The Immaculate Heart of Mary, celebrated the day after the feast of the Sacred Heart, has been the subject of prayerful study and fervent veneration since the early years of Christianity. Its popularity surges where it’s clear she interceded in human history, events such as the appearance of the Miraculous Medal in 1832; the apparitions of Fatima, in which Our Lady’s triumph will be through her Immaculate Heart; and in every consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart, that her purity and clarity might guide the world back to Christ Who she loves ardently. To further emphasize this connection, the feast of the Immaculate Heart was moved from its original date in August (the month of the Immaculate Heart) to be immersed in the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in June. Our reliable guide to His Love is never too far away, and this shift in 1969 – just 22 years after the feast was canonically established – reflects that even today.
Written records provide us community-based feast days as early as 1643, but writings from visionaries like Saint Bernardino of Siena and Doctors of the Church like Saint Bernard of Clairvaux point to fascination with the Immaculate Heart as early as the tenth century. The earliest introduction to Mary’s heart, the one in which these feasts and writings find their basis, is the Gospels.
What may come as little surprise is that “immaculate heart” doesn’t directly appear in the Scriptures. The Gospel of Luke, however, has the closest notable references to Mary’s heart: Luke 2:19, which concludes the story of the Magi’s visit to the infant Jesus and, Luke 2:51, which serves as a half-sentence in the conclusion of the Infancy Narratives. In both, we see clearly written that Mary “pondered each of these things in her heart”.
Why the heart? Firstly, because the Greek term used, Καρδια (kardia), translates almost directly to “heart”. Though often referring to the literal heart, it is also used in symbolic reference to the inexplicable “place” in which we love others. Throughout storytelling, the heart itself also refers to the true will, passion, and essence of a whole person. We do things “wholeheartedly” or “with our heart and soul” to convey intensity and purpose behind the action. Even in making decisions, we often “follow our heart” – meaning we make decisions based on the feeling of it, even if the logical brain may differ. In most cases, our heart does tell us what we truly want or the direction God desires us to go – but it can also be swayed and hindered, clouded and selfish.
Mary’s heart is completely unique from this because hers is free from the cloud of Original sin. Her heart is entirely pure, unhindered, and clear in pursuit of Love Himself. No selfishness or fear curbs her from God’s love or God’s invitation. Even in the Fiat, Saint Bernardino of Siena writes that “from her heart, as from a furnace of Divine Love, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words of the most ardent love.”
Let the selfless, pure, devoted heart of Our Mother guide us closer to her Son, today and every day!
Our Lady is celebrated under many names, from popular apparitions to small-town titles. Each reveal something different about the Blessed Mother to us – and affirms what we already know of her love and intercessory power! Deepen your devotion to Our Lady with Miracles, Mysteries, & Mary, a monthly collection of stories, Church teaching, reflections, and so much more – guaranteed to expand your knowledge of Our Blessed Mother. Sign up today to receive this Marian content, right to your inbox, and check out our archive page to catch up on our year of Our Lady!