Our Lady of Sorrows: What are Mary’s seven sorrows?

Katie Yoder   By Katie Yoder for CNA


Our Lady of Sorrows at the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows in Granada, Spain. / José Manuel Ferro Ríos via Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 15, 2022 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Catholics are invited to contemplate the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a special way on Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The first sorrow begins with the prophecy of Simeon, a devout man in Jerusalem who met Christ as a baby. During the encounter, Simeon foretells Mary’s suffering.

“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,” he tells her, according to Luke’s Gospel.

As with the first sorrow, Mary’s other sorrows regard her son: fleeing into Egypt to save the Christ child’s life; losing the child Jesus in the temple for three days; meeting Christ on his way to Calvary; standing at the foot of the cross; watching Christ’s body being taken down from the cross; and burying Christ’s body.

Reflecting on Our Lady of Sorrows in Slovakia last year, Pope Francis highlighted Mary’s response to these sorrows.

“Mary, Mother of Sorrows, remains at the foot of the Cross. She simply stands there. She does not run away, or try to save herself, or find ways to alleviate her grief,” he said. “Here is the proof of true compassion: to remain standing beneath the Cross. To stand there weeping, yet with the faith that knows that, in her Son, God transfigures pain and suffering and triumphs over death.”

Through these sorrows, Our Blessed Mother also offers hope. She revealed seven promises to St. Bridget of Sweden in the 14th century for those who recite seven Hail Marys daily while reflecting on her tears and sorrows, according to Our Sorrowful Mother’s Ministry (OSMM) in Vandalia, Illinois.

OSMM lists those seven promises from Mary as:

1. “I will grant peace to their families.”

2. “They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.”

3. “I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.”

4. “I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.”

5. “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”

6. “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.”

7. “I have obtained from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.”

The faithful can also ask for the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows through the seven sorrows rosary, or chaplet. OSMM provides general instructions on how to pray it: The prayer resembles a regular rosary, except that there are seven sets of seven Hail Marys. Each of the seven sets — consisting of an Our Father and seven Hail Marys — focuses on one of the seven sorrows.

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  1. Pope St. John Paul II included “Our Lady of Sorrows” in his very useful Prayer before Mass (published in the National Catholic Register, May 19-22, 2006):

    “Eternal Father, we members of your blessed son Jesus Christ’s Mystical Body (His Church),
    in prayerful union with other members of His Church throughout the world, especially those who are suffering or living under oppression, and those who desire to go to Mass but are unable to do so;
    In spiritual communion with the intentions and affections of The Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Sorrows on Calvary, the Angels and Saints in Heaven, our patron Saints, our Guardian Angels—
    We all join in offering this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, this unbloody RENEWAL AND
    EXTENSION of Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross for the following intentions:

    1) To ADORE and worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and to pledge our love and loyalty forever to the God who made us to Know, Love and Serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.
    2) To THANK Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for opening the gates of Heaven by His sacrificial death on Calvary and to thank God for all the blessings and graces He has bestowed upon us throughout our lives especially for the supernatural gifts of Faith, Hope, and Charity; those gifts of Truth, Love and Peace which Christ promised to leave with us.
    3) We express our SORROW for having offended God in any way throughout our lives and offer our prayers, works, sufferings, joys and even ourselves [underlined], to the Eternal Father with this sacrifice of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of His Dearly Beloved Son in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
    4) Finally, we PETITION the Triune God for the Grace from this Eucharist to conform every conscious endeavor of our lives to the will of the Father in all things as did Christ. We also pray for all persons, places and things—absent, present, living and dead—for which we are bound in conscience or have expressed a desire to pray for, especially for an increase in vocations, for peace among nations, for the conversion of Russia and for the end of the unspeakable crime of abortion. AMEN.”

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