September is traditionally dedicated to the Seven Sorrows (or Dolours) of Mary and the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
This feast dates back to the 12th century. It was especially promoted by the Cistercians and the Servites, so much so that in the 14th and 15th centuries it was widely celebrated throughout the Catholic Church. In 1482 the feast was added to the Missal under the title of “Our Lady of Compassion.” Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Roman Calendar in 1727 on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In 1913, Pope Pius X fixed the date on September 15. The title “Our Lady of Sorrows” focuses on Mary’s intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ. “The Seven Dolours,” the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary. The feast is like an octave for the birthday of Our Lady on September 8th.
This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation; with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.
As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul.
Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:
- The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
- The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
- Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalemfor three days (Luke 2:41-50)
- Mary meets Jesus on His way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
- Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
- The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
- The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)
Things to Do:
- Teach your children the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
- Present different art pieces of Our Lady of Sorrows, or illustration of one of her sorrows, for meditation and discussion. There are so many different pieces from all different eras, countries and mediums. Search words for art titles would be Lamentation, Deposition, Pieta, Dolorosa, Sorrows, etc. Some samples:
The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin by Albrecht Durer
Pieta by Giovanni Bellini
Vincent Van Gogh’s Pieta
Titian’s Mater Dolorosa
Different artists on the Presentation in the Temple
Various artists on the Flight into Egypt
- Discuss why Mary is called the Queen of Martyrs.
- Make a heart-shaped cake for dessert, decorated with the swords piercing the heart.
- Think of ways to make reparation to Mary for the sins committed against Our Lord.
- Pray the short prayer or ejaculation: Holy Mother, imprint deeply upon my heart the wounds of the Crucified.
- Read or sing the Stabat Mater (At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful mother weeping…), perhaps incorporating it with the Stations of the Cross.
- In Italy, the title of Our Lady of Sorrows is Maria Santissima Addolorata. This devotion began in the 1200s. She is the patron of many Italian cities. In southern Italy there is La Festa della Madonna dei Sette Dolori (the festival of the Seven Sorrows of the Madonna), instituted in 1423, also called Madonna dell’Addolorata Festival. The food connected to this festival is cuccia salata, wheat berries cooked in meat broth and layered with goat or pork.
Source – catholicculture.org
Picture – Dolorosa, by Spanish Baroque Painter Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1665