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The Sacred Heart
The Sacred Heart is a devotional name used by some Roman Catholics to refer to the physical heart of Jesus Christ as a symbol of Divine love. Devotion to the Sacred Heart in focusing on Christ's heart metaphorically focuses on the emotional and moral life of Jesus and especially His love for humanity. It also stresses the central Christian concept of loving and adoring Jesus. In most depictions, Christ's heart is shown containing wounds to which Christ points, as well as a crown of thorns. This wounded heart is meant to symbolize Christ's pain at the rejection of God's Gospel message of salvation and righteousness by humanity. In including the crown of thorns, it alludes to the manner of Christ's death, which is further highlighted by the inclusion of crucifixion wounds on Christ's hands, in most images. Thus the Christ of the image is of a post-resurrection Jesus speaking to humanity, not the pre-crucifixion Jesus of the Gospels.
The most significant source for the devotion to the Sacred Heart in the form it is known today was Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (July 22, 1647 - October 17, 1690), of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, who claimed to have received visions of Jesus Christ. In these visions she was told that those who prayerfully looked to the Sacred Heart would be given specific graces. In his Papal Bull Auctorem Fidei, Pope Pius VI praised devotion to the Sacred Heart, which had its own critics within Roman Catholicism. However, devotion to the Sacred Heart has been traced back as early as Saint Mechtilde (d. 1298) and Saint Gertrude (d. 1301).
Religious imagery depicting the Sacred Heart is frequently featured
in Catholic homes. Sometimes images display beneath them a list of family
members, indicating that the entire family is entrusted to the protection
of Jesus in the Sacred Heart, from whom blessings on the home and the
family members are sought. The prayer "O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place all my trust in Thee" is often used. One particular image
has been used as part of a set, along with an image of the Blessed Virgin
Mary. In that image, Mary too was shown pointing to her Immaculate Heart,
expressing her love for the human race and for her son, Jesus Christ.
The mirror images reflect an eternal binding of the two hearts
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