By Jennifer Lindberg
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a a world famous Catholic devotion garnering extensive and recent news coverage.
Pope Francis’ consecration of Russia and the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary renewed interest in this centuries old devotion that has inspired saints, popes, and the lay faithful.
Mary’s Immaculate Heart was thrust into the world-wide spotlight in Fatima, Portugal in 1917 when three shepherd children were graced with apparitions of the Mother of God. Today, no Catholic can say the world Fatima without invoking the messages and prayers taught to Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia.
Later, Lucia became a nun. The other two children died soon after the apparitions.
It was Pope Francis who also canonized the two children, further making Fatima and the Immaculate Heart of Mary synonymous with Catholic devotion to the present day.
What is the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
Mary holds a special place in the hearts of Catholics and in the liturgy of the Catholic Church. Her heart signifies the innermost being of a person. However, The Virgin Mary’s heart represents something more: her total purity and love. She is the only human being who never committed one sin! Her heart points to a deep interior life that experienced joys and sorrows, but always remained faithful.
It was this heart that the Virgin Mary showed to the three children of Fatima, telling them that Christ wanted a world-wide devotion to the Immaculate Heart.
The importance of the Immaculate Heart is reported in the archives of Fatima:
- In July of 1917, the Virgin Mary asked for the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, and for the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays of every month.
- Jacinta said, “Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask Her for them. Tell them to pray to the Immaculate Heart for peace, since God has entrusted it to (the Virgin Mary.)
- On June 13, 1929, while in the convent, Sister Lucia had a vision of the Virgin Mary telling her, “the moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father, in union with all the Bishops of the world, to consecrate Russia to My Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.
A Catholic devotion for all times
While the Immaculate Heart of Mary is newsworthy today, it has been a constant devotion in the Catholic Church for centuries.
It was St. John Eudes dedication to the Immaculate Heart in the 1600s that led to Pope Pius XI declaring him the father of the liturgical devotion to hearts of Jesus and Mary. He would later inspire St. Anthony Mary Claret in the same devotion that continues into the present day.