The Sacred Heart of Jesus

While devotion to the Sacred Heart can be traced back to the eleventh century, it remained largely a private devotion until 1856, when Pope Pius IX established the Feast as obligatory for the whole Church.

The first liturgical feast in honor of the Sacred Heart was celebrated on August 31, 1670, at the seminary in Rennes, France. This celebration was largely through the efforts of St. John Eudes, who composed the first Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart.

It was the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, however, that caused devotion to the Sacred Heart to become more universal. She recounted how, during one particular apparition, on June 16, 1675, Christ had asked her to request that a Feast to His Sacred Heart be celebrated after the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, the purpose of which was reparation for the ingratitude of men for the sacrifice that Christ had made for them. Devotion to the Sacred Heart gained popularity following St. Margaret Mary’s death in 1690 but, due to the Church’s doubts about the validity of her visions, the Feast was not officially celebrated until 1765.

In 1856, at the request of the French bishops, Pope Pius IX established the Feast of the Sacred Heart to be celebrated by the universal Church on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi. Since 2002, this Solemnity has also been observed as a special Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.