Our Lady of Sorrows

The Blessed Virgin Mary is given the titles Our Lady of Sorrows or Mother of Sorrows because of the profound suffering and sadness she experienced because of her love for Jesus, beginning with a troubling prophecy soon after He was born.

At the presentation of the child in the temple, a devout man named Simeon foretold the sorrow that Mary would experience over the course of Jesus’ life, describing it as if she would be pierced by a sword.

In addition to this prophecy of Simeon, Mary’s sorrows include the flight into Egypt to protect Jesus’ life, losing Jesus in the temple for three days, meeting Jesus while He carried his Cross to Calvary, standing at the foot of the Cross, watching Jesus’ body being taken down from the Cross, and Jesus’ body being buried.

Catholics contemplate Mary’s persistent faith in spite of her grief and suffering in hymns, prayers, and other devotions. Under the titles of Our Lady of Sorrows or Mother of Sorrows, Mary serves as patron to Catholic parishes, schools, religious orders, dioceses, and countries throughout the world.

Our Lady of Sorrows is represented by the Blessed Mother with her heart surrounded by a wreath of roses and pierced by swords which represent the seven sorrows.

The Catholic Church celebrates the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15, the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, revealing the relationship between Jesus’ passion and the sorrow of his mother.

A devotion to share in Mary’s suffering:

The heartbreak of a mother:

Loving as mother, the New Eve, and follower of Abraham:

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about Him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2: 33-35

A prophesy of great foreboding:

The piercing sword represents all of the sorrows:

Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. “This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to his death”; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion: Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the Cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the Cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: “Woman, behold your son.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 964

Mary is an icon of compassion:

Mary suffered with strength, perseverance, and hope:

A martyr in spirit:

This union of the Mother and the Son in the work of redemption reaches its climax on Calvary, where Christ “offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God” and where Mary stood by the Cross, “suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. There she united herself with a maternal heart to His sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which she herself had brought forth” and also was offering to the eternal Father.

Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, 2 February 1974

Jesus’ Passion and Mary’s sorrows:

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