Veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary generally coincides with the worship of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. However, there is a difference that explains the Roman Catholic devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is especially directed to the “Divine Heart”, as overflowing with love for humanity. In the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on the other hand, the attraction is the love of her Immaculate Heart for Jesus and for God.
A second difference is the nature of the devotion itself. In devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Roman Catholic venerates in a sense of love, responding to love. In devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, love is formed from study and imitation of Mary’s yes to God as the mother of Jesus. In this devotion, love is more the result, than the “object” of the devotion; the object being rather to love God and Jesus by uniting one’s self to Mary for this purpose and by imitating her virtues, to help one achieve this.
History of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is connected in many ways to that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Christians were drawn to the love and virtues of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and this paved the devotion from the beginning. Early Christians had compassion for the Virgin Mary, and the Gospels recount prophecy delivered to her at Jesus’ presentation in the temple, and that her heart would be pierced with a sword. The image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the pierced heart is the most popular representation. St. John’s Gospel further invites us to the attention of Mary’s heart with its depiction of Mary at the foot of the cross at Jesus’ crucifixion. St. Augustine tells us that Mary was more blessed in having born Christ in her heart, than in having conceived him in the flesh.