Where Did the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Come From?

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Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a day after the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Where did this devotion come from and why do we celebrate it today?

What Does the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mean?

The Immaculate Heart of Mary refers to her interior life. This includes all her joys, sorrows, and virtues along with her love for God and for humanity. Pondering Mary’s Immaculate Heart inspires us to imitate her in our own hearts.

This includes:

  • a complete trust in God the Father and His will for our lives
  • a dedicated love and devotion for Jesus, even to the point of suffering for Him and with Him
  • a desire for all souls to glorify God in heaven forever
The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1898)
The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1898)

Where Did the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Come From?

The Gospels gives several examples of Mary’s contemplative interior life:

Mary always responds to her situations with trust in God, both in joyful times and in sorrowful. Her Immaculate Heart is a place of unfailing love. In describing love, St. Paul describes Mary’s Immaculate Heart:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

What is the History of the Devotion?

Devotion to Mary’s heart began in the late 11th or early 12th centuries. The first mentions came from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Mechtilde, and St. Gertrude the Great. Later on, the list included St. Thomas Beckett and St. Bridget of Sweden in her Revelations.

In the 1600s, St. John Eudes brought both the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the public. He created a feast for Mary’s heart and founded religious societies that promoted devotion to her heart.

For centuries, the Catholic Church delayed in creating a universal feast. When Mary appeared in 1830 and gave the Church the Miraculous Medal, devotion to her heart grew even more.

In 1942, 25 years after Our Lady of Fátima, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That same year he created the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and extended it to the Universal Church 2 years later.

In 1969, the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical reforms moved it from August 22nd to the Saturday after the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Where Did the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Come From?
Trevor Jin
Trevor creates content for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) in Denver, CO. Before that he served as a FOCUS missionary.