Our Lady, Mother of Grace
Our Lady of the Bowed Head
Among the many miraculous images of the Mother of God through which she deigns to grant her favours, there is one in the monastery church of the Carmelites in Vienna, entitled the Mother of Grace, or Our Lady of Grace, also known also as Our Lady of the Bowed Head.
In 1610 a Carmelite, Dominic of Jesus-Mary, found among the votaries of an old altar in the monastery church of Maria della Scala in Rome and oil painting of the Mother of God, dust-covered and somewhat torn, which grieved him. Taking it into his hands, he shook the dust off it, and kneeling down venerated it with great devotion.
He had the picture renovated and placed it on the shelf in his cell, where he made it the object of his love and supplications in favour of those who came to him in their necessities and afflictions.
One night while he was praying fervently before the picture, he noticed that some dust had settled on it. Having nothing but his course woolen handkerchief he dusted it with that and apologized,
“O pure and holiest Virgin, nothing in the whole world is worthy of touching your holy face but since I have nothing but this coarse handkerchief, deign to accept my good will.”
To his great surprise, the face of the Mother of God appeared to take on life and smiling sweetly at him, she bowed her head, which thereafter remained inclined.
Fearing he was under an illusion, Dominic became troubled but Mary assured him that his requests would be heard: he could ask of her with full confidence any favour he might desire. He fell upon his knees and offered himself entirely to the service of Jesus and Mary and asked for the deliverance of one of is benefactor’s souls in purgatory. Mary told him to offer several Masses and other good works; a short time after when he was again praying before the image, Mary appeared to him bearing the soul of his benefactor to Heaven. Dominic begged that all who venerated Mary in this image of Our Lady of Grace might obtain all they requested. In reply the Virgin gave him this assurance:
“All those who devoutly venerate me in this picture and take refuge to me will have their request granted and I will obtain for them many graces; but especially will I hear their prayers for the relief and deliverance of the souls in purgatory.”
Dominic soon after placed the image into the church of Maria Della Scala so that more devotees of Mary could venerate it. Many wonderful favours were obtained by those who honoured and invoked Mary here. Reproductions were made of Our Lady of Grace and sent to different parts of the world. After the death of Dominic the original painting was lent to Prince Maximilian of Bavaria. He gave it to the discalced Carmelites in Munich in 1631; they gave it to Emperor Ferdinand II of Austria and his wife Eleanore. After Ferdinand’s death, Eleanore entered the Carmelite convent in Vienna and took the picture with her. During the succeeding years the image was transferred to various places. Today it is in the monastery church of Vienna Doabling. On 27 September 1931, it was solemnly crowned by Pope Pius XI – its 300th anniversary of arrival in Vienna.
Padre Pio prayed daily to Our Lady of Grace at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. The image of Our Lady of Grace is painted on the front wall and ceiling behind the altar in the church at San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, where Padre Pio lived.
Padre Pio offered the following prayer every day to Our Lady of Grace.
O heavenly treasurer of all graces, Mother of God and my mother Mary, since thou art the first-born daughter of the Eternal Father and hold in thy hands His omnipotence, be moved to pity my soul and grant me the graces which I fervently ask of thee.
O merciful dispenser of divine graces, Mary most holy, mother of the Eternal incarnate Word who has crowned you with His immense wisdom, look upon the greatness of my sorrow and grant me the graces I need so much.
O most loving dispenser of divine graces, immaculate Spouse of the Eternal Holy Spirit, most holy Mary, who have received from Him a heart which is moved to pity by human misfortunes and which is constrained to offer consolation to those who suffer, be moved to pity my soul and grant me whose graces which I await from thee with full confidence in thy immense goodness.
O my mother, treasurer of all graces, refuge of poor sinners, consolation of the afflicted, hope of those who despair and most powerful help of Christians, I places all my confidence in thee, being sure that thou will obtain for me from Jesus the graces which I so much desire, if they are good for my soul. Amen