The Immaculate Heart of Mary: Core of the Fatima Message
Apr 20, 2017 / Written by: America Needs Fatima
Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary permeates the whole story and message of Fatima. One may well say that it is the very core of the message, as well as the solution presented for the problems of today’s world.
100th Anniversary of the First Fatima Apparition
May 13, 1917–2017
But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19
Historically, devotion to Mary Most Holy in the form of her Immaculate Heart first occurs in the thirteenth century with St. Mechtilde, St. Gertrude, St. Bernardine of Siena and others. In the seventeenth century, St. Francis de Sales was an exponent of this devotion. But it was St. John Eudes the great apostle of the Immaculate Heart (1601-1680), who gave the decisive impulse to the practice.
In the same century, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus came to light through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and her confessor, St. Claude de La Colombiere. As the devotion to the Sacred Heart spread, so did the devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Both St. Margaret Mary and St. Claude, were deeply dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as well.
Beginning with Pope Pius VI, several popes incrementally spread the devotion, but in 1944 Pope Pius XII extended it to the whole Church, fixing the celebration on August 22. Today, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on the Saturday following the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is moveable, always observed on a Friday, nineteen days after Pentecost Sunday.
Symbolism of the Heart
Man expresses his ideas not only through concepts and words, but also through symbols.
Symbols are sensible signs that evoke or represent a higher and more abstract reality.
For example, the national flag represents the homeland; the lily evokes purity; the scepter and crown represent royal power.
Of all symbols, the human heart is perhaps the most common and universal.
Several examples of the various symbolic meanings of the word "heart" are found in both the Old and New Testaments:
"With all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issued out from it." Proverbs 4:23
"I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezechiel 36:26-27
"Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8
"That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts." Ephesians 3:17
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 50:10
Closely linked to emotions that alter one’s heartbeat, the heart symbolizes one’s preference, and especially one’s love.
A mother’s heart, for example, is a symbol of selfless love, full of affection and unconditionally capable of the greatest sacrifices.
On the other hand, the epithet of Richard I of England (1157-1199), “the Lion-Hearted,” expresses his fearlessness, courage, indomitable prowess, and indefatigable combativeness.
The physical heart, symbol of the spiritual heart
The Fathers of the Church consider that when, from the Cross, Our Lord Jesus made the Blessed Lady the mother of St. John, He also appointed her the mother of all men.
Thus, Mary’s heart is the physical symbol of her boundless love for God and human kind. But Our Lady’s physical heart is also the symbol of her spiritual heart. Thus, in the Immaculate Heart of Mary we also honor her inner life, her virtues, her perfect purity, her boundless humility, her affections and her sorrow.
Poignant in Catholic tradition is the representation of Mary’s heart pierced by a sword, symbol of her immense sorrow at witnessing and willing her Son’s passion and death for the salvation of our souls.
Jesus Wants Devotion to the Immaculate Heart
In 1916, the angel1 who came to prepare the three shepherd children for the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin said to them, “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”2
In another apparition, the angel repeated the message: “Pray, pray a lot. The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy upon you.”3
And the Mother of God herself, in the second apparition, told Lúcia:
"Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wants to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. To those who accept it, I promise salvation and those souls will be loved by God as flowers I have placed to embellish His Throne."4
Upon learning that she was going to be alone on earth after the death of her cousins, Lúcia was distressed. The Blessed Virgin consoled her, saying:
"I will never leave you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."5
These two statements—that Jesus wants to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the world, and that her Immaculate Heart is the refuge of suffering souls and the path that leads to heaven—summarize Fatima spirituality.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary
Just as devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is essential, for it highlights the redeeming love of the Incarnate Word, so also is devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, since it emphasizes the co-redeeming love of the Mother of God.
Unlike the Heart of Jesus, the Heart of Mary does not participate in the hypostatic union and is, therefore, a purely human heart. It is the heart of the most perfect of creatures who took the love of God to the highest point possible and was closely united to the Heart of Jesus in a maternal and filial intimacy. This intimacy began with the Incarnation of the Word in her most pure womb, culminated with her final offering on Calvary—where She offered her Son for our salvation—and continues now in Heaven.
By the Heart of Mary, as Fr. José Maria Canal, CMF explains, “we understand her intimacy, maternal feelings, mercy and tenderness toward sinners.”6 For Pope Pius XII it is “a symbol of all interior life, whose moral perfection, merits and virtues are beyond all human understanding!”7
Pius XII also emphasizes this maternal Heart’s compassion: “The Most Pure Heart of the Virgin [is the] seat of that love, compassion and all most lofty affections that participated so much in our redemption, especially when She ‘stabat iuxta Crucem,’ stood vigilantly next to the Cross." (cf. John 19:25)8
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary Must Go Together
"In order that favors in greater abundance may flow on all Christians, nay, on the whole human race, from the devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, let the faithful see to it that to this devotion the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God is closely joined.... It is, then, entirely fitting that the Christian people—who received the divine life from Christ through Mary—after they have paid their debt of honor to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should also offer to the most loving Heart of their heavenly Mother the corresponding acts of piety, affection, gratitude and expiation. Entirely in keeping with this most sweet and wise disposition of divine Providence is the memorable act of consecration by which We Ourselves solemnly dedicated Holy Church and the whole world to the spotless Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
—Pius XII 9
Fatima and the Immaculate Heart of Mary - The Five First Saturdays Devotion
In the second apparition of Fatima, Our Lady showed the seers, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, her heart encircled by thorns. Later, on December 10, 1925, in a private apparition to Sister Lucia, she asked for the devotion of reparation of the Five First Saturdays.
The Blessed Mother appeared alongside the Child Jesus who stood over a luminous cloud. Our Lady rested one hand on the Child’s shoulder while she held on the other hand a heart pierced with thorns.
The Child said, "Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment with no one to extract them with an act of reparation."
Our Lady expressed her request in the following words:
"See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to Confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."
— Our Lady to Lucia, October 10, 1925
- 1 It was the “Angel of Peace” or “Angel of Portugal.”
- 2 Solimeo, Fatima, 25.
- 3 Ibid., 26.
- 4 Ibid., 41.
- 5 Ibid.
- 6 Jose Maria Canal, CMF, La Consagracion a la Virgen y a su Corazon, I, 250. (Our translation.)
- 7 Pius XII, Radio Message to the National Marian Congress in Spain, Oct. 12, 1954, in Discorsi e Radiomessasaggi, t. XVI, 197. (Our translation.)
- 8 Ibid.
- 9 Encyclical Haurietis Aquas, nn. 63, 72, 124 https://www.newadvent.org/cath...
The Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima
To better understand the most important of all Marian apparitions and the greatest supernatural event of the last hundred years, we focus on the essential facts as recounted by Lucia dos Santos, the visionary who spoke to Our Lady.
Fatima Prayers of Reparation
These short prayers were miraculously revealed to the three shepherd children at Fatima during the apparition of the Angel of Portugal.