The Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary are familiar images in Catholic Churches, as is the 17th century scene of the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque with Jesus displaying His Sacred Heart. The name “Sacred Heart Church” is one of the most popular in the world with nearly 100 churches with this name listed on Wikipedia (51 located in the U.S.).
The devotional writings about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary have been penned by many Saints of the Church, like St. Bonaventure, St. Bernard, St. Gertrude the Great, and St. Francis de Sales. However, it is St. John Eudes (1601-1680), a Jesuit priest from France, who is considered to be the originator of the modern devotion to the two hearts; and founder of the Eudists (also known as the Society of Jesus and Mary) – his feast is celebrated on August 19th.
The theme behind the devotions to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts is that of love. For the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the focus is on Jesus’ love for humankind; and His wounded longing for humankind to fully love Him. For the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the focus is on her love for Jesus.
As shown in the stained glass window image above, the following symbols are typically present in representations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
The Physical Heart: Both Jesus and Mary had human hearts, the vital organ of life, which is connected metaphorically with emotional and moral life; and is particularly associated with the emotion of love.
Rays of Light From The Hearts: Radiant light features prominently in Scripture such as in Christ’s declaration that He is the “light of the world”. (John 8:12) or in the Transfiguration (Luke 9: 28-36). In relation to Mary is this relevant passage, “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev 12:1)
Flames Emanating From The Sacred Heart And The Immaculate Heart: The meaning of the fire is best illustrated by St. Gertrude’s (1256-1302) prayer, “O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living and life-giving fountain of eternal life, infinite treasury of the Divinity, and glowing furnace of love, Thou art my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Savior,
consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is inflamed.” (Legatus Divinae Pietatis (Herald of Divine Love))
Cross Atop and Encircling Thorns on the Sacred Heart: The Crown of Thorns that Jesus wore at His Crucifixion (represented by the Cross on top) is depictive of Jesus’ great love for humankind and His sacrifice even unto death.
Roses Surrounding the Immaculate Heart: White, pink or red roses (and sometimes a lily atop the heart) are representative of Our Lady’s purity present from the moment of her Immaculate Conception.
Sword Piercing the Immaculate Heart: The sword recalls the Prophesy of Simeon, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted, (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34–35)
You can read more about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and see several statues, paintings and stained glass windows at https://churchwonders.com/2021/06/12/hearts-of-love-sacred-heart-of-jesus-and-immaculate-heart-of-mary/