As we observe the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15, we meditate on Mary’s sorrows as the Mother of Christ, striving to imitate her example of perseverance through suffering. Today, we invite you to reflect on the significance of this day and take a virtual tour of where Our Lady of Sorrows is honored in the Basilica under this title.
The Seven Sorrows
Over the course of her life, Mary endured many trials – but throughout it all, her attitude was one of steadfast faith and unflinching obedience. Catholic tradition recognizes seven sorrows of Mary:
- The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
- The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
- Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)
- Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
- Crucifixion and death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
- The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
- The burial of Jesus (Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)
Our Mother of Sorrows at the Basilica
The Chapel of Our Mother of Sorrows is located in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica. The chapel prominently features a life-size marble sculpture of the Pietà, depicting the sixth of the Seven Sorrows: Mary holding Jesus as he is taken from the Cross. The other sorrows are sculpted in bronze and flank the Pietà. The chapel is a gift of the Slovak Union of the United States and Canada. Inscribed in Slovak above the altar is the text: “Our Mother of Sorrows, Virgin Mary, Patroness of the Slovak People, Pray for Us.”
You can explore the chapel in immersive 360° views with our virtual tour below.
Pope Benedict XVI on Our Lady of Sorrows
Speaking on the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, Pope Benedict XVI once shared:
At the foot of the Cross, the prophecy of Simeon is fulfilled: her mother’s heart is pierced through (cf. Lk 2:35) by the torment inflicted on the Innocent One born of her flesh. Just as Jesus cried (cf. Jn 11:35), so too Mary certainly cried over the tortured body of her Son…
In the liturgical sequence of this feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Mary is honored with the title of Fons amoris, “fount of love.” From Mary’s heart, there springs up a gratuitous love which calls forth a response of filial love, called to ever greater refinement. Like every mother, and better than every mother, Mary is the teacher of love…
May your own devotion be strengthened by Mary’s perseverance through every trial she faced. Following her example of unwavering faith, may we each draw near to Christ amidst our sufferings.
The Basilica Guidebook, Dr. Geraldine Rohling
Light a Candle at the Basilica
In honor of Our Lady of Sorrows, we invite you to light a candle today at the National Shrine. Vigil candles burn in the chapels throughout the Great Upper church and lower crypt level of the National Shrine. Each candle represents the faith of the supplicants and their fervent prayers entrusted to the loving intercession of the Blessed Mother.