Appeared in Spring 1991, Vol. XVII, No. 1

In this short essay, Fr. de Margerie examines several key references to the Heart of Jesus in the writings of Martin Luther. He sees these passages as capable of providing a framework for future ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans.

It is still common to hear it said that the devotion to the Heart of Jesus was born in the church with the private revelations of Saint Margaret Mary in 1675. For a long time however, historians have shown how her devotion took root within the spiritual tradition of the middle ages.

It is there also that the young Martin Luther – of whom we celebrate the fifth century since his birth in 1483 – derived a whole series of ideas and trends, emotional and spiritual, culminating – which hardly seems to have been emphasized until here – in an anthropology and a theology of the human and divine heart. These trends were expressed in his Catholic period without being repudiated afterwards, and even extended themselves on many points after his rupture with Rome.