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. Today’s feast was introduced by the Servites in order to intensify devotion to Our Lady’s Sorrows. In 1817 Pius VII — suffering grievously in exile but finally liberated by Mary’s intercession — extended the feast to the universal Church.
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 Dolors,” the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary. It 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. 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:
1. At the prophecy of Simeon: “You yourself shall be pierced with a sword – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare.” (Luke 2:35).
2. At the flight into Egypt; “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt.” (Mt 2:13).
3. Having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem; “You see that your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow.” (Luke 2:48).
4. Meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary; (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
5. Standing at the foot of the Cross; “Near the cross of Jesus there stood His mother.” (John 19:25).
6.The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross; (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37) 7. The burial of Jesus; (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)
Prior to the Second Vatican Council, there were two feasts devoted to the sorrows of Mary. The first feast was insitituted in Cologne in 1413 as an expiation for the sins of the iconoclast Hussites. The second is attributed to the Servite order whose principal devotion are the Seven Sorrows. It was instituted in 1668, though the devotion had been in existence since 1239 – five years after the founding of the order.
Symbols: heart pierced with a sword; heart pierced by seven swords; winged heart pierced with a sword; flowers: red rose, iris (meaning: “sword-lily”), cyclamen.
Patron: people named Dolores, Dolais, Deloris, Dolorita, Maria Dolorosa, Pia, and Pieta.
St. Madeleine Sophie’s Prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows
O, Mary, Mother who has known deepest sorrow and deepest love,
moved by profound gratitude for the innumerable gifts
you have poured out on this little Society,
we come together today as Province and Society
to acknowledge what we owe to your motherly protection,
and to the goodness of your Mother’s heart,
wounded by the sight of your suffering children everywhere.
Continue your work in and for us, dear Mother.
Love gave you the cross,
grant that the cross may give us love.
May there never be for Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
any other cross than the cross of Jesus.
May we have the courage
to bear His cross;
both the sufferings of His passion
and the remembrance of His woundedness for others,
so that in ministering to the wounded and torn of our world,
we may find in His cross
less the pain and suffering He experienced
than the height and depth of His love and compassion
for the Poor and Suffering of our world.
We ask this in and for Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here are seven graces the Blessed Virgin Mary grants to souls who honor Her daily by saying seven Hail Marys and meditating on Her tears and Dolors. The devotion was passed to us by Saint Bridget.
I will grant peace to their families.
They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.
I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the Adorable Will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their mother.
I have obtained (this grace) from my Divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and sorrows, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy.