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:

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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