Mary as Co-Redemptrix

By Bryan Cross

On this first day of Advent, we are reminded to anticipate Christ’s second coming, as we prepare to celebrate His first coming. A woman heavy with Child will soon give birth to the King of kings. In doing so, she will begin another phase in her pilgrimage of faith, one which culminates at the cross, where her Son is offered to the Father for the sins of the world. By bringing Christ into the world, raising Him from infancy, and offering Him up to the Father at the foot of the cross, Mary participates uniquely in Christ’s salvation of the world, on account of which the Church titles her ‘Co-Redemptrix.’ As a Protestant, this was one of the Catholic terms that most disturbed me, not only because it seemed to imply that Mary was equal to Jesus, but also because it seemed to detract from the work of Christ, as though His work was neither sufficient nor unique. I later came to see that properly understood, not only does the doctrine do neither of those things, in fact it exalts Christ and His work more than I had even imagined.

According to the Catholic Church, all of us who have been united to Christ by faith are called to participate in Christ’s redemption of the world, by prayer, obedience, taking up our cross, and sharing in His sufferings. Through His work of redemption, Christ graciously gives us active, contributing roles in His redemptive work, thereby allowing us to “fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Col 1:24) What is lacking is not anything in the suffering of Christ as Head, but in the participation of the Body in the suffering of Christ the Head. And it is in this respect that Mary is the greatest example to us of participation in Christ’s redemption, because she did so in the deepest and most beautiful way.

Mary uniquely participates in Christ’s redemption as the second Eve. The first Eve took the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and gave it to the first Adam who ate and died. To effect restoration, God arranged for the second Eve to undo what the first Eve had done in taking the forbidden fruit, by granting to the second Eve the grace of being the source of the saving fruit, and immolating her fruit on a tree. While the first Eve plucked the forbidden fruit with her hand, the second Eve did not pluck her fruit with her hand. Rather, by her obedient assent to God, it was given to her by God to bring forth her fruit from her own womb, and thus the second Adam (i.e. Christ) is the fruit of her womb [ καρπς τς κοιλας σου]. (Luke 1:42) The first Eve plucked from a tree the fruit which is death, and gave it to all mankind as sin. The second Eve bore from her womb the fruit that is Life, which at Calvary she offered on a tree to the Father on behalf of the sins of all mankind, and now extends to all mankind the grace that comes from the fruit of her womb. The first Eve was taken from the first Adam, as flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones. The second Adam was taken from the second Eve, as flesh of her flesh, and bone of her bones. This second Adam said to us, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (John 6:53-54) Thus unless a man eats the fruit of Mary’s womb, he has no life in him, but if he eats the fruit of her womb, he has eternal life. To receive the Eucharist is to receive not only Christ’s self-offering, but is also to receive what the second Eve is giving to us, namely, the perfect fruit of her womb. This is one example, among others, in which Mary is an unmatched participant in Christ’s redemption of the world.

Recently Dr. Lawrence Feingold of the Institute for Pastoral Studies at Ave Maria University, gave a lecture on Mary as co-remptrix, as part of a longer teaching series on Mariology for the Association of Hebrew Catholics. The audio of the lecture is available immediately below, followed by the audio for the question & answer session which immediately followed. Below I have sketched out some notes from the lecture, which may be of use as one listens to the audio.

Mary as Co-Redemptrix

Question and Answer

The audio files can be downloaded as mp3s here.

At the wedding at Cana, Mary helps begin Jesus’s public ministry by asking for the first miracle, and in that way hastening His hour, which was Calvary. But Calvary was not only Christ’s hour; Calvary was also that to which Mary’s whole life had been directed, since the prophecy of St. Simeon. (Luke 2:35) Her intercession at Cana, then, is a type of her intercession for all of humanity, culminating at the foot of the cross, where from the cross Jesus says to her: “Woman, behold your son.” These are very important words, because they are His last testament. They refer not only to Mary and John, but to all humanity. He speaks of her as “woman” not out of a lack of filial affection, but to show that He is tied to her not principally by blood (i.e. as her physical offspring), but in the union of the woman and her Son in the crushing of the serpent’s head, as foretold in Genesis 3. By calling her ‘woman’ he is referring to her as the associate of the Second Adam, as “the woman.” She is the woman who recapitulates her sex, and thereby plays a part in restoring the sons and daughters of Eve, undoing what was done by the first Eve. Jesus here, on the Cross, just before saying “It is finished,” enlarges Mary’s maternity, by entrusting His “beloved disciple,” i.e. all who “keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (Rev. 12:17) to her, such that through union with Christ they are made “the rest of her offspring.” (Rev 12:17) Because all men are called to be disciples of Jesus, therefore through His last act, Jesus entrusted all mankind to Mary.

Consider Mary’s faith at the foot of the cross. In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), Pope John Paul II shows that Mary is the model of faith. Her role is not to substitute for Jesus or take away from Jesus, but to show the perfect response to Jesus, because her entire role is to be the perfect disciple, and thus the one who most perfectly lives by faith. She is the most perfect model of walking by faith, that is, of believing what she could not see, despite contrary evidence to her senses. In this way she goes beyond Abraham’s faith in his example of the sacrifice of Isaac, because her sacrifice was not substituted, and because the victim was God Himself, and therefore infinitely more lovable. Hence her sacrifice of her Son was a far greater sacrifice than that of Abraham. Describing her life as a pilgrimage of the “obedience of faith” aimed toward the cross, Pope John Paul II writes:

Through this faith Mary is perfectly united with Christ in his self-emptying. For “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men”: precisely on Golgotha “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (cf. Phil. 2:5-8). At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self- emptying. This is perhaps the deepest “kenosis” of faith in human history. Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death; but in contrast with the faith of the disciples who fled, hers was far more enlightened. On Golgotha, Jesus through the Cross definitively confirmed that he was the “sign of contradiction” foretold by Simeon. At the same time, there were also fulfilled on Golgotha the words which Simeon had addressed to Mary: “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” (Redemptoris Mater, 18)

The merit of faith comes from assenting to God’s word without seeing for oneself, or despite contrary appearances. At the foot of the cross, Mary shared, by faith, in the self-emptying of Christ on the cross. Christ did it without faith, since nothing was unseen for Him, because He is God. But Mary, being a creature, did it by faith. At the foot of the cross, her faith that her Son is the Son of God, was more meritorious, because everything humanly speaking implied the very opposite. This was the supreme trial of faith, for her, at the foot of the cross.

Abraham did not end up making the sacrifice of Isaac, but at the foot of the cross, Mary did truly offer her Son to God the Father, in faith. In offering up her Son to the Father, who accepted this sacrifice (not as in the case of Abraham), her offering of faith merited a benefit from God, because her offering of her Son participated in the merit by which Christ merited our redemption. By her participation in Christ’s sacrifice, through her trial of faith at the foot of the cross, her merit undid the demerit of Eve. According to Pope John Paul II, “Blessed is she who believed” is the key that unlocks the innermost reality of Mary. “Through faith she becomes a sharer of the mystery in every extension of her earthly journey; she fulfills her role through the perfection of her faith, and that faith reaches its climax when she sees everything the opposite of what she believes.”1

At the moment of the Annunciation, the Church began. Calvary was the beginning of the birth of the Church, because from our Lord’s side there came forth water and blood, and the Church is born from the sacraments, as the first Eve was made from the side of the first Adam. But the Church was born in full on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Apostles, as the Holy Spirit had overshadowed Mary at the Annunciation. The Mystical Body was born on Pentecost, as a recapitulation of the way in which Christ’s physical body was conceived in the womb of Mary. She interceded in the upper room on the day of Pentecost for the birth of the Church, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit with which she was uniquely endowed. Her maternal mediation always continues in the Church, and in this way the Church is more Marian than it is Petrine.

At the Annunciation she became the mother not only of her Son, but of the mystical Body of her Son, i.e. of the Church. Mary’s last testament is “Do whatever He tells you.” Her faith made possible the incarnation, and participated in the offering of the immolation of the Messiah. Her faith brought to culmination what the faith of Abraham began. Abraham’s faith made him the father of the chosen people; through God’s gift, Mary’s faith made her the mother of all the living, even all mankind because all the world is called to union with Christ and thus she is given as mother to all the world.

Regarding Mary’s co-redemption, the “co” means ‘with,’ i.e. cooperation, but not an equal cooperation. It does not mean equality; it means participation. This participation is not something novel made up by the early Church; it was announced in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:15, when God promised to put enmity between the serpent and the Woman, and through her Seed to crush the serpent’s head, which was to take place at Calvary.

We need to make a distinction between two kinds of cooperation: one sort in the objective redemption of mankind, and another in the subjective redemption of mankind. At the cross Mary was cooperating in the objective redemption of mankind. But the merits of Christ, which He won by His Passion and death, have to be applied to us individually, through the grace we receive in the sacraments. That is what we call subjective redemption. Mary is involved in both of these aspects of redemption, both the objective redemption and the subjective redemption. In both senses, Christ is the one Redeemer of mankind, but she is a subordinate associate in both ways. Her title of “co-redemptrix” refers to her participation in Christ’s objective redemption, in the meritorious act by which Christ redeemed the world; Her title of “mediatrix” refers to her participation in Christ’s subjective redemption, the fruit of Christ’s objective redemption, that is, the distribution of the graces which Christ merited on the cross.

Dr. Feingold then discussed St. Jerome’s translation of Genesis 3:15. He explained that although Christ is principally the one who crushes the head of the serpent, nevertheless it is true that Mary, by her participation in the work of Christ, also crushed the head of the serpent, by her faith and obedience throughout her life, culminating in giving her consent at the foot of the cross, offering her Son up to the Father. Both claims are true, and are not mutually exclusive, because each crushes the serpent in a different way. Mary does so through her Immaculate Conception, her assent at the Annunciation, and at the foot of the cross, where she consented to her Son’s immolation. And that latter consent is the way in which she offers Christ the Victim to God the Father. According to the Church Fathers, Mary was used by God not merely in a passive way, but also in an active way, through faith and obedience. They explain that what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, Mary loosed through her faith and obedience.

Dr. Feingold quotes from Pope Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus issued on December 8, 1854.

That his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.

Here Pope Pius IX teaches that Mary, through her union with Christ, participated in the crushing of the serpent’s head. He then quotes from Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus issued on November 1, 1950, in which he defined the dogma of Mary’s Assumption. There Pope Pius XII wrote:

We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been designated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the protoevangelium, would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles.

Pope Pius XII teaches that Mary is the new Eve, and as such she “is most intimately associated with [Christ] in that struggle against the infernal foe.” It is this intimate association with Christ in the struggle against the devil, by which Mary is called the ‘Co-Redemptrix.’

He then quotes from paragraph 56 of Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium:

Rightly therefore the holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience. For, as St. Irenaeus says, she “being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert in their preaching, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing Mary with Eve, they call her “the Mother of the living,” and still more often they say: “death through Eve, life through Mary.” (see the original for footnotes)

He explains that Mary’s hour, at the cross, would have been her principle subject of prayer, the hour she anticipated in prayer all her life.

Next he draws from St. Bernard’s meditation regarding Mary standing at the foot of the Cross, in relation to St. Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her soul. (Luke 2:35) Whose soul was pierced by the lance? Not Christ’s, because His soul was no longer present, because He had already died. This is why, according to St. Bernard, it was Mary’s soul that was pierced when the lance pierced Christ’s side, making her more than a martyr, because she suffered Christ’s death, in her heart.

In a sermon St. Bernard writes:

Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus – who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours – gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.

Or were those words, Woman, behold your Son, not more than a word to you, truly piercing your heart, cutting through to the division between soul and spirit? What an exchange! John is given to you in place of Jesus, the servant in place of the Lord, the disciple in place of the master; the son of Zebedee replaces the Son of God, a mere man replaces God himself. How could these words not pierce your most loving heart, when the mere remembrance of them breaks ours, hearts of iron and stone though they are!

Do not be surprised, brothers, that Mary is said to be a martyr in spirit. Let him be surprised who does not remember the words of Paul, that one of the greatest crimes of the Gentiles was that they were without love. That was far from the heart of Mary; let it be far from her servants.

Perhaps someone will say: “Had she not known before that he would not die?” Undoubtedly. “Did she not expect him to rise again at once?” Surely. “And still she grieved over her crucified Son?” Intensely. Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.2

Next, Dr. Feingold refers to Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum, an encyclical of Pope Pius X promulgated on February 2, 1904, the fiftieth anniversary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX. Pope Pius X writes:

Moreover it was not only the prerogative of the Most Holy Mother to have furnished the material of His flesh to the Only Son of God, Who was to be born with human members, of which material should be prepared the Victim for the salvation of men; but hers was also the office of tending and nourishing that Victim, and at the appointed time presenting Him for the sacrifice. Hence that uninterrupted community of life and labors of the Son and the Mother, so that of both might have been uttered the words of the Psalmist, "My life is consumed in sorrow and my years in groans" (Ps xxx., 11). When the supreme hour of the Son came, beside the Cross of Jesus there stood Mary His Mother, not merely occupied in contemplating the cruel spectacle, but rejoicing that her Only Son was offered for the salvation of mankind, and so entirely participating in His Passion, that if it had been possible she would have gladly borne all the torments that her Son bore. And from this community of will and suffering between Christ and Mary she merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world and Dispensatrix of all the gifts that Our Savior purchased for us by His Death and by His Blood.

Pope Pius X explains that not only did Mary through her fiat (in response to the angel Gabriel) provide the divine Victim with His flesh, but it was given to her to raise and nourish this Victim, as one would a sheep to be slaughtered. Finally it belonged to her as well to present the Victim to be slaughtered, and this she did at the foot of the cross, offering up her only Son to the Father for the salvation of mankind, and in this way participating in His Passion. Through this most proximate participation to which she had been divinely appointed, she merited to become Christ's associate not only in His objective work of salvation by which redemption was accomplished, but also in His subjective work of applying the grace wrought by this redemption to men.

Pope Benedict XV, in his Apostolic Letter Inter Sodalicia, released on March 22, 1918, wrote:

For with her suffering and dying Son, Mary endured suffering and almost death. She gave up her Mother's rights over her Son to procure the salvation of mankind, and to appease the divine justice, she, as much as she could, immolated her Son, so that one can truly affirm that together with Christ she has redeemed the human race. But if for this reason, every kind of grace we receive from the treasury of the redemption is ministered as it were through the hands of the same Sorrowful Virgin, everyone can see that a holy death should be expected from her, since it is precisely by this gift that the work of the Redemption is effectively and permanently completed in each one.

To procure our salvation, Mary gave up to God her motherly rights over her Son, immolating her Son by her consent to God's plan. Because she was without original sin, death had no right over her or her Son. But she consented freely to God, and in that respect, by her participation such that Christ could be handed over to death, "she has redeemed the human race."

Pope Pius XI, in his "Prayer of the Solemn Closing of the Redemption Jubilee," April 28, 1933, wrote:

O Mother of love and mercy who, when thy sweetest Son was consummating the Redemption of the human race on the altar of the cross, did stand next to Him, suffering with Him as a Co-redemptrix... preserve in us, we beseech thee, and increase day by day the precious fruit of His Redemption and the compassion of His Mother.”

Dr. Feingold explains here that the reason he is going through what the popes have taught about this doctrine is because the doctrine of Mary as co-redemptrix has not been infallibly defined by the Church. For that reason, some people think it is unimportant or optional. But, it has been taught by pope after pope, in a strong way, and the response required of Catholics is the religious submission of will and intellect.

In his encyclical on reparations to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI writes:

And now lastly may the most benign Virgin Mother of God smile on this purpose and on these desires of ours; for since she brought forth for us Jesus our Redeemer, and nourished Him, and offered Him as a victim by the Cross, by her mystic union with Christ and His very special grace she likewise became and is piously called a reparatress. Trusting in her intercession with Christ, who whereas He is the "one mediator of God and men" (1 Timothy ii, 5), chose to make His Mother the advocate of sinners, and the minister and mediatress of grace, ....

Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, published on October 14, 1954, he writes:

… Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God's design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of "recapitulation," in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ "in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race"; and if, in truth, "it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall," …

Mary loved us also on Calvary, by sacrificing there on our behalf what was most dear to her, namely, her beloved and only Son. Her consent on Calvary was a consent to His immolation, for our salvation, as the Second Vatican Council made clear in Lumen Gentium 58, writing:

After this manner the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, grieving exceedingly with her only begotten Son, uniting herself with a maternal heart with His sacrifice, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth.

Such a consent, to the immolation of the perfect fruit of her womb, is not natural. It would have been sinful for her to consent, had it not been God's plan that He come into the world to die. And so her consent was in that respect like Abraham's consent to sacrifice Isaac, and yet so much greater, as explained above.

In his Apostolic Letter on suffering, Salvifici Doloris, Pope John Paul II explains that Mary at the foot of the cross has a central place. He draws from Colossians 1:24, and explains how this passage shows us the place of co-redemption in the Church.

She loved us, at the cross, by offering Christ (in her heart) to the Father for us, that is, for our salvation. In this way she participated in Christ's redemptive work, much as St. Paul describes his own suffering as a participation in Christ's affliction in Colossians 1:24: "I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His Body, that is, the Church" This is a key text in the concept of co-redemption. What is lacking is the participation of the Body in the suffering of the Head. But Mary did so in a complete and perfect way at the foot of the cross, because no one could approach her love for her Son, and her total involvement in His life. Her participation at the foot of the cross was an interior participation in Christ's sufferings, not a physical suffering but a suffering within her soul. We too are called to participate in Christ's redemption, by joining our suffering with His. In this way, Mary serves as the perfect example to us, of a mere creature perfectly participating in the suffering of Christ, through faith and love.

Pope John Paul II writes:

[A]t the side of Christ, in the first and most exalted place, there is always his Mother through the exemplary testimony that she bears by her whole life to this particular Gospel of suffering. In her, the many and intense sufferings were amassed in such an interconnected way that they were not only a proof of her unshakeable faith but also a contribution to the redemption of all. In reality, from the time of her secret conversation with the angel, she began to see in her mission as a mother her “destiny” to share, in a singular and unrepeatable way, in the very mission of her Son. And she very soon received a confirmation of this in the events that accompanied the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and in the solemn words of the aged Simeon, when he spoke of a sharp sword that would pierce her heart. Yet a further confirmation was in the anxieties and privations of the hurried flight into Egypt, caused by the cruel decision of Herod.

And again, after the events of her Son’s hidden and public life, events which she must have shared with acute sensitivity, it was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which was mysterious and supernaturally fruitful for the redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the Cross together with the Beloved Disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son. And the words which she heard from his lips were a kind of solemn handing-over of this Gospel of suffering so that it could be proclaimed to the whole community of believers.

As a witness to her Son’s Passion by her presence, and as a sharer in it by her compassion, Mary offered a unique contribution to the Gospel of suffering, by embodying in anticipation the expression of Saint Paul which was quoted at the beginning. She truly has a special title to be able to claim that she “completes in her flesh”—as already in her heart—”what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Salvifici Doloris, 25)

In this way, Mary is a perfect exemplar of the Church, of what we are called to do, namely, to be sharers in His suffering, and in that sense co-redeemers with Christ. Mary’s example as co-redeemer with Christ is shown in the famous medieval hymn Stabat Mater, wherein we are invited to imitate her perfect participation in Christ’s redemption of the world.

Stabat Mater


Stabat mater dolorosa
juxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti!

Quae moerebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati poenas inclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii.

Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriae.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;

When my body dies,
let my soul be granted
the glory of Paradise. Amen.

  1. Cf. Redemptoris Mater, 19 []
  2. This excerpt is from Sermo in dom. infra oct. Assumptionis, 14-15: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 5 [1968}, 273-274. []