The first foundation and the primary source of the devotion to the most holy Heart of Mary is the adorable Heart of the Eternal Father and His unfathomable love for the Blessed Mother of His Only-begotten Son. This infinite love induced our Heavenly Father to give us many beautiful images and figures of the most worthy Heart of His holy Mother.
God the Father, to whom we assign by appropriation the creation of the world, together with the establishment and fulfillment of the Old Law, was pleased to foreshadow, in every part of the universe and in all the mysteries, sacrifices and ceremonies of the Old Testament, His only Son through whom He created and willed to renew all things. Likewise, the Eternal Father lovingly prefigured, both in the visible world and in the rites of the Mosaic Law, Mary, the woman chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the adorable Redeemer. “It was she whom the Prophets foretold long before her birth,” says St. Jerome. “It was she whom the Patriarchs described in many figures; it was she who was announced by the Evangelists.” (1) “Toward her converge all the predictions of the Prophets, all the mysteries of Scripture,” says St. Ildephonsus. (2) Elsewhere he writes: “The Holy Spirit foretold her through the Prophets, announced her by the divine oracles, manifested her in figures, promised her by means of the things which preceded her birth, and fulfilled in her the things which followed it.” (3)
St. John Damascene (4) says that the earthly paradise, Noah’s ark, the burning bush, the Tables of the Law, the Ark of the Covenant, the golden vessel containing the manna, the golden candlesticks in the Tabernacle, the table with the loaves of proposition, Aaron’s rod, the furnace of Babylon, were all figures of the incomparable Virgin Mary.
The Eternal Father did not content Himself with prefiguring the person of His Son Jesus in His prototypes, Abel, Noah, Melchisedech, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samson, Job, David and many other holy persons who lived under the Old Law, which preceded His Son’s appearance on earth. God also wished to give us several beautiful representations of His mysteries in detail, such as His divine espousal of human nature in the Incarnation, His Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension.
In like manner, God the Father was not satisfied to foreshadow and represent the person of the Mother of His Beloved Son merely in the person of Mary, sister of Moses, in the Prophetess Debborah, wise Abigail, chaste and generous Judith, beautiful and compassionate Esther, and many other valiant women. Beyond this, the Eternal Father designed to entrust to us special pictures and images of the mysteries and qualities of His incomparable Mother, her virtues and even the more noble faculties of her virginal body. Several passages of Sacred Scripture reveal these pictures, especially the twenty-fourth chapter of Ecclesiasticus, and the Canticle of Canticles, where her Immaculate Conception is represented by the lily growing among thorns without being wounded by them: “As the lily among thorns;” (Song 2:2) her Nativity, by the rising dawn (Song 6:9); her Assumption, by the Ark of the Covenant which St. John saw in Heaven (Rev. 11:19); the sublime eminence of her dignity, her power and her holiness, by the height of the cedar of Lebanon (Ecclus. 24:17); her charity, by the rose (Ecclus. 39:17); her humility, by the spikenard (Song 1:11); her mercy, by the olive (Ecclus. 19); her virginity, by the closed gate of the Temple which God showed to Ezechiel the Prophet (Ezech. 44:2).
But above all else, Our Heavenly Father has willed to place before our eyes a wealth of beautiful figures and marvelous representations of Mary’s most holy Heart. He has done this to show us how much He values and cherishes this lovable Heart and because the rare and wondrous perfections that fill it are well-nigh innumerable and can be represented and described only through a great number of figures and symbolic pictures.
Among the many images and representations of the Admirable Heart of Mary I can distinguish twelve of surpassing beauty. Six of them are found in the principal divisions of the universe; namely, the heavens, the sun, the center of the earth, the inexhaustible fountain of Genesis, the sea and the Garden of Eden. The six others appear in six of the most important manifestations witnessed by the world from the time of Moses to the death of Our Lord. They are the burning bush of Mount Horeb, the mysterious harp of David, the magnificent throne of Solomon, the marvelous Temple of Jerusalem, the miraculous furnace of Babylon, and the Holy Mount of Calvary.