The first liturgical feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated, with episcopal approval, on 31 August 1670, in the major seminary of Rennes, France, through the efforts of Saint John Eudes. The Mass and Office composed by this saint were adopted elsewhere also, especially in connection with the spread of devotion to the Sacred Heart following on the revelations to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart Droste zu Vischering.
A Mass of the Sacred Heart won papal approval for use in Poland and Portugal in 1765, and another was approved for Venice, Austria and Spain in 1788. Finally, in 1856, Pope Pius IX established the Feast of the Sacred Heart as obligatory for the whole Church, to be celebrated on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi. In June 1889, Leo XIII raised the feast to the dignity of the first class. In 1928, Pope Pius XI raised the feast to the highest rank, Double of the First Class, and added an octave; the 1955 reforms of the general Roman calendar suppressed this octave and removed most other octaves.
The Mass prayers and readings approved on that occasion were replaced with new texts in 1929, and the Roman Missal published in 1970 provided three sets of prayers and readings, one for each year of the three-year liturgical cycle.
Since 2002, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is also a special Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.