Praying the Seven Sorrows (Dolors) of Our Blessed Mother
The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows falls on September 15 and it commemorates the sorrowful Mother and the sufferings she experienced in union with her Son and dates back to the 12th century. The feast was extended to the universal Church in 1817 by Pope Pius VII and fixed officially in the calendar for September 15 in 1913 by Pope Piux X. This feast reminds of the spiritual martyrdom of Our Blessed Mother and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son; however, the prayers honoring the seven sorrows of Our Lady can be said anytime throughout the year. Through her great sufferings as co-redeemer, she also helps to show us the true evil of sin and thereby leads us to repentance and salvation. The devotion is similar to the Rosary, in that it consists of seven “mysteries” to be meditated on. These are the seven sorrows of Mary, the great piercings that she received throughout her life with Jesus her Son.
In our meditation on the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, we should pray to imitate the virtues and dispositions of Our Blessed Mother, especially during her moments of greatest suffering. We should seek to learn from her the value and power of redemptive suffering. Suffering becomes redemptive only through the Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. Because of this, each one of us can offer our sufferings as a gift to the Lord, uniting them with those of His Son. When we do this, our sufferings, just like those of Jesus, redeem and bring grace to souls because they are united with His. We look to our Blessed Mother to show us how to do this most perfectly. She, more than any other creature, suffered in perfect union and communion with her Son. These sufferings, united with Christ, help redeem the world. We look to her for aid, comfort and an example.
Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Rosary
The Seven Sorrows rosary consists of one Our Father and seven Hail Mary’s for each of the seven Sorrows. The Our Father is said before each group of seven Hail Mary’s on the separate bead. After completion of the Hail Mary’s, recite: Holy Mother hear our prayers, and renew in our hearts each wound of Jesus Our Saviour.
“With this rosary, we bind ourselves and our priest-sons to the Sorrowful Heart of Mary.”
The First Sword of Sorrow–The prophecy of Simeon who told Our Sorrowful Mother of the bitter passion and death of Jesus.
The Second Sword of Sorrow–Our Sorrowful Mother is forced to flee into Egypt to save her beloved Son from the death decreed by Herod.
The Third Sword of Sorrow–Our Sorrowful Mother is separated from Jesus for three long days while He is lost in Jerusalem.
The Fourth Sword of Sorrow–Our Sorrowful Mother meets Jesus on the road to Calvary and sees Him fall under the cruel weight of the cross.
The Fifth Sword of Sorrow–Our Sorrowful Mother watches Jesus die on the Cross.
The Sixth Sword of Sorrow–Our Sorrowful Mother receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms.
The Seventh Sword of Sorrow–Our Sorrowful Mother sees Jesus placed in the sacred tomb.
Conclusion — Three Hail Mary’s are said in honour of the Tears of Our Sorrowful Mother.
O Mary, you truly became the Queen of all martyrs as these seven bitter swords of sorrow pierced your Immaculate Heart! By the merits of your tearful distress obtain for us and for all sinners the graces of perfect contrition and conversion. Help us always, dear Mother, to imitate you by taking up our crosses and following Jesus with limitless love and generosity. Amen.
The Seven Promises:
According to the visions of St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) our Blessed Mother promises to grant seven graces to those who honor her and draw near to her and her Son every day by meditating on her dolors (sorrows) and entering into her grief.
- “I will grant peace to their families.”
- “They will be enlightened about the Divine Mysteries.”
- “I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.”
- “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.”
- “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”
- “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death–they will see the face of their mother.”
- “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.”
Litany of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows:
By Pope Pius VII
V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Mother of the Crucified, [etc.]
Mother most sad
Mother set around with anguish
Mother overwhelmed by grief
Mother transfixed by a sword
Mother crucified in thy heart
Mother bereaved of thy Son
Mother of Dolors
Fount of tears
Sea of bitterness
Field of tribulation
Mass of suffering
Mirror of patience
Rock of constancy
Remedy in perplexity
Joy of the afflicted
Ark of the desolate
Refuge of the abandoned
Shield of the oppressed
Conqueror of the incredulous
Solace of the wretched
Medicine of the sick
Help of the faint
Strength of the weak
Protectress of those who fight
Haven of the shipwrecked
Calmer of tempests
Companion of the sorrowful
Retreat of those who groan
Terror of the treacherous
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs
Treasure of the Faithful
Light of Confessors
Pearl of Virgins
Comfort of Widows
Joy of all Saints
Queen of thy Servants
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled
V. Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ
Let us pray.
O God, in whose Passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of grief pierced through
the most sweet soul of Thy glorious Blessed Virgin Mother Mary: grant that we, who celebrate
the memory of her Seven Sorrows, may obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion, Who lives and
reigns world without end. Amen.