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The Stabat Mater Dolorosa: One of the Greatest Catholic Hymns of All Time

Mar 28, 2017 By Gretchen Filz | 7 Comments
The Stabat Mater Dolorosa is considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time. It is based upon the prophecy of Simeon that a sword was to pierce the heart of Jesus' mother, Mary (Luke 2:35).

The hymn originated in the 13th century during the peak of Franciscan devotion to the crucified Jesus, and has been attributed to at least three people: Pope Innocent III (d. 1216), St. Bonaventure, or more commonly, Jacopone da Todi (1230-1306), who is considered by most to be the real author.

The hymn is often associated with the Stations of the Cross. The Dolorosa hymn meditates on the suffering of Mary during the Passion of her Son. It is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Stabat Mater Dolorosa

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,

be Thy Mother my defense,

be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,

may my soul Thy goodness praise,

Safe in Paradise with Thee. Amen.

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Commentary by

Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion. After receiving her M.A. in Christian Apologetics, she converted to the Catholic Faith in 2011. She lives and works in the Diocese of Charlotte.

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