The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated on September 15th. This feast recalls the seven scriptural references to Mary’s heartache. For a woman who “kept all these things in her heart,” (Luke 2:51) that heart knew a great deal of pain. Heartache often goes hand in hand with parenting. With great love and sacrifice comes the capacity to hurt deeply. When our hearts are hurting, we can turn to Mary and know that she has been there and that she understands.
Vatican approval for the celebration of a feast in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows was first given to the Servite Order (also known as the Order of the Servants of Mary) in 1667. In 1814, Pope Pius VII extended the feast to the whole Latin Church. Originally assigned to the third Sunday in September, Pope Pius X moved the feast to September 15th in 1913.
There was also a second feast in honor of the Sorrowful Mother which was celebrated one week before Good Friday beginning in the 1700s. Considered a duplication of the September feast, it was omitted in the 1969 revision of the Church calendar.
The following are scriptural reflections for the seven sorrows of Mary followed by prayers Pope Pius VII approved in honor of those sorrows.
The Prophecy of Simeon
“And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword shall pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35)
I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of your tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by your heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy fear of God. Hail Mary…
The Flight into Egypt
“When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’ Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.” (Matthew 2:13-14)
I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of your most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and your sojourn there. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially toward the poor, and the gift of piety. Hail Mary…
The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us. Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” (Luke 2:46-48)
I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried your troubled heart at the loss of your dear Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the gift of knowledge. Hail Mary…
Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary
“So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgatha.” (John 19:16-17)
I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the consternation of your heart at meeting Jesus as He carried His Cross. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the gift of fortitude. Hail Mary…
Jesus Dies on the Cross
“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)
I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which your generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by your afflicted heart obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the gift of counsel. Hail Mary…
Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.” (Matthew 27:57-58)
I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of your compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance before His Body was removed from the Cross. Dear Mother, by your heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the gift of understanding. Hail Mary…
The Body of Jesus is Placed in the Tomb
“Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.” (John 19:40-42)
I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched your most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the gift of wisdom. Hail Mary…
Let Us Pray:
Let intercession be made for us, we beseech You, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of our death, before the throne of Your mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Your bitter Passion. Through You, O Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns world without end. Amen.