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What You Should Know About the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Aug 29, 2018 By Gretchen Filz

One of the most popular Marian devotions in the Catholic Church today is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, often honored alongside the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion has its roots in Sacred Scripture, which makes frequent mention of Mary's contemplative heart, for example in Luke 2:19:

"But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart."

According to Catholic doctrine, Mary is the Immaculate Conception; that is, in preparation for the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity in her womb, Mary was conceived without the corruption of original sin, and was preserved from committing any actual sins throughout the course of her life through the infinite merits of her Son, Jesus Christ. She was virginal not only of soul, but also of body, both before and after giving birth to Our Lord.

 

Our Lady was created literally "Full of Grace" as the Archangel Gabriel declared at the Annunciation, meaning that her soul was literally adorned with all of the virtues at the moment of her conception, as well as all the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

This fullness of grace is said to emanate from the center of her being—her heart—understood both physically and spiritually. It is Mary's heart, in its unspoiled created perfection, that is the source and wellspring of her purity . . . therefore her heart is called Immaculate.

Our Lord took His sacred humanity from the flesh and blood of his Blessed Mother; Christ's heart is taken from her heart. At Calvary, the perfect hearts of Jesus and Mary were united for the salvation of mankind. And this is why the Two Hearts are honored together.

While the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the source of Christ's burning love for humanity, and is largely spurned by the indifference of mankind towards Him, the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the source of Our Lady's burning love for God and her desire to bring souls to her Son, and is so often outraged by the offenses of mankind committed against her love.

Read next What You Didn’t Know About the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The History of the Catholic Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Over the centuries, as the saints and theologians reflected on what it means for Our Lady to have pondered and treasured the sacred events from the life of Jesus in her heart, as attested in Scripture, Mary's heart began to be recognized as something to be imitated in daily practice.

Devotion to Mary's holy heart then developed, in much the same way as it did for the Sacred Heart, which was physically pierced by the lance on the Cross to give Eternal Life to men. So also does Mary's heart, which was also pierced (as prophesied by Simeon) in union with her Son, give life—that is, grace—to the Christian soul.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, this devotion to Our Lady's purity of heart began to flower, culminating in St. John Eudes actively promoting the devotion in the 17th century alongside that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He also worked to have a feast established for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, beginning in his native France.

Read next The Dignity and Qualities of a Holy Priest by St. John Eudes

After the 1830 apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Paris, which gave rise to the Miraculous Medal, efforts were renewed to have devotion to the Immaculate Heart instituted as a feast for the universal Church.  In this Marian apparition, Our Lady showed St. Catherine Laboure an image of a medal to be struck which would obtain many graces for those who wore it faithfully, especially the grace of conversion for sinners.

On the front of the medal was an image of Our Lady encircled with the words, O Mary, Conceived Without Sin, Pray for Us Who Have Recourse to Thee, confirming the dogma of her Immaculate ConceptionOne the reverse was an image of the Cross of Christ surmounted by the letter "M", and underneath it the symbols of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary side-by-side, thus confirming the devotion to her holy heart.

Miraculous Medals

The spreading popularity of the Miraculous Medal soon gave rise to a Marian confraternity based on her Immaculate Heart and her power to convert sinners. The Notre-Dame-des-Victoires of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Refuge of Sinners was established in Paris in 1836 and quickly spread all over the world, with many graces, especially the conversion of sinners, obtained as a result. Then, in 1855, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (or Most Pure Heart of Mary) was approved by the Vatican, however, without establishing it for the universal Church.

Read next Inside the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary rose to a new level after the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. In her visitations to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco, Our Lady revealed a vision of her Immaculate Heart encircled with thorns which represented the many sins committed against her. At Fatima, Our Lady asked for Russia to be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart in order to prevent many calamities from occurring in the Church and throughout the world.

Read next Join a 30-Day Content Series Unpacking the Messages of Fatima

Lucia describes the vision:

“As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands and for the second time, she communicated to us the rays of that same immense light. We saw ourselves in this light, as it were, immersed in God. ... In front of the palm of Our Lady’s right hand was a heart encircled by thorns which pierced it. We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, outraged by the sins of humanity, and seeking reparation.”

At Fatima Our Lady also revealed her request for the faithful to make Communions of Reparation to her Immaculate Heart on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month. Therefore devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely associated with acts of reparation for sins in order to obtain the salvation of sinners. When Sr. Lucia later asked Our Lord why he would not convert Russia without having it consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lord replied,

?"Because I want My whole Church to acknowledge that Consecration as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that it may extend its cult later on, and put the Devotion to My Mother?s Immaculate Heart beside the Devotion to My Sacred Heart.?"

Read next What Are the First Friday and First Saturday Devotions?

After the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was instituted for the universal Church by Pope Pius XII in 1944.  The feast was originally celebrated on August 22nd, the octave day of the Solemnity of the Assumption. It was later moved to the Saturday following the feast of the Sacred Heart, so that the Two Hearts would appear side-by-side, Friday and Saturday, on the liturgical calendar. August 22nd was then made the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, connecting the Assumption to her reign in heaven (the 4th and 5th Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary).

Traditionally, the Church encourages special devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the entire month of August.

Today, while the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is a Solemnity, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary remains on the level of a memorial. Hopefully, as the requests of Our Lady of Fatima are more widely heeded, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will enjoy a special place in the heart of each and every Catholic around the world. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Read next Novena Prayers to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

This article has been updated and was originally published in June 2017. © The Catholic Company

Comments

Beautiful post.
Joan says
Aug 7 2018 6:52AM
Thank you, Blessed Mother, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Saint Mary Major, Saint Mary of the Angels, Queen of Peace, Our Heavenly Mother and Mighty Intercessor, Undoer of Knots, thank you for saying Yes to God’s plans for your life. Help us to say Yes to God’s plans for our lives , with the help of the Daily Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us, our spouse , our children, families . We consecrate ourselves to you and to the Holy Spirit. Help us to be living witnesses to Our Heavenly Father’s Divine love with the help of His daily outpouring of His Divine graces on us, so that we as spouses, as families become living witnesses to His Divine love where our live for each other becomes stronger each day , seeing Jesus in each other , and not adding to each other’s pain, crosses or suffering but being ready to help others to carry their crosses , being sensitive to others suffering . Help us to help Jesus .
francis Johnston says
Aug 4 2018 9:08AM
Holy Mary Mother of God, Mother of all sinners pray for us. Bring those who have strayed for your Son our Lord Jesus Christ back to His Body, the Holy Church. Pray for us Holy Mary Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

My devotion to Mother Mary has increased dramatically and I pray it will continue forever.

Well written Gretchen, I believe you are truly blessed.
Carmen says
Aug 2 2018 7:30AM
Thank you Ms. Gretchen for preparing this article and a few others I have read through The Catholic Company— very informative.

Please pray for us as we all need prayers to stay focused when we pray to Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother.
Judy Webber says
Aug 29 2017 2:55AM
Our board just hosted our 17th Arizona Marian Conference, in which 1500 were in attendance. We had 7 tremendous speakers, including Fr. Michael Gaitley and Fr. Don Calloway and his mother, Lachita. It was a weekend filled with prayer to honor Our Dear Blessed Mother.

I love you deeply dearest Mother Mary and always will. You not only were a perfect mother to Jesus, but to all of us, who are your children. Thank you, Dear Mother, for your love, patience, mercy and your grace. Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for Us!
Sandra Morgan says
Aug 19 2017 3:43PM
Thank you, Blessed Mother for your great Love for us all---to the point of having to suffer the Ignominious Death of Your BELOVED SON THROUGHOT THE MANY LONG HOURS OF HIS PAINFUL PASSION! Thank you, Blessed Mother for always loving and interceding unceaselessly for us---YOUR Spiritual Children and Bringing us to Your BELOVED SON every moment of every day!! Thank your DEAR SON for us and help us follow HIM Faithfully all the days of lives!!!
Julian Richmond says
Aug 3 2017 8:06AM
Hi Gretchen, Thanks you for allowing Our Lord to speak to us thru you because you make yourself very little and use the talent God has given you for His glory.

You have two books in the Recommended For You section. Please may I recommend another? It has the Imprimatur: City of God in 4 volumes by Blessed Mary of Agreda. It is a great help, despite the old English text, in learning about Our Mama's Heart and feelings and discovering Her life, as it pleases God that we know Her more deeply. This also helps in the meditation of the Mysteries of Her Holy Rosary. God bless you
Lillian Lopez says
Aug 1 2017 11:09PM
Oh my Dear Mother Mary, make me a better person and help me focus more during prayer.

Thank You and Your Son Jesus for always staying by my side during good times and bad times. Keep my family close to You and Your Son Jesus, protect them always.

I ask You for all the children suffering from cancer or any other illness as well as adults. To end abortion and for peace in the world. I ask for the souls in purgatory. In Jesus name, Amen???
Your images used in July and August ( sculptures of Jesus, paintings of the Virgin Mary etc.)

beautiful. To whom are they attributed ? I would like to have small card reproductions of some of them.

Is that possible ? A celebration of the artist in August, and always ?
Hi MEB, we are not sure what specific images you are referring to, you may email social (@) catholic company.com for more information.
Kathleen MacEllis says
Aug 1 2017 1:17PM
Thank you for such beautiful articles! You manage to take somewhat difficult to understand parts of our beautiful Catholic Faith and make them easy enough for those of us who are not Theologians to understand ! Thank you !
Thank you so much for the compliment, Kathleen! I am happy to hear that.
Julian Richmond says
Aug 1 2017 1:01PM
Remember that Our Lord wishes us to have intimacy with His Mother and ours. The intimacy of a little child in Her Arms. Call Her "Mama". Do everything She would do...and allow Her to make a home in our hearts, so that it is She who adores Her Son thru us...at Mass, Adoration and in every one of our brothers and sisters without exception.

She is not distant. Immaculate Heart does not mean we are far away, rather it is the love of Her Heart that makes us incredibly close, despite our sins.

I really, really encourage the 33-day consecration in the spirituality of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. Let us make ourselves Her property and possession and live this self-giving with all our heart and then, what have we to fear?
Adella Couri-Elias says
Aug 1 2017 11:42AM
Most lovable Immaculate Heart of Mary and my true Mother I thank you for saying "YES" to God the Father in bringing "GOD the SON"into the world.You are the perfect example of a true devoted Mother and by the love and sacrifice you showed us.May we follow your example as we care for our own children.Continue to show yourself in your many forms to us as we continue to Pray the Rosary in your honor ..
Diane says
Aug 1 2017 10:11AM
We've been given multiple opportunities to immerse ourselves into the messages of Mary. May this centennial bring a multitude of converted souls through our prayers, sufferings and devotion to Mary. "Forgive us our sins, saves us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven especially those in most need of thy mercy."
The Catholic Company is deepening my faith and knowledge.
Thank you for letting us know this, Francis! It is our mission and we are so glad that you are benefitting from it.
O Mother Mary, thank you very much for your motherly and tender care.
Pablo says
Jun 24 2017 4:04PM
Excellent text, Gretchen. Thank you.
Virginia says
Jun 24 2017 10:25AM
I love you immensely oh Immaculate Heart of Mary! I know how much you suffered as you watched your beloved Son suffer so much and eventually died on the cross becauae of my/our sins. Pray for us Blessed Mother so that we will never disregard your sufferings and that of your Son, our Lord and Savior.?????

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Commentary by

Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion through content writing and journalism. She works as a digital content writer, creator, and marketer for The Catholic Company. In addition to blogging at GetFed.com, she is also editor of the MorningOffering.com daily devotional email and author at GoodCatholic.com. She holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics and converted to the Catholic Church in 2011. She is also active in R.C.I.A., pro-life work, and various faith-based web projects.

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