Of all Marian feast days, perhaps the most poignant is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, commemorating the deep grief suffered by Mary as she journeyed through this life together with her Son in His mission to redeem humanity.

Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother began around the end of the 11th century, with the first liturgical celebrations for the Feast of Our Lady of Compassion “standing” at the foot of the Cross in the 15th century. In 1692, Pope Innocent XII authorized the celebration of a feast in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows on the third Sunday of September; Pope Pius X fixed the date of the feast on September 15.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are: The Prophecy of Simeon; The Flight into Egypt; The Search for the Child in Jerusalem; Mary Meets Jesus on His Way to the Cross; Mary Stands at the Foot of the Cross; The Crucifixion and Descent from the Cross; Assisting at the Burial of Christ.

The deep and grievous sufferings of the Mother of God are a reminder to us that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, and that His mother bore the weight of His sufferings for our sake.

During a homily at morning Mass in the Chapel of Casa Santa Marta in April 2020, Pope Francis reflected on devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and her sufferings.

“It is good for me, late in the evening, when I pray the Angelus, to pray these seven sorrows as a remembrance of the Mother of the Church, how the Mother of the Church gave birth to us all with so much pain,” said the Holy Father.

Like a true mother, Mary “never asked anything for herself, never,” said Francis. “Yes, for others: let us think of Cana, when she goes to speak with Jesus. Never did she say: ‘I am the mother, look at me: I will be the queen mother.’ She never said it. She never asked anything important for herself within the apostolic college. She agrees simply to be a Mother.”

Mary’s simplicity, humility, and maternal nurturing spirit should serve as a constant reminder that when our Lord gave her to St. John as He expired on the Cross, He gave her to all of us, too.

“Today it would be good to stop a moment and think about Our Lady’s pain and sorrows,” said Pope Francis. “She is our Mother. And how she bore them, how she bore them well, with strength, with tears: they were not false tears, it was truly a heart destroyed with sorrow.”

Our Lady of Sorrows, Pray for us!

Image: By . Our Lady of Sorrows. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). Via Flickr.

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Kristi McCabe is an award-winning freelance writer, Catechist, a former teacher and editor who lives with her family in Owensboro, Kentucky.  As an adoptive mother of four and an adoptee herself, Kristi is an avid supporter of pro-life ministries.  She is active in her local parish and has served as Eucharistic minister and in various children's ministries.

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