“This Virgin Mother of the Only begotten of God is called Mary,
worthy of God, Immaculate of the Immaculate, one of the one.”
Origen (c 185-253)
Historically, devotion to Mary Most Holy in the form of her Immaculate Heart first occurs in the thirteenth century with St Mechtilde, St Gertrude, St Bernardine of Siena and others. In the seventeenth century, St Francis de Sales was an exponent of this devotion. But it was St John Eudes the great apostle of the Immaculate Heart (1601-1680), who gave the decisive impulse to the practice.
In the same century, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus came back to light through St Margaret Mary Alacoque and her confessor, St Claude de La Colombiere. As the devotion to the Sacred Heart spread, so did the devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Both St Margaret Mary and St Claude, were deeply dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as well.
Beginning with Pope Pius VI, several popes incrementally spread the devotion but in 1944 Pope Pius XII extended it to the whole Church, fixing the Feast Celebration on 22 August. Today, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on the Saturday following the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is movable, always observed on a Friday, nineteen days after Pentecost Sunday.
The Physical Heart, Symbol of the Spiritual Heart
The Fathers of the Church consider that when, from the Cross, Our Lord Jesus made the Blessed Lady, the mother of St John and thus He appointed her the mother of all men.
Thus, Mary’s heart is the physical symbol of her boundless love for God and humankind. But Our Lady’s physical heart is also the symbol of her spiritual heart. Thus, in the Immaculate Heart of Mary we also honour her inner life, her virtues, her perfect purity, her boundless humility, her affections and her sorrow.
Poignant in Catholic tradition is the representation of Mary’s heart pierced by a sword, symbol of her immense sorrow at witnessing and willing her Son’s passion and death for the salvation of our souls.
Fatima and the Immaculate Heart of Mary
–The Five First Saturdays Devotion
In the second apparition of Fatima, Our Lady showed the seers, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, her heart encircled by thorns. Later, on 10 December 1925, in a private apparition to Sister Lucia, she asked for the devotion of reparation of the Five First Saturdays.
The Blessed Mother appeared alongside the Child Jesus who stood over a luminous cloud. Our Lady rested one hand on the Child’s shoulder while she held on the other hand a heart pierced with thorns.
The Child said,
“Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment with no-one to extract them with an act of reparation.
I want My Church to…put the devotion
to this Immaculate Heart
beside the devotion to
My Sacred Heart.”
Our Lady expressed her request in the following words,
“Look, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to Confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls.”
Our Lady assured Lúcia:
“My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge
and the way that will lead you to God.”
Thus, if we devote ourselves to her Immaculate Heart,
Mary will lead us to her Son, Jesus Christ
and we will be on the way to Heaven.
Our Lady of Fatima
“…Let us continue
Immaculate Mary’s mission.
All is included in it.
May [we].. follow her example
and be the handmaid of the Lord