Dolours of the Blessed Virgin

St. John mentions that the Blessed Virgin, with other holy women and with St. John, stood at the foot of the cross when the other Apostles had fled. At that time the prophecy of Simeon, "a sword will pierce thine own soul," was most perfectly fulfilled: and very naturally the sorrows of Mary have been a favorite subject of contemplation with the saints, among whom St. Ambrose and St. Bernard deserve particular notice. They dwell especially on the intensity of her mental suffering, and on the supernatural constancy with which she endured it. The famous hymn "Stabat Mater" celebrates Mary's sorrows at the foot of the cross in sublime language. The seven founders of the Servite order, in the thirteenth century, devoted themselves to special meditation on the Dolours of Mary, and from them the enumeration of the Seven Sorrows (i. e. at the prophecy of Simeon, in the flight to Egypt, at the three days' loss, at the carrying of the cross, at the crucifixion, at the descent of the cross, at the entombment) is said to have come.

The feast of the Dolours was instituted at a Provincial Council of Cologne in 1423, at the time when the Hussites were destroying crucifixes and images of the Mother of Sorrows with fanatical zeal. Benedict XIII, in 1725, caused this feast to be celebrated in the States of the Church on the Friday after Passion Sunday. This feast is now observed as a greater double throughout the Church. Plus VII, in 1814, directed that a second feast of the Dolours should be kept, on the third Sunday of September. In allusion to her seven sorrows, the Blessed Virgin is represented in art transfixed by seven swords. (Benedict XIV. " De Festis "; " Manuale Decret.")

 May 1999 -- The Catholic Hearth

Prayer: Stabat Mater Dolorosa