June 15, 2012, is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, one of the most common devotions in the Catholic Church today. That is why many people are surprised to find out that the Feast of the Sacred Heart was not celebrated until fairly recently.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus took root first in France, but it took the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-90) for the devotion to become universal. In 1856, Pope Pius IX decreed that the feast should be celebrated by the universal Church, in reparation for our ingratitude for the sacrifice that Christ has made for us.
Since the Feast of the Sacred Heart always falls 19 days after Pentecost Sunday, it is almost always celebrated in June, which is why June is known as the Month of the Sacred Heart. It can also fall in July, however--the Month of the Precious Blood of Jesus. These two months, and the feast they share, should lead us to meditate on the connection between Christ's Precious Blood, the instrument of our salvation through His Sacrifice on the Cross, and His Sacred Heart, which represents His mercy toward mankind.
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
(Sacred Heart of Jesus statue next to right side altar in St. Mary's Oratory, Rockford, Illinois. Photo by Scott P. Richert.)
More on the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
- The Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Prayers for June: The Month of the Sacred Heart
- Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus