For reasons I cannot all together explain, I have
been drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for most of my life. There
is no question that I have felt a perverse attraction to this dreadful
symbol of a pierced bleeding heart circumscribed by sharp thorns,
flames shooting from its top, stabbed with a cross. At the same
time I have felt a tremendous challenge from this symbol in which
Jesus exposes his heart and seems to say, Here is my heart,
I have nothing to hide. Can you say the same?
In the late 17th century the French Visitandine nun
Marguerite-Marie Alacoque reported a series of powerful incantatory
visions, during which Jesus showed her his heart. In her autobiography
she wrote of the inexplicable Secrets of the Sacred Heart.
I have never had a vision of the Sacred Heart yet I have at least
a partial understanding of what she meant.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a visual symbol. If its
Secrets could be fully articulated in words it would
become a relic; an impotent symbol with feeble power to persuade.
This is why at the center of Search for Sacred Heart of Jesus there
are 100 illustrations, chosen in the first instance for their visual
impact. And this is why it is the central thesis of the book that
the meaning of the Sacred Heart resides ultimately within renderings
of it that speak de corde tuo, ad cor tuum, about your
heart, to your heart.
These illustrations range from some of the earliest
art picturing the heart of Jesus from the 14th century to 21st-century
interpretations. Examples have been selected from a wide range of
mediums including paintings; wood, copper, and steel engravings;
stained-glass windows; sculptures; watercolors; pastels; mosaics;
ceramics; collages; silk screens; photographs; lithographs; and
The book includes art from such traditional painters
as Pompeo Batoni, Francisco Bayeu, Guiodoccio Cozzarelli, Lucas
Cranach, Maurice Denis, Corrado Giaguinto, Odilon Redon, and James
Tissot as well as contemporary visionary and outsider artists like
Salvador Dali, Henry Darger, Daniel Martin Diaz, Alex Grey, Jeff
Koons, Norbert Kox, Elizabeth McGrath, and Jacques Prévert.
Yet there is much to be said about the Sacred Heart
of Jesus from its earliest reference in the Gospels to modern structural
analysis. Accompanying each piece of Sacred Heart art will be commentary
on topics as far ranging as Medieval nuns, 17th-century printing
techniques, revolutionary politics, deconstructing religious visions,
and Bob Dylan, all with a hook that connects them to Jesus
The book also features the first-ever Sacred Heart
of Jesus chronology, lists of every Sacred Heart church and school
in the U.S. and Canada, and an extensive bibliography which includes
every book on record about the Sacred Heart.
The book is offered as one more Sacred Heart of Jesus
image, multi-faceted yet incomplete, bold yet hesitant. Hopefully
the images reproduced in this book, individually and then collectively,
will inspire readers, or should I say viewers, to contemplate their
willingness to reveal their own hearts without guile and to honor
Jesus message of love and forgiveness. To me this image of
a bloody wounded heart speaks wordlessly of Jesus passion,
his challenge, his mercy, and the valley of tears through which
we all must pass.
Behold the Sacred Heart of Jesus!