On this coming June 17, I will bless the new Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in our Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. At the same time, I will enthrone the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Cathedral Basilica, while leading the prayer of consecration of the entire Archdiocese to our Lord's Most Sacred Heart. The blessing and consecration will take place at the conclusion of the celebration of the Holy Mass in the Cathedral Basilica at 5 o'clock in the afternoon on June 17. Although we will have already celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, June 15, the liturgical norms of the Church permit us to celebrate a solemn Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart on June 17.
The blessing and consecration have been scheduled on a Sunday afternoon, rather than on the actual Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in order to permit the greatest possible participation of the priests and the faithful in this most important event for all of us in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. Following the sacred rites, there will be a reception in Boland Hall, next door to the Cathedral Basilica, so that all who have taken part in the Holy Mass, with the Blessing of the Shrine and Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, may visit with one another, while enjoying some refreshments.
I invite you to participate in the solemn Mass with the Dedication of the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Consecration of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Cathedral Basilica on June 17 at 5 p.m. Each pastor of the Archdiocese has received an invitation for him to concelebrate the Mass and for parishioners to participate in the sacred rites. If you wish to participate, please let your pastor know, so that he may submit your name to those who are planning both the celebration of the Mass and the reception which follows. I hope that you will be able to join me and representatives of the entire Archdiocese at the Cathedral Basilica on June 17.
The Shrine Itself
The Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is located in the west transept of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, directly opposite the Baptistery and Ambry (repository of the Sacred Chrism and Holy Oils) which are located in the East Transept. It occupies a space which was open in the Cathedral Basilica and has been designed to be harmonious with all of the beautiful art and furnishings in the Cathedral Basilica.
The architect who designed the Shrine is Duncan G. Stroik of the School of Architecture at Notre Dame University. Professor Stroik is one of the foremost church architects in our time. His architectural work is known especially for drawing upon the rich beauty of Church architecture down the Christian centuries and for its inspiration drawn from the Eucharistic Mystery. If you wish to learn more about the important work of Professor Stroik, you may consult the journal, Sacred Architecture (PO Box 556, Notre Dame, IN 46556; email: firstname.lastname@example.org), of which he is the Editor. The website of Sacred Architecture is www.sacredarchitecture.org.
Professor Stroik has made a thorough study of the Cathedral Basilica, including the original architectural drawings. Like all of us, he is always discovering some new and most beautiful expression of our Catholic faith in the architecture and artistic adornment of the Cathedral Basilica.
Given the renowned richness of mosaics in the Cathedral Basilica, it was decided that the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be enthroned in the Cathedral Basilica should also be done in mosaic. The Vatican Mosaic Studio, which has the care of all of the mosaics in the Basilica of Saint Peter at the Vatican, accepted the commission to create the mosaic image, using for a model a painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which hangs in the Dining Room of the Archbishop's Residence. Although the Archdiocese has not been able to identify the author of the painting, it is a most striking representation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, inspiring meditation on the great mystery of God's love for us and, at the same time, a response of love of God, on our part.
The mosaic arrived at the Cathedral Basilica some weeks ago and has been placed in the Shrine. It is, however, covered from view, until the Rite of Blessing and of the Consecration, at which time it will be unveiled and properly enthroned.
The Shrine itself is made of various types of marble from Italy and other parts of the world, all of which have been coordinated with the variety of marble in the Cathedral Basilica. The marble work was done in Pietrasanta, Italy, and expertly installed by Chad Meyer of Stone Renaissance, a local firm.
The focus of the Shrine is clearly the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The other symbols which appear in the various elements of the Shrine all point to the mystery of God's love, which is most perfectly revealed in the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus.
Other Symbols in the Shrine
On the bronze gates to the Shrine, the figure of the pelican feeding her young from her own flesh reminds us that our Lord Jesus feeds us with His own Body and Blood flowing from His glorious pierced Heart. The marble on the floor of the Shrine represents the Star of David, reminding us that God the Son took our human flesh by becoming the Son of Mary of the House of David.
Directly above the mosaic of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is a symbol which incorporates the scourge, the crown of thorns and the three nails of our Lord's Passion. It reminds us of the immeasurable depth of God's love of us in Jesus Christ, upon which we meditate when we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary or make the Stations of the Cross. All that our Lord suffered for love of us reached its fullness when the Roman soldier pierced His side with a spear after His death on the Cross. The blood and water which poured forth from His open side, from His pierced Heart, represent the continuous and superabundant outpouring of His grace upon us in the Church.
At the crown of the Shrine is a most ancient symbol of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is found on a keystone of the vault of the Chapter House at the Grand Chartreuse in France. It dates to around 1375. It consists of the monogram of our Lord Jesus, that is, the first three letters of His name in Greek: IHS. A spear runs through the letter "S" to remind us of the pierced Side of our Lord. The symbol expresses the unity of the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption. Our Lord became incarnate, received the name of Jesus, in order that He might offer His life for our eternal salvation, that is, in order that His Sacred Heart might be pierced in death. The Servant of God Pope John Paul II liked to refer to the two mysteries together as the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation.
On the back of the Shrine, the coat-of-arms of the Archdiocese, united to my coat-of-arms, is placed to mark the time of the creation of the Shrine. It is customary in the Church to express the time of the creation of sacred art and sacred architecture by placing the coat-of-arms of the Roman Pontiff or Diocesan Bishop of the time in some fitting place on the work of art or architecture.
Rite of Blessing of the Shrine and the Enthronement
At the conclusion of the offering of the Holy Mass on June 17, we will go in procession to the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. During the procession, we will all pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Having arrived at the Shrine, I will invite all present to make an act of faith and of reparation for our sins by praying together the Apostles' Creed. After the praying of the Apostles' Creed, the Shrine and, most especially, the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be blessed, asking that all who come to the Shrine and venerate the image be given the grace of growing in likeness of Christ. The blessing of the image constitutes the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the Cathedral Basilica and in the whole Archdiocese.
The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Cathedral Basilica is done in union with all the faithful who have enthroned or will enthrone the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in their homes and places of business and other important places of their daily lives. More deeply, it represents the enthronement of Christ in our hearts by the placing of our hearts into His glorious pierced Heart in faith, in reparation for our sins and in love of Him Who loves us immeasurably and without end.
It is my hope that the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Cathedral Basilica will be the occasion for all who have already enthroned the Sacred Heart to renew their consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and will inspire those who have not yet enthroned the Sacred Heart to do so. The booklet for the preparation and celebration of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the home, in parishes, schools and other institutions is available through the Office of Sacred Worship. Any questions regarding the Enthronement and Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus may be referred to Father Thomas G. Keller who is the priest responsible for promoting the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Archdiocese.
Act of Consecration
The act of consecration will be made by all present. Representatives of families, of priests and deacons, of consecrated persons, of the lay faithful, and of young people will pronounce a part of the prayer of consecration. Then, all present will join in the personal act of consecration according to the formula of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque whom our Lord favored with private revelations of His Sacred Heart and through whom the devotion to the Sacred Heart has been greatly enriched and promoted in the Church.
Pope Benedict XVI, who frequently makes reference to the pierced Side of Jesus and the pierced Heart of Jesus in his homilies and writings, wrote a letter on the Sacred Heart of Jesus to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the issuing of Pope Pius XII's Encyclical Haurietis aquas. In the Letter, directed to the Prepositor General of the Society of Jesus, our Holy Father declared:
By encouraging devotion to the Heart of Jesus, the Encyclical Haurietis aquas exhorted believers to open themselves to the mystery of God and of His love and to allow themselves to be transformed by it. After 50 years, it is still a fitting task for Christians to continue to deepen their relationship with the Heart of Jesus, in such a way as to revive their faith in the saving love of God and to welcome Him ever better into their lives (Pope Benedict XVI, "For the 50th Anniversary of Haurietis aquas: Sacred Heart devotion builds our faith and love," L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 24 June 2006, p. 4).
May the Blessing of the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Cathedral Basilica and the Consecration of the Archdiocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus deepen our relationship with the Heart of Jesus, in order that our faith may have new life, and we may welcome our Lord Jesus ever more perfectly into our lives.
The Act of Consecration is made to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is made in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mary is our model and our first intercessor in placing our hearts totally into the Heart of Jesus. Her Heart was preserved from all sin from the moment of her conception, so that it might be always perfectly in the Heart of Jesus, which was formed by the Holy Spirit under her Immaculate Heart. When we make the act of consecration to the Heart of Jesus, we also consecrate our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We unite our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that she may lead us to place our hearts in the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, the source of all grace, the source of all our joy and peace.
Once again, I invite you to participate in the Holy Mass at which the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Cathedral Basilica will be blessed, the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be enthroned, and the Archdiocese of Saint Louis will be consecrated anew to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I ask you also to pray that the Blessing of the Shrine and the Act of Consecration of the Archdiocese will bear abundant fruits in the daily lives of us all, the fruits of renewed faith, renewed hope and renewed love.
Lastly, if you wish to help with the costs of the preparation and installation of the Shrine of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Cathedral Basilica, please contact Monsignor Joseph D. Pins, Rector of the Cathedral Basilica, at 4431 Lindell Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63108; telephone: (314) 373-8200. Your help is needed and most deeply appreciated.
Through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, may our hearts be one with the Heart of Jesus in pure and selfless love!