Monday, 3 June 2013

The development of the litany of the Sacred Heart.

Pope Leo XIII approved this Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899 for public use.  Before this date  a variety of personal or more local litanies had been in use.  Pope Leo, however, considered that it was about time a more universal form should be composed and used world-wide. The litany was therefore the product of a kind of evolutionary process.   However, there are three main sources.  The Jesuit priest Father Croiset composed a litany in 1691 from which 17 invocations were used by Venerable Anne Madeleine Remuzat in 1718 at Marseille. She joined an additional 10 invocations to those of Father Croiset, for a total of 27 invocations.

Henri Pinta's depiction of Anne Madeleine and Mgr Belsunce. 
Fr. Croiset  was spiritual director to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. After her death Fr. Croiset published  an account of her revelations.  The book also included her prayers. The book, published in Devotion to the Sacred Heart - which was  published in 1691 – although it was not actually approved for two hundred years! In due course the book was rediscovered and was given the Sacred Congregation ‘s seal of approval and removed from the Index of banned books.  Venerable Anne Madeleine Remuzat (1696-1730) was to play an important role in the spread on the devotion in Provence, Lyons, Rouen, Constantinople, Cairo, Spain, Louisiana, Persia, Syria and the Indian subcontinent.  She was very influential on Mgr de Belsunce in Marseilles and this led to the institution of a feast of the Sacred Heart in 1720. During this period in which the devotion to the Sacred Heart was growing in France  six more invocations were composed  written by the Visantine Sister Madeleine Joly of Dijon in 1686 – these were based on her correspondence with St. Margaret Mary.     In 1899 these were added to the 27 of Croiset and Ven Anne Madeleine by the Sacred Congregation for Rites when it was approved for public use - thus  making a  total of 33 invocations ( one for each year of life of our Lord Jesus Christ).

As Fr. John Hardon put it : ‘Each invocation reflects an aspect of God's love symbolized by the physical Heart of Christ, the Son of God who became man and died out of love for sinful mankind.' ( Here  )

The litany provides us, therefore, with 33 facets of  the mystery of God’s Love. Each one is a kind of icon of the love of God.  Each one is a window into the mystery of the Trinity.  Each one is a window into Holy Scripture. Each one is a window into our own hearts.  Each one is an opportunity for dialogue.

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