The Hail Mary prayer is one of the prayers that are most dear to Catholics around the world. It is not the oldest Marian prayer, as we have already stated in our article that spoke of the Sub Tuum Praesidium, but it is certainly among the most dear, thanks also to its use in the rosary.
Perhaps it will surprise some to know that there is a version of the Ave Maria attuned on the pains and the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It would have been composed by Saint Bonaventure and in the Latin version it says: “Ave Maria, doloribus plena: Crucifixus tecum: lacrymabilis tu in mulieribus, et lacrymabilis fructus ventris tui Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Crucifixi: lacrymas impertire nobis crucifixoribus Filii tui, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.”
As we see it is based on the official Ave Maria. Here is an English version: “Hail! Mary, full of sorrows, the Crucified is with you; tearful are you among women, and tearful is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of the Crucified, give tears to us, Crucifiers of your Son, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Certainly to say a Hail Mary which so vividly represents the heavenly Mother to us as the Mother of Sorrows has a profound effect on us. Yet we should not consider this strange because devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows was so alive in popular devotion.
The great St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori commented in The Glories of Mary as follows: “The second time in which Mary brought us forth to grace, was when on Calvary, she offered to the eternal Father with so much sorrow of heart the life of her beloved Son for our salvation. (…) Mary, in order to save our souls, contented herself with sacrificing the life of her Son unto death: this is how Guglielmo comments: Ut multas animas salvas faceret, animam suam morti exposuit. And who was Mary’s soul, if not her Jesus, who was her life and all her love for her? That therefore St. Simeon announced to her that one day her blessed soul must be pierced by such a painful sword: Et tuam ipsius animam doloris gladius pertransibit (Luc. II, 35). Just like the spear that pierced the side of Jesus, which was the soul of Mary. And then she in her sorrow brought us forth to eternal life; so that we may all call ourselves children of the dolors of Mary.” She in her sorrow brought us forth to eternal life … a very profound concept that makes us meditate more and more on the role of pain in our life and on the way in which Mary, our Mother, is close to us in the hour of trial.
On May 13, 1981, the anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, St John Paul II was wounded in an attack in St Peter’s Square. The Pontiff always wanted to affirm how the Madonna had a providential role in saving his life, he who had always said his totus tuus to his Mother. Would he have thanked her for the gift of tears? I have no doubt about it, because they are blessed when they spring in offering of our pains and in union with the most excruciating pain of the Passion of Our Lord. We should learn that suffering is an offering, a goal that is difficult to reach but, once accepted, which allows us to walk more quickly on the paths of holiness.