The Heart of Love
St. John Berchmans
St. John Berchmans was born in Diest, Belgium on March 13, 1599. He died at the seminary in Rome on August 13, 1621, age 22, and was buried there. However, because of the great love and devotion of the people back home in Belgium, who thought of him as a living saint, the rector of the Roman College sent the heart of St. John Berchmans to the rector of the College in Louvain, Belgium.
Cor Beati Joannis Berchmans Societatis Jesu donatum a Rectore Coll. Rom. Collegio Lovaniensi MDCXXI
Heart of Blessed John Berchmans of the Society of Jesus, given by the Rector of the Roman College to the College of Louvain 1621.
Heart of St. John Berchmans in procession, Diest, Belgium, 2013.
The top of the reliquary has the three items that St. John Berchmans is always depicted with. When on his deathbed, St. John Berchmans kept close to him a rosary, crucifix and Jesuit Book of Rules. From the Life of St. John Berchmans: And, kissing them, he said: Haec sunt tria mihi carissima: Cum his libenter moriar. These three things are very precious to me: with them I willingly die, and he called out the holy names of Jesus and Mary. The base of the reliquary has the traditional symbol of the Society of Jesus, IHS with a cross. IHS has been interpreted to mean In Hoc Signo Vinces, “In this sign, you shall conquer.” It was taken as a reference to the victory which Constantine won at the Milvian Bridge in 312. Before the battle, the future Emperor saw a sign in the sky the Greek chi-rho X-P, the symbol of “Christ” and heard “In this sign, you shall conquer.” IHS has since stood for Constantine’s vision and the Christianization of Rome. Most certainly, in the Holy Name of Jesus we shall conquer every enemy – and the last enemy to be destroyed is death itself.
From the Saints and Servants of God
THE LIVES OF … VEN. JOHN BERCHMANS
“It was judged advisable, moreover, to have his body opened, in order to discover the cause of so early a death in one whose fine constitution seemed to promise an unusually lengthened life … When his heart was extracted, which was done that it might be sent to the college at Louvain … the operation was completed, he was replaced in his coffin, and carried back to the church, there to remain until his interment, exposed to the view of those persons who had not been able to satisfy their piety the previous day.” (page 379)
Homily on Heart – Where We Encounter God
Father Peter Mangum – homily from November 6, 2016
Click here for the video
Father Peter Mangum venerates Heart of SJB in Jesuit Chapel, Mechelen, Belgium.