The Heart is Alive

This painting is one of my favorite depictions of both the crucifixion and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I'm afraid I do not know the artist, nor the date it was painted. I came across the canvas in a small chapel in an Italian town in the mountains about a half hour outside of Rome, called Rocca di Papa. (The town is actually where the Pope has a summer residence.) It was about six years ago and I was a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. I was so struck by the image that I pulled out my phone and captured a shot.

Sacred Heart of JesusDepictions of the Sacred Heart typically show a perfectly formed, Valentine's Day-type-heart with sunbeams coming forth and sometimes thorns around it or a crown above it. Jesus is either pointing to his heart or holding it in his hands. He is alive and his heart is alive. Here, Jesus is dead and his heart is living. The heart in the corpse is even appearing to pump blood (upwards to Christ's head ... the Church!). Jesus might not be physically walking the earth today, like he did 2,000 years ago, and therefore could appear "dead" to the earth, in some eyes, but his heart is still functioning. His heart beats in you and in your faith. It beats in our school and in our parish. It beats in our society, in our church, and in our world. The red in the background is the blood of the heart—love—spreading outwards.

Teilhard de Chardin once said, “to those who can see, nothing is profane.” Our world and all life within it is sacred because of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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