Tag Archives: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

June 7, 2018

0 Comments

Immaculate Heart of Mary

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a popular topic among spiritual artists, and this devotion has inspired countless paintings, stained glass windows, and sculptures. While art pieces vary, there are common elements found in most renditions.

The Heart. The heart symbolizes love, and the red color is a second symbol for love. The heart-love connection has a rich biblical heritage: Moses told the people, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Dt 6:5); Jeremiah explained that God writes his covenant on our hearts (Jer 31:33); and Ezekiel relayed God’s promise to take away our stony hearts and replace them with natural hearts (Ez 36:26). The heart is the center of human emotions and feelings, wisdom and insight, desire and motivation, joy and sorrow, courage and fear. Mary’s heart was pulsing with love for her son Jesus.

The Sword. Mary’s sword originates with Simeon’s ominous prediction: “And you yourself shall be pierced by a sword” (Lk 2:35). The sword is a symbol of Mary’s passion and suffering, pain and sorrow, while for Jesus and art pieces of his Sacred Heart, the crown of thorns is his symbol of suffering. Another distinguishing characteristic is the sword’s point of entry. For Mary, the sword enters the top, usually from the right, and exists the bottom, usually at the left, although this is not a hard and fast rule. For Jesus, whose heart was pierced by the soldier’s lance (Jn 19:34), the sword entered from the bottom, presumably from the left side, and exited from the top right. The sword often represents Mary’s first sorrow or dolor, Simeon’s prophecy, but more often than not, it represents all Seven Dolors, including the Flight to Egypt, the loss of the Christ-child in the Temple, Mary’s piteous encounter with Jesus on the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, the removal of Jesus’ body from the cross, and Jesus’ entombment.

The Rose(s). A rose is a sign of love. If there is only one rose, it represents the singular love that one is to reserve for God alone. If the heart is circled with white roses, they symbolize Mary’s purity, sinlessness, and holiness; but if the roses are red they signify Mary’s deep love for Jesus her Son. The Christmas rose reminds us of the Nativity, the birth of Jesus, while a single rose can stand for Mary herself since she is known as the Mystical Rose. A blooming rose is occasionally used as a sign of Messianic expectation, the people’s deep desire for the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah (Is 35:1). It may also represent beauty and paradise.

The Flame. There usually is a flame at the top of the heart with one or more tongues of fire. It symbolizes zeal and devotion, and it further underscores Mary’s fervor, loyalty, and affection for her Son. The radiating heat is a reminder of the intensity of Mary’s warm love.

The Flower. There may be a flower sprouting from the burning flames. If so, the white petals are another sign of Mary’s purity, sinlessness, and holiness; while the green stem and leaves are signs of the new life and growth that bud forth due to Jesus’ resurrection. If the flower stem is bent down, it is a sign of Mary’s deferential reverence for her Son, but if it is standing tall, it is a sign of her glorification that came when she was assumed to heaven, took her place at the right of God’s throne, and crowned Queen of Heaven above and the Church below.

Continue reading...