Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – 9 June is a devotional name used to refer to the interior life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections and, above all, her virginal love for God the Father, her maternal love for her son Jesus and her compassionate love for all people. 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. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Saturday, immediately after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This means in practice that it is now held on the third Saturday after Pentecost.
Historically, devotion to the Heart of Mary grew up in parallel but at a lesser intensity than that of devotion to the Heart of Jesus, only starting to become more prominent during the time of St John Eudes. John Eudes was born in 1601 in Normandy, France. He entered the Congregation of the Oratory of France, founded in 1611 by Cardinal de Berulle and was ordained to the priesthood on December 20, 1625. St John brought people to love Christ and the Virgin Mary by speaking tirelessly about their Hearts, the sign of the love God shows for us and the communion to which we are called.
To offer them liturgical worship, he composed Masses and Offices in their honour and had the first Feast of the Holy Heart of Mary celebrated on 8 February 1648, at Autun (France) and the Feast of the Heart of Jesus celebrated on 20 October 1672.
He died on August 19, 1680 and was canonised by Pope Pius XI on May 31, 1925.
Nevertheless, it was not until after the Apparitions at Rue du Bac concerning the “Miraculous Medal” made to Catherine Labouré in 1830 and the establishment of a society dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, at the Church of Our Lady of Victories in Paris in 1836, that this particular devotion became really well known.
Since then devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, has gradually grown more widespread in the Church, particularly since the apparitions at Fatima.
The main difference between the devotions to the hearts of Jesus and Mary is that the one concerned with Jesus emphasises His divine heart as being full of love for mankind, but with this love for the most part being ignored or rejected, while devotion to Mary’s heart is essentially concerned with the love that her heart has for Jesus, for God.
Therefore, it is not an end in itself, so the love of her heart is meant to be a model for the way we should love God. The fact that her heart is immaculate, that is sinless, means that she is the only fully human person who is able to really love God in the way that He should be loved.
Honouring Mary’s Immaculate Heart is really just another way of honouring Mary as the person who was chosen to be the Mother of God, recognising her extraordinary holiness and the immense love she bestowed on Jesus as His mother, the person who was called to share in and co-operate in His redemptive sufferings.
The aim of the devotion is to unite mankind to God through Mary’s heart and this process involves the ideas of consecration and reparation. A person is consecrated to Mary’s Immaculate Heart as a way of being completely devoted to God. This involves a total gift of self, something only ultimately possible with reference to God but Mary is our intermediary in this process of consecration.
Because of the strong analogy between Jesus and Mary, the consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart is closely linked to the consecration to Jesus’ Sacred Heart, although it is subordinate and dependent on it. That is, although the act of consecration is ultimately addressed to God, it is an act that is made through Mary. And so we pray through Mary, through her Immaculate Heart, we ask to learn true love.
The whole world has been repeatedly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by different popes:
Pius XII, 31 October 1942
Paul VI, 21 November 1964
John Paul II, 13 May 1982
John Paul II together with all the bishops of the world, 25 March 1984
Francis, 13 October 2013
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for us!