THE SEVEN DOLORS
Devotion approved by Pope Pius VII in 1815
The purpose of the Devotion of the Seven Sorrows is to promote union with the sufferings of Christ through union with the special suffering that Our Lady endured because she was the Mother of God. By uniting ourselves with both the Passion of Christ and His holy Mother, we enter into Jesus’ Heart and honor Him greatly; He is more honored because we have so honored His Mother.
The Seven Dolors are taken from Scripture events and the devotion has a long history, although it was not officially promulgated by the Church until the early nineteenth century. Before Pope Pius VII’s formal approval, the Servite Order had permission in 1668 to celebrate the Feast of the Seven Dolors because the Order was instrumental in popularizing the Seven Sorrows Devotion.
In the Middle Ages, Catholic theology concentrated mostly on Christ’s Passion; at the side of the Man of Sorrows, however, the faithful always contemplated the Queen of Martyrs. Devotion to the Crucified Christ and to Our Lady of sorrows grew side by side. On Calvary there were in a sense two altars, one in the Body of Jesus, and the other in the Immaculate Heart. Christ immolated His flesh, Mary, her heart, her own soul. This day the Church commemorates the compassion of Mary; but it is fitting during the year, especially during Lent, to honor the Sorrows of Mary.
Mary is not mentioned in the Gospel accounts of Christ’s Transfiguration, His entry into Jerusalem, but she is recorded as being present at Calvary. She understood what the Will of God was and was faithful, co-operating with her Son as Co-redemptrix. She had prepared the victim for sacrifice and now she offered Him on the altar of Calvary.
The Gospel, John 19:25, says: “Near the Cross of Jesus stood His mother, his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” At Christ’s bequest, Mary was proclaimed the universal Mother of mankind from the Cross.
Mary had three loves in her Immaculate Heart: God, her Son, and souls. She so loved the world that she gave her only Son. As St. Bernard said, “The sword would not have reached Jesus if it had not pierced Mary’s heart.” Mary loved souls and on Calvary, after suffering such cruel torments she merited being the mother of all mankind.
Mary is the Apostle because she is Co-redemptrix: Behold Mary on Calvary, she suffers and prays; she stands, as one offering sacrifice.
St. Ambrose said, “I read that she stood, but I do not read that she wept.” When Mary gave us her Son, she gave us everything. Therefore it can very well be said: “Behold this heart which has so greatly loved all people that it has spared nothing for them.”
The Seven Graces of this Devotion
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 and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.
Benefits of the Devotion to the Mother of Sorrows
1. To realize the value of a soul, worth the supreme Sacrifice on Calvary.
2. To work for souls, by evangelization, duty to life’s duties, and
prayer for sinners.
3. To pray always, in a life of union with God; whoever has a heart similar to Jesus’ and Mary’s hearts, will work for the salvation of souls.
When we commit sin we bring sorrow to Our Lady, for she is, indeed
our very Mother, our spiritual Mother, and she watches over
us as she watched over her Baby, nearly two thousand years ago.
It is the desire of Jesus that we should think of His Passion, to offer Him
our devotion and to renew our sorrow for sin. It is also His desire,
as the Church makes clear to us, that we should think of the
compassion of Mary in His Passion.
The Mass for the Feast of the Seven Dolors includes the traditional hymn, the Stabat Mater, which is traditionally included by verses in the 14 Stations of the Cross. St. Bonaventure is considered the author of the Hymn. We present it below in its entirety both in Latin and in English. At the conclusion of the 7th Sorrow you will find two prayers to Our Lady of Sorrows, one by St. Bonaventure and one by St. Alphonse Liguori.