OUR LADY OF SORROWS

Our Lady of Sorrows

A painting by Titian (1490 - 1576)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

History of the Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows

Devotion to Mary is an ancient tradition dating back to the beginning of Christianity. In their homilies many Church Fathers, such as St. Gregory of Thaumaturgus and St. Methodius of Olympus, highly exalted Mary above all women. In the old Roman catacombs paintings of Mary and the Child Jesus have been discovered, indicating that even the early Christians venerated Mary and prayed to her for her intercession. The hymns of St. Ephrem, used in ancient liturgies to commemorate Mary’s sorrows, could still be found today in Eastern Orthodox Holy Week services. 

Devotion to Mary’s sorrows became even more popular when the Blessed Virgin revealed her sorrows to St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373). St. Bridget recorded the revelations she received in several volumes of her book, Revelaciones (or “Revelations”). In one paragraph of the Revelations the Virgin Mary explained her closeness or oneness with Jesus as the reason for her sorrows:

“He (Christ) was truly for me like my own heart. For when I gave birth to Him, I felt as though half my heart was born and went out of me. And when He endured suffering, it felt like my own heart was suffering. Just as when something is half inside and half outside - the half outside feels pain and suffering, but the inside also feels a similar pain - so it was for me when my Son was scourged and wounded; it was as if my own heart was scourged and wounded. I was also the one closest to Him at his suffering and I was never separated from Him. I stood very near His cross, and just like that which is closest to the heart stings the worst, so His pain was heavier and worse for me than for others. When He looked at me from the cross and I saw Him, then tears flowed from my eyes like blood from veins. And when He saw me so stricken with pain and overwhelming sorrow, He felt such a sorrow over my pain that all the pain of His Own wounds became as subsided and dead for the sake of the pain He saw in me. I can therefore boldly say that His pain was my pain since His heart was my heart. For just as Adam and Eve sold the world for an apple, so my Son and I bought back the world as with one heart.” Revelations, Book I, Ch. 35.

Since the publication of St. Bridget’s books several forms of devotion to Mary’s sorrows (or “dolors”) have been suggested. In 1482 a parish priest at Flanders (in Belgium), Fr. John de Coudenberghe, preached a form of devotion consisting of meditations on seven episodes given in the gospels. In each episode he focused on the sorrows suffered by our Blessed Mother. This practice developed into the popular form of devotion, known today as the Seven Dolors Devotion. In 1815 Pope Pius VII approved a set of seven meditative prayers on the following biblical episodes:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35)

  2. The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents (Matt 2:13-20)

  3. The loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem (Luke 2:42-51)

  4. The meeting of Mary with Jesus on His way to Calvary (Matt 27:31-33; Mark 15:20-21; Luke 23:26-31; Jn 19:17)

  5. The Crucifixion (Matt 27:34-50; Mark 15:23-37; Luke 23:33-46; John 19:18-30)

  6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus with a spear and his descent from the Cross. (John 19:31-40)

  7. The burial of Jesus (Matt 27:57–61, Mark 15:43–47, Luke 23:50–53, John 19:40–42)

The full text of the prayers may be found at the bottom of this webpage.

It is not obvious from the gospel texts alone what impact these episodes had in the life of the Virgin Mary. This is why St. Alphonsus de Liguori, a  Doctor of the Church, made commentaries on these texts and wrote his reflections on Mary’s sorrows in  The Dolors of Mary, which is Part II, Discourse IX of his larger work, The Glories of  Mary.  Excerpts of St. Alphonsus' explanations are given below. Anyone who wishes to pray the Seven Sorrows Devotion should read the pertinent biblical passages and the corresponding explanations at least once, and then repeat the reading occasionally or as needed to keep the episodes “alive” in one’s heart.

Promises of Our Lord and of Our Lady

The Virgin Mary told St. Bridget that there are very few who honor her by the meditation of her sorrows. Her words:

From the birth of my Son until His death, my life was full of tribulation. I carried a heavy load on my back and persevered steadfastly in God's work and patiently bore everything that happened to me. I endured carrying a most heavy load in my arms, in the sense that I suffered more sorrow of heart and tribulation than any creature. My eyes were full of tears when I contemplated the places in my Son's body destined for the nails as well as His future passion, and when I saw all the prophesies I had heard foretold by the prophets being fulfilled in Him. And now I look around at everyone who is in the world to see if there happens to be some who might have compassion on me and be mindful of my sorrow, but I find very few who think about my sorrow and tribulation.”  Revelations, Book II, Ch. 24.

 

Perhaps this is the reason why St. Alphonsus de Liguori writes that Christ Himself promised to reward those who practice devotion to Mary’s sorrows with extraordinary graces:

“Wherefore the graces promised by Jesus to those who are devoted to the dolors of Mary are very great. Pelbart relates that it was revealed to Saint Elizabeth, that after the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven, Saint John the Evangelist desired to see her again. The favor was granted him; his dear Mother appeared to him, and with her Jesus Christ also appeared; the Saint then heard Mary ask her Son to grant some special grace to all those who are devoted to her dolors. Jesus promised her four principal ones:

  • First, that those who before death invoke the Divine Mother in the name of her sorrows should obtain true repentance of all their sins.

  • Second, that He would protect all who have this devotion in their tribulations, and that He would protect them especially at the hour of death.

  • Third, that He would impress upon their minds the remembrance of His Passion, and that they should have their reward for it in Heaven.

  • Fourth, that He would commit such devout clients to the hands of Mary, with the power to dispose of them in whatever manner she might please, and to obtain for them all the graces she might desire. In proof of this, let us see, in the following example, how greatly devotion to the dolors of Mary aids in obtaining eternal salvation.” - St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Dolors of Mary, Introduction, II (last paragraph before the Example).

 

In addition, many devotees of the Seven Sorrows piously believe that our Blessed Mother also made the following promises to those who meditate daily on her seven sorrows:

 

  • I will grant peace to their families.

  • They will be enlightened about the Divine mysteries.

  • I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.

  • I will give them as much as they ask for, as long as it does not oppose the Adorable Will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.

  • I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.

  • I will visibly help them at the moment of their death; they will see the face of their mother.

  • I have obtained (this grace) from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation.

 

The documentation that records the exact origin of these seven promises is not available, but very few doubt the authenticity of the promises. Anyway, both the seven promises of our Lady and the four promises of our Lord, were given in a private revelation and, therefore, should not be regarded as dogma, but only recommended for pious belief.

The Sorrows of Mary According to St. Alphonsus de Liguori

The explanation of each sorrowful episode below is taken directly from St. Alphonsus de Liguori’s book, The Dolors of Mary. These were abridged for brevity. In his reflections St. Alphonsus drew from the writings of other saints and Doctors of the Church, and from private revelations made by the Blessed Virgin to other saints. Those who wish to read the full text of St. Alphonsus’ reflections should use the link provided above.

1. The Prophecy of St. Simeon (Luke 2:34-35)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the temple Saint Simeon, having received the Divine Child in his arms, foretold to her (Mary) that that Son would be a mark for all the persecutions and oppositions of men. "Behold, this Child is set for a sign which shall be contradicted." And therefore, that a sword of sorrow should pierce her soul: "And thy own soul a sword shall pierce."

The Blessed Virgin herself told Saint Mechtilde, that, on this announcement of Saint Simeon, "all her joy was changed into sorrow." For, as it was revealed to Saint Teresa, though the Blessed Mother already knew that the life of her Son would be sacrificed for the salvation of the world, yet she then learnt more distinctly and in greater detail the sufferings and cruel death that awaited her poor Son. She knew that He would be contradicted, and this in everything: contradicted in His doctrines; for, instead of being believed, He would be esteemed a blasphemer for teaching that He was the Son of God; this He was declared to be by the impious Caiphas, saying, "He hath blasphemed, He is guilty of death." Contradicted in His reputation; for He was of noble, even of royal descent, and was despised as a peasant: "Is not this the carpenter's son?" "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" He was wisdom itself, and was treated as ignorant: "How doth this man know letters, having never learned?" As a false prophet: "And they blindfolded Him, and smote His face . . . saying: Prophesy, who is it that struck Thee?" He was treated as a madman: "He is mad, why hear you Him?" As a drunkard, a glutton, and a friend of sinners: "Behold a man that is a glutton, and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners." As a sorcerer: "By the prince of devils He casteth out devils." As a heretic, and possessed by the evil spirit: "Do we not say well of Thee that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" In a word, Jesus was considered so notoriously wicked, that, as the Jews said to Pilate, no trial was necessary to condemn Him. "If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to thee" . . .

. . . Abraham suffered much during the three days he passed with his beloved Isaac, after knowing that he was to lose him. O God, not for three days, but for three and thirty years had Mary to endure a like sorrow! But do I say a like sorrow? It was as much greater as the Son of Mary was more lovely than the son of Abraham. The Blessed Virgin herself revealed to Saint Bridget, that, while on earth, there was not an hour in which this grief did not pierce her soul: "As often," she continued, "as I looked at my Son, as often as I wrapped Him in His swaddling-clothes, as often as I saw His hands and feet, so often was my soul absorbed, so to say, in fresh grief; for I thought how He would be crucified." 

The Prophecy of St. Simeon

A painting by an anonymous artist (1493).

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

2. The Flight into Egypt (Matt 2:13-20)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any one may imagine what Mary must have suffered on this journey. To Egypt the distance was great. Most authors agree that it was three hundred miles; so that it was a journey of upwards of thirty days. The road was, according to Saint Bonaventure's description of it, "rough, unknown, and little frequented." It was in the winter season; so that they had to travel in snow, rain, and wind, through rough and dirty roads. Mary was then fifteen years of age a delicate young woman, unaccustomed to such journeys. They had no one to attend upon them. Saint Peter Chrysologus says, "Joseph and Mary have no male or female servants; they were themselves both masters and servants." O God, what a touching sight must it have been to have beheld that tender Virgin, with her new-born Babe in her arms, wandering through the world! "But how," asks Saint Bonaventure, "did they obtain their food? Where did they repose at night? How were they lodged? What can they have eaten but a piece of hard bread, either brought by Saint Joseph or begged as an alms? Where can they have slept on such a road (especially on the two hundred miles of desert, where there were neither houses nor inns, as authors relate), unless on the sand or under a tree in a wood, exposed to the air and the dangers of robbers and wild beasts, with which Egypt abounded. Ah, had any one met these three greatest personages in the world, for whom could he have taken them but for three poor wandering beggars."

The Flight into Egypt

A painting by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:42-51)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are some who assert, and not without reason, that this dolor was not only one of the greatest, but the greatest and most painful of all. For, in the first place, Mary, in her other dolors, had Jesus with her: she suffered when Saint Simeon prophesied to her in the temple; she suffered in the flight into Egypt; but still in company with Jesus; but in this dolor she suffered far from Jesus, not knowing where He was: "And the light of my eyes itself is not with me." Thus weeping she then said, "Ah, the light of my eyes, my dear Jesus, is no longer with me; He is far from me, and I know not whither He is gone."

In the second place, Mary, in all her other sorrows, well understood their cause - the redemption of the world, the Divine will; but in this she knew not the cause of the absence of her Son. "The sorrowful Mother," says Lanspergius, "was grieved at the absence of Jesus, because, in her humility, she considered herself unworthy to remain longer with or to attend upon Him on earth, and have the charge of so great a treasure." "And who knows," perhaps she thought within herself "maybe I have not served Him as I ought; perhaps I have been guilty of some negligence, for which He has left me." "They sought Him," says Origen, "lest perchance He had entirely left them." It is certain that, to a soul which loves God, there can be no greater pain than the fear of having displeased Him. Therefore in this sorrow alone did Mary complain, lovingly expostulating with Jesus, after she had found Him: "Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing." By these words she had no idea of reproving Jesus, as heretics blasphemously assert, but only meant to express to Him the grief proceeding from the great love she bore Him, which she had experienced during His absence: "It was not a rebuke," says Denis the Carthusian, "but a loving complaint."

The Loss and Finding of Jesus in the Temple

A painting by Carl Bloch (1834-1890)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

4. The Meeting of Mary with Jesus on His Way to Calvary (Matt 27:31-33; Mark 15:20-21; Luke 23:26-31; Jn 19:17)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Bernardine says, that to form an idea of the greatness of Mary's grief in losing her Jesus by death, we must consider the love that this Mother bore to her Son. All mothers feel the sufferings of their children as their own… The greater was her love for Him, the greater was her grief at the sight of His sufferings; and especially when she met her Son, already condemned to death, and bearing His cross to the place of punishment…

 

…At length they looked at each other. The Son wiped from His eyes the clotted blood, which, as it was revealed to Saint Bridget, prevented Him from seeing, and looked at His Mother, and the Mother looked at her Son. Ah, looks of bitter grief, which, as so many arrows, pierced through and through those two beautiful and loving souls. When Margaret, the daughter of Sir Thomas More, met her father on his way to death, she could only exclaim, "O father! father!" and fell fainting at his feet. Mary, at the sight of her Son, on His way to Calvary, did not faint, no, for it was not becoming, as Father Suarez remarks, that this Mother should lose the use of her reason; nor did she die, for God reserved her for greater grief: but though she did not die, her sorrow was enough to have caused her a thousand deaths.

 

…But although the sight of her dying Jesus was to cost her such bitter sorrow, the loving Mary will not leave Him: the Son advanced, and the Mother followed, to be also crucified with her Son, as the Abbot William says: "the Mother also took up her cross and followed, to be crucified with Him." "We even pity wild beasts," as Saint John Chrysostom writes; and did we see a lioness following her cub to death, the sight would move us to compassion. And shall we not also be moved to compassion on seeing Mary follow her immaculate Lamb to death?

The Meeting of Mary with Jesus on His Way to Calvary

A painting by Theophile Lybaert (1848-1927)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

5. The Crucifixion (Matt 27:34-50; Mark 15:23-37; Luke 23:33-46; John 19:18-30)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the words in which Mary revealed to Saint Bridget the sorrowful state in which she saw her dying Son on the cross: "My dear Jesus was breathless, exhausted, and in His last agony on the cross; His eyes were sunk, half-closed, and lifeless; His lips hanging, and His mouth open; His cheeks hollow and drawn in; His face elongated; His nose sharp; His countenance sad: His head had fallen on His breast, His hair was black with blood, His stomach collapsed, His arms and legs stiff, and His whole body covered with wounds and blood." All these sufferings of Jesus were also those of Mary: "Every torture inflicted on the body of Jesus," says Saint Jerome, "was a wound in the heart of the Mother." "Whoever then was present on the Mount of Calvary," says Saint John Chrysostom, "might see two altars, on which two great sacrifices were consummated; the one in the body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary." Nay, better still may we say with Saint Bonaventure, "there was but one altar-that of the cross of the Son, on which, together with this Divine Lamb, the victim, the Mother was also sacrificed;" therefore the Saint asks this Mother, "O Lady, where art thou? Near the cross? Nay, rather, thou art on the cross, crucified, sacrificing thyself with thy Son" …

 

 Mothers ordinarily fly from the presence of their dying children; but when a mother is obliged to witness such a scene, she procures all possible relief for her child; she arranges his bed, that he may be more at ease; she administers refreshments to him; and thus the poor mother soothes her own grief. Ah, most afflicted of all Mothers! O Mary, thou hast to witness the agony of the dying Jesus; but thou canst administer Him no relief. Mary heard her Son exclaim, "I thirst," but she could not even give Him a drop of water to refresh Him in that great thirst. She could only say, as Saint Vincent Ferrer remarks, "My Son, I have only the water of tears." She saw that on that bed of torture her Son, suspended by three nails, could find no repose; she would have clasped Him in her arms to give Him relief, or that at least He might there have expired; but she could not. "In vain," says Saint Bernard, "did she extend her arms; they sank back empty on her breast"…

 

And that which grieved her the most was to see that she herself, by her presence and sorrow, increased the sufferings of her Son. "The grief," says Saint Bernard, "which filled Mary's heart, as a torrent flowed into and embittered the heart of Jesus." "So much so," says the same Saint, "that Jesus on the cross suffered more from compassion for His Mother than from His own torments." He thus speaks in the name of our Blessed Lady: "I stood with my eyes fixed on Him, and His on me, and He grieved more for me than for Himself."

The Crucifixion

A painting by Matthias Grünewald (1470-1528)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus with a spear and his descent from the Cross (John 19:31-40)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That the joy of the following Paschal Sabbath might not be disturbed, the Jews desired that the body of Jesus should be taken down from the cross; but as this could not be done unless the criminals were dead, men came with iron bars to break our Lord's legs, as they had already done those of the two thieves who were crucified with Him. Mary was still weeping over the death of her Son, when she saw these armed men advancing towards her Jesus. At this sight she first trembled with fear, and then exclaimed: "Ah, my Son is already dead; cease to outrage Him; torment me no more, who am His poor Mother." She implored them, writes Saint Bonaventure, "not to break His legs." But while she thus spoke, O God! She saw a soldier brandish a lance, and pierce the side of Jesus: "One of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, and immediately there came out blood and water"…

 

The injury of that stroke was inflicted on Jesus, but Mary suffered its pain. "Christ," says the devout Lanspergius, "shared this wound with His Mother; He received the insult, His Mother endured its agony" …

 

O most sacred Virgin, after thou hast given thy Son to the world, with so great love, for our salvation, behold the world now restores Him to thee; but, O God, in what state dost thou receive Him? O world, said Mary, how dost thou return Him to me? "My Son was white and ruddy;" but thou returnest Him to me blackened with bruises, and red-yes! But with the wounds which thou hast inflicted upon Him. He was all fair and beautiful; but now there is no more beauty in Him; He is all disfigured. His aspect enamored all; now He excites horror in all who behold Him.

 

It was revealed to Saint Bridget, that three ladders were placed against the cross to take down the Sacred Body; the holy disciples first drew out the nails from the hands and feet, and, according to Metaphrastes, gave them to Mary. Then one supported the upper part of the body of Jesus, and the other the lower, and thus descended it from the cross. Bernardine de Bustis describes the afflicted Mother as standing, and extending her arms to meet her dear Son; she embraced Him, and then sat at the foot of the cross. His mouth was open, His eyes were dim; she then examined his mangled flesh and uncovered bones; she took off the crown, and saw the sad injuries which the thorns had inflicted on that sacred head; she saw the holes in His hands and feet, and thus addressed Him: "Ah, Son, to what has Thy love for men brought Thee; and what evil hadst Thou done them, that they should thus cruelly have tormented Thee? 

The Descent from the Cross

A painting by James J. Tissot (1836-1902)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

Jesus on Mary's Lap (the Pieta)

A painting by Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

7. The burial of Jesus. (Matt 27:57–61, Mark 15:43–47, Luke 23:50–53, John 19:40–42)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a mother is by the side of her suffering and dying child, she undoubtedly feels and suffers all his pains; but after he is actually dead, when, before the body is carried to the grave, the afflicted mother must bid her child a last farewell; then, indeed, the thought that she is to see him no more is a grief which exceeds all other griefs. Behold the last sword of Mary's sorrow, which we have now to consider; for after witnessing the death of her Son on the cross, and embracing for a last time His lifeless body, this blessed Mother had to leave Him in the sepulchre, never more to enjoy His beloved presence on earth…

 

The holy disciples, fearful that the poor Mother might die of grief, approached her to take the body of her Son from her arms, to bear it away for burial. This they did with gentle and respectful violence, and having embalmed it, they wrapped it in a linen cloth which was already prepared. On this cloth, which is still preserved at Turin, our Lord was pleased to leave to the world an impression of His sacred body. The disciples then bore Him to the tomb…

 

When they had reached the appointed place, "O, how willingly would Mary have there buried herself alive with her Son, had such been His will!"-for this she herself revealed to St. Bridget. But such not being the Divine will, there are many authors who say that she accompanied the sacred body of Jesus into the sepulchre, where, according to Baronius, the disciples also deposited the nails and the crown of thorns…

 

Here I may be permitted to make a short digression, and remark that Mary's heart was buried with Jesus, because Jesus was all her treasure: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." …

 

But let us return to Mary. Before leaving the sepulchre, according to St. Bonaventure, she blessed the sacred stone which closed it, saying, "O happy stone, that doth now enclose that sacred body, which for nine months was contained in my womb; I bless thee and envy thee; I leave thee the guardian of my Son, of that Son who is all my treasure and all my love." …

 

"This Mother," says St. Bernard, "went away so afflicted and sad, that she moved many to tears in spite of themselves; and wherever she passed, all who met her wept," and could not restrain their tears. And he adds that the holy disciples and women who accompanied her "mourned even more for her than for their Lord." Saint Bonaventure says, that her sisters covered her with a mourning cloak: "The sisters of our Lady veiled her as a widow, almost covering her whole face." He also says that, passing, on her return, before the cross still wet with the blood of her Jesus, she was the first to adore it. "O holy cross," she then said, "I kiss thee, I adore thee; for thou art no longer an infamous gibbet, but a throne of love and an altar of mercy, consecrated by the blood of the Divine Lamb, which on thee has been sacrificed for the salvation of the world." She then left the cross, and returned home.

The Entombment of Christ

A painting by Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

The Blessed Virgin Suffered More than Seven Sorrows

The seven sorrows enumerated above are the only ones included in the Seven Sorrows Devotion. But it does not mean that these were the only ones that our Blessed Mother suffered. The following are her account of some of her other sufferings: 

“At my Son’s death I was like a woman whose heart had been pierced by five spears. The first spear was his shameful and blameworthy nakedness, for I saw my most beloved and mighty Son stand naked at the pillar without any clothing to cover him at all. The second spear was the accusation against him, for they accused him of being a traitorous betrayer and liar, him, whom I knew to be righteous and true and never to have offended or wished to offend or injure anyone. The third spear was his crown of thorns that pierced his sacred head so violently that the blood flowed down into his mouth and his beard and ears. The fourth spear was his sorrowful voice on the cross with which he cried out to the Father, saying: ‘O Father, why have you abandoned me?’ It was as if he wanted to say: ‘O Father, there is no one who pities me but you.’ The fifth spear which pierced my heart, was his most bitter and cruel death. My heart was pierced with as many spears as the arteries from which his most precious blood flowed out of him.”  Revelations, Book I, Ch. 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then in another place the Blessed Mother also said:

“For though by divine inspiration, I knew that my Son was to suffer, yet this grief pierced my heart more keenly at Simeon’s words, when he said that a sword should pierce my soul, and that my Son should be set for a sign to be contradicted. And until I was assumed in body and soul to Heaven, this grief never left my heart, although it was tempered by the consolation of the spirit of God. I also wish you to know that from that day my grief was sixfold. The first was in my knowledge: for every time that I looked upon my Son, wrapped Him in His swaddling clothes, or gazed upon His hands and feet, so often was my soul swallowed up, as it were, by fresh grief, for I thought how He was to be crucified. In the second place, there was pain in my hearing: for as often as I heard the opprobriums heaped on my Son, the falsehoods uttered against Him, the snares laid for Him, my soul was so afflicted that I could scarcely contain myself; but by the power of God, my grief knew bounds and respect, so that no impatience or levity was seen in me. In the third place, I suffered by sight; for when I beheld my Son bound and scourged, and suspended on the cross, I fell, as it were, lifeless, but recovering myself, I stood mourning and suffering so patiently, that neither my enemies nor any others beheld anything but gravity in me. My fourth suffering was in the touch: for I with others took my Son down from the cross, wrapped Him up, and laid Him in the tomb, and thus my grief increased, so that my hands and feet had scarce strength to bear me. Oh, how gladly would I then have been laid beside my Son! Fifthly, I suffered by a vehement desire of joining my Son after He ascended to Heaven, because the long delay which I had in this world, after His Ascension, increased my grief. Sixthly, I suffered from the tribulations of the Apostles and friends of God, ever fearing and grieving: fearing that they might yield to temptations and tribulations, grieving because my Son’s words were everywhere contradicted.” Revelations, Book VI, Ch. 57.  [This chapter is missing in the previously linked document. Therefore, the English translation was taken from another public domain, but abridged edition, Revelations of St. Bridget on the Life and Passion of Our Lord, and the Life of His Blessed Mother, Ch. IX, pp. 42-43]

The Crowning with Thorns

A painting by Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Image source link: commons.wikimedia.org

Prayers of the Seven Dolors Devotion (Approved by Pope Pius VII in 1815)

 

V. O God, come to my assistance;

R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

V. Glory be, etc.

R. As it was, etc.

 

1. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of Thy tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by Thy heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the Gift of the holy Fear of God. Hail Mary…

 

2. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of Thy most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and Thy sojourn there. Dear Mother, by Thy heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially towards the poor, and the Gift of Piety. Hail Mary…

 

3. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried Thy troubled heart at the loss of Thy dear Jesus. Dear Mother, by Thy heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the Gift of Knowledge. Hail Mary…

 

4. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the consternation of Thy heart at meeting Jesus as He carried His Cross. Dear Mother, by Thy heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the Gift of Fortitude. Hail Mary…

 

5. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which Thy generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by Thy heart afflicted in such wise, obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the Gift of Counsel. Hail Mary…

 

6. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of Thy compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance and His Heart was pierced before His Body was removed from the Cross. Dear Mother, by Thy heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the Gift of Understanding. Hail Mary…

 

7. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched Thy most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by Thy heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the Gift of Wisdom. Hail Mary…

 

V. Pray for us, O Virgin most sorrowful,

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Let us pray.

 

Let intercession be made for us, we beseech Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of our death, before the throne of Thy mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Thy bitter Passion. We ask this through Thee, Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Our Mother of Sorrows

Statue at St. Patrick Cathedral, Charlotte, North Carolina

Photo by Nheyob

CC BY-SA 4.0 license: commons.wikimedia.org

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