Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae!.



How great should be our Confidence in Mary, who is the Queen of Mercy.

As the glorious Virgin Mary has been raised to the dignity of Mother of the King of kings, it is not without reason that the Church honors her, and wishes her to be honored by all, with the glorious title of Queen.

            "If the Son is a king," says St. Athanasius, "the Mother who begot him is rightly and truly considered a Queen and Sovereign" ("Si ipse Rex est, qui natus est de Virgine, Mater quae eum genuit, Regina et Domina proprie ac vere censetur."—Serm. de Deip).  "No sooner had Mary," says St. Bernardine of Sienna, "consented to be Mother of the Eternal Word, than she merited by this consent to be made Queen of the world and of all creatures." ("Haec autem Virgo, in illo consensus, meruit primatum orbis dominium mundi, sceptrum regni super omnes creaturas."—Pro fest. V.M. s. 5 c. 3.)  "Since the flesh of Mary," remarks the Abbot Arnold of Chartres, "was not different from that of Jesus, how can the royal dignity of the Son be denied to the Mother?" (Nec a dominatione et potestate filii Mater potest esse sejuncta: una est Mariae et Christi caro."—De Laud. B. Virg.)  "Hence we must consider the glory of the Son, not only as being common to his Mother, but as one with her" (Filii gloriam cum Matre non tam communem judico, quam eamdem."—Ibid.).

            And if Jesus is the King of the universe, Mary is also its Queen.  "And as Queen," says the Abbot Rupert, "she possesses, by right, the whole kingdom of her Son" ("Regina coelorum, totum jure possidens Filii regnum."—In Cant. l. 3).  Hence St. Bernardine of Sienna concludes that "as many creatures as there are who serve God, so many they are who serve Mary: for as angels and men, and all things that are in heaven and on earth, are subject to the empire of God, so are they also under the dominion of Mary!" (Tot creaturae serviunt gloriosae Virgini, quot serviunt Trinitati; omnes nempe creaturae, sive angeli sive hominess, et omnia quae sunt in coelo et in terra, quia omnia sunt divino imperio subjugate, gloriosae Virgini sunt subjectae."—Pro Fest. V.M. s. 5, c. 6.)  The Abbot Guerricus, addressing himself to the divine Mother on this subject, says: "Continue, Mary, continue to dispose with confidence of the riches of thy Son; act as Queen, Mother and Spouse of the King: for to thee belongs dominion and power over all creatures!" (Perge, Mari! perge secura in bonis filii tui; fiducialiter age tamquam Regina, Mater regis et spons; tibi debetur regnum et potestas."—In Ass. B.M. s. 3.)

            Mary, then, is a Queen: but, for our common consolation, be it known that she is a Queen so sweet, clement, and so ready to help us in our miseries, that the holy Church wills that we should salute her in this prayer under the title of Queen of Mercy.

            "The title of Queen," remarks Blessed Albert the Great (Super Miss. q. 162), "differs from that of Empress, which implies severity and rigor, in signifying compassion and charity towards the poor."  "The greatness of kings and queens," says Seneca, "consists in relieving the wretched" ("Hoc reges habent magnificum, prodesse miseris"—Medea, act. 2), and whereas tyrants, when they reign, have their own good in view, kings should have that of their subjects at heart.  For this reason it is that, at their consecration, kings have their heads anointed with oil, which is the symbol of mercy, to denote that, as kings, they should, above all things, nourish in their hearts feelings of compassion and benevolence towards their subjects.

            Kings should, then, occupy themselves principally in works of mercy, but not so as to forget the just punishments that are to be inflicted on the guilty.  It is, however, not thus with Mary, who, although a Queen, is not a queen of justice, intent on the punishment of the wicked, but a queen of mercy, intent only on commiserating and pardoning sinners.  And this is the reason for which the Church requires that we should expressly call her "the Queen of Mercy."  The great Chancellor of Paris, John Gerson, in his commentary on the words of David, These two things have I heard, that power belongeth to God, and mercy to thee, O Lord ("Duo haec audivi; quia potestas Dei est, et tibi, Domine, misericordia."—Ps. lxi. 12), says that the kingdom of God, consisting in justice and mercy, was divided by our Lord: the kingdom of justice he reserved for himself, and that of mercy he yielded to Mary, ordaining at the same time that all mercies that are dispensed to men should pass through the hands of Mary, and be disposed of by her at will.  These are Gerson's own words: "The kingdom of God consists in power and mercy; reserving power to himself, he, in some way, yielded the empire of mercy to his Mother" ("Regnum Dei consistit in potestate et misericordia: potestate Domino remanente, cessit quodammodo misericordiae pars Christi Matri regnanti"—Super Magn. tr. 4).  This is confirmed by St. Thomas, in his preface to the Canonical Epistles, saying, "that when the Blessed Virgin conceived the Eternal Word in her womb, and brought him forth, she obtained half the kingdom of God; so that she is Queen of Mercy, as Jesus is King of Justice"—("Quando filium Dei in utero concepit, et postmodum peperit, sic dimidiam partem regni Dei impetravit, ut ipsa sit Regina mesericordiae, cujus Filius est Rex justitiae"). 

              The Eternal Father made Jesus Christ the King of justice, and consequently universal Judge of the world: and therefore the royal prophet signs: Give to the King Thy judgment, O God, and to the King's Son Thy justice ("Deus, judicium tuum Regi da, et justitiam tuam filio Regis."—Ps. lxxi. 2).  Here a learned interpreter takes up the sentence, and says: "O Lord, Thou has given justice to Thy Son, because Thou has given mercy to the King's Mother" ("Quia misericordiam tuam dedisti Matri Regis").  And, on this subject, St. Bonaventure, paraphrasing the words of David, thus interprets them: "Give to the King Thy judgment, O God, and Thy mercy to the Queen his Mother" ("Deus judicium tuum Regi da, et misericordiam tuam Reginae, Matri ejus").  Ernest, Archbishop of Prague, also remarks, "that the Eternal Father gave the office of judge and avenger to the Son, and that of showing mercy and relieving the necessitous to the Mother" (Pater omne judicium dedit Filio, misericordiae vero officium dedit Matri."—Marial. c. 127).  This was foretold by the prophet David himself; for he says that God (so to speak) consecrated Mary Queen of mercy, anointing her with the oil of gladness: God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness ("Unxit te Deus . . . oleo laetitiae."—Ps. xliv. 8).  In order that we miserable children of Adam might rejoice, remembering that in heaven we have this great Queen, overflowing with the unction of mercy and compassion towards us; and thus we can say with St. Bonaventure, "O Mary, thou art full of the unction of mercy and of the oil of compassion" ("Maria plena unctione misericordiae, plena oleo pietatis."—Spec. B.M.V. lect. 7); therefore God has anointed thee with the oil of gladness.

            And how beautifully does not Blessed Albert the Great apply to this subject the history of Queen Esther, who was herself a great type of our Queen Mary!

            We read, in the fourth chapter of the Book of Esther, that is the reign of Assuerus, a decree was issued, by which all Jews were condemned to death.  Mardochai, who was one of the condemned, addressed himself to Esther, in order that she might interpose with Assuerus, and obtain the revocation of the decree, and thus be the salvation of all.  At first Ester declined the office, fearing that such a request might irritate the king still more; but Mardochai reproved her, sending her word that she was not to think only of saving herself, for God had placed her on the throne to obtain the salvation of all the Jews: Think not that thou mayest save thy life only, because thou art in the king's house, more than all the Jews ("Ne putes, quod animam tuam tantum liberes, quia in domo Regis es prae cunctis Judaeis."—Esth. iv. 13).  Thus did Mardochai address Queen Ester.  And so can we poor sinners address our Queen Mary, should she show any repugnance to obtain of God our delivery from the chastisement we have justly deserved: "Think not, O Lady, that God has raised thee to the dignity of Queen of the world, only to provide for thy good; but in order that, being so great, thou mightest be better able to compassionate and assist us miserable creatures."

            As soon as Assuerus saw Esther standing before him, he asked her, with love, what she came to seek.  What is thy request!  The Queen replied, If I have found favor in thy sight, O King, give me my people, for which I request ("Quae est petition tua? . . . Si inveni gratiam in oculis tuis, o rex!  Dona mihi . . . populum meum pro quo obsecro."—Est. vii. 2, 3).  Assuerus granted her request, and immediately ordered the revocation of the decree.  And now, if Assuerus, through love for Esther, granted, at her request, salvation to the Jews, how can God refuse the prayers of Mary, loving her immensely as he does, when she prays for poor miserable sinners, who recommend themselves to her, and says to him, "My King and my God, if ever I have found favor in Thy sight" (though the divine Mother well knows that she was the blessed, the holy one, the only one of the human race who found the grace lost by all mankind; well does she know that she is the beloved one of her Lord, loved more than all the saints and angels together), give me my people for which I ask.  If thou lovest me, she says, "give me, O Lord, these sinners, for whom I entreat Thee."  Is it possible that God should refuse her?  And who is ignorant of the power of the prayers of Mary with God?  The law of clemency is on her tongue ("Lex clementiae in lingua ejus."—Prov. Xxxi. 26).  Each of her prayers is, as it were, an established law for our Lord, that he should show mercy to all for whom she intercedes.  St. Bernard asks why the Church calls Mary "the Queen of Mercy"?  And he replies, that "it is because we believe that she opens the abyss of the mercy of God to whomsoever she wills, when she wills, and as she wills; so that there is no sinner, however great, who is lost if Mary protects him" (Quod divinae pietatis abyssum, cui vult, quando vult, et quomodo vult, creditor aperire; ut quivis enormis peccator non pereat, cui Sancta Sanctorum patrocinii sui suffragia praestat."—In Salve Reg. s. 1).

            But perhaps we may fear that Mary would not deign to interpose for some sinners, because they are so overloaded with crimes?  Or perhaps we ought to be overawed at the majesty and holiness of this great Queen?  "No," says St. Gregory VII.; "for the higher and more holy she is, the greater is her sweetness and compassion towards sinners, who have recourse to her with the desire to amend their lives" ("Maria, quanto altior et sanctior, tanto clementior et dulcior circa converses peccatores."—Lib. i. Ep. 47).            Kings and queens, with their ostentation of majesty, inspire terror, and cause their subjects to fear to approach them: but what fear, says St. Bernard, can the miserable have to approach this Queen of Mercy, for she inspires no terror, and shows no severity, to those who come to her, but is all sweetness and gentleness.  "Why should human frailty fear to go to Mary?  In her there is no austerity, nothing terrible: she is all sweetness, offering milk and wool to all" ("Quid ad Mariam accedere trepidet humana fragilitas? Nihil austerum in ea, nihil terribile; tota suavis est, omnibus offerens lac et lanam."—In Sign. Magn.).  Mary is not only willing to give, but she herself offers milk and wool to all: the milk of mercy to animate our confidence, and the wool of her protection against the thunderbolts of divine justice.

            Suetonius (Tit. c. 8.) relates of the Emperor Titus that he could never refuse a favor, so much so that he sometimes promised more than he could grant, and when admonished of this he replied, that a prince should never send away any person whom he admitted to his audience dissatisfied.  Titus spoke thus, but in reality he must often have deceived or failed in his promises.  Our Queen cannot deceive, and can obtain all that she wills for her clients.  Moreover, "our Lord has given her so benign and compassionate a heart," says Lanspergius, "that she cannot send away any one dissatisfied who prays to her" ("Ita benigna est, ut neminem a se redire tristem sinat."—Alloq. l. 1, p. 4. can. 12).  But how, to use the words of St. Bonaventure, canst thou, O Mary, who art the Queen of Mercy, refuse to succor the miserable?  And "who," asks the saint, "are the subjects for mercy, if not the miserable?  And since thou art the Queen of Mercy," he continues, "and I am the most miserable of sinners, it follows that I am the first of thy subjects.  How, then, O Lady, canst thou do otherwise than exercise thy mercy on me?" (Tue es Regina misericordiae, et qui misericordiae subditi nisi miseri?  Tu Regina misericordiae es, et ego miserrimus peccatorum, subditorum maximum; rege nos ergo, o Regina misericordiae!"—Paciucch. In Salve Reg. exc. 2.)  Have pity on us, then, O Queen of Mercy, and take charge of our salvation.

            "Say not, O holy Virgin," exclaims St. George of Nicomedia, "that thou canst not assist us on account of the number of our sins, for thy power and thy compassion are such, that no number of sins, however great, can outweigh them.  Nothing resists thy power, for our common Creator, honoring thee as his Mother, considering thy glory as his own:" and the Son, "exulting in it, fulfils thy petitions as if he were paying a debt" ("Habes vires insuperabiles, ne clementiam tuam superset multitude peccatorum.  Nihil tuae resistit potentiae; tuam enim gloriam Creator existimat esse propriam.  Et Filius in ea exsultans, quasi exsolvens debitum, implet petitiones tuas."—Or. de Ingr. B.V.); meaning thereby, that although Mary is under an infinite obligation to her for having given him his humanity; and therefore Jesus, to pay as it were what he owes to Mary, and glorying in her glory, honors her in a special manner by listening to and granting all her petitions.

            How great, then, should be our confidence in this Queen, knowing her great power with God, and that she is so rich and full of mercy, that there is no one living on the earth who does not partake of her compassion and favor.  This was revealed by our Blessed Lady herself to St. Bridget, saying, "I am the Queen of heaven and the Mother of Mercy; I am the joy of the just, and the door through which sinners are brought to God.  There is no sinner on earth so accursed as to be deprived of my mercy; for all, if they receive nothing else through my intercession, receive the grace of being less tempted by the devils than they would otherwise have been" ("Ego sum Regina coeli, ego mater misericordiae: ego justorum gaudium, et aditus peccatorum ad Deum.  Nullus est adeo maledictus, qui, quamdiu vivit, careat misericordia mea; quia propter me levius tentatur a daemonibus quam aliter tentaretur").  "No one," she adds, "unless the irrevocable sentence has been pronounced" (that is, the one pronounced on the damned), "is so cast off by God that he will not return to him, and enjoy his mercy, if he invokes my aid" ("Nullus ita alienatus est a Deo, nisi omnino fuerit maledictus, qui, si me invocaverit, non revertatur ad Deum; et habebit misericordiam."—Rev. l. 6, c. 10).  "I am called by all the Mother of Mercy, and truly the mercy of my Son towards men has made me thus merciful towards them" ("Ego vocar ab omnibus mater misericordiae; vere, misercordia Filii mei misericordem me fecit."—Ibid. l. 2, c. 23); and she concludes by saying, "and therefore miserable will he be, and miserable will he be to all eternity, who, in this life, having it in his power to invoke me, who am so compassionate to all, and so desirous to assist sinners, is miserable enough not to invoke me, and so is damned" ("Ideo miser erit, qui ad misericordiam, cum posit, non accedit."—Ibid.).

            Let us, then, have recourse, and always have recourse, to this most sweet Queen, if we would be certain of salvation; and if we are alarmed and disheartened at the sight of our sins, let us remember that it is in order to save the greatest and most abandoned sinners, who recommend themselves to her, that Mary is made the Queen of Mercy.  Such have to be her crown in heaven; according to the words addressed to her by her Divine Spouse: Come from Libanus, my spouse; come from Libanus, come: thou shalt be crowned; . . . from the dens of the lions from the mountains of the leopards ("Veni de Libano, Sponsa mea, veni de Libano, veni, coronaberis . . . de cubilibus leonum, de montibus pardorum."—Cant. Iv. 8).  And what are these dens of beasts, but miserable sinners, whose souls have become the home of sin, the most frightful monster that can be found.  "With such souls," says the Abbot Rupert, addressing our Blessed Lady, "saved by thy means, O great Queen Mary, wilt thou be crowned in heaven; for their salvation will form a diadem worthy of, and well-becoming, a Queen of Mercy" ("De talium leonum cubilibus tu coronaberis; . . . eorum salus corona tua erit."—In Cant. 1, iii).  On this subject read the following.



We read, in the life of Sister Catharine of St. Augustine, that in the place where she resided, there was a woman, of the name of Mary, who in her youth was a sinner, and in her old age continued so obstinate in wickedness, that she was driven out of the city, and reduced to live in a secluded cave; there she died, half consumed by disease, without the sacraments, and was consequently interred in a field like a beast.  Sister Catharine, who always recommended the souls of those who departed from this world, with great fervor to God, on hearing the unfortunate end of this poor, poor old woman, never thought of praying for her, and she looked upon her (as did every one else) as irrevocably lost.  One day, four years afterwards, a suffering soul appeared to her, and exclaimed: "How unfortunate is my lot, Sister Catharine! Thou recommendest the souls of all those that die to God; on my soul alone thou has not compassion."  "And who art thou!" asked the servant of God.  "I am," she replied, "that poor Mary who died in the cave."  "And art thou saved?" said Catharine.  "Yes," she answered, "by the mercy of the Blessed Virgin Mary."  "And how?"  "When I saw myself at the point of death, loaded with sins, and abandoned by all, I had recourse to the Mother of God, saying, 'Lady, thou art the refuge of abandoned creatures; behold me, at this moment, abandoned by all; thou art my only hope; thou alone canst help me: have pity on me.'  The Blessed Virgin obtained, for me the grace to make an act of contrition.  I died, and am saved; and besides this, she my Queen obtained for me another favor, that my purgatory should be shortened, by enduring, in intensity, that which otherwise would have lasted for many years: I now want only a few masses to be entirely delivered; I beg thee to have them said; and on my part, I promise always to pray for thee to God and to Mary."  Sister Catharine immediately had the masses said; and after a few days that soul again appeared to her, shining like the sun, and said: "I thank thee, Catharine: behold, I go to Paradise, to sing the mercies of my God, and to pray for thee."



O, Mother of my God, and my Lady Mary; as a beggar, all wounded and sore, presents himself before a great queen, so do I present myself before thee, who art the Queen of heaven and earth.  From the lofty throne on which thou sittest, disdain not, I implore thee, to cast thine eyes on me, a poor sinner.  God has made thee so rich that thou mightest assist the poor, and has constituted thee Queen of Mercy in order that thou mightest relieve the miserable.  Behold me then, and pity me: behold me and abandon me not, until thou seest me changed from a sinner into a saint.  I know well that I merit nothing; nay more, that I deserve, on account of my ingratitude, to be deprived of the graces that, through thy means,  I have already received from God.  But thou, who art the Queen of Mercy, seekest not merits, but miseries, in order to help the needy.  But who is more needy than I?  O, exalted Virgin, well do I know that thou, who art Queen of the universe, art already my queen; yet am I determined to dedicate myself more especially to thy service, in order that thou mayest dispose of me as thou pleasest.  Therefore do I address thee in the words of St. Bonaventur: "Do thou govern me, O my Queen, and leave me not to myself" ("Domina, me tuae dominationi committo, ut me plenarie regas et gubernes; no mihi me relinquas."—Stim. Div. Am. p. 3, c. 19).  Command me; employ me as thou wilt, and chastise me when I do not obey; for the chastisements that come from thy hands will be to me pledges of salvation.  I would rather be thy servant than the ruler of the earth.  I am thine; save me ("Tuus sum ego, salvum me fac."—Ps. cxviii. 94).  Accept me, O Mary, for thine own, and as thine, take charge of my salvation.  I will no longer be mine; to thee do I give myself.  If, during the time past I have served thee ill, and lost so many occasions of honoring thee, for the future I will be one of thy most loving and faithful servants.  I am determined that from this day forward no one shall surpass me in honoring and loving thee, my most amiable Queen.  This I promise; and this, with thy help, I hope to execute.  Amen.



How much our Confidence in Mary should be increased because she is our Mother.

It is not without a meaning, or by chance, that Mary's clients call her Mother; and indeed they seem unable to invoke her under any other name, and never tire of calling her Mother.  Mother, yes! For she is truly our Mother; not indeed carnally, but spiritually; of our souls and of our salvation.

            Sin, by depriving our souls of divine grace, deprived them also of life.  Jesus our Redeemer, with an excess of mercy and love, came to restore this life by his own death on the cross, as he himself declared: I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly ("Ego veni ut vitam habeant, et abundantius habeant."—John, x. 10).  He says more abundantly; for, according to theologians, the benefit of redemption far exceeded the injury done by Adam's sin.  So that by reconciling us with God he made himself the Father of souls in the law of grace, as it was foretold by the prophet Isaias: He shall be called the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace ("Pater future saeculi, princes pacis."—Is. ix. 6).  But if Jesus is the Father of our souls, Mary is also their Mother; for she, by giving us Jesus, gave us true life; and afterwards, by offering the life of her Son on Mount Calvary for our salvation, she brought us forth to the life of grace.

            On two occasions, then, according to the holy Fathers, Mary became our spiritual Mother.

            The first, according to Blessed Albert the Great (De Laud. B. M. l. 6, c. 1.), was when she merited to conceive in her virginal womb the Son of God.  St. Bernardine of Sienna says the same thing more distinctly, for he tells us, "that when at the Annunciation the most Blessed Virgin gave the consent which was expected by the Eternal Word before becoming her Son, she from that moment asked our salvation of God with intense ardor, and took it to heart in such a way, that from that moment, as a most loving mother, she bore us in her womb" ("Virgo per hunc consensum, in Incarnatione filii omnium electorum salutem viscerosissime expetiit et procuravit; et omnium salvationi per hunc consensum se dedicavit, ita ut ex tunc omnes in suis visceribus bajularet, tanquam verissima mater filios suos."—Pro Fest. V. M. s. 8, a. 2, c. 2).

            In the second chapter of St. Luke, the Evangelist, speaking of the birth of our Blessed Redeemer, says that Mary brought forth her first-born son ("Peperit Filium suum primogenitum."—Luke, ii. 7).  Then, remarks an author, "since the Evangelist asserts that on this occasion the most Holy Virgin brought forth her first-born, must we suppose that she had afterwards other children?"  But then he replies to his own question, saying, "that as it is of faith that Mary had no other children according to the flesh than Jesus, she must have had other spiritual children, and we are those children."  This was revealed by our Lord to St. Gertrude ("Si primogenitus, ergo alii filii secuti sunt secundomeniti . . . Carnales nullos habuit Beata Virgo praeter Christum; ergo spirituals habeat necesse est."—Spann. Polyanth. litt. m. t. 6), who was one day reading the above text, and was perplexed and could not understand how Mary, being only the Mother of Jesus, could be said to have brought forth her first-born.  God explained it to her, saying, that Jesus was Mary's first-born according to the flesh, but that all mankind were her second-born according to the spirit (Insin. l. 4, c. 3).

            From what has been said, we can understand that passage of the sacred Canticle: Thy belly is like a heap of wheat, set about with lilies ("Venter tuus sicut acervus tritici, vallatus lilies."—Cant. vii. 2), and which applies to Mary.  And it is explained by St. Ambrose, who says: "That although in the most pure womb of Mary there was but one grain of corn, which was Jesus Christ, yet it is called a heap of wheat, because all the elect were virtually contained in it;" and as Mary was also to be their Mother, in bringing forth Jesus, he was truly and is called the first-born of many brethren ("Unum granum frumenti fuit in utero Virginis, Christus Dominus; et tamen 'acervus tritici' dicitur, quia granum hoc virtute omnes electos continent, 'ut sit ipse primogenitus in multis fratribus.'"—Ap. Novar. Umbra V. c. 63).  And the Abbot St. William writes in the same sense, saying, "that Mary, in bringing forthJesus, our Savior and our life, brought forth many unto salvation; and by giving birth to life itself, she gave life to many" ("Inillo uno fructu, in uno Salvatore omnium Jesu, piurimos Maria peperit ad salutem; pariendo Vitam, multos peperit ad vitam."—Delrio, In Cant. iv. 13).

            The second occasion on which Mary became our spiritual Mother, and brought us forth to the life of grace, was when she offered to the Eternal Father the life of her beloved Son on Mount Calvary, with so bitter sorrow and suffering.  So that St. Augustine declares that "as she then co-operated by her love in the birth of the faithful to the life of grace, she became the spiritual Mother of all who are members of the one Head, Christ Jesus" ("Mater membrorum ejus, quia cooperate est charitate, ut fideles in Ecclesia nascerentur."—De S. Virginitate, c. vi).  This we are given to understand by the following verse of the sacred Canticles, and which refers to the most Blessed Virgin: They have made me the keeper in the vineyards; my vineyard I have not kept ("Posuerunt me custodem in vineis; vineam meam non custodivi."—Cant. i. 5).  St. William says, that "Mary, in order that she might save many souls, exposed her own to death" ("Ut multas animas salvas faceret, animam suam morti exposuit."—Delrio, In Cant. i. 6); meaning, that to save us, she sacrificed the life of her Son.  And who but Jesus was the soul of Mary?  He was her life, and all her love.  And therefore the prophet Simeon foretold that a sword of sorrow would one day transpierce her own most blessed soul ("Et tuam ipsius animam pertransibit gladius."—Luke, ii. 35).  And it was precisely the lance which transpierced the side of Jesus, who was the soul of Mary.  Then it was that this most Blessed Virgin brought us forth by her sorrows to eternal life: and thus we can all call ourselves the children of the sorrows of Mary.  Our most loving Mother was always, and in all, united to the will of God.  "And therefore," says St. Bonaventure, "when she saw the love of the Eternal Father towards men to be so great that, in order to save them, he willed the death of his Son; and, on the other hand, seeing the love of the Son in wishing to die for us: in order to conform herself to this excessive love of both the Father and the Son towards the human race, she also with her entire will offered, and consented to, the death of her Son, in order that we might be saved" ("Nullo modo est dubitandum, quin Mariae animus voluerit tradere etiam Filium suum pro salute generic humani, ut Mater per omnia conformis esset Patri et Filio."—In Sent. l. i. D. 48, a. 2., q. 2).

            It is true that, according to the prophecy of Isaias, Jesus, in dying for the redemption of the human race, chose to be alone.  I have trodden the winepress alone ("Torcular calvavi solus."—Is. lxiii. 3.); but, seeing the ardent desire of Mary to aid in the salvation of man, he disposed it so that she, by the sacrifice and offering of the life of her Jesus, should co-operate in our salvation, and thus become the Mother of our souls.  This our Savior signified, when, before expiring, he looked down from the cross on his Mother and on the disciple St. John, who stood at its foot, and, first addressing Mary, he said, Behold thy Son ("Ecce filius tuus."—John xix. 26); as it were saying, Behold, the whole human race, which by the offer thou makes of my life for the salvation of all, is even now being born to the life of grace.  Then, turning to the disciple, he said, Behold thy Mother ("Ecce mater tua."—John xix. 26).  "By these words," says St. Bernardine of Sienna, "Mary, by reason of the love she bore them, became the Mother, not only of St. John, but of all men" ("Intelligimus in Joanne omnes, quorum, per dilectionem, Beata Virgo facta est Mater."—T. I. s. 51, a. 1, c. 3).  And Silveira remarks, that St. John himself, in stating this fact in his Gospel, says, "Then he said to the disciple, Behold thy Mother."  Here observe well that Jesus Christ did not address himself to John, but to the disciple, in order to show that he then gave Mary to all who are his disciples, that is to say, to all Christians, that she might be their Mother.  "John is but the name of one, whereas the word disciple is applicable to all; therefore our Lord makes use of a name common to all, to show that Mary was given as a Mother to us" ("Joannes nomen est particulare; . . . Discipulus, commune; ut denotetur, quod Maria dabatur omnibus in Matrem."—In Evang. l. viii, c. 17, q. 14).

            The Church applies to Mary these words of the sacred Canticles: I am the Mother of fair love ("Ego mater pulchrae dilectionis."—Ecclus. xxiv. 24); and a commentator explaining them, says, that the Blessed Virgin's love renders our souls beautiful in the sight of God, and also makes her as a most loving mother receive us as her children, "she being all love towards those whom she has thus adopted" ("Quia tota est amor erga nos, quos in filios receipt."—Paciucch. In Ps. 86, exc. 22).  And what mother, exclaims St. Bonaventure, loves her children, and attends to their welfare, as thou lovest us and carest for us, O most sweet Queen!  "For dost thou not love us and seek our welfare far more without comparison than any earthly mother?" ("Nonne plus sine comparatione nos diligis, ac bonum nostrum procuras, quam mater carnalis?"—Stim. Div. Am. p. 3, c. 19.)

            O blessed are they who live under the protection of so loving and powerful a mother!  The prophet David, although she was not yet born, sought salvation from God by dedicating himself as a son of Mary, and thus prayed: Save the son of thy handmaid ("Salvum fac filium ancillae tuae."—Ps. lxxxv. 16)  "Of what handmaid?" asks St. Augustine; and he answers, "Of her who said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord." ("Cujus ancillae? Quae ait: Ecce ancilla Domini").  "And who," says Cardinal Bellarmine, "would ever dare to snatch these children from the bosom of Mary, when they have taken refuge there?  What power of hell, or what temptation, can overcome them, if they place their confidence in the patronage of this great Mother, the Mother of God, and of them?" ("Quam bene nobis erit sub praesidio tantae Matris?  Quis nos detrabere audebit de sinu ejus?  Quae nos tentatio, quae tribulation superare poterit, confidentes in patrocinio Matris Dei et nostrae?"—De Sept. Verb. l. i. c. 12).  There are some who say that when the whale sees its young in danger, either from tempests or pursuers, it opens its mouth and swallows them.  This is precisely what Novarinus asserts of Mary: "When the storms of temptations rage, the most compassionate Mother of the faithful, with maternal tenderness, protects them as it were in her own bosom until she has brought them into the harbor of salvation" ("Fidelium piissima Mater, furente tentationum tempestate, materno affectu eos velut intra viscera propria receptos protegit, donec in beatum portum reponat").

            O most loving Mother!  O most compassionate Mother! Be thou ever blessed; and ever blessed be God, who has given thee to us for our mother, and for a secure refuge in all the dangers of this life.  Our Blessed Lady herself, in a vision, addressed these words to St. Bridget: "As a mother, on seeing her son in the midst of the swords of his enemies, would use every effort to save him, so do I, and will do for all sinners who seek my mercy" ("Ita ego facio, et faciam omnibus peccatoribus, misericordiam meam petentibus."—Rev. l. iv. Cap. 138).  Thus it is that in every engagement with the infernal powers, we shall always certainly conquer by having recourse to the Mother of God, who is also our Mother, saying and repeating again and again: "We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; we fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God" ("Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei genitrix!").  Oh, how many victories have not the faithful gained over hell, by having recourse to Mary with this short but most powerful prayer!  Thus it was that the great servant of God, Sister Mary Crucified, of the Order of St. Benedict, always overcame the devils.

            Be of good heart, then, all you who are children of Mary.  Remember that she accepts as her children all those who choose to be so.  Rejoice!  Why do you fear to be lost, when such a Mother defends and protects you?  "Say, then, O my soul, with great confidence: I will rejoice and be glad; for whatever the judgment to be pronounced on me may be, it depends on and must come from my Brother and Mother" ("Dic, anima mea, cum magna fiducia exsultabo et laetabor, quia quidquid judicabitur de me, pendet ex sentential Fratris et Matris mea."—Solil. c. 1).  "Thus," says St. Bonaventure, "it is that each one who loves this good Mother, and relies on her protection, should animate himself to confidence, remembering that Jesus is our Brother, and Mary our Mother."  The same thought makes St. Anselm cry out with joy, and encourage us, saying: "O, happy confidence!  O safe refuge!  The Mother of God is my Mother.  How firm, then, should be our confidence, since our salvation depends on the judgment of a good Brother and a tender Mother" ("O beata fiducia! O tutum refugium! Mater Dei est Mater nostra; qua igitur certitudine debemus sperare, quorum salus, de boni Fratris et piae Matris pendet arbitrio!"—Or. 51).  It is, then, our Mother who calls us, and says, in these words of the Book of Proverbs: He that is a little one, let him turn to me ("Si quis est parvulus, veniat ad me."—Prov. ix. 4).  Children have always on their lips their mother's name, and in every fear, in every danger, they immediately cry out, Mother! Mother!  Ah, most sweet Mary! ah, most loving Mother! This is precisely what thou desirest: that we should become children, and call on thee in every danger, and at all times have recourse to thee, because thou desirest to help and save us, as thou hast saved all who have had recourse to thee.



In the history of the foundation of the Society of Jesus in the kingdom of Naples (Schinosi, l. 5, ch. 7), we read the following account of a young Scotch nobleman, named William Elphinstone.  He was related to King James, and lived for some time in the heresy in which he was born.  Enlightened by divine grace, he began to perceive his errors.  Having gone to France, with the help of a good Jesuit Father, who was also a Scotchman, and still more by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, he at last discovered the truth, abjured his heresy, and became a Catholic.  From France he went to Rome, and there a friend, finding him one day weeping and in great affliction, inquired the cause of his grief.  He answered that during the night his mother, who was lost, appeared to him, and said: "It is well for thee, son, that thou has entered the true Church; for as I died in heresy, I am lost."  From that moment he redoubled his devotions towards Mary, choosing her for his only Mother, and by her he was inspired with the thought of embracing the religious state, and he bound himself to do so by vow.  Being in delicate health, he went to Naples for a change of air, and there it was the will of God that he should die, and die as a religious; for shortly after his arrival, finding himself at the last extremity, by his prayers and tears he moved the Superiors to accept him, and in presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, when he received it as viaticum, he pronounced his vows, and was declared a member of the Society of Jesus.  After this it was most touching to hear with what tenderness he thanked his Mother Mary for having snatched him from heresy, and led him to die in the true Church, and in the house of God, surrounded by his religious brethren.  This made him exclaim: "Oh, how glorious is it to die in the midst of so many angels!"  When exhorted to repose a little, "Ah," he replied, "this is no time for repose, now that I am at the close of my life."  Before expiring, he said to those who surrounded him: "Brothers, do you not see the angels of heaven here present who assist me?"  One of the religious having heard him mutter some words, asked him what he said.  He answered, that his guardian angel had revealed to him that he would remain but a very short time in purgatory, and that he would soon go to heaven.  He then entered into a colloquy with his sweet Mother Mary, and like a child that abandons itself to rest in the arms of its mother, he exclaimed, "Mother, mother!" and sweetly expired.  Shortly afterwards a devout religious learnt by revelation that he was already in heaven.



O most holy Mother Mary, how is it possible that I, having so holy a mother, should be so wicked?  a mother all burning with the love of God, and I loving creatures; a mother so rich in virtue, and I so poor?  Ah, amiable Mother, it is true that I do not deserve any longer to be thy son, for by my wicked life I have rendered myself unworthy of so great an honor.  I am satisfied that thou shouldst accept me for thy servant; and in order to be admitted amongst the vilest of them, I am ready to renounce all the kingdoms of the world.  Yes, I am satisfied.  But still thou must not forbid me to call thee mother.  This name consoles and fills me with tenderness, and reminds me of my obligation to love thee.  This name excites me to great confidence in thee.  When my sins and the divine justice fill me most with consternation, I am all consoled at the thought that thou art my mother.  Allow me then, to call thee mother, my most amiable mother.  Thus do I call thee, and thus will I always call thee.  Thou, after God, must be my hope, my refuge, my love in this valley of tears.  Thus do I hope to die, breathing forth my soul into thy holy hands, and saying, My Mother my Mother Mary, help me, have pity on me! Amen.



The Greatness of the Love which this Mother bears us.

Since Mary is our Mother, we may consider how great is the love she bears us; love towards our children is a necessary impulse of nature; and St. Thomas (De Dil. Chr. c. 13) says says that this is the reason why the divine law imposes on children the obligation of loving their parents; but gives no express command that parents should love their children, for nature itself has so strongly implanted it in all creatures, that, as St. Ambrose remarks, "we know that a mother will expose herself to danger for her children," and even the most savage beasts cannot do otherwise than love their young ("Natura hoc bestiis infundit, ut catulos proprios ament."—Hexam. l. 6. c. 4).  It is said that even tigers, on hearing the cry of their cubs taken by hunters, will go into the sea and swim until they reach the vessel in which they are.  Since the very tigers, says our most loving Mother Mary, cannot forget their young, how can I forget to love you, my children?  And even, she adds, were such a thing possible as that a mother should forget to love her child, it is not possible that I should cease to love a soul that has become my child: Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb?  And if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee" ("Numquid oblivisci potest mulier infantem suum, ut non misereatur filio uteri sui?  Et si illa oblita fuerit, ego tamen non obliviscar tui."—Is. xlix. 15).

            Mary is our Mother, not, as we have already observed, according to the flesh, but by love; I am the Mother of fair love ("Ego mater pulchrae dilectionis."—Ecclus. xxiv. 24); hence it is the love only that she bears us that makes her our mother; and therefore some one remarks, "that she glories in being a mother of love, because she is all love towards us whom she has adopted for her children" ("Se dilectionis esse Matrem merito gloriatur, quia tota est amor erga nos, quos in filios receipt."—Paciucch. In Ps. 86. Exc. 22).  And who can ever tell the love that Mary bears us miserable creatures?  Arnold of Chartres tells us that "at the death of Jesus Christ, she desired with immense ardor to die with her Son, for love of us" ("Flagrabat tunc Virgo aestuanti charitate incense, ut pro humani generic salute, simul cum prole sua profunderet vitam."—Ibid. Exc. 1); so much so, adds St. Ambrose, that whilst "her Son was hanging on the cross, Mary offered herself to the executioners" ("Pendebat in cruce Filius, Mater se persecutoribus offerebat."—Inst. Virg. c. 7), to give her life for us.

            But let us consider the reason of this love; for then we shall be better able to understand how much this good mother loves us.

            The first reason for the great love that Mary bears to men, is the great love that she bears to God; love towards God and love towards our neighbor belong to the same commandment, as expressed by St. John: this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother ("Hoc mandatum habemus a Deo, ut, qui diligit Deum, diligat et iratrem suum."—1 John, iv. 21); so that as the one becomes greater the other also increases.  What have not the saints done for their neighbor in consequence of their love towards God!  Read only the account of the labors of St. Francis Xavier in the Indies, where, in order to aid the souls of these poor barbarians and bring them to God, he exposed himself to a thousand dangers, clambering amongst the mountains, and seeking out these poor creatures in the caves in which they dwelt like wild beats.  See a St. Francis de Sales, who, in order to convert the heretics of the province of Chablais, risked his life every morning, for a whole year, crawling on his hands and feet over a frozen beam, in order that he might preach to them on the opposite side of a river; a St. Paulinus, who delivered himself up as a slave, in order that he might obtain liberty for the son of a poor widow; a St. Fidelis, who, in order to draw the heretics of a certain place to God, persisted in going to preach to them, though he knew it would cost him his life.  The saints, then, because they loved God much, did much for their neighbor; but who ever loved God as much as Mary?  She loved him more in the first moment of her existence than all the saints and angels ever loved him, or will love him; but this we shall explain at length, when treating of her virtues.  Our Blessed Lady herself revealed to Sister Mary the Crucified, that the fire of love with which she was inflamed towards God was such, that if the heavens and earth were placed in it, they would be instantly consumed; so that the ardors of the seraphim, in comparison with it, were but as fresh breezes.  And as amongst all the blessed spirits, there is not one that loves God more than Mary, so we neither have nor can have any one who, after God, loves us as much as this most loving Mother; and if we concentrate all the love that mothers bear their children, husbands and wives one another, all the love of angels and saints for their clients, it does not equal the love of Mary towards a single soul.  Father Nieremberg (De Aff. Ergo B. V. c. 14) says that the love that all mothers have ever had for their children is but a shadow in comparison with the love that Mary bears to each one of us; and he adds, that she alone loves us more than all the angels and saints put together.

            Moreover, our Mother loves us much, because we were recommended to her by her beloved Jesus, when he before expiring said to her, Woman, behold thy son! for we were all represented in the person of St. John, as we have already observed: these were his last words; and the last recommendations left before death by persons we love are always treasured and never forgotten.

            But again, we are exceedingly dear to Mary on account of the sufferings we cost her.  Mothers generally love those children most, the preservation of whose lives has cost them the most suffering and anxiety; we are those children for whom Mary, in order to obtain for us the life of grace, was obliged to endure the bitter agony of herself offering her beloved Jesus to die an ignominious death, and had also to see him expire before her own eyes in the midst of the most cruel and unheard-of torments.  It was then by this great offering of Mary that we were born to the life of grace; we are therefore her very dear children, since we cost her so great suffering.  And thus, as it is written of the love of the Eternal Father towards men, in giving his own Son to death for us, that God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son ("Sic Deus dilexit mundum, ut filium suum unigenitum daret."—John, iii. 16).  "So also," says St. Bonaventure, "we can say of Mary, that she has so loved us as to give her only-begotten Son for us" ("Sic Maria dilexit nos, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret").  And when did she give him?  She gave him, says Father Nieremberg, when she granted him permission to deliver himself up to death; she gave him to us, when, others neglecting to do so, either out of hatred or from fear, she might herself have pleaded for the life of her Son before the judges.  Well may it be supposed that the words of so wise and loving a mother would have had great weight, at least with Pilate, and might have prevented him from sentencing a man to death whom he knew and had declared to be innocent.  But no, Mary would not say a word in favor of her Son, lest she might prevent that death on which our salvation depended.  Finally, she gave him to us a thousand and a thousand times, during the three hours preceding his death, and which she spent at the foot of the cross; for during the whole of that time she unceasingly offered, with the extreme of sorrow and the extreme of love, the life of her Son in our behalf, and this with such constancy, that St. Anselm and St. Antoninus say (P. 4, t. 15, c. 41, #1.), that if executioners had been wanting, she herself would have crucified him, in order to obey the Eternal Father who willed his death for our salvation.  If Abraham had such fortitude as to be ready to sacrifice with his own hands the life of his son, with far greater fortitude would Mary (far more holy and obedient than Abraham) have sacrificed the life of hers.  But let us return to the consideration of the gratitude we owe to Mary, for so great an act of love as was the painful sacrifice of the life of her Son, which she made to obtain eternal salvation for us all.  God abundantly rewarded Abraham for the sacrifice he was prepared to make of his son Isaac; but we, what return can we make to Mary for the life of her Jesus, a Son far more noble and beloved than the son of Abraham?  "This love of Mary," says St. Bonaventure, "has indeed obliged us to love her; for we see that she has surpassed all others in love towards us, since she has given her only Son, whom she loved more than herself, for us" ("Nulla post eam creatura ita per amorem nostrum exardescet, quae Filium suum unicum, quem multo plus se amavit, nobis dedit, et pro nobis obtulit."—De B. V. M. s. 1).

            From this arises another motive for the love of Mary towards us; for in us she beholds that which has been purchased at the price of the death of Jesus Christ.  If a mother knew that a servant had been ransomed by a beloved son at the price of twenty years of imprisonment and suffering, how greatly would she esteem that servant on this account alone!  Mary well knows that her Son came into the world only to save us poor creatures, as he himself protested, I am come to save that which was lost ("Venit enim Filius hominis quaerere et salvum facere quod perirat."—Luke, xix. 10).  And to save us he was pleased even to lay down his life for us, Having become obedient unto death ("Factus obediens usque ad mortem."—Phil. ii. 8).  If, then, Mary loved us but little, she would show that she valued but little the blood of her Son, which was the price of our salvation.  To St. Elizabeth of Hungary it was revealed that Mary, from the time she dwelt in the Temple, did nothing but pray for us, begging that God would hasten the coming of his Son into the world to save us.  And how much more must we suppose that she loves us, now that she has seen that we are valued to such a degree by her Son, that he did not disdain to purchase us at such a cost.

            Because all men have been redeemed by Jesus, therefore Mary loves and protects them all.  It was she who was seen by St. John in the Apocalypse, clothed with the sun: And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun ("Et signum magnum apparuit in coelo, mulier amicta sole."—Apoc. xii. 1).  She is said to be clothed with the sun, because as there is no one on earth who can be hidden from the heat of the sun—There is no one that can hide himself from his heat ("Nec est qui se abscondat a calore ejus."—Ps. xviii. 7).  So there is no one living who can be deprived of the love of Mary.  From its heat, that is, as Blessed Raymond Jordano applies the words, "from the love of Mary" ("A calore ejus, id est, a dilectione Mariae."—Contempl. De V. M. in prol.).  "And who," exclaims St. Antoninus, "can ever form an idea of the tender care that this most loving mother takes of all of us" ("Oh! Quanta est cura B. Virgini Matri de nobis!"), "offering and dispensing her mercy to every one" ("Omnibus aperit sinum misericordiae suae."—P. 4, t. 15, c. 2); for our good mother desired the salvation of all, and cooperated in obtaining it.  "It is evident," says St. Bernard, "that she was solicitous for the whole human race" ("Constat pro universo genere humano fuisse sollicitam."—In Assumpt. s. 4).  Hence the custom of some of Mary's clients, spoken of by Cornelius a Lapide, and which consists in asking our Lord to grant them the graces that our Blessed Lady seeks for them, succeeds most advantageously.  They say, Lord, grant me that which the most Blessed Virgin Mary asks for me.  "And no wonder," adds the same write, "for our Mother desires for us better things than we can possibly desire ourselves" ("Ipsa enim majora optat, quam nos optare possumus").  The devout Bernardine de Bustis says, that Mary "loves to do us good, and dispense graces to us far more than we to receive them" ("Plus desiderat ipsa facere tibi bonum et largiri gratiam, quam tu accipere concupiscas."—Marial. p. 2, s. 5).  On this subject Blessed Albert the Great applies to Mary the words of the Book of Wisdom: She preventeth them that covet her, so that she first showeth herself unto them ("Praeoccupat qui se concupiscent, ut illis se prior ostendat."—Wisd. vi. 14).  Mary anticipates those who have recourse to her by making them find her before they seek her.  "The love that this good Mother bears us is so great," says Richard of St. Laurence, "that as soon as she perceives our want, she comes to our assistance.  She comes before she is called" ("Velocius occurrit ejus pietas, quam invocetur."—In Cant. c. 23). 

            And now, if Mary is so good to all, even to the ungrateful and negligent, who love her but little, and seldom have recourse to her, how much more loving will she be to those who love her and often call upon her!  She is easily found by them that seek her ("Facile videtur ab his qui diligent eam, et invenitur ab his qui quaerunt illam."—Wisd. vi. 13.)  "O, how easy," adds the same Blessed Albert, "is it for those who love Mary to find her, and to find her full of compassion and love!"  In the words of the Book of Proverbs, I love them that love me ("Ego diligentes me diligo."—Prov. viii. 17), she protests that she cannot do otherwise than love those who love her.  And although this most loving Lady loves all men as her children, yet, says St. Bernard, "she recognizes and loves (In Salve Reg. s. 1)," that is, she loves in a more special manner, those who love her more tenderly.  Blessed Raymond Jordano asserts that these happy lovers of Mary are not only loved but even served by her; for he says that those who find the most Blessed Virgin Mary, find all; for she loves those who love her, nay more, she serves those who serve her ("Inventa Virgine Maria, invenitur omne bonum; ipsa namque diligit diligentes se, imo sibi servientibus servit."—Contempl. de V. M. in prol.).

            In the chronicles of the Order of St. Dominic it is related that one of the friars named Leonard used to recommend himself two hundred times a day to this Mother of Mercy, and that when he was attacked by his last illness he saw a most beautiful queen by his side, who thus addressed him: "Leonard, wilt thou die, and come and dwell with my Son and with me?"  And who art thou?" he replied.  "I am," said the most Blessed Virgin, for she it was, "I am the Mother of Mercy: thou has to many times invoked me, behold, I am now come to take thee; let us go together to Paradise."  On the same day Leonard died, and, as we trust, followed her to the kingdom of the blessed.

            "Ah, most sweet Mary!" exclaimed the Venerable John Berchmans, of the Society of Jesus, "blessed is he who loves thee!  If I love Mary, I am certain of perseverance, and shall obtain whatever I wish from God."  Therefore the devout youth was never tired of renewing his resolution, and of repeating often to himself: "I will love Mary; I will love Mary."

            O, how much does the love of this good Mother exceed that of all her children!  Let them love her as much as they will, Mary is always amongst lovers the most loving, says St. Ignatius the Martyr ("Cum devotis devotior, id est, cum amantibus amantior."—Auriemma, Aff Scamb. p. 1, c. 1).

            Let them love her as did St. Stanislaus Kostka, who loved this dear mother so tenderly, that in speaking of her he moved all who heard him to love her.  He had made new words and new titles with which to honor her name.  He never did anything without first turning to her image to ask her blessing.  When he said her office, the Rosary, or other prayers, he did so with the same external marks of affection as he would have done had he been speaking face to face with Mary; when the Salve Regina was sung, his whole soul, and even his whole countenance, was all inflamed with love.  On being one day asked by a Father of the Society who was going with him to visit a picture of the Blessed Virgin, how much he loved Mary,—"Father," he answered, "what more can I say? she is my mother."  "But," adds the Father, "the holy youth uttered these words with such tenderness in his voice, with such an expression of countenance, and at the same time it came to fully from his heart, that it no longer seemed to be a young man, but rather an angel speaking of the love of Mary."

            Let us love her as Blessed Hermann loved her.  He called her the spouse of his love, for he was honored by Mary herself with this same title.  Let us love her as did St. Philip Neri, who was filled with consolation at the mere thought of Mary, and therefore called her his delight.  Let us love her as did St. Bonaventure, who called her not only his Lady and mother, but to show the tenderness of his affection, even called her his heart and soul: "Hail, my Lady, my Mother; nay, even my heart, my soul!" ("Ave, Domina mea; Mater mea; imo cor meum et anima mea."—Stim. div. am. p. 3, c. 16).

            Let us love her like that great lover of Mary, St. Bernard, who loved this his sweet Mother so much that he called her the ravisher of hearts ("Raptrix cordium!"—Ib.); and to express the ardent love he bore her, added: "for hast thou not ravished my heart, O Queen?" ("Nonne rapuisti cor meum?"—Med. In Salve Reg.)

            Let us call her beloved, like St. Bernardine of Sienna, who daily went to visit a devotional picture of Mary, and there, in tender colloquies with his Queen, declared his love; and when asked where he went each day, he replied that he went to visit his beloved.

           Let us love her as did St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose love for Mary burnt so unceasingly, that whenever he heard the sweet name of his Mother mentioned, his heart was instantly inflamed, and his countenance lighted up with a fire that was visible to all.

            Let us love as much as St. Francis Solano did, who, maddened as it were (but with a holy madness), with love for Mary, would sing before her picture, and accompany himself on a musical instrument, saying, that, like worldly lovers, he serenaded his most sweet Queen.

            Finally, let us love her as so many of her servants have loved her, who never could do enough to show their love.  Father John of Trexo, of the Society of Jesus, rejoiced in the name of slave of Mary; and as a mark of servitude, went often to visit her in some church dedicated in her honor.  On reaching the church he poured out abundant tears of tenderness and love for Mary; then, prostrating, he licked and rubbed the pavement with his tongue and face, kissing it a thousand times, because it was the house of his beloved Lady.  Father James Martinez, of the same Society, who for his devotion for our blessed Lady on her feasts was carried by angels to heaven to see how they were kept there, used to say, "Would that I had the hearts of all angels and saints, to love Mary as they love her—would that I had the lives of all men, to give them all for her love!"

            O that others would come to love her as did Charles, the son of St. Bridget, who said that nothing in the world consoled him so much as the knowledge that Mary was so greatly loved by God.  And he added, that he would willingly endure every torment rather than allow Mary to lose the smallest degree of her glory, were such a thing possible; and that if her glory was his, he would renounce it in her favor, as being far more worthy of it.

            Let us, moreover, desire to lay down our lives as a testimony of our love for Mary, as Alphonsus Rodriguez desired to do.  Let us love her as did those who even cut the beloved name of Mary on their breast with sharp instruments, as did Francis Binanzio and Radagundis, wife of King Clothaire, or as did those who could imprint this loved name on their flesh with hot irons, in order that it might remain more distinct and lasting;; as did her devout servants Baptist Archinto and Augustine d'Espinosa, both of the Society of Jesus, impelled thereto by the vehemence of their love.

            Let us, in fine, do or desire to do all that it is possible for a lover to do, who intends to make his affection known to the person loved.  For be assured that the lovers of Mary will never be able to equal her in love.  "I know, O Lady," says St. Peter Damian, "that thou art most loving, and that thou lovest us with an invincible love" ("Scio, Domina, quia benegnissima es, et amas nos amore invincibili."—In Nat. B. V. s. 1).  I know, my Lady, that among those that love thee thou lovest the most, and that thou lovest us with a love that can never be surpassed. 

            The Blessed Alphonsus Rodriguez, of the Society of Jesus, once prostrate before an image of Mary, felt his heart inflamed with love towards this most Holy Virgin, and burst forth into the following exclamation: "My most beloved Mother, I know that thou lovest me, but thou dost not love me as much as I love thee."  Mary, as it were offended on the point of love, immediately replied from the image: "What dost thou say, Alphonsus—what dost thou say?  O, how much greater is the love that I bear thee, than any love that thou canst have for me!  Know that the distance between heaven and earth is not so great as the distance between thy love and mine."

            St. Bonaventure, then, was right in exclaiming: Blessed are they who have the good fortune to be faithful servants and lovers of this most loving Mother.  "Blessed are the hearts of those who love Mary; blessed are they who are tenderly devoted to her" ("Beati quorum corda te diligent, Virgo Maria.  Beati qui devote ei famulantur."—Psalt. B. V. ps. xxxi., cxviii).  Yes; for "in this struggle our most gracious Queen never allows her clients to conquer her in love.  She returns our love and homage, and always increases her past favors by new ones" ("Numquam tamen in hoc certamine a nobis ipsa vincetur; amorem redhibet, et praeterita beneficia novis simper adauget."—Paciucch. in Ps. lxxxvi. Exc. 2).  Mary, imitating in this our most loving Redeemer Jesus Christ, returns to those who love her their love doubled in benefits and favors.

            Then will I exclaim, with the enamoured St. Anselm, "May my heart languish and my soul melt and be consumed with your love, O my beloved Savior Jesus, and my dear Mother Mary!  But, as without your grace I cannot love you, grant me, O Jesus and Mary, grant my soul, by your merits and not mine, the grace to love you as you deserve to be loved.  O God, lover of men, Thou couldst love guilty men even unto death.  And canst Thou deny Thy love and that of Thy Mother to those who ask it?" ("Vestro continuo amore langueat cor meum: liquefiant omnia ossa mea.  Date itaque supplicanti animae meae, non propter meritum meum, sed proter meritum vestrum, date illi, quanto digni estis, amorem vestrum . . . O Amator hominum! tu potuisti roes tuos et usque ad mortem amare: et poteris te roganti amorem tui et Matris tuae negare?"—Orat. 51.)



Father Auriemma (Aff. Scamb. p. 2, c. 8) relates that there was a certain poor shepherdess, whose sole delight was to go to a little chapel of our Blessed Lady, situated on a mountain, and there, whilst her flocks were browsing, she conversed with her dear Mother and rendered honor to her.  Seeing that the little image of Mary (which was carved in relief) was unadorned, she set to work to make her a mantle.  One day, having gathered a few flowers in the fields, she made a garland, and climbing on the altar of the little chapel, placed it on the head of the image, saying, "My Mother, I would place a crown of gold and precious stones on thy brow, but, as I am poor, receive this crown of flowers, and accept it as a mark of the love that I bear thee."  With this and other acts of homage, the pious maiden always endeavored to serve and honor our beloved Lady.  But let us now see how the good Mother on her part recompensed the visits and the affection of her child.  The latter fell ill, and was at the point of death.  It so happened that two religious were passing that way, and, fatigued with their journey, sat down under a tree to rest: one fell asleep, and the other remained awake; but both had the same vision.  They saw a multitude of most beautiful young women, and amongst these was one who in beauty and majesty far surpassed them all.  One of the religious addressed himself to her: "Lady, who art thou, and where art thou going by these rugged ways?"  "I am," she replied, "the Mother of God, and am going with these holy virgins to a neighboring cottage to visit a dying shepherdess who has so often visited me."  Having said these words, all disappeared.  At once these two good servants of God said, "Let us go also to see her."  They immediately started, and having found the cottage of the dying virgin, they entered it and found her stretched on a little straw.  They saluted her, and she said, "Brothers, ask our Lord to let you see the company that is assisting me."  They immediately knelt, and saw Mary by the side of the dying girl, holding a crown in her hand and consoling her.  All at once the virgins began to sing, and at the sound of this sweet harmony her blessed soul left her body.  Mary placed the crown on her head, and taking her soul, led it with her to Paradise. (This account bears much resemblance to the account of the circumstances of the life and death of St. Germaine Cousin, deceased in 1601 at Pibrac, near Toulouse, aged about twenty two years, beatified May 7, 1854, canonized June 29, 1867.—ED.)



O Lady, O ravished of hearts! ("O Domina, quae rapis corda.")  I will exclaim with St. Bonaventure: "Lady, who with the love and favor thou showest thy servants dost ravish their hearts, ravish also my miserable heart, which desires ardently to love thee.  Thou, my Mother, hast enamoured a God with thy beauty, and drawn him from heaven into thy chaste womb; and shall I live without loving thee?  "No, I will say to thee with one of thy most loving sons, John Berchmans of the Society of Jesus, I will never rest until I am certain of having obtained thy love; but a constant and tender love towards thee, my Mother, who hast loved me with so much tenderness" ("Nunquam quiescam, donec habuero tenerum amorem erga Matrem meam, Mariam"), even when I was ungrateful towards thee.  And what should I now be, O Mary, if thou hadst not obtained so many mercies for me?  Since, then, thou didst love me so much when I loved thee not, how much more may I not now hope from thee, now that I love thee?  I love thee, O my Mother, and I would that I had a heart to love thee in place of all those unfortunate creatures who love thee not.  I would that I could speak with a thousand tongues, that all might know thy greatness, thy holiness, thy mercy, and the love with which thou lovest all who love thee.  Had I riches, I would employ them all for thy honor.  Had I subjects, I would make them all thy lovers.  In fine, if the occasion presented itself I would lay down my life for thy glory.  I love thee, then, O my Mother; but at the same time I fear that I do not love thee as I ought; for I hear that love makes lovers like the person loved.  If, then, I see myself so unlike thee, it is a mark that I do not love thee.  Thou art so pure, and I defiled with many sins; thou so humble, and I so proud; thou so holy, and I so wicked.  This, then, is what thou hast to do, O Mary; since thou lovest me, make me like thee.  Thou hast all power to change hearts; take, then, mine and change it.  Show the world what thou canst, do for those who love thee.  Make me a saint; make me thy worthy child.  This is my hope.  



Mary is the Mother of penitent Sinners.

Our Blessed Lady told St. Bridget that she was the mother not only of the just and innocent, but also of sinners, provided they were willing to repent ("Ego sum Quasi Mater omnium peccatorum se volentium emendare."—Rev. 1. iv. c. 138).  O how prompt does a sinner (desirous of amendment, and who flies to her feet) find this good mother to embrace and help him, far more so than any earthly mother!  St. Gregory VII wrote in this sense to the princess Matilda, saying: "Resolve to sin no more, and I promise that undoubtedly thou wilt find Mary more ready to love thee than any earthly mother" ("Pone finem in-voluntate peccandi, et invenies Mariam, indubitanter promitto, promptiorem carnali matre in tui dilectione."—Lib. i. ep. 47).

            But whoever aspires to be a child of this great mother, must first abandon sin, and then may hope to be accepted as such.  Richard of St. Laurence, on the words of Proverbs, up rose her children ("Surrexerunt filii ejus."—Prov. xxxi. 28.), remarks that the words "up rose" come first, and then the word "children," to show that no one can be a child of Mary without first endeavoring to rise from the fault into which he has fallen; for he who is in mortal sin is not worthy to be called the son of such a mother ("Nec dignus est, qui in mortali peccato est, vocari filius tantae Matris."—De Laud. B. V. lib. ii. p. 5).  And St. Peter Chrysologus says that he who acts in a different manner from Mary, declares thereby that he will not be her son.  "He who does not the works of his mother, abjures his lineage" ("Qui genitoris opera non facit, negat genus."—Serm. 123).  Mary humble, and he proud; Mary pure, and he wicked; Mary full of love, and he hating his neighbor.  He gives thereby proof that he is not, and will not be, the son of his holy Mother.  The sons of Mary, says Richard of St. Laurence, are her imitators, and this chiefly in three things; in "chastity, liberality, and humility; and also in meekness, mercy, and such like" ("Filii Mariae, imitators ejus in castitate, humilitate, mansuetudine, misericordia.—Loco cit)

            Whilst disgusting her by a wicked life, who would dare even to wish to be the child of Mary?  A certain sinner once said to Mary, "Show thyself a Mother;" but the Blessed Virgin replied, "Show thyself a son" ("Monstra te esse matrem . . . Monstra te esse filium."—Aur. Aff. Scamb. p. 3, c. 12).  Another invoked the divine Mother, calling her the Mother of mercy, and she answered: "You sinners, when you want my help, call me Mother of mercy, and at the same time do not cease by your sins to make me a Mother of sorrows and anguish" (Pelb. Stell. 1. xii. p. ult. c. 7)He is cursed of God, says Ecclesiasticus, that angereth his mother ("Maledictus a Deo, qui exasperate matrem."—Ecclus. iii. 18).  "That is Mary" ("Matrem, id est Mariam"—De Laud. B. M. l. 2, p. 1), says Richard of St. Laurence.  God curses those who by their wicked life, and still more by their obstinacy in sin, afflict this tender mother.

            I say, by their obstinacy; for if a sinner, though he may not as yet have given up his sin, endeavors to do so, and for this purpose seeks the help of Mary, this good mother will not fail to assist him, and make him recover the grace of God.  And this is precisely what St. Bridget heard one day from the lips of Jesus Christ, who, speaking to his mother, said, "Thou assistest him who endeavors to return to God, and thy consolations are never wanting to any one" ("Conanti surgere ad Deum tribuis auxilium, et neminem reliquis vacuum a consolatione tua"—Rev. 1. 4, c. 19).  So long, then, as a sinner is obstinate, Mary cannot love him; but if he (finding himself chained by some passion which keeps him a slave of hell) recommends himself to the Blessed Virgin, and implores her, with confidence and perseverance, to withdraw him from the state of sin in which he is, there can be no doubt but this good mother will extend her powerful hand to him, will deliver him from his chains, and lead him to a state of salvation.

            The doctrine that all prayers and works performed in a state of sin are sins was condemned as heretical by the sacred Council of Trent (Sess. vi. can. 7).  St. Bernard says (De Div. s. 81), that although prayer in the mouth of a sinner is devoid of beauty, as it is unaccompanied with charity, nevertheless it is useful, and obtains grace to abandon sin; for, as St. Thomas teaches (2. 2, q. 178, a. 2.), the prayer of a sinner, though without merit, is an act which obtains the grace of forgiveness, since the power of impetration is founded not on the merits of him who asks, but on the divine goodness, and the merits and promises of Jesus Christ, who has said, Every one that asketh, receiveth ("Omnis enim qui petit, accipit."—Luke, xi. 10).  The same thing must be said of prayers offered to the divine mother.  "If he who prays," says St. Anselm, "does not merit to be heard, the merits of the mother, to whom he recommends himself, will intercede effectually" ("Si merita invocantis non merentur, merita tamen Matris intercedunt, ut exaudiatur."—De Excell. Virg. c. 6).

            Therefore, St. Bernard exhorts all sinners to have recourse to Mary, invoking her with great confidence; for though the sinner does not himself merit the graces which he asks, yet he receives them, because this Blessed Virgin asks and obtains them from God, on account of her own merits.  These are his words, addressing a sinner: "Because thou wast unworthy to receive the grace thyself, it was given to Mary, in order that, through her, thou mightest receive all" ("Quia indignus eras, cui donaretur, datum est Mariae, ut per illam acciperes quidquid haberes."—In Virg. Nat. s. 3).  "If a mother," continues the same saint, "knew that her two sons bore a mortal enmity to each other, and that each plotted against the other's life, would she not exert herself to her utmost in order to reconcile them?  This would be the duty of a good mother.  And thus it is," the saint goes on to say, "that Mary acts; for she is the mother of Jesus, and the mother of men.  When she sees a sinner at enmity with Jesus Christ, she cannot endure it, and does all in her power to make peace between them.  O happy Mary, thou art the Mother of the criminal, and the Mother of the judge; and being the Mother of both, they are thy children, and thou canst not endure discords amongst them" ("O Maria! tu Mater rei, tu Mater judicis: cum sis Mater utriusque, discordias inter tuos filios nequis sustinere."—Ap. S. Bonav. Spec. B. V. lect. 3).

            This most benign Lady only requires that the sinner should recommend himself to her, and purpose amendment.  When Mary sees a sinner at her feet, imploring her mercy, she does not consider the crimes with which he is loaded, but the intention with which he comes; and if this is good, even should he have committed all possible sins, the most loving mother embraces him, and does not disdain to heal the wounds of his soul; for she is not only called the Mother of Mercy, but is so truly and indeed, and shows herself such by the love and tenderness with which she assists us all.  And this is precisely what the Blessed Virgin herself said to St. Bridget: "However much a man sins, I am ready immediately to receive him when he repents; nor do I pay attention to the number of his sins, but only to the intention with which he comes: I do not disdain to anoint and heal his wounds; for I am called, and truly am, the Mother of Mercy" ("Quantumcumque homo peccet, si ex vera emendatione ad me reverses fuerit, statim parata sum recipere revertentem; nec attendo quantum peccaverit, sed cum quail voluntate venit; nam non dedignor ungere et sanare plagas ejus, (quia) vocor (et vere sum) Mater misericortiae."—Rev. l. 2, c. 23.—l. 6, c. 117).

            Mary is the mother of sinners who wish to repent, and as a mother she cannot do otherwise than compassionate them; nay more, she seems to feel the miseries of her poor children as if they were her own.  When the Canaanitish woman begged our Lord to deliver her daughter from the devil who possessed her, she said, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David, my daughter is grievously troubled by a devil ("Miserere mei, Domine, Fili David!  filia mea male a daemonio vexatur."—Matt. xv. 22).  But since the daughter, and not the mother, was tormented, she should rather have said, "Lord, take compassion on my daughter:" and not, Have mercy on me; but no, she said, "Have mercy on me," and she was right; for the sufferings of children are felt by their mother as if they were their own.  And it is precisely thus, says Richard of St. Laurence, that Mary prays to God when she recommends a sinner to him who has had recourse to her; she cries out for the sinful soul, "Have mercy on me!"  "My Lord," she seems to say, "this poor soul that is in sin is my daughter, and therefore, pity not so much her as me, who am her mother" ("Maria clamat pro peccatorice anima: Miserere mei."—De Laud. B. M. l. 6)

            Would that all sinners had recourse to this sweet mother! for then certainly all would be pardoned by God.  "O Mary," exclaims St. Bonaventure in rapturous astonishment, "thou embracest with maternal affection a sinner despised by the whole world, nor dost thou leave him until thou has reconciled the poor creature with his judge" ("O Maria! peccatorem toti mundo despectum materno affectu complecteris; nec deseris, quousque horrendo Judici miserum reconcilies."—In Spec. B. V. lect. 5); meaning that the sinner, whilst in the state of sin, is hated and loathed by all, even by inanimate creatures; fire, air, and earth would chastise him, and avenge the honor of their outraged Lord.  But if this unhappy creature flies to Mary, will Mary reject him?  Oh, no: provided he goes to her for help, and in order to amend, she will embrace him with the affection of a mother, and will not let him go, until, by her powerful intercession, she has reconciled him with God, and reinstated him in grace.

            In the second book of Kings (2 Kings, xiv. 5), we read that a wise woman Thecua addressed King David in the following words:  "My lord, I had two sons, and for my misfortune, one killed the other; so that I have now lost one, and justice demands the other, the only one that is left, take compassion on a poor mother, and let me not be thus deprived of both."  David, moved with compassion towards the mother, declared that the delinquent should be set at liberty and restored to her.  Mary seems to say the same thing when God is indignant against a sinner who has recommended himself to her.  "My God," she says, "I had two sons, Jesus and man; man took the life of my Jesus on the cross, and now Thy justice would condemn the guilty one.  O Lord, my Jesus is already dead, have pity on me, and if I have lost the one, do not make me lose the other also."

            Most certainly God will not condemn those sinners who have recourse to Mary, and for whom she prays, since he himself commended them to her as her children.  The devout Lanspergius supposes our Lord speaking in the following terms: "I recommended all, but especially sinners, to Mary, as her children, and therefore is she so diligent and so careful in the exercise of her office, that she allows none of those committed to her charge, and especially those who invoke her, to perish; but as far as she can, brings all to me" ("Mariae . . . peccatores in filios commendavi; . . . propterea adeo est sedula, ut, officio suo satisfaciens, neminem eorum, quantum in se est, qui sibi commissi sunt, praecipue se invocantium, perire sinat, sed, quantum valet, omnes mihi reducat"—Alloq. l. 1, p. 4, can. 12).  "And who can ever tell," says the devout Blosius, "the goodness, the mercy, the compassion, the love, the benignity, the clemency, the fidelity, the benevolence, the charity, of this Virgin Mother towards men?  It is such that no words can express it" ("Hujus Matris bonitas, misericordia, fidelitas, charitas erga hominess, tanta est, ut nullis verbis explicari posit"—Sacell. An. p. 3, c. 5).

            "Let us, then," says St. Bernard, "cast ourselves at the feet of this good mother, and embracing them, let us not depart until she blesses us, and thus accepts us for her children" ("Beatis illius pedibus provolvamur; teneamus eam, nec dimittamus, donec benedixerit nobis"—In Sign. magn).  And who can ever doubt the compassion of this mother?  St. Bonaventure used to say; "Even should she take my life, I would still hope in her; and, full of confidence, would desire to die before her image, and be certain of salvation."  And thus should each sinner address her when he has recourse to this compassionate Mother; he should say:

            "My Lady and Mother, on account of my sins I deserve that thou shouldst reject me, and even that thou shouldst thyself chastise me according to my deserts; but shouldst thou reject me, or even take my life, I will still trust in thee, and hope with a firm hope that thou wilt save me.  In thee is all my confidence; only grant me the consolation of dying before thy picture, recommending myself to thy mercy, then I am convinced that I shall not be lost, but that I shall go and praise thee in heaven, in company with so many of thy servants who left this world calling on thee for help, and have all been saved by thy powerful intercession" ("Etiamsi occiderit me, sperabo in eam; et totus confidens, juxta ejus imaginem mori desidero, et salvus ero"—Paciucchelli, In Ps. 86, exc. 3).  Read the following example, and then say if any sinner can doubt of the mercy and love this good mother.



A noble youth named Eskil was sent by the prince, his father, to Hildesheim, a city of Saxony, to study; but he gave himself up to a disorderly life.  He afterwards fell so dangerously ill that he received Extreme Unction.  While in this state he had a vision: he found himself shut up in a fiery furnace, and believed himself already in hell; but he then seemed to escape from it by a hole, and took refuge in a great palace, in an apartment of which he saw the most Blessed Virgin Mary, who said to him:  "Presumptuous man that thou art, dost thou dare to appear before me?  Depart hence, and go to that fire which thou hast deserved."  The young man then besought the Blessed Virgin to have mercy on him; and then addressed himself to some persons who were there present, and entreated them to recommend him to Mary.  They did so, and the divine Mother replied, "But you do not know the wicked life which he leads, and that he does not even deign to salute me with a Hail Mary."  His advocates replied:  "But, lady, he will change his life"; and the young man added, "Yes, I promise in good earnest to amend, and I will be thy devout client."  The Blessed Virgin's anger was then appeased, and she said to him, "Well, I accept thy promise; be faithful to me, and meanwhile, with my blessing, be delivered from death and hell."  With these words the vision disappeared.  Eskil returned to himself, and, blessing Mary, related to others the grace which he had received: and from that time he led a holy life, always preserving great devotion to our Blessed Lady.  He became archbishop of Lunden in Sweden, where he converted many to the faith.  Towards the end of his life, on account of his age, he renounced his archbishopric, and became a monk in Clairvaux, where he lived for four years, and died a holy death.  Hence he is numbered by some authors amongst the Cistercian saints (Manriquez, Ann. Cisterc. 1151, c. 13; 1181, c 2).



O my sovereign Queen and worthy Mother of my God, most holy Mary; I seeing myself, as I do, so despicable and loaded with so many sins, ought not to presume to call thee Mother, or even to approach thee; yet I will not allow my miseries to deprive me of the consolation and confidence that I feel in calling thee mother; I know well that I deserve that thou shouldst reject me; but I beseech thee to remember all that thy Son Jesus has endured for me, and then reject me if thou canst.  I am a wretched sinner, who, more than all others, have despised the infinite majesty of God: but the evil is done.  To thee have I recourse; thou canst help me; my Mother, help me.  Say not that thou canst not do so; for I know that thou art all-powerful, and that thou obtainest whatever thou desirest of God; and if thou sayest that thou wilt not help me, tell me at least to whom I can apply in this my so great misfortune.  "Either pity me," will I say with the devout St. Anselm, "O my Jesus, and forgive me, and do thou pity me, my Mother Mary, by interceding for me, or at least tell me to whom I can have recourse, who is more compassionate, or in whom I can have greater confidence than in thee" ("Aut miseremini miseri, tu parcendo, tu interveniendo; aut ostendite, ad quos tutius fugiam misericordiores; et monstrate, in quibus certius confidam potentiores"—Orat. 50)







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