Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is at the very core of the
Fatima message. The Blessed Mother presented it as the solution to
the problems of the world and to save souls from going to Hell.
Jesus Wants Devotion to the Immaculate Heart
At the third apparition, in July 1917, after the terrible vision of
Hell, Our Lady presented devotion to her Immaculate Heart, together
with the Communion of Reparation of the First Five Saturdays and the
consecration of Russia, as the means to avoid the perdition of souls,
the chastisement of a new world war and the expansion of communism.
At an earlier apparition in June, Our Lady had told Lucia, "Jesus . .
. 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.
Devotion of Reparation
As recommended by the Blessed Mother, this devotion is intended to
make reparation for the ongoing offenses suffered by the Immaculate
Heart. At the June 1917 apparition, Our Lady opened her hands, which
gave off an intense light: "In front of the palm of Our Lady's right
hand was a heart surrounded with thorns that appeared to be piercing
it. We understood it was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, insulted by
the sins of humanity, which wanted reparation."
What is the meaning of this devotion? Why should we venerate the
Immaculate Heart of Mary? Given our limited space, we will detail a
few aspects, rich in meaning, of this admirable devotion.
A Symbol of Our Lady's Love
From time immemorial the heart has symbolized love, the most noble of
all sentiments. In relation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the
Immaculate Heart of Mary, it represents the Savior's redeeming love
to the point of delivering Himself for us and the co-redeeming love
of Mary Most Holy that is united intimately with her Divine Son's
Thus, the object of devotion to the Sacred Hearts is His merciful
love. This is why Pope Pius XII affirmed the devotion to the Sacred
Heart of Jesus--it is fundamental. Based on his argument, theologians
say the same about the Immaculate Heart of Mary: it is well understood
and it is the essence of all devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Devotion to the Persons of Jesus and Mary
In addition to their specific functions, the parts of the human body
serve to symbolize an aspect of a person's most salient
characteristics. Thus, a perspicacious person is said to have "eagle
eyes" and a very courageous man has "a lion's heart." The same
happens with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate
Heart of Mary: it emphasizes a body part to symbolize a salient aspect
of the whole adorable Person of Jesus Christ and the venerable Person
of His Most Holy Mother, which is their merciful love. Devotion to
these Hearts addresses therefore to the Persons of Jesus and of
Immaculate, Most Holy, Full of Grace
The absence of any sin in a creature implies a most abundant help of
grace, which would not be possible without the extraordinary help
from God. This is why the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary as being "full
of grace."2
Likewise, the absence of all sin implies a high degree of perfection
and sanctity. Therefore, the Immaculate Heart of Mary symbolizes the
hallowed purity and sanctity of Mary Most Holy and her complete
fidelity to God.
Dolorous Heart
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is also a dolorous heart, pierced with
sorrow. Soon after the joys of the Savior's birth, at the
Presentation in the Temple, the old Simeon, turning to the Mother of
God, prophesied, "Behold, this child is set for the ruin, and for the
resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be
contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of
many hearts thoughts may be revealed."3
Maximo Peinador, a Spanish theologian, comments:
What were the feelings of Mary's heart upon hearing the words of
Simeon? They are easily guessed: her admiration and joy before the
manifestation of her Son suddenly turns into bitter sorrow. The
words, not only about the future of her Son but her own, were clear
and definitive. But the entire and definitive fulfillment of Simeon's
announcement would be realized on Calvary . . . . There, as nowhere
else, Christ crucified would be a sign of contradiction . . . . At
the foot of the cross, His Mother would feel the announced sword in
all the fibers of her motherly heart.4
A Wise Heart
Mary Most Holy is the Mother of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ,
and for this reason she is venerated as the Seat of Wisdom. Her
Immaculate Heart also is, therefore, a Wise Heart, and Catholic
liturgy has applied to her, since the 8th century, texts from the
Sapiential books of Scripture.5
This sapiential aspect is emphasized in the two references that Saint
Luke makes to the Heart of Mary. "Heart" here is a symbol of Our
Lady's interior life and of her continuous contemplation of God's
marvels, particularly as manifested in her Divine Son.
The first reference is to the scene of the shepherds visiting the
newborn Savior. Saint Luke comments, "But Mary kept all these words,
pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). The second reference is
about the loss and finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Saint
Luke repeats the same comment, with a slight difference, maintaining
the same sense, "And his mother kept all these words in her heart"
(Luke 2:51).
A Maternal Heart, Full of Tenderness
It would be impossible in a short article to cover all aspects of the
Immaculate Heart. But one cannot fail to recall that it is a motherly
Heart filled with the tenderness that the best of all mothers had for
the best of all sons. This tenderness is reflected in the love, full
of mercy, that she has for us; which is why we invoke her as Mater
A Devotion Suited to Our Days
We find ourselves today in a time when sentiment is dying and
relationships between persons are increasingly dominated by
brutality, cynicism, self-interest and sensuality.
Just think of abortion! Is this not the most cruel and brutal
suppression of the most noble of all affections, which is motherly
love? Isn't this love often shortchanged by the attachment for a
professional career or a transitory promiscuous relationship?
Isn't something similar happening to fatherly love? Isn't this tragic
egoism that destroys family relationships, and thus the family itself,
spreading to all other types of human relationships? Thus one
understands the Blessed Mother's 1917 prophetic wisdom in Fatima when
men would witness the death of sentiment.
Hence the remedy for the immense crisis we find ourselves in is
devotion to that venerable and most holy Heart capable of restoring
true feelings of love, affection and mercy, and the purity of which
our times are so needful. The Immaculate Heart is the source,
overflowing with motherly love, of the one who is "full of grace."6
1. The Sacred Heart of Jesus can be the object of adoration. Indeed,
Pope Pius XII taught: . . . His Heart, the noblest part of human
nature, is hypostatically united to the Person of the divine Word.
Consequently, there must be paid to it that worship of adoration with
which the Church honors the Person of the Incarnate Son of God
Himself. We are dealing here with an article of faith, for it has
been solemnly defined in the general Council of Ephesus and the
second Council of Constantinople. Haurietis Aquas, His Holiness Pope
Pius XII. Encyclical on Devotion to the Sacred Heart, May 15, 1956,
2. Luke 1:28.
3. Luke 2:34, 35.
4. Maximo Peinador, C.M.F., Teologia Biblica Cordimariana (Madrid :
Co. Cul. S.A., 1959), 125.
5. The books of the Scripture that teach wisdom, known as Sapiential
books, are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus (or
6. Luke 1:28.