Blessed Bernardo de Hoyos
On April 18, 2010, Fr. Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, SJ, considered the first apostle of the Sacred Heart in Spain, was beatified in Valladolid. Today is his feast day.
Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos was born in Torrelobatón, a municipality located in the province of Valladolid in Spain on August 21, 1711—that is 300 years to the day of the Vigil and Mass in Madrid Spain—which is part of the background to the request that the Holy Father consecrate the youth of the world to the Sacred Heart, which he did at the close of the tempestuous vigil service and Eucharistic adoration.
The young Bernardo studied in the Jesuit school in Medina del Campo and was so drawn to the Jesuit way of life that, at the age of 14, he wanted to enter the Society of Jesus. Not without difficulty—because of his young age and perceived physical weakness—Bernardo was accepted into the novitiate in 1726.
During his two years as a novice, Aloysius Gonzaga and Stanislaus Kostka, fondly called “boy saints,” were canonized. A third “boy saint,” John Berchmans, was also in the process of being canonized and provided Bernardo with a model of holiness.
Boy saints—their youth belied their spiritual maturity, a deep and holy wisdom which was also evident in Bernardo de Hoyos. In 1732, at the age of 21, when most of our young men and women are still in adolescence, Bernardo was already able to say to his spiritual director, “I see that everything in my heart is moving towards God, drawn like an iron to a magnet. It desires only God, searches only for God, and longs only for God.”
On May 3, 1733, Bernardo experienced the Lord entrusting him with a mission: “I wish you to spread the devotion to my Sacred Heart throughout all of Spain.” From then on, Bernardo did all he could to follow the Lord’s command. He formed a group of devoted collaborators to communicate the essence of the devotion to the Sacred Heart to others.
Bernardo himself would distribute prayer cards and leaflets and founded many confraternities and associations in honor of the Sacred Heart. But the best way he spread this devotion was through his own holiness, piety, and personal witness to the love of Christ.
On January 2, 1735, Bernardo was ordained a priest, but not even a year later on November 29, he died after contracting typhus.
At such a young age, Bernardo knew what was in his heart. In these modern times, when youth are distracted by the petty concerns the world presents to them, perhaps we can pray the words of St. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J., another apostle of the Sacred Heart:
O God, what will you do to conquer
the fearful hardness of our hearts?
Lord, you must give us new hearts,
tender hearts, sensitive hearts,
to replace hearts that are made of marble and of bronze.
O holy Heart of Jesus, dwell hidden in my heart,
so that I may live only in you and only for you,
so that, in the end, I may live with you eternally in
One way of making the Sacred Heart devotion real in one’s personal life is to discuss with others how the love of Christ influences our daily life through praying the Morning Offering, through making an effort to attend Mass and Communion on the First Friday of the month, through offering up our hurts and sufferings for the good of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church (cf. Colossians 1.27).