Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

“If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother.” – St Maximilian Kolbe

The title, Our Lady of Sorrows, given to our Blessed Mother focuses on her intense suffering and grief during the passion and death of our Lord. Traditionally, this suffering was not limited to the passion and death event; rather, it comprised the seven dolors or seven sorrows of Mary, which were foretold by the Priest Simeon who proclaimed to Mary.

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon. Luke 2:34-35
  2. The escape and Flight into Egypt. Matthew 2:13
  3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem. Luke 2:43-45
  4. The Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Via Dolorosa.
  5. The Crucifixion of Jesus on Mount Calvary. John 19:25
  6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus with a spear, and His Descent from the Cross. Matthew 27:57-59
  7. The Burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea. John 19:40-42

History of the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

The Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows grew in popularity in the 12th century in the Middle Ages, also thanks to the constitution in 1233 of the Order of the Servants of Mary. By the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the feast and devotion were widespread throughout the Church. In 1667 the Servites obtained official approval for the celebration of the “Seven Sorrows of Mary”, a number based on as many episodes narrated in the Gospels  

Interestingly, in 1482, the feast was officially placed in the Roman Missal under the title of Our Lady of Compassion, highlighting the great love our Blessed Mother displayed in suffering with her Son. The word compassion derives from the Latin roots cum and patior which means to suffer with.

In 1668, the feast in honour of the Seven Dolors, was set for the Sunday after September 14, the Feast of the Holy Cross but in 1727, Pope Benedict XIII placed the Feast of Our Lady of Compassion in the Roman Calendar on Friday before Palm Sunday.

The feast was inserted into the Roman calendar in 1814. It was St Pius X who fixed the date of the feast on 15 September (significantly, on the day after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross). Another change occurred with the liturgical reform of 1969. In the new calendar, although reduced to a simple memorial, the celebration has the name of “Our Lady of Sorrows”, which best expresses her participation in the saving work of her Son, “serving the mystery of the Redemption in dependence on Him and with Him” (Lumen Gentium, 56).

What is our take away from this Memorial?

  1. The feast does not celebrate Our Blessed Mother as a sorrowful woman per se but that she willingly accepted the challenges and sorrows in her life.
  2. This commemoration helps us to remember Mary’s sacrifice for our salvation, and also the importance of avoiding things in our own lives which would cause further sorrow to Mary, who is our Mother
  3. At birth, Mary made space in her body for Jesus today at the foot of the cross she makes space in her heart for the whole church, for you and me.
  4. What does Jesus give us at the foot of the cross? He does not give us a ‘sorrowful mother’ but a mother of faith. She still believed the promise of the angel. Mary at the foot of the cross is the personal gift of Jesus.
  5. At our death we bequeath in our will that which is most precious to us. Jesus gives us his most precious possession, His mother to be our mother and he signs his last will and testament in his own blood.

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