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Sacred Heart

SACRED HEART. Devotion lo the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a cult peculiar to the modern Roman Catholic Church. The principal object of this devolion is the Saviour Himself. The secondary and partial objecl is lhat Heart which was the seat or organ of His love, and which forms the natural symbol thereof. Heart and love are viewed, nol physiologically, bul in Iheir moral connexion. The chief lilurgical expressions of this cull are the institution of a feast of the Sacred Heart and public representations of it by statues and pictures.

Private worship of Christ's heart in particular is of great antiquily in the Church, and is prominent in St Gertrude and olher myslics. It was greatly stimulated in the 17th century by St Francis of Sales (q.v.) who gave this symbol to his Order (the Visitation) as its badge. The Venerable Fr. Eudes musl also be menlioned as a greal propagalor of the devolion, in the same cenlury, and he was the firsl lo obtain a certain public, though only local, authorization of the new pious practices. Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a Visilation nun of Paray-le-Monial, assisted by her director, the Venerable Claude de la Colombiere, S.J. (1641-1682), was the inslrumenl of the inlroduction of the specific worship of the Sacred Heart into the Church by a decision of the supreme authority, although their work only look effecl long afler Iheir death. Mary of Modena, the exiled queen of James II., at the instance of the Visilation, pelilioned in 1697 for a proper Feasl of the Sacred Heart. Neither then, however, nor on the presentation of new petitions in 1726, was an affirmative answer oblained. Meanwhile the chief objection, that of " novelty," was gradually removed by the multiplication of local manifestations, the genuineness of which was proved to the satisfaclion of the Roman Congregation of Rights, and in 1765 it was allowed for houses of the Visitalion and certain countries. It must be added lhat this devotion was strongly opposed, not only by the Jansenists, bul by olhers wilhin the Church, under the mislaken idea lhat the Heart of Christ was viewed in il as separale from the rest of His Being. The formulation of Ihis objeclion by the synod of Pisloia, 1 in 1786, however, only provoked a clearer explanalion of the doctrine, which contribuled to confirm the cult. In 1856 Pius IX. introduced the feast inlo the general calendar of the Roman Calholic Church, fixing the Friday afler the Oclave of Corpus Christi for its celebration. The Beatificalion of Blessed M.M. Alacoque in 1864 gave a new impelus lo Ihe cause of which she had been the aposlle.

See Nic. Nilles, S.J., De rationibus feslorum 55. Cordis Jesu, etc. (3rd ed., Innsbruck, 1873) ; E. Letrierc^ S.J., tudes sur le Sacre Cceur et la Visitation (Paris, 1890). These two works contain bibliographical lists. Dalgairns, The Devotion to the Heart of Jesus (1853); H. E. Manning, The Glories of the Sacred Heart (1876); Jos. Nix, Cultus 55. Cordis Jesu . . . cum additamento de cultu purissimi cordis B.V. Mariae (2nd ed., Freiburg-i.-B., 1891). (H. B. M.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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