Here’s one of the oldest depictions of the Sacred Heart
As devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus dates back to the first centuries of Christianity, it was not a popular devotion until the 17th century when the private revelations were given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.
But before then, with the exceptions of St. Mechtilde (d. 1298) and St. Gertrude (d. 1302), Christians posses a stronger devotion to the “Five Wounds of Christ.” Primarily, this was due to a renewed interest in the Passion of Jesus with the return of many crusaders from the Holy Land.
And the medieval Christians recognized the depths of the love of Jesus through the various wounds he suffered, including the “chest” or “side” wound that pierced his heart.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The earliest evidence of a feast in honor of the Wounds of Christ emanates from the monastery of Fritzlar, Thuringia, where in the fourteenth century a feast was kept on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi … But in the fifteenth century it had spread to different countries, both to Salisbury (England), Huesca and Jaca (Spain), Vienna, and Tours, and was also included in the Breviaries of the Carmelites, Franciscans, Dominicans, and other orders.”
Though, this feast was not universal, but some centuries later, Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that he needed a feast dedicated to his Sacred Heart on the same day as this feast.
Prior to the revelations of St. Margaret Mary, the Sacred Heart was however, depicted in a symbolic manner, along with the other wounds of Jesus Christ. For instance, an image from England dates to the years 1490-1500 and represents one of the earliest depictions of the Sacred Heart.
Actually, the five wounds are clearly visible, with a simple heart in the center and blood flowing out of it into a chalice.
This once more, makes an obvious connection between the Passion, the Sacred Heart and the gift of the Eucharist.
So, it is highly important to remember the connection of the Sacred Heart to the wounds of Christ in his Passion, recalling to our mind that the suffering of Jesus was the most sublime expression of his love for humanity.