Q: Describe the origins of Mary's title: Our
Lady of Sorrows?
A: The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15, the day after the feast of the Holy Cross to show the close connection between Jesus' Passion and Mary's Sorrows.
This advocation has its roots in the Gospel. Here are some major references: John 19:25 (Calvary); Luke 2:35 (Mary pierced with a sword). Other sorrows can be inferred: Luke 2:7 (no room at the inn); Matthew 2:6-18 (massacre of the Innocents); Luke 2:41-50 (anxious search for Jesus); Luke 4:28-30 (rejection by townspeople of Nazareth); and Luke 11:53-54 (rejection by authorities of Jerusalem), etc.
This form of Marian piety goes back to the fourteenth century, but Mary's compassion was remembered from early centuries:
Abbot Poemon (5 c.) Apothegms 144: "I would like to weep with her always."
Also to be mentioned are Ambrose, Anselm and Bernard who preached/meditated on Mary's sorrows. There is also abundant Franciscan and Servite literature on this theme, for example, Plaint of the Madonna by Jacopone da Todi (1306), and Meditations on the Life of Christ (eleventh century. -- "swooning" of Mary).
The devotion to the Sorrows of Mary properly appears toward the middle of the fourteenth century. Contributing authors may have been Henry Suso (d. 1366) and other Rhenish mystics. Devotion to the five sorrows of Mary appears first and eventually develops into devotion to seven sorrows. In fact, two lists of seven sorrows were drawn up, one including the infancy and childhood of Jesus Christ, the other concentrating on the Passion.
The commemoration of Mary's sorrows gave rise to meditations, prayers, poems, lamentations, not to forget the representations of the Pieta. This devotion became part of the rosary, as we know, and the present form of the Seven Sorrows was popularized by John de Coudenberghe (1482):
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