Meaning of Sacred and Immaculate Hearts – Feast Days are Upon Us!

by Steve Ray on June 2, 2016

A non-Christian friend found two paintings at an art show and asked me, “What in the world are these? They seem to have pagan elements. What do they have to do with Jesus and Mary?”

Here is my explanation. If you readers have anything to add, please post it in the Comments below. Thanks.

Thanks. Beautiful images. Full of biblical representation — NOT pagan influences. They are devotional images to remind Catholics of the sorrows of Jesus and Mary and the resultant purification, joy and new life that come from them.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus:
Hearts represent love and life as the center of our being. Jesus’ heart beats with the fire of love (at the top of the heart) which was demonstrated at the cross. The fire also represents the purifying fire of God by which he purifies men. It exudes the transformative power of divine love.

The crown of thorns brought suffering which was endured for the love of man to redeem him — to bear man’s pain in his own heart. The cut in the heart is that made by the lance that was thrust through his heart when he was on the cross.

The blood dripping represents the new life secured through his death (life came through dead). The Blood of Jesus also cleanses us, washes us from sin. The result is the heart of man (below surrounded by flowers) is given new life. The flowers represent a garden of delights, new life, freshness. The Garden of Eden which brought about death by sin is now replaced by the Garden of Heaven which brings new life because of holiness and the work of Christ.

Adam and Eve experienced death at the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden; The New Adam (Jesus) brings about life at the Tree of Death (the cross) in another garden (John 19:41). This cross is at the top of the heart. Heaven and the glory of God is represented by the clouds and the blazing sun or heavenly light from God behind the hearts.

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary:
This one is similar to the Sacred Heart. The roses surrounding Mary’s heart represent her sinlessness and purity, sweetness and new life. The seven swords piercing the top of the heart represents the “Seven Sorrows of Mary,” (“Mater Dolorosa”).

The first of her sorrows was the Prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her soul because of her son’s death (Luke 2:35), 2) their flight into Egypt, 3) the loss of Jesus in the Temple; 4) the fourth sorrow is Mary watching Jesus carry the cross, 5) the crucifixion imagining a mother watching her son die this way; 6) receiving his limp, cold body after the crucifixion, 7) the body of her son buried in the tomb.

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple as a baby the prophet Simeon said that the life and death of Jesus would be like a sword that would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35). The lower heart, the one of Mary surrounded by roses, shows a cut in it which is symbolic of her sorrows. But her sorrows have brought us new life and pure hearts represented by the garden of roses below.

The Mystic Rose:
The mystic rose, symbolizes Mary’s mystical participation in the Holy Trinity as Heaven’s Rose or Mystical Rose. In medieval times the mystic rose symbol was drawn with four petals on a stain glass background or on a multi-colored background like a popular quilt pattern which is still stitched today.

It is a very popular and insightful devotion to Jesus and his mother — the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Every aspect is taken from the Bible and nicely illustrated in the pictures you sent. You have a nice few items there :-)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Gieryic May 2, 2012 at 7:12 PM


Would you know the artist of these paintings? I came across an old copy of this of this painting which lead me to a beautiful Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Thanks for your time, Susan

Marco J June 16, 2012 at 8:48 AM

A friend Asked: Heart… why is it so prominent in symbols in Catholic faith? Heart getting burned in fire… i can remember one of the scenes in Mr. Gibson’s film Apocalypto. An old ritual for the sun god.

My Answer:The Heart of Our Lord Beats like a fiery furnace of Love for us, That’s why he sacrificed himself for the sake of our salvation. Divine love “Agape” is a blazing fire, for it is written “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.” (Song of Solomon 8:6), for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29), so on the road to be in the likeness of his divinity(2 Peter 1:4), so our hearts shall as well burn in flame by the WORD (Luke 24:32)…

Sacred heart of Jesus Reminds us of that kind of Love, it is not any phony love story that you hear on the sideways and highways, it’s profound, true and eternal. Amen for the Glory of His Love!

Fr. Mawerere Denis July 15, 2012 at 4:48 AM

The sacred of Jesus reminds me of the enormous love that Jesus has for humanity. It is not shallow but profound and without strings attached. What a wonderful Love for us fragile beings!

Susan Woolsey March 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM


Roland de Rooy April 25, 2013 at 7:26 PM

The two times I have seen Jesus, years ago after doing a novena of prayers directed at Him; I saw only His pierced enormously large heart radiating vermilion blue, purple and green rays in all directions; His much smaller face radiating gold and white rays from his Third Eye; a face and auburn hair like painted a million times; and His extended left hand with wounds in the wrist towards me. And He rayed my own Third Eye and Heart.

Afterwards I noticed that for some period, I felt him in both places when in deep prayers, or whenever something terrible was happening in the world. Or when looking at the suffering of a person.

I have only one vision of Mariah (?) as a diaphanous enormously tall blue column. Looking like a thin veil dress, moving in the wind. Also coming after doing a novena of Mariah’s Annunciation and Magnificat.

After that, no more visions of them, only a sense of presence and Jesus holding my left hand like a burning fire and Mariah my right hand like a soothing warm glow, when in High Mass on the Day of Palms and Easter, or in very intense praying.

Of ADAM I only dreamed once, looking at and seeing only His thigh, like a toddler would see his father’s. A beautiful muscular thigh, like Leonardo da Vinci might have painted muscle studies, with the muscles outlined and softly glowing in the same vermilion blue and green and purple as Jesus.

I want to paint them in the future. Have to learn to paint first.

Roland de Rooy

neumann raj November 22, 2013 at 9:19 AM

the colors of the rays in the painting must have meaning too.

Mesia December 22, 2013 at 2:03 AM

fine description about sacret heart of Jesus n Immaculate Heart of Mary.i like it.thanks for the information.

V January 27, 2015 at 4:30 PM

I asked Jesus or God if I could have a small miracle and see the Jesus on the cross I have move, and this morning His head was straight, and moved to the right, and tilted slightly forward. As I was walking past I also noticed the sun through the window was clearly in the shape of a burning heart from every angle. (It clearly was a heart and not just a trick of the sunlight.) I can’t remember why I asked for the cross to move now, and was wondering if you know what seeing His heart burning on the cross specifically means? Thanks for your time. Sincerely.

Nathan April 5, 2015 at 12:59 PM

Excellent analysis Steve. Although this a perfect example of the disconnect between what the Church teaches and what people (especially Catholics) perceive and believe. You gave a beautiful explanation for the images and how they directly relate to the suffering of Christ and Redemption of man. But I could also see the Sacred Heart of Jesus serving as spooky heavy metal album cover. Kids would just think all the blood and fire looks “cool” and rebellious. The times we live in.

Lilly April 7, 2015 at 12:30 AM

Wow, Steve,,,very nicely done/explained.

Dana June 12, 2015 at 8:32 AM

That was very nice, Steve. Thank you. I have a very old hand painted Sacred Heart that I Placed in the very middle of my various religious art work wall. I read somewhere that if you do hand the Sacred Heart Icon, it should be placed in a very prominent place and not anywhere that it may appear to a disadvantage or inferior to anything else. God bless!

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