The Fifth Sorrow of Our Lady: Mary Stands at the Foot of the Cross

Hail Heart of Seven Swords,
The fifth blade slays Thee.
Pierced as the Last Word is spoken,
Thy broken Heart Thou lift
up to the Father.

Holy Woman of the Promise,
Crush in us the serpent.
Enter our hearts and
make them Thy own home.

The Sixth Sorrow of Our Lady: Mary Receives the Body of Jesus From the Cross

Hail Heart of Seven Swords,
The sixth blade fells Thee.
Cedar hewn down to a manger.
Madonna bears Her Child
anew in sorrow.

Holy Stricken Image of Pity,
Supplant complacence
With Thy compassion
in our Communions.


The Pietá is a snapshot of the Passion that Compresses the whole tragedy and grief into a moment. Mel Gibson’s Caravaggio-esque rendering of the pieta was the best possible ending he could have chosen to complete the drama of the Cross. From there we can only fade to black.

We call it the Image of Pity, not in the fist place because we pity Our Lady, but because Our Lady pities Our Lord, and us. The modern sense of the word “pity” meaning sorrow or sympathy for another’s suffering, often has a condescending note to it. We pity those who share a lot worse than ours and deign for a moment to regard their misery, though an emotional and moral separation remains. Pity in its etymological origins and in its classical sense means compassion according the the latter’s etymological definition: from com “together” + pati “to suffer.” Thus, true pity joins the witness of suffering to the one who suffers, so that they both suffer together in solidarity. To plumb the depths of this mystery accomplished at the foot of the Cross is to begin to enter into the mystery of Coredemption (cf Col. 1:24).

Worthy of note is the following:

Also fresh in the memory of the Holy League was the defense of Malta that had taken place only six years before in 1565. The Knights Hospitaller, or Knights of St. John (later known as the Knights of Malta) had come to the Island of Malta in 1530, after having been driven by the forces of Suleiman (father of Selim II) from Rhodes in December of 1522. The chronicle from time records that the Grand Master’s galley left the Island of Rhodes, “with a single banner lowered to half mast, on which was painted the picture of the Glorious Virgin Mary in tears, holding her dead Son in her arms, and the inscription Afflictis tu spes unica rebus, that is: In all which afflicts us thou art our only hope” (Spirit of Lepanto).

Marian Chivalry has always been with us.

2 thoughts on “Pietá

  1. This is so beautiful–and so true! The intimate union of Jesus and Mary is such a perfect example for us today…and just the thought of suffering in solidarity with another, most particularly our Beloved Jesus on this day, is a great reflection, a great privilege. May sweet Mary guide us ever closer to her Divine Son!

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