A New Generation
Sacred and Immaculate Heart Materials
Images originally part of a private collection donated to the museum through the
Department of Rare Books; Holy Cards part of collection in Rare Books, some of which were
found tucked away in books.
The Catholic University of America
Museum Collection and Rare Books Collection
The Devotional Revolution of the Nineteenth Century
In the middle and late nineteenth century, the Church not only in Ireland, but around the
world, was caught up in a 'devotional revolution.' Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII encouraged
it by publicizing devotions, raising the status of their feast days, offering special
indulgences for their practice and blessings for their sodalities. Changes in
communication technologies, cheaper and faster printing and productions of lithographs,
aided this revolution The result was that while national traditions of devotions remained
vital, certain devotions became more broadly popular across national, ethnic and racial
lines than ever before. It was an era of 'romanization' and 'standardization' - but also
democratization - of devotions, historians note. Many immigrants came to America steeped
in such devotions like the Sacred Heart along with devotions to national patrons and
village saints. These broadly promoted and popular devotions that crossed ethnic
boundaries would become increasingly important, however, to new American-born generations
as they moved out of immigrant ghettoes and embraced a faith that could speak to Catholics
of every ethnic ancestry.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary
Devotion to heart of Jesus emerged gradually in the medieval era, but became especially
popular after St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun, encouraged it in the seventeenth
In 1856, Pope Pius IX extended the feast to the universal Church and later Leo XIII raised
its rank. Through the Apostleship of Prayer, approved by the Vatican in 1854, groups,
families and communities consecrated themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1899, Leo
XIII, in his encyclical, Annum Sacrum, consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart.
In the United States devotion to the Sacred Heart dated back to the late eighteenth
century, but did not become broadly popular until the 1870s when Jesuit and other priests
sought to democratize it through parish missions and the Jesuit magazine, Messenger of the
Devotion to the heart of Jesus has usually emphasized his suffering heart. Dating back to
the seventeenth century, then, images of the Sacred Heart have often depicted it with a
crown of thorns and a bleeding wound.
Devotion to the heart of Mary has almost always been closely associated with devotion to
the heart of Jesus, but has a separate history and a different meaning.
Devotion to Mary's heart had medieval roots but did not first become popular until the
late 1500s and early 1600s. St. John Eudes, a priest in France in the mid seventeenth
century was one of its earliest, strongest proponents, composing an office and writing a
book on devotion to the heart of Mary (he also wrote a book on devotion to the heart of
In 1855, Pope Pius IX approved an office and a mass of the "most pure heart of
Mary." Before that, the devotion had been little noticed in America but now it began
to flourish there.
Devotion to the heart of Mary emphasized her pure or 'immaculate' heart and became linked
to Mary's Immaculate Conception.