Saint of the Day – 15 September – Our Sorrowful Mother Mary –
The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Also known as:
• Septem Dolorum.
• Beata Maria Virgo Perdolens
• Beata Vergine Addolorata
• Maria Santissima Addolorata
• Mater Dolorosa
• Mother of Sorrows
• Our Lady of the Seven Dolours
• Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows
• Sorrowful Mother
The Seven Sorrows of Mary
The Prophecy of Simeon at the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple:
Forty days after Christ’s birth, Mary presented Him in the temple. The aged Simeon, a just and devout servant of the Lord, took Jesus into his arms and inspired by the Holy Spirit, exclaimed:
“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel and for a sign that shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35
The Flight Into Egypt:
No sooner did the heartless Herod hear that Jesus, the Infant King of the Jews, had been born, than he sought His life. But an Angel of the Lord appeared to Saint Joseph in a dream and warned:
“Arise, take the Child and His mother and flee into Egypt and remain there until I tell thee.” – Matthew 2:13
The Loss of Child Jesus for 3 Days:
The third sword that pierced Our Lady’s heart was the three-day loss in the temple. At the age of twelve, Jesus went with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem. Only when Mary and Joseph were travelling home, realise that Jesus was not with them. They hurried back and for three days sought Him among friends and relatives in Jerusalem. Finally, they found Him in the temple, listening and discussing with the teachers there , who were amazed at his knowledge and wisdom.
The Meeting of Jesus on the Way of The Cross:
Mary’s fourth great sorrow we remember in the fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary and also the fourth Station of the Cross. Mary meets Jesus carrying His Cross to Calvary. What a mournful meeting. Imagine the pain in Mary’s heart to see her Jesus groaning and staggering under the cruel Cross. What an anguish to see the One she loved so dearly, being tortured by the taunts of the crowd, as well as the weight of the wood. And there is nothing she is able to do to help Him.
The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus:
But the sword will plunge still deeper. She must see Him shamefully stripped of His garments, rudely thrown upon the Cross and then hear the sickening strokes of the hammer. Helplessly and heartbroken, she must stand beneath His cross watching Him writhe in torture, listening to His parting words, listening for His parting breath.
The Pieta – Jesus Is Laid In The Arms Of His Mother:
And now comes the moment when they take Him down from the Cross. As each nail and each thorn was pulled from His body, it was a new blow to the heart of His Mother. How she must have hugged Him to her heart!
Jesus is Laid in The Tomb:
The seventh sword was to witness that broken body laid in the grave. It was a Mother putting her child to bed. What a grief-stricken good-night that was. Mary must have wished that she could bury her heavy heart with Him.
During Passiontide, on the Friday before Palm Sunday, a second feast of Mary’s Dolors is held, which emphasises particularly, the four last mentioned of the seven sorrows above.
Thus the Church reflects on the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The prayers of the Mass and the Office are indicative of her sorrows.
The first trace of the feast, St Alphonsus Liguori tells us, is found in Germany towards the beginning of the fifteenth century. Archbishop Theodoric’s ordered the keeping of this day at an assembly convened at Cologne in 1413 to wage battle against heresies of the iconoclast “Hussites,” who were very active in destroying images and pictures of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Before the sixteenth century the feast was observed only in the Diocese of North Germany, Scandinavia and Scotland but by the end of the sixteenth century, it extended over the south of Europe. In 1506 the celebration was granted the Friday before Passion Sunday as the feast of the Sorrows of Mary. To the whole German Church this last date was later assigned. On 22 April 1727, Pope Benedict XIII, extended it to the entire Latin Church under the title “Septem dolorum.”