The Seven Sorrows of Mater Dolorosa

Simon Fe Dolor

As a Marian devotee, we’ve seen images of Mary with seven daggers pierced to her Immaculate Heart. The Mater Dolorosa as we call her reminds us of the sorrowful journey of the Mother of God. Mary more than anyone in the world truly understood God’s plan to send Jesus, His son for the salvation of mankind. When she received from Archangel St. Gabriel the message of God, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” The Blessed Virgin was filled with divine wisdom and grace to comprehend and brave the path they both have to cross. A prophecy mentioned by Prophet Simeon when baby jesus was presented at the temple: And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed (Luke 2:34-35 Douay-Rheims Bible).

The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows in the Catholic church is observed every September 15. The seven daggers we see in religious arts and images pierced in her Heart represent the seven sorrows the Blessed Mother suffered during her life, which we are encouraged to reflect and contemplate..

Devotion to the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows became popular in the 12th century. The Cisterian Monasteries first built the altar of Mater Dolorosa in 1221. In France it also became popular and they observe it during Friday before Palm Sunday. There was a separate festival of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, until 1668, the Servites was granted to celebrate every third week of September. Pope Pius VII included the feast in 1814 in the General Roman Calendar. Until Pope Pius X moved this feast to September 15, the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. At present, Catholics around the world observe this feast with devotion with so many churches and patronages in her honor.

St. Bridget gave us the Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows with special prayer and graces, wherein we are to meditate on Our Lady’s sorrows with her life with Christ Our Savior.

The Prophecy of the Temple

The first sorrow of Mary was when Prophet Simeon announced the suffering and sacrifice baby Jesus would face when he was presented at the Temple.
(Luke 2: 25-35)

The Journey to Egypt

The second sorrow was their journey to Egypt. The new born Christ was in danger and they had to migrate to escape Herod’s evil command. Saint Joseph acted quickly in response to the angel’s warning to him in a dream. The Holy Family had to brave the rigors of traveling and face life in another land.
(Matthew 2: 13-15)

The Loss of the Three Days of Child Jesus

It was a tradition to observe the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. The Holy Family went there when the child Jesus was twelve years old. When they returned the child was no longer with them. They looked for Him among their relatives. Three days later they found Jesus in the temple conversing with wise men. Here Mary speaks of their sorrow at finding him: “Son, why have you done this to us? look at your father and we have looked for you with great sorrow.”
(Luke 2: 41-50)

The Encounter of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary bearing the Cross

Jesus was condemned and carried the cross to Calvary. He was handed the cross on which he was crucified. Mother Mary, accompanied by other women, faced Christ bearing the heavy cross. The pain was immense witnessing Her innocent Son, judged, tortured and wounded.
(Luke 23:27)

The Crucifixion and death of Jesus on the Cross

From the account of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, At the first stroke of the first nail in the hand of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin fainted. When she regained consciousness, Christ was nailed up to the cross in Calvary. She has to endure intense grief to see her beloved Son Jesus, the Son of God humiliated, crucified and die on the cross.
(John 19: 25-30)

The Descent from the Cross of the lifeless Jesus.

The sixth sorrow was when the body of Jesus was lowered from the cross. From the accounts of Blessed Emmerich: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, together with Cassius (we know in tradition as Longinus) and the other women of calvary, brought down the body of Christ with great care and reverence. The grief and anguish were evident to everyone of them, tears flowed as they gently held Christ’s body with His Dolorous Mother.
(John 19: 31-37)

The Burial of Christ Jesus

The seventh sorrow was when Mother Mary buried her Son with some other devout followers of the Lord. In the vision of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, they sent the Body of Christ to the Sepulchre in a procession. As Mother Mary gazed at her son’s lifeless body, tears flowed as she sat near the head of her beloved Son.
(Mark 15: 40-47)

Mary’s sorrow however continues as she sheds tears for her children here on earth who have greatly offended her Son. During the last century, she appeared to many apparitions bearing sad messages and calls for conversion.

The Virgin appeared in La Salette, France weeping in 1846. Here Our of La Salette mentioned to the two children Maximin and Melanie that she was holding the arm of her son for us: “If my people will not submit, I shall be forced to let fall the arm of my Son. It is so strong, so heavy, that I can no longer withhold it”. “However much you pray, however much you do, you will never recompense the pains I have taken for you.”

In Fatima, Portugal in 1917, the three children said that from the time the Lady of the Rosary appeared to them she barely smiled. She was always reminding them to offer sacrifices for sinners to turn away from sin. To pray the rosary daily so there will be peace.
We must heed Mary’s warning, our Mother’s call, it is our duty as a true Christian and in the words of St. John Eudes: “A man is no true christian if he has no true devotion to the Mother of Jesus Christ.”. So let us console our Mater Dolorosa and reflect with her sorrows. Make amends by following her motherly messages, make sacrifices and receive the wisdom and grace she promised to her children.

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