An Introduction to the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus
Old French Holy Card: Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee

Welcome to the first of our seven pages introducing the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, written for this site by Kim Buck.

Below you will find an Introduction to the series—which features links to further pages on different aspects of the Devotion. Or you can navigate through the series using this list of links:

Table of Contents

  1. An Introduction to the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (this current page)
  2. The Holy Hour of Reparation
  3. The First Friday Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  4. The Annual Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  5. Exposition of the Image of the Sacred Heart
  6. Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the Home
  7. Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Various internal links here will also take you to further articles of relevance at this site (for example long articles about St Margaret Mary and St. Claude La Colombière). There is also an archive of posts devoted to the Sacred Heart (here).

Introduction to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Devotion

In this special manifestation, Christ pointed to His Heart, with definite and repeated words, as the symbol by which men should be attracted to a knowledge and recognition of His love; and at the same time He established it as a sign or pledge of mercy and grace for the needs of the Church of our times’ (Pius XII, Haurietis Aquas 1956).

Sacred Heart appears to St. Margaret Mary
Sacred Heart appears to St. Margaret Mary

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as we know it today, came about through the visions and experiences of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in France during the Seventeenth Century.

For it was these experiences, which brought the Devotion to the public sphere—spreading them to the Church Universal. Whilst St. Margaret Mary received many such visions, there are three which are particularly associated with the development and practice of the Devotions.

These revelations, particularly connected to the practice of these Devotions, are referred to as the Three Great Apparitions.

They took place in the chapel of the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial, France between 1673 and 1675.

But before we turn to St. Margaret Mary and these Great Apparitions, let us glance briefly at the development of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus over the centuries, prior to its becoming a public practice.

My Own Video on the Sacred Heart Devotion—Article Continues Below

It is seen by the Church that Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began at the Last Supper, at the instigation of the Eucharist itself.

As Our Lord sat at the Paschal table, before pronouncing those sacred words that would become so core to our entire Faith (in fact, the very heart of the Church Herself) His Beloved Disciple, Saint John the Evangelist, lay his head upon the breast of Our Lord. He laid his head upon the Heart of Jesus Christ and remained there in repose.

It is in imitation of this repose that Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began. It then continued to develop, with an emphasis from the early Church Fathers, on the entering into the sacred wound in Christ’s side—the wound, created by the piercing of the soldier’s lance, whilst He hung on the cross.

Cor Jesus, lancea perforatum, Miserere nobis (Heart of Jesus, pierced by a lance, have mercy on us), as the Litany of the Sacred Heart says.

For it was from this Sacred Wound that Blood and Water flowed – His Blood and Water – which was seen by the early Fathers, as the birth of the Church Herself.

As the early theologian Tertullian stated:

By the wound in the side of Christ was formed the Church, the true Mother of all the living.

But whilst the early saints focussed their devotion to this Heart as the place of repose—as the Sacred Wound into which one could enter and rest—when we come to the visions and experiences of St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, we find a new dimension emerges.

For in these Apparitions, we meet a very personal Jesus—who is deeply distressed at our having neglected Him.

Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sacred Heart with the Immaculate Heart

Moreover, we meet here a Jesus, Who is no longer solely giving to us, as He did from the Cross. We encounter a new Spirituality of His Heart, which does not simply involve reposing upon His breast or lying safe and hidden within His Sacred Wound.

No, the Sacred Heart of Jesus who appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque points to something further. He focusses our attention not simply on His burning love for us, but also on those instances where He has been neglected by us.

Neglected, as by His disciples when they fell asleep as He suffered in agony, whilst praying in the garden of Gethsemane.

Neglected by us, in that we have forgotten the enormity of that which He has bestowed upon us. Because, through the institution of the Eucharist and His dying for us on the cross, He has given everything and we are unaware or even ungrateful.

We fail to watch, as His disciples failed. We fail to give homage, through our ingratitude, or rather our forgetfulness. It is now time for us to make some return for all that He has given us.

This is the message of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. And of course, this need for acknowledgement and gratitude towards Him is essential for our Salvation.

For this return of love is at the Heart of our relationship with Jesus Christ – the One who becoming flesh, brought the Godhead into personal relationship with us.

He is our dearest friend and we have ignored Him. How can we do this to Him, Who has given us everything? In our selfishness, we have forgotten Him and this has even led to our disbelief in His wondrous gift of the Eucharist.

Through these visions of St. Margaret Mary, He came to remind us of all this. To remind us how much he has given and still gives and how little we give Him in return. And so, in Paray-le-Monial, he came to ask us to practice Devotions, specific Devotions, to His Sacred Heart.

These Devotions are designed to focus our attention towards the love He has for us and to make amends for the indignities and sacrileges He has suffered from our neglect. To make amends through acts of reparation, so that our hearts will reciprocate in some small way, something of His Great Burning Love.

My Own Video on the Sacred Heart Devotion—Article Continues Below

The Spread of the Devotion to the Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart messenger - St. Claude
Saint Claude La Columbière carried the devotion to the Sacred Heart to the world.

So how did the Devotions spread to the Church universal and how did they take the form that we know so well today?

St. Margaret Mary communicated her visions and experiences, under obedience, to her Jesuit confessor and spiritual guide, St. Claude La Colombière. He recognised in them the authentic voice of God and ordered the Saint to write down each and every detail.

Then, strengthened by his own personal experiences of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he willingly dedicated himself to the cause of spreading the Devotions.

On the 21st June, 1675, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, St. Claude La Columbière and St. Margaret Mary, consecrated themselves to the service of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

It was through this dedication by themselves and others, that the Devotions spread, slowly but surely, to the Church Universal and have become what we know of them today: the Weekly practice of the Holy Hour of Reparation, the Monthly First Friday Devotions and the Annual Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

These three practices form the foundation of the Devotions, being the original requests made by the Sacred Heart of Jesus Himself, to St. Margaret Mary.

From this foundation have developed other practices, such as the displaying of an image of the Sacred Heart or the wearing of a small badge or image, over one’s own heart. There are also numerous prayers, novenas and, of course, the great Litany of the Sacred Heart.

Click to See at Amazon—Or Continue Article Below
O Sacred Heart of Jesus!

Many years later, the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the home was established and propagated by the Peruvian Priest, Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey.

Now, having looked briefly into the origins of the Devotion, let us turn to the practice.

What exactly is it that Our Lord is asking of us?

Let us now look carefully at those things He requested, in order to fulfil His Holy Intentions.

For this, further sections on the different aspects of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart may be found here:

Also, you will find many weblog entries related to the Tradition of the Sacred Heart here.

My Own Video on the Sacred Heart Devotion—Article Continues Below

Update 2017:

I would just like to add to this page that my husband Roger Buck, also author of a book on the Sacred Heart (Cor Jesu Sacratissimum – here at Amazon worldwide) has recently produced a beautiful video about the Heart of Jesus.

In that video, he talks about our experiences on pilgrimage to Paray-le-Monial in France, experiences which completely changed both of our lives and led to the creation of this website dedicated to His Most Sacred Heart. The videos also features many images related to devotion to the Sacred Heart as well as photos of Paray-le-Monial, taken by me and others.

Books from Roger Buck

Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck

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6 responses to “An Introduction to the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus”

  1. […] I have much more about both today’s Feast of the Sacred Heart as well as other aspects of the Devotion in a special section for this site which I wrote not so lon… /* This entry was posted in Kim's Weblog. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a […]

  2. […] Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is upon […]

  3. Michelle Avatar

    Thank you for spreading devotion.

  4. Sophie Tredor Avatar
    Sophie Tredor

    This is a wonderful site!

  5. Dainess Avatar

    I will love to receive more knowledge concerning sacred heart of Jesus

  6. Stacy Avatar

    How do I subscribe to this website?

    1. roger Avatar

      Hello Stacy and please forgive me. As utterly ridiculous as my reply is going to sound—after missing your comments for years, alas!—I am going to be even more ridiculous by saying that I am not fully sure, as this site isn’t configured for that in any obvious way that I understand. And yet I think that some more tech-savvy people than are subscribing using something called RSS. So I am sorry. I am years late and totally unhelpful as I know of no easy answer. But I am very belatedly grateful for your interest nonetheless.

  7. Catherine Ann Humber Avatar
    Catherine Ann Humber


    1. roger Avatar

      Oh thank you- at long, long last. I am very sorry for the ridiculous time in replying. I have been away from this site, which is now about to be majorly revamped and relaunched. The new site launching very soon will have comments closed as, alas, I cannot find time for them anymore.

      But bless you for this!