Seven Sorrows of Mary

Like it or not, the Met Gala put Catholic religious art in the center of conversation when they invited fashion designers to design outfits based on Catholic religious art.

There were tons of fashion designs, some that I liked, a lot that were just tacky and rude, and a bunch in between. But, perhaps the most controversial outfit worn was the one worn by Lana del Rey, which was based off of this religious art:

Seven Swords Piercing the Sorrowful Heart of Mary. Church of the Holy Cross, Salamanca, Spain. Photo of statue by Zarateman, CC BY-SA 4.0, Courtesy of Wikipedia. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
Seven Swords Piercing the Sorrowful Heart of Mary. Church of the Holy Cross, Salamanca, Spain. Photo of statue by Zarateman, CC BY-SA 4.0, Courtesy of Wikipedia.

This is a powerful and moving depiction of Mary, her face torn in anguish and her heart visibly pierced with seven swords. Why the swords? Because of a line from the Gospel of Luke:

NABRE

Luke 2

34and 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 35(and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

So what do the seven swords represent?

  1. The Presentation of the Temple, in which Simeon reveals the suffering that Mary will undergo because she is the mother of Jesus, even as Jesus lays quietly in her arms.
  2. The Flight to Egypt, where Mary and Joseph flee, carrying their infant Jesus, knowing full well that behind them, all the male babies and toddlers of Bethlehem will be slaughtered and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it.
  3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple, where Mary and Joseph frantically search for Jesus for days when He has disappeared in the Temple.
  4. The Meeting of Mary and Jesus as Jesus carries His Cross to Calvary, in which Mary helplessly watches her son as He is led to His death as the crowds jeer at Him.
  5. The Crucifixion of Jesus, where Mary watches in horror as her son is crucified in front of her, and there is absolutely nothing she can do to stop it.
  6. The Descent From the Cross, in which Jesus’s side is pierced and Mary watches her dead son being brought down from the Cross.
  7. The Burial of Jesus, in which Mary sees her son buried before her eyes. And no parent ever wants to see that.

This is a very sacred devotion to the Catholic Church, and a very somber one at that! As you can probably imagine, there are tons of Catholics who are very upset that this sacred depiction of Mary was used in such as a fashion accessory for a dress! And, even they weren’t upset with the actual dress, they are very upset when they see people just treating it merely as a sexy goth accessory.

Still, I am a hopeless optimist and I am hopeful that this leads people to pray this sacred devotion devoutly. As Joseph put it:

NABRE

Genesis 50

20Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve this present end, the survival of many people.

Now, I’ve blogged about this devotion before, but I realize that I didn’t spend much time talking about how to pray this particular devotion! So, how does one pray this devotion? Good question! I’ll show you! Let’s pray together the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows now!

To make it easier, just in case you’re new at this prayer, I’ve linked all of the prayers to the prayer text, so if you forget or don’t know a prayer, you can always click it and read it there! Also, I’ve included sacred imagery for you to focus on while you pray, so that you can focus on the artwork as you pray. 🙂

Also note that there are several ways to devoutly pray this chaplet, and this is one way. If you’re used to praying this chaplet a different way, that’s completely fine. Let me know what you do differently in the comments!

Anyway, let us begin! As in all prayers, we begin with the Sign of the Cross…

The Beginning Prayers

Make the Sign of the Cross, then say an Act of Contrition.

Pietà, by Sofonisba Anguissola, c. 1574-85. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
Pietà, by Sofonisba Anguissola, c. 1574-85. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.

1. The First Sorrow: The Presentation

The Presentation at the Temple, by Giovanni Bellini, c. 1459. The Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice, Italy. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
The Presentation at the Temple, by Giovanni Bellini, c. 1459. The Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice, Italy.

NABRE

Luke 2

22 When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” 24and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.25Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. 27He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, 28he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:29“Now, Master, you may let your servant goin peace, according to your word,30for my eyes have seen your salvation,31which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,32a light for revelation to the Gentiles,and glory for your people Israel.”33The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; 34and 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 35(and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Pray one Our Father and seven Hail Marys.

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us.

2. The Second Sorrow: The Flight Into Egypt

Massacre of the Innocents, by Ludovico Mazzolinio, c. 1510-30. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
Massacre of the Innocents, by Ludovico Mazzolinio, c. 1510-30. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

NABRE

Matthew 2

13 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.” 14Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”16When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. 17Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,sobbing and loud lamentation;Rachel weeping for her children,and she would not be consoled,since they were no more.”19When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.

Pray one Our Father and seven Hail Marys.

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us.

3. The Third Sorrow: Loss of Jesus for Three Days

The Child Jesus Found in the Temple, by Philippe de Champaigne, c. 1663. Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Angers, Angers, France.

NABRE

Luke 2

41Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, 42and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. 43After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, 47and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. 48When 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.” 49And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he said to them.

Pray one Our Father and seven Hail Marys.

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us.

4. The Fourth Sorrow: The Carrying of the Cross

Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary, by Raphael, c. 1514-16. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary, by Raphael, c. 1514-16. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

NABRE

John 19

17 and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.

Pray one Our Father and seven Hail Marys.

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us.

5. The Fifth Sorrow: The Crucifixion

Christ on the Cross, by Simon de Vos, c. 17th century. Private collection. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
Christ on the Cross, by Simon de Vos, c. 17th century. Private collection.

NABRE

John 19

18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.” 20Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. 21So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. 24So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,” in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled [that says]:“They divided my garments among them,and for my vesture they cast lots.”This is what the soldiers did. 25 Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” 27Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.28 After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” 29There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Pray one Our Father and seven Hail Marys.

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us.

6. The Sixth Sorrow: The Descent from the Cross

The Descent from the Cross, by Gaspar de Crayer, c. 1630 - 1669. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
The Descent from the Cross, by Gaspar de Crayer, c. 1630 – 1669. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

NABRE

John 19

31Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, 34 but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may [come to] believe. 36For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled:“Not a bone of it will be broken.”37And again another passage says:“They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body.

Pray one Our Father and seven Hail Marys.

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us.

7. The Seventh Sorrow: Jesus Laid in the Tomb

St. John Leading Home his Adopted Mother, by William Dyce, c. 1842-60. Tate Museum, London, United Kingdom. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
St. John Leading Home his Adopted Mother, by William Dyce, c. 1842-60. Tate Museum, London, United Kingdom

NABRE

John 19

39Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. 40They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. 41Now 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. 42So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.

Pray one Our Father and seven Hail Marys.

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us.

Closing Prayers

Pray three more Hail Marys for her tears.

Pieta, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, c. 1876. Private collection. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
Pieta, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, c. 1876. Private collection.

V. Pray for us, O most sorrowful Virgin.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, we now implore, both for the present and for the hour of our death, the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose holy soul was pierced at the time of Thy passion by a sword of grief. Grant us this favor, O Saviour of the world, Who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Ghost, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

Thank you so much for praying with me, and God bless! 🙂

If you like praying with sacred art, you might be interested in my books.

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