Our Solemnity...Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows
September 15 is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. However, since Our Lady under this title is the co-patron of our parish, this Memorial is raised to the rank of "Solemnity" within our community. Mary is also the "titular" of our parish church, which is to say that the church building has been dedicated or given the title of "Our Lady of Sorrows." The same is true of Saint Anthony of Padua. Along with Our Blessed Mother, Saint Anthony is co-patron of the parish and is "titular" of our church building. His memorial on June 13 is also raised to the rank of "Solemnity." Our community is entrusted to their care and intercession and so it is right and proper that we honor them on these days, but we also should cultivate a particular love for, and devotion to them.
A Little History
Within the shrine alcove in Our Lady of Sorrows Church (the generous gift of the Rosary Altar Society in the renovation of 2009-10), we have retained the simple statue of Mary at prayer that has been in the church many years. It is not the image of Our Lady of Sorrows but we find her seven sorrows in the oil paintings that form the backdrop to the shrine. These are:
- The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
- The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
- Loss of the Child Jesus for 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)
- 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)
Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady has its roots in Sacred Scripture and in Christian piety, which always associates the Blessed Mother with her suffering Son. During the 12th century, a celebration in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows was introduced by the Friar Servants of Mary (Servites). In 1482, the feast was celebrated as "Our Lady of Compassion."Benedict XIII decreed that the feast be celebrated on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In 1817, Pius VII—suffering grievously in exile, but finally liberated by Mary's intercession—extended the feast to the universal Church. It was Pope St. Pius X who fixed the current observance on September 15.
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.
This feast honors the spiriual martyrdom of Mary, the Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. Meditating on her seven sorrows (dolors), Mary encourages us on our pilgrim way through life, a
vale of tears
In Art and Tradition
The prophecy of Simeon, which foretold that a sword would pierce Mary's heart, led to the symbol of Our Lady of Sorrows—a heart pierced by seven swords. Other symbols associated with Our Lady of Sorrows are: a winged heart pierced with a sword, red roses, iris (meaning "sword lily") and cyclamen.
September 15 is the "name day" of those named Dolores, Dolais, DeLoris, Dolorita, Maria Dolorosa, Pia, and Pietá.
It is the only celebration, besides that of Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and the Commemoration of All Souls, that has a "Sequence" or hymn that is sung before the Gospel. It is called the
and we also incorporate it in praying the Stations of the Cross.
Our Lady of Sorrows is patron of Slovakia, many towns in Italy and the Phillippines, and Christian mothers.