The chaplet recalls the Sorrows the Virgin Mother of God endured in compassion for the suffering and death of her Divine Son. The Seven Dolors are taken from Scripture events and the devotion has a long history, and developed gradually. 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. Members of the Servite Order actively promoted the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows during the time of the Black Death (1347-1351).
For those of us who are not familiar with the Seven Sorrows of Mary, here they are:
1. The Prophesy of Simeon – This was at the Presentation in the Temple, when Simeon prophesied of Jesus’ future suffering, as well as Mary’s:
Luke 2:33-35 33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
2. The Flight Into Egypt – Joseph and Mary had to get Jesus out of the country in order to protect Him from Herod:
Matthew 2:13 13When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
3. Loss Of The Child Jesus In The Temple – Joseph and Mary searched for Jesus for three days, not knowing where He could be:
Luke 2:44 46 44 – Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions,
4. Jesus And Mary Meet On The Way Of The Cross – Imagine what must have been going on in Mary’s heart and mind when she saw Him struggling to get to His own execution.
5. The Crucifixion – Unless I am a mother, can I possibly completely empathize with the pain of Mary as her Son hangs from the cross, struggling for each and every breath? Even if we have our own children, can we claim Mary’s exact level of agony?:
John 19: 25-27 25 Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
6. The Taking Down Of The Body Of Jesus From The Cross – Mary has watched as her Son was tortured. She has seen a lance pierce Jesus’ side. She has watched Him die and, yet, she lives on to suffer – even as His own suffering has ended.
John 19 33-38 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, 34 but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe. 36 For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: “Not a bone of it will be broken.” 37And again another passage says: “They will look upon him whom they have pierced.” 38After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body.
7. The Burial Of Jesus – Mary says her final “Goodbye” to her Son and He is laid to rest in the tomb:
John 19:39-42 39 Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. 41 Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. 42So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.
We can only imagine the pain that Mary experienced in her heart as she walked with her Son throughout His suffering passion. Perhaps made even more severe through her own innocence, purity and sinlessness, and her knowledge of His Divine Personhood.
In some ways, it was not Just her Son who was sacrificed – it was also His mother, Mary.
Come To My Assistance,
Make Haste to Help Me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end.
V. Pray for us, O Virgin Most Sorrowful!
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, we beseech you that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, whose soul was pierced by the Sword of Sorrow in the hour of Your Passion, may be our advocate at the throne of Your Mercy, now and at the hour of our death.
Through You, Lord Jesus, Redeemer of the World, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
And one more presentation/version…