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The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

Posted by Joseph on 15 September, 2014

September 15 

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection: 

As the octave of the Nativity of Our Lady ends, the consideration of her suffering would not normally come to the mind of the faithful. But if someone would ask about the future of this child, we would recall that before being proclaimed blessed by all nations, Mary would suffer with her Son for the salvation of the world.

The voice of the liturgy invites us to consider her sorrow: “Ó all ye who pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.” This applies to her.

The sorrow of Our Lady is a work of God. He was the One who destined her to be the Mother of His Son. Therefore, He indissolubly united her to the Person, life, mysteries and sufferings of Jesus in order to make her His faithful companion in the work of Redemption. Suffering has to be a great gift, because God gave it to His Son and to the creature He loves more than any other after Him, Our Lady. He gave it as a most precious gift.

For Mary the suffering did not start at Calvary, but with Jesus, “that incommodious child,” as Bossuet called Him, because wherever He went, He entered with His Cross and with His thorns which He distributes to those He loves.

The prophecy of the aged Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the Divine Child in Jerusalem, to see her Son carrying the Cross, His Crucifixion, the taking down from the Cross, and the burial of Jesus: these are the seven mysteries into which are grouped the almost infinite sufferings which made Our Lady the Queen of Martyrs, the first and loveliest rose in the garden of the Spouse.
If this is so, we should understand better that when sorrow enters our lives it is a proof of the love God has for us. We should also realize that if sorrow does not enter our lives, we do not have this proof of His love for us. Therefore, we should not complain when sufferings come to us – nervous problems, difficulties in our apostolate, misunderstandings with our friends, problems at home, poor health, business troubles. We should accept these things as normal, as a proof of the love of Divine Providence for us. Above all, this solemn day shows us Mary on Calvary, and reminds us of that supreme sorrow among all the sorrows that ran through the life of Our Lady. The Church gave this feast the title of Seven Sorrows because this number expresses the idea of totality and universality.

To understand the extent and intensity of the suffering of Our Lady, we need to understand the extent and intensity of her love for Jesus, because her love increased her suffering. Nature and grace concurred to produce in Mary’s heart profound impressions. Nothing is stronger by nature than the love a mother has for her son, and by grace the love one has for God.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

There are so many excellent thoughts in this selection by D. Guéranger that I could be tempted to prolong these comments. I will not do so, but will just select some ideas that he offers us.

The first is that since God loved His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, with an infinite love and loved Our Lady with a lesser love, but still greater than His love for any other creature, He reserved for them His highest gifts. For this reason He gave them that vastness of crosses represented by the number seven. Seven sorrows is understood as all sorrows. Our Lady could be called the Lady of all sorrows because she suffered everything.

All generations call her blessed, but all generations also could call her sorrowful.
When I see a person without maturity, stability, rationality, elevation of spirit, I think: He is lacking suffering. These qualities only come with suffering – much suffering.

If we receive such trials, certainly we should pray for them to end. But to the measure that they remain, we should thank God and Our Lady.
I would also like to stress those extraordinary words of Bossuet who called Our Lord: “that incommodious child.” All those who follow Our Lord are incommodious. When you give a good counsel, offer a good example, ask for a sacrifice, the face of the person you are addressing will let you know that he considers you bothersome. It would be easier and more pleasant to tell a joke, to tease a bit, and close the matter with a pat on the back, dispensing the person from his duties.

Sometimes we have to command. How easy it would be to command if we did not have to ask a subordinate to take things seriously, to see reality at its most profound depths and in its most elevated aspect. How simple it would be if we did not have to ask him to face his own spiritual life without cowardice and keep careful watch over his defects. All this causes bother. The burden of being incommodious is one of the heaviest weights we have to carry.

Maintaining joyful resignation in face of the annoyance we cause because we represent Catholic duty, and having the courage to be incommodious in every circumstance is the path we are called to take in order to follow Our Lord.

These are the virtues that on the day of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady we should ask her to give us.


Our Lady of Las Lajas, September 16 

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira


In Spanish las lajas means “the rocks.” This image was imprinted on the rocks of a gorge above the Guaitara River in Colombia near the border of Ecuador. It has the singular characteristic of having been made by Angels. The image is situated inside a cave very high in the mountains, and was completely unknown until it was discovered in the mid-18th century by an Indian (see the history below).

It is not painted, but mysteriously imprinted in the rock. The colors are not applied in a surface layer of paint or other material, but penetrate deep into the rock. No one knows how the work was done. Certainly it has no natural geological cause. I have never heard of any case where nature reproduced human faces with such perfection.

Our Lady of Las Lajas
The picture penetrates the rock miraculously

The image represents a noble Lady from an uncertain period, most probably 16th or 17th century Spain. How such a picture came to be in that cave unnoticed by anyone remains a mystery. These circumstances seem to indicate that it is anakeropita image – akeropita in Greek means not made by human hands, id est, made by the Angels.

How can the beauty of this image be described? I will comment on two aspects: the colors and the persons.

The ensemble of colors in the picture gives an undeniable idea of majesty. The colors behind Our Lady’s head create a splendorous background. The burgundy of her dress is a warm, rich red embroidered with a golden flower pattern, giving the impression of the garment of a Queen. Her long hair flows freely in such a way that it appears to be a royal mantle. In my opinion, there is extraordinary good taste in the way the hair is arranged, which reinforces the notion of majesty.

The two crowns are very beautiful, rich and royal, but I think they are a little too large for the proportion of the heads. They were added by the faithful later in thanksgiving for graces received.

Now, we can look at Our Lady’s face and observe how she watches us from on high with a serious probing gaze. She is not smiling. She has the royal physiognomy of a person who imposes respect with confident strength.

In contrast, the Divine Infant is very amiable and is turned toward the supplicant. Thus, instead of having the classic picture of a serious Child and a smiling Mother, here we have the opposite. One could say that He is distributing the gifts while she appears as a Queen.

In reality, there is something profound in this contrast. It is the idea that He is merciful because He is seated in Our Lady’s arm. He communicates to the person who prays a little of His happiness to be with her.
Is there some thing strange about the Child? It seems to me that He is very small in size. His face and attitude are those of an older boy, notwithstanding the small size. Is this a mistake or is it meant to express something? It appears that it expresses His wisdom at each stage of His life. He did not have the weaknesses or lack of reason of a normal child. His wisdom was perfect at every age of His life. So, what the image expresses is that even when He was very small, He was already conscious of everything He did, as an older boy would be.

                       Our Lady of Las Lajas

After having considered the Child, if we return our eyes to Our Lady we can see how the image expresses motherhood. She is not looking at Him directly, but she has an enormous intimacy with Him. She extends this maternity to the sinner who kneels before her. She is also his Mother.
This image is a masterpiece reflecting both the majesty and the maternity of Our Lady.                                                            History
A bit of history taken from the Colombian website ipitimes.com

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Las Lajas was built high in mountains of Colombia.
Below, the Sanctuary entrance, which leads to the cave with the miraculous image of Our Lady of Las Lajas.

Historians and scientists are at a loss to explain this fabulous image on the wall of a South American cave. It may forever remain an enigma. 

Back in the 18th century, Maria Mueses de Quinones, an Indian woman from the village of Potosi, Colombia, often walked the six miles between her village and the neighboring one of Ipiales. One day in 1754 as she was making the journey, she approached the place called Las Lajas(the Rocks), where the trail passes through a deep gorge of the Guaitara River. Maria never liked this part of the trail. There were rumors that a cave in Las Lajas was haunted. Such superstitions lingered amongst the converted Christian Indians.

She was carrying her daughter Rosa, a deaf-mute, on her back in the Indian fashion. By the time she had climbed to Las Lajas, she was weary and sat on a rock to rest. The child got down from her back to play.

After a while, Rosa emerged from the cave shouting: “Mama, there is a woman in here with a boy in her arms!” Maria was beside herself with the fright since this was the first time she had heard her daughter speak. She did not see the figures the girl was talking about, nor did she want to. She grabbed the child and hastened on to Ipiales.

When she recounted what had happened, no one took her seriously at first. However, as the news spread, some asked if perhaps it were true. After all, the child was now able to speak.

A few days later, the child Rosa disappeared from her home. After looking everywhere, the anguished Maria guessed that her daughter must have gone to the cave. The child had often said that the Lady was calling her. Maria ran to Las Lajasand found her daughter in front of a noble Lady and playing affectionately with a Child who had come down from His mother’s arms to let the girl enjoy His divine tenderness. Maria fell to her knees before this beautiful spectacle; she had seen the Blessed Virgin and the Divine Infant.

Fearful of ridicule, Maria kept quiet about the episode. But she and Rosa frequently went to the cave to place wild flowers and candles in the cracks of the rocks.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Las Lajas
at night

Months went by, with Maria and Rosa keeping their secret. Finally, one day the girl fell gravely ill and died. A distraught Maria decided to take her daughter’s body to Las Lajas to ask the Lady to restore Rosa to life.

Moved by the sadness of Maria’s unrelenting supplications, the Blessed Virgin obtained Rosa’s resurrection from her Divine Son. Overflowing with joy, Maria returned home. It was not long before a crowd had gathered to hear what had happened. Early the next morning everyone went to Las Lajas, each one wanting to check the details for themselves.

That was when the marvelous picture of Our Lady on the wall of the grotto was discovered. Maria Muese de Quinones could not recall noticing it until then. The Child Jesus is in Our Lady’s arms. On one side of Our Lady is St. Francis; on the other is St. Dominic. Her delicate and regal features are those of a Latin American, perhaps an Indian. Her abundant black hair covers her like a mantle (The two-dimensional crown is metal and was added by devotees much later on). The Indians had no doubt: this was their Queen.


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