The institution of the Feast of the Sacred Heart was a response to Protestantism and Jansenism, both of which sought to disfigure one of the essential dogmas of Christianity: God's love for all men.
St. Jean Eudes, in 1670, composed a service and Mass of the Sacred Heart for the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, which he had founded in 1643. Five years later, St. Margaret-Mary Alacoque, received visions of Jesus and Mary. On June 16, 1675, Our Lord asked her to have a feast in honor of the Sacred Heart set for the Friday following the octave of Corpus Christi.
Pope Clement XIII approved the feast and the service of the Sacred Heart in 1765, while Pius IX extended it to the Universal Church in 1856.
As Dom Gaspard Lefebvre observes, "It is in Catholic worship - this rule so sure of our faith - that the Bride of Christ [Church] manifests and increases the love of God towards men. It is this love that made Jesus come down to earth by His Incarnation, ascended the Cross for our Redemption, and returns daily on our altars by Transubstantiation, in order to apply the fruits of his death on Golgotha."
"Since Pentecost," remarks Dom Guéranger, "the Paraclete descended on the world and continues His teachings in the sacred Liturgy."