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The Seven Dolors Devotion: The Rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows – The Servite Rosary

Icon of Our Lady of Sorrows, ‘Softener of Evil Hearts’

Our Lady of Sorrows, ‘Softener of Evil Hearts’

Our Lady of Sorrows (Latin: Beata Maria Virgo Perdolens), Our Lady of Dolours, the Sorrowful Mother or Mother of Sorrows (Latin: Mater Dolorosa), and Our Lady of Piety, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows or Our Lady of the Seven Dolours are names by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to in relation to sorrows in her life. The Seven Dolors  Devotion was approved by Pope Pius VII  in 1815.

In common religious Orthodox-Catholic imagery, the Blessed Virgin Mary is portrayed in a sorrowful and lacrimating affect, with seven daggers piercing her heart, often bleeding.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are a popular Roman Catholic devotion approved by Pope Pius VII in 1815. It has been sanctioned by the Church and introduced into the Missal and Breviary. In order to keep before our minds the inexpressible sufferings endured for us by the Mother of God while she lived here on earth with her Divine Son, the Church observes two feasts in honor of the Seven Dolors of Mary; one on the Friday before Good Friday and the other on September 15. She has enriched with numerous indulgences the Rosary of the Seven Dolors, as well as a number of other devotions to the Mother of Sorrows.

Devotional prayers that consist of meditation began to elaborate on her Seven Sorrows based on the prophecy of Simeon: “Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

Common examples of piety under this title are Rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows – Servite rosary, or the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. Like all rosaries, the Rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows is a meditation on the mystery-events of God’s love for us as reflected in the life of Jesus and Mary. Specifically, it invites us to meditate on those times in the life of Mary when she experienced the pain and suffering that tested her faith and invited her to a full sharing of the mystery of God’s salvation in her Son, Jesus.

By this reflection, in the context of verbal prayers of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, we open our hearts to the power of this mystery, and so allow His Word to enter and change our lives.

This Servite Rosary consists of Seven Mysteries of Sorrows. Each mystery is introduced by a meditation to guide our reflection as we pray the Our Fathers and seven Hail Marys. The Rosary is concluded with three Hail Marys, as added petition for true sorrow and a desire to model our lives on the example of the life and faith of Mary.

Our Lady of Sorrows Rosary. Prayers in Honor of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Seven Sorrows of Mary Servite Rosary

Rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows – The Servite Rosary from the Rosary Bay workshop

Beginning
When starting the Rosary of Sorrows, after the sign of the cross, we do not recite the “Creed,” but immediately say the following prayer:

Introductory prayer
My God, I offer you this Rosary in honour of the seven principal Sorrows of Mary, for your greatest glory, for my conversion and that of all people through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our salvation and our unique way to come to you, in union with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen!

Act of contrition
My God, I regret so much to have offended you because you are infinitely good, infinitely kind and you dislike sin. I make a firm resolution, with the help of your holy grace, never to offend you and to do penance. In this state of contrition, I want to live and die. Amen!

Then we begin the meditation of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary….
In the Sorrows of the Virgin Mary we see a reflection of the suffering and bitter anguish of the human Christ. Just as Mary accepted the total mystery of Christ into her life, so may we see in our sorrow, our fear, and humiliation, a dim, but real participation in His passion and death, recalling that if we wish to follow Him, we must “take up our cross” each day. Let us pray that we may accept Christ’s call, and become co-sufferers of His passion.

I THE FIRST SORROW
The Prophecy Of Simeon (Luke 2:34–35)

First Sorrow - The Prophecy of Simeon

First Sorrow – The Prophecy of Simeon

Sorrow as sharp as a sword shall pierce Mary’s heart because of her Child. Mary is in the Temple, having come with Joseph to present the Child to God. They meet Simeon, the holy man, and Anna, the prophetess. Simeon takes the Baby in his arms, saying he will now die in peace because he has seen Christ, then he foretells the sorrow to come.

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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.

(Seven Hail Marys: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.)

II THE SECOND SORROW
The Flight Into Egypt (Matthew 2:13) 

Second Sorrow - The Flight into Egypt

Second Sorrow – The Flight into Egypt

Soon the sword of sorrow strikes. Herod the King seeks to kill the Child. Warned in sleep by an angel, Joseph takes Jesus and His Mother Mary, setting out for Egypt, where they lived in obscurity and poverty until it was safe to return to Nazareth.

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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.

(Seven Hail Marys: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

III THE THIRD SORROW
The Loss Of Jesus In The Temple (Luke 2:43–45)

Third Sorrow - Loss of Jesus For Three Days

Third Sorrow – The Loss of Jesus For Three Days

When Jesus is twelve, He is taken to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. On the return journey Joseph and Mary find at the end of the first day that Jesus is not with them. Racked with anxiety, they search for Him. Nobody in the streets, not even the beggars, can tell them where He is. Not till the third day do they find Him, in the Temple.

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried your troubled heart at the lost 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.

(Seven Hail Marys: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.)

IV THE FOURTH SORROW
Mary Meets Jesus On the Way To Calvary

The Way to Calvary

Fourth Sorrow – The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way to Calvary

Mary has known fear and sorrow, but none so great as seeing her beloved Son stumbling under the weight of the Cross. She hears the jeering shouts from the crowd and has no power to help Him. Pity and love are in her eyes as she gazes at His blood-stained face. To many around her He is no better than a criminal, and her heart is breaking as she follows Him to Calvary or Golgotha.

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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.

(Seven Hail Marys: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.)

V THE FIFTH SORROW
Jesus Dies On The Cross (John 19:25)

Fifth Sorrow - The Crucifixion

Fifth Sorrow – The Crucifixion

With John, Mary stands at the foot of the Cross. “A sword shall pierce thy soul,” Simeon told her. Truly her heart is pierced with sorrow. Her beloved Son is dying and she shares in His suffering. She does not ask God to take away this agony. She is His Mother, so close to Him that His pain is hers, too. And now He speaks from the Cross: “Woman, behold thy son.” Jesus give His Mother to John, and to us. For all eternity she is our Mother.

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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.

(Seven Hail Marys: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.)

VI THE SIXTH SORROW
Mary Receives The Dead Body of Jesus (Matthew 27:57–59)

Sixth Sorrow - The Taking Down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross

Sixth Sorrow – The Taking Down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross

It is over.  Dark clouds have appeared in the sky and upon the world. Jesus is dead. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take down the Body from the Cross. and Mary receives It in her arms. She is filled with a sadness that no human heart has known. This is her Son. Once she had cradled Him in her arms. listened to His voice, watched Him working at the carpenter’s bench. Now He is dead. She does not weep, her grief is too great for tears.

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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.

(Seven Hail Marys: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.)

VII THE SEVENTH SORROW
Jesus Is Laid In The Tomb (John 19:40–42)

Seventh Sorrow - The Burial of Jesus

Seventh Sorrow – The Burial of Jesus

Hastily the Body is wrapped in a clean linen cloth. Nicodemus has brought myrrh and aloes, and the Body is bound in the Shroud with them. nearby is a new tomb, belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, and there they lay Jesus. Mary and John and the holy women follow them and watch as the great stone to the sepulchre is rolled. it is the end.

V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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.

(Seven Hail Marys: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.)

Closing Prayers

PRAYER OF ST. BONAVENTURE TO THE MOTHER OF SORROWS

O sorrowful Virgin, unite me at least to the humiliations and wounds of thy Son, so that both He and thee may find comfort in having someone sharing thy sufferings. Oh, how happy I would be if I could do this! For is there perhaps anything greater, sweeter, or more advantageous for a person? Why dost thou not grant me what I ask? If I have offended thee, be just and pierce my heart. If I have been faithful to thee, leave me not without a reward: give me thy sorrows.

PRAYER OF ST. ALPHONSUS DE LIGUORI

O afflicted Virgin, O soul great in virtues, as in sorrows, both the one and the other spring from that great fire burning in thyr heart for God, the only love of thy heart!

Mother, have pity on me, who has not loved God, and who has so greatly offended Him. Thy sorrows, it is true, assure me of pardon, but that is not sufficient. I wish to love God. Who could obtain for me that grace if not thee, who are the Mother of holy love! O Mary, Thou consolest everyone; favor me also, with thy consolations. Amen.

After meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary and closing prayers, recite three Hail Mary’s in honor of Our Blessed Lady’s tears on the first three beads of the chaplet.


Our Lady of Sorrows Promises


The Seven Sorrows of Mary are very powerful and they precede rather formidable promises.

Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows should be practiced especially by souls who wish to rid themselves of sinful habits. This devotion nourishes the spirit of compunction, affords great consolation, strengthens confidence in God’s mercy, draws down the special protection of the Blessed Mother in the hour of temptation and preserves the converted sinner from relapsing into sin.

The Mother of God once said to her faithful servant St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373):

No matter how numerous a person’s sins may be, if he turns to me with a sincere purpose of amendment, I am prepared forthwith to receive him graciously, for I do not regard the number of sins he has committed, but look only upon the dispositions with which he comes to me; for I feel no aversion in healing his wounds, because I am called and am in truth the Mother of Mercy.

Our Lady directly reveals the amazing graces granted by her Son for all those who daily pray seven Hail Mary’s while meditating on her seven dolors and tears.

1. I will grant peace to their families.
2. They will be enlightened about the Divine Mysteries.
3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
4. 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.
5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death—they will see the face of their mother.
7. I have obtained this grace from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors 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.

One of the gifts granted to those who have a devotion to the Dolors of Mary is the grace of a good and holy death. In recompense for her fidelity in remaining near to Jesus as He died on the Cross, Our Lady of Sorrows has received from Him a special power to assist souls in their last agony and no doubt she will above all exercise this power in behalf of those who have wept with her and compassionated her.

Our Lord once said to Veronica of Binasco:

My daughter, the tears which you shed in compassion for My sufferings are pleasing to Me, but bear in mind that on account of My infinite love for My Mother, the tears you shed in compassion for her sufferings are still more precious.

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