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The Sacred Heart

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PCA506 Package of 25 icon holy cards


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3 x 5

Item Details:

Starting with a traditional icon of Christ Pantocrator, Brother Claude Lane of Mt. Angel Abbey has added the symbol of the Sacred Heart, aflame with love for mankind, bearing the instruments of His suffering.

Icon holy cards are 3" x 5", a convenient size for use as gifts or bookmarks. The backs are blank except for a faint colophon at the bottom, leaving plenty of room for custom imprinting with your own message.

Image Origins

At first glance, this design appears to be a version of a very familiar Orthodox icon known as Christ "Pantocrator," Greek for "Ruler of All." What converts the historic image into something new is the golden medallion in the center of Jesusí chest bearing a heart topped with flame. This is another very familiar symbol, but from the Catholic Church, known as the "Sacred Heart." This design, coupling the majestic but compassionate Jesus Ruler of All, with the symbol of His Sacred Heart aflame with love for humankind, provides a very warm and approachable portrait of our Lord and personal savior. Devotion to the heart of Jesus did not begin in the New Testament. It probably began around the time of St. Bonaventure, a Cardinal and Doctor of the Church in the 13th century, who encouraged the practice in his writings. St. Gertrude the Great (d. 1302) had a mystical experience about the revelation of the Sacred Heart. St. John Eudes (1601-1680) spread the devotion. He was a French priest and founder of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. But perhaps the most influential of all was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. She received a vision in 1673 from Jesus Himself, who showed her His Sacred Heart and asked her to be His disciple in spreading the devotion. Today there are countless Catholic schools and churches named for the Sacred Heart, although the concept as a devotional focus is not as popular as it once was.

Theology and Symbolism

Jesus is presented in a half length pose in this image, looking directly at the viewer, with his left hand holding a scroll representing His Divine Word and his right hand gesturing toward or supporting the Sacred Heart medallion. He is dressed in the traditional garb of tunic and cloak. His cloak, called in Greek a "himation" is dark blue signifying the mystery of His divine life. His tunic is red to signify His human blood shed for us all. The garments of the Messiah in Isaiah 63:1-4 were red, as was the soldierís cloak put on Jesusí shoulders during his passion (Matthew 27:28). The arrangement of fingers on his right hand is significant, spelling out the Greek shortened form of his name, "IC XC." The index finger is straight, forming the "I," the middle and little fingers are slightly curved into "C" shapes, and the thumb and ring finger cross slightly to form the "X." His hand bears the wound from His crucifixion.

Christís halo, the iconographic symbol for sanctity, is inscribed with a cross and the Greek letters omicron, omega, nu, spelling "HO ON." In English, this becomes "Who Am," the name used for God in Exodus 3:14. On the background in red is written "IC XC" so that no one will misunderstand that this is an icon of Jesus Christ.

The face of Jesus follows the ancient traditions. The eyes are large and open, looking directly into the soul of the viewer. The nose is long and slender, contributing a look of nobility. The mouth is small and closed in the silence of contemplation. The hair is curled and flowing, recalling the endless flow of time. The neck and body are powerful, reminding us of His strength and majesty.

The Sacred Heart in the center of the image is topped with a flame signifying Godís passionate love for humankind. The heart bears within it the symbols of Christís Passion; the cross, the crown of thorns, the nails, the spear that pierced His side, and the reed with a sponge. The heart shows a slash on the side from the spear, symbolizing the Lordís anguish caused by the rejection of His Word by His people. The chalice is positioned to catch the Blood of Christ, brought to us in the Eucharist.

At the bottom of the icon in the red border is found the phrase, "COR AD COR LOQUITUR." This is Latin for "heart speaking to heart," and is the motto of a very famous 19th century English convert to Catholicism, John Henry Cardinal Newman. Newman Centers, found at many colleges and universities around the world caring for the spiritual needs of Catholic students, were named for him.

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