Taking the Sacred Heart of Jesus

A quick Valentine for you!

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Jesus gave His Sacred Heart to Saint Catherine of Sienna
And He’ll give it to you too.

Christ Exchanging His Heart with Saint Catherine, by Ventura Salimbeni,
Christ Exchanging His Heart with Saint Catherine, by Ventura Salimbeni, c. 1605. Private collection.

No, but seriously! This art illustrates a vision of St. Catherine of Sienna, in which she gave her heart to Jesus, and He gave to her in exchange His own Sacred Heart, which burnt in love.

Father John Croiset, S.J. wrote the following in his book, The Devotion to the Sacred Heart:

St. Catherine of Siena loved this devotion [of the Sacred Heart] to an extraordinary degree: she made an entire donation of her heart to her divine Spouse and she obtained the Heart of Jesus in exchange; from that time on, she endeavored to live and act only according to the movements and inclinations of the Heart of Jesus Christ.

The Devotion to the Sacred Heart, by Father John Croiset, S.J. (1691)

And so you’ll see Jesus giving to St. Catherine of Sienna, who is clothed in the habit of the Dominican order, His Heart in this picture.

His Heart, by the way, seems to be glowing, and this is no accident! Several mystics spoke of His Sacred Heart burning with love for us!

Of course, Saint Catherine of Sienna isn’t the only one to receive this vision. Several other saints have reported a similar exchange. Which sort of makes sense, in a way! After all, didn’t Jesus promise us that we would become united with Him?


John 17

20“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. 22And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. 24Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. 26I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

This is a popular gospel reading for weddings — in fact, this is the gospel that I used in my own wedding! — and for good reason. It expresses the longing that Christ has that we may be united to Him, who is Love Himself. He is the Bridegroom and we, the Church, are the Bride, and He loves us more than we can possibly imagine.

And so, for this Valentine’s Day, as we exchange expressions of love with each other, may we also remember to give our hearts to Jesus Christ as well.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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