The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Catholic Book of KNOWLEDGE
Volume Two

Mary, our Mother, is also Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows. More than any other human person she shared in the Passion of her Divine Son. That is why she has been given the title of Co-redemptrix.

When we comit sin, we bring sorrow to Our Lady, for she is our 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 sympathy, and to renew our sorrow for offending Him by sin. It is also His desire, as the Church makes clear to us, that we should think of the compassion of His Mother, her sharing in His Passion.

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The Prophecy of Simeon


First Sorrow - The Prophecy of Simeon

Sorrow as sharp as a sword shall pierce Mary’s heart because of her Child. Mary is in the Temple. She has come with Joseph to present the Child to God. They meet Simeon, the holy man, and Anna, the prophetess. Simeon takes the baby in his arms, saying now he will die in peace because he has seen Christ. Then he foretells the sorrow to come.


The Flight into Egypt


Second Sorrow - The Flight into Egypt

Soon the sword of sorrow strikes. Herod the King seeks to kill the Child. Warned in sleep by an angel, Joseph takes the Child and His Mother and sets out for Egypt. “Why should men want to hurt my darling Baby?” Mary asks herself, holding Him tightly, on the long and dangerous journey, sad at heart because all the babies in Bethlehem are to be killed on account of Jesus.


The Loss of Jesus for Three Days


Third Sorrow - The Loss of Jesus for Three Days

When Jesus is twelve, He is taken to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. On the return journey Joseph and Mary find at the end of the first day that Jesus is not with them. Racked with anxiety they return, searching for Him. Nobody in the crowded streets, not even the beggars, can tell them where He is. Not till the third day do they find Him.

The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way to Calvary


Fourth Sorrow - The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way to Calvary

Mary has known fear and sorrow, but none so great as seeing her beloved Son stumbling along under the weight of the Cross. She hears the jeering shouts from the crowds and has not power to help Him. Pity and love are in her eyes as she gazes at his blood-stained face. To many around her He is no better than a criminal, and her heart is breaking as she follows Him to Golgatha.

The Crucifixion


Fifth Sorrow - The Crucifixion

With John, Mary stands at the foot of the Cross. “A sword shall pierce thy soul,” Simeon had told her. Truly her heart is pierced with sorrow. Her beloved Son is dying. She shares in His suffering. She does not ask God to take away the suffering. She is His Mother, so close to Him that His pain is her pain too. And now He speaks from the Cross. “Woman, behold thy son.” Jesus gives His Mother to John, and to us. For all eternity she is our Mother.

The Taking Down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross


Sixth Sorrow - The Taking Down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross

It is over. Darkness has come down upon the world. Jesus is dead. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take down the Body from the Cross, and Mary receives it into her arms. She is filled with a sadness that no human heart has known. This is her Son. Once she had cradled Him in her arms, listened to His voice, watched Him working at the carpenter’s bench. Now He is dead. She does not weep : her grief is too great for tears.

The Burial of Jesus


Seventh Sorrow - The Burial of Jesus

Hastily the Body is wrapped in a clean linen cloth. Nicodemus has brought myrrh and aloes, and the Body is bound in linen cloths with them. Nearby is a new tomb, belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, and there they lay Jesus. Mary and John and the holy women follow them. They watch them roll the great stone to the door of the tomb. It is the end.