model of love for God and dedicated to it, his Theotimus.
In the second half of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth, ascetic authors dwelt upon this devotion at greater length. It was, however, reserved to St John Eudes to propagate the devotion, to make it public and to have a feast celebrated in honour of the Heart of Mary, first at Autun in 1648 and afterwards, in a number of French Diocese.
In 1799 Pope Pius VI, then in captivity at Florence, granted the Bishop of Palermo the Feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary for some of the Churches in his Diocese. In 1805 Pope Pius VII made a new concession, thanks to which the Feast was soon widely observed. Such was the existing condition when a twofold movement, started in Paris, gave fresh impetus to the devotion. The two factors of this movement were first of all the revelation of the “Miraculous Medal” in 1830 and all the prodigies that followed and then, the establishment at Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners, which spread rapidly throughout the world and was the source of numberless graces. On 21 July 1855, the Congregation of Rites, finally approved the Office and Mass of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, without, however, imposing them upon the Universal Church.
O Heart most pure of the Blessed Virgin Mary, obtain for me from Jesus, a pure and humble heart.
(1943 Raccolta–Indulgence 300 days)
Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
By St John Eudes (1601-1680)
“The Apostle of Two Hearts”
Hail Mary! Mother of God the Son.
Hail Mary! Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary! Temple of the Most Blessed Trinity.
Hail Mary! Pure Lily of the Effulgent Trinity.
Hail Mary! Celestial Rose of the Ineffable Love of God.
Hail Mary! Virgin pure and humble,
of whom the King of Heaven willed to be born
and, with thy milk to be nourished.
Hail Mary! Virgin of Virgins,
Hail Mary! Queen of Martyrs,
whose soul a sword transfixed.
Hail Mary! Lady most blessed!
unto whom all power in Heaven and earth is given.
Hail Mary! My Queen and my Mother!
my Life, my Sweetness and my Hope,
Hail Mary! Mother Most Amiable,
Hail Mary! Mother of Divine Love,
Hail Mary! Immaculate! Conceived Without Sin!
Hail Mary! Full of Grace! The Lord is with Thee!
Blessed art thou among women!
And blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus!
Blessed be thy spouse, Saint Joseph,
Blessed be thy father, Saint Joachim,
Blessed be thy mother, Saint Anne,
Blessed be thy guardian, Saint John,
Blessed be thy holy Angel, Saint Gabriel,
Glory be to God the Father, Who chose thee,
Glory be to God the Son, Who loved thee,
Glory be to God the Holy Spirit, Who espoused thee.
O Glorious Virgin Mary,
may all people love and praise thee.