The Powerful Image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

​What is the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

When explaining the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as the age-old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” 

Jesus communicates with us in many ways — through prayer, through the Scriptures, and through images.

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The Catholic religion abounds with symbols and imagery — from stained glass windows to statues of the holy family, the Rosary, and relics of the saints. These images serve as a visual reminder of our faith and represent messages Jesus is trying to communicate to us.

One of the most profound images Jesus uses to speak to us is the image of His Sacred Heart. Depicted throughout history in paintings, statues, jewelry, and prayer cards, The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the image of Jesus with His heart exposed, surrounded by thorns, with flames and a cross emerging from the top. In honor of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let’s take a closer look at what message Jesus is trying to convey to us in this striking image.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

How Did The Sacred Heart Image Come About?

Margaret Mary Alacoque Sacred Heart

​The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is believed to have started in the 11th century, but the devotion didn’t spread until Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun, began to receive multiple apparitions from Jesus starting in 1673.

On December 27, 1673, Jesus appeared to Margaret Mary for the first time when she was praying before the Blessed Sacrament. She described feeling herself, “wholly penetrated with that Divine Presence.”

Jesus spoke to her saying, “My Divine Heart is so inflamed with love for men and for thee in particular that, being unable any longer to contain within Itself the flames of Its burning charity, It needs to spread them abroad by thy means…” Jesus had chosen Margaret Mary to help fulfill His message: “I search for a victim of My Heart, someone who would want to sacrifice herself as an immolated host for the fulfillment of my designs.”

​Jesus Appears a Second TIme

Jesus's Sacred Heart Appears a Second Time

​​A few months after Jesus first appeared to Margaret Mary, He appeared a second time; during this apparition, He revealed to her ​His Sacred Heart​ in a moment she described as, “The Divine Heart was presented to me in a throne of flames, more resplendent than a sun, transparent as crystal, with this adorable wound. And it was surrounded with a crown of thorns, signifying the punctures made in it by our sins, and a cross above signifying that from the first instant of His Incarnation, that is, as soon as the Sacred Heart was formed, the cross was implanted into it and from the first moment it was filled with all the sorrow to be inflicted on it by the humiliations, poverty, pain, and scorn of His sacred humanity was to endure throughout His life and during His sacred passion.”

She continued to say, “And He (Jesus) made me see that He intensely desired to be loved by men and to snatch them from the path…onto which Satan was driving them in throngs…”

​Third Appearance

Jesus appeared to Margaret Mary a third time

​​​When Jesus appeared to Margaret Mary a third time, she described Jesus “appearing to me resplendent with glory, with his five wounds shining like five suns, and flames issuing from every part of His sacred humanity. But above all, from His adorable breast which looked like a furnace; and uncovering his breast, He showed me His most loving and lovable heart, which was the living source of these flames.”

Jesus expressed to the nun His pure love for all humankind and the endless sacrifices He was willing to endure for our salvation. Yet, He also expressed with great sadness all of the ingratitude He received by so many. “Behold this heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to the point of spending itself and being consumed to prove its love to them. And in return, I receive from most men only ingratitude because of their irreverence and sacrileges and the coldness and scorn they have for me in this Sacrament of love. But what offends me most is that hearts consecrated to me act in this way. Do thou at least console me by supplying for their ingratitude, as far as thou art able?”

Jesus instructed her that for a period of time, she would endure turmoil and the devil would try to tempt her. He told her to receive Communion as often as she could, but especially on the first Friday of nine consecutive months.

​Final Sacred Heart Apparition

​On this final apparition, Jesus revealed His final message to Margaret Mary and by extension, to all of us, that we are to celebrate the Feast of The Sacred Heart of Jesus every year on the Friday following Corpus Christi, in reparation for the coldness and indifference many have towards His infinite love and compassion.

​Jesus promises all who devote themselves to His Sacred Heart will receive many graces, especially:

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    ​I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life
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    ​I will give peace in their families
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    ​I will console them in all their troubles
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    I will be their refuge in life and especially in death
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    I will abundantly bless all their undertakings
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    Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy
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    Tepid souls shall become fervent
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    Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection
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    I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated
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    I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts
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    Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart
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    In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour

​Fulfilling Jesus' Plan

Margaret Mary died October 17th, 1690. Her desire to fulfill Jesus’ plan of establishing worldwide devotion to His Sacred Heart wouldn’t be fulfilled until many years after her death. In 1856 Pope Pius IX decreed that the feast should be regularly celebrated throughout the entire Church.

It’s been more than 150 years since the pope’s decree.

Are you devoted to Jesus’ Sacred Heart?

Let this year’s feast day (and every year going forward) be a reminder for all of us to replace ingratitude with gratitude for “the Heart which has so loved all that It has spared nothing, even going so far as to exhaust and consume Itself to prove Its love” to us.

  • Sheelagh Adams says:

    My very dearest father was shot dead one afternoon at around 2pm having been to Mass at 1pm. He and his mother before him were very devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as are our family. I just find difficulty in coming to terms with promises about a happy death and receiving the sacraments. Respectfully I would appreciate clarity on this.

    • aoife says:

      Hello Sheelagh. I don’t know the answer to your question which is very sad. However I am going to guess that your dad was taken from this earth having received Jesus at Communion. I will pray now that you get your answer.

  • Dee says:

    I have a question what do it mean when a picture moves sideway… mind you the picture is the face and head of jesus with the crown

    And then the closet doors opening


    Dear Father
    Would you please tell me which direction (ie. East, South, North or West) the Picture and alter of The Sacred Heart of Jesus to be placed?
    Best Regards,
    Dilip Francis

  • Modern Day John the Baptist says:

    She might’ve had visions of Jesus, but her explanation of when Jesus told her the devil would tempt her and go to communion on Fridays or as often as possible, is wrong. The 12 promises are wrong. I firmly believe that Jesus could of appeared to her and told her about that that’s on her third vision. That is for us now and even before, but when the nation started turn into partying, that was for us to realize as many Fridays as possible, receive communion. Communion with the Lord. So you don’t go party Friday Saturday for the weekend. And it’s just a possibility, you can’t give yourself communion. The state of grace in mortal sin and having to be observed by A Catholic official priest is incorrect. You confess your sins to the Lord he forgives you, and if you confess and one to one, he’s faithful and just to forgive you. When you become born again you are a priest. I’m a born-again Pentecostal charismatic catholic. We were born into the situations we were born in. Oh and the promise about a peaceful family or whatever, that is incorrect. My family has disowned me because I am 100% devoted to the Lord. It’s time for a Vatican three your baptism in it as an infant does nothing. But if the church wants to keep that that’s fine, but once you confess and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you were to be baptized. That is an outward sign to show people you’re done sending against the body. Sex outside of marriage, pornography, anger outburst and rages, cussing, drinking. Yes drinking. If You do calls or someone else to sin, you’re not to do it. How does it start and I’m just gonna have a drink, then start drinking a little bit more and more weekends, then people turn and alcoholics. If you never drink you never have a problem turning into an alcoholic. It’s time for a revival in the Catholic Church. It’s time for the pope to apologize to all the people for what the Catholic Church is done to them. As I heard in Detroit the Catholic bishop apologize to a lot of people for something. As the few people I’ve talke you do calls for someone else to sin, you’re not to do it. How does it start and I’m just gonna have a drink, then start drinking little bit more and more weekends, then people turn and alcoholics. If you never drink you never have a problem turning into an alcoholic. It’s time for a revival in the Catholic Church. It’s time for the pope to apologize to all the people for what the Catholic Church is done to them. As I heard in Detroit the Catholic bishop apologize to a lot of people for something. I’ve talked to several former Catholics, and because of what the church did to them, they left the faith. Don’t read your Bible, your priest to tell you were to read, and several other bad things. Now at least the church does believe in having a Bible, and since I started kneeling down the whole time before communion, that got asked brought in to Prince of peace, I’ve been taking a missile to church there for months when I do go, and now they got this letter in there. And I take notes in church, and at least at the charismatic center several people do that, but I’m the only one I’ve ever seen do it at Prince of peace.

    I was born again January 15 of 2017. Go look at my Facebook page. Get testimony after testimony after testimony, and teaching after teaching from certain leaders. You listen to a real radio station look up to you HCB, keeping him close by

  • Carolyne Ruguru Macharia says:

    Wonderful Proud to be a catholic

  • Warrior for Christ says:

    You are using an Ungodly image of the sacred heart of Jesus. The enemy will try to put himself in your home and on your web sites whenever possible. The one you are using has a pagan cat God in the corner of the folded arm touching his chest. IF you take a closer look his face is a bit distorted to. I’ve just learned this and I’m trying to spread the word to all of my beloved catholics. God bless

    • Nancy Rice says:

      I also found the image on this article as not being right at all. I don’t see a cat, but His most Sacred Heart is so thickly veiled that you can’t even see it. I also have a problem with the Divine Mercy image with the red and white rays, because it doesn’t show the Sacred Heart at all. It was replaced by these cold rays and Christ’s most adorable face can hardly be seen because he is so far away from us in the full length from us. Some even have Faustina standing IN FRONT of our Lord in the painting! I did an image search for her shrine and as I expected it is an ugly modern building that looks like a salt shaker. I could sense no reverence but something to put on display.

  • Barbara Russell says:

    You have included the Divine Mercy image above – that is not the image of the Sacred Heart. The two should not be conflated. St. Margaret Mary’s message from Jesus was all about His Sacred Heart and His Heart is always pictured in the images. The Divine Mercy images from the descriptions of St. Faustina show no heart at all, only rays of light. Her visions and her diary are very different from St. Margaret Mary’s and the two should not be confused.

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