Holy Week and Easter
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.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux

El Conquistador
El Conquistador by Mother Placid
On the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15th, we ponder Our Lady as she stands at the foot of the Cross in her identification with her Son. In this moment the prophecy of Simeon—that her heart would be pierced with a sword—is fulfilled, and in her compassion she experiences what St. Bernard calls the martyrdom of her soul. The Sequence, Stabat Mater, is sung at Mass on the feast just before the Gospel. Attributed to the Franciscan Friar Jacopone da Todi (ca. 1230–1306), this beautiful hymn has been set to music by numerous composers throughout the centuries, including Vivaldi, Bach and Arvo Pärt. The ancient Gregorian Chant version that we sing is haunting and accompanied by the tolling of a bell.

We are privileged this year before the feast, to share with you a New Original English Translation of the Stabat Mater offered to us by Abbey friend and classicist, Joseph T. Moller. Included here are the translator's notes and insights on the dynamic of the poem—how the meter, repetition of key words, and verb forms of the Latin invite our participation in Mary's lament for her Son.

Translator's Notes
Perhaps the image that most often comes to mind when we sing this hymn is that of Christ with Mary standing to His right and John to His left as has been depicted in art through the centuries down to our day. As beautiful and powerful as that image is, I believe that a close reading of the Latin text presents to our mind’s eye a more dynamic image of the Crucifixion and its dramatis personae. First, to some extent the verse itself (tochaic tetrameter with rhymed lines) is a quickening cadence. But more significantly the insistent repetition of words fac (make), vulneratus (wounds), plagas (blows) as well the use of the infinitive and imperfect forms of the verb invite us, I think, to envisage a series of dynamic and evolving vignettes that invite our participation. It could even be said that the author is praying that he might experience the crucifixion and Mary’s sorrow as they unfold.

We invite you to pray the sequence with us, that we may each participate more fully in Our Lady's compassion for those suffering in our midst and throughout the world. We include here a recording of the STABAT MATER sung by our monastic choir with the tolling of the bell.


Stabat Mater dolorósa
iuxta crucem lacrimósa,
dum pendébat Fílius.
Cuius ánimam geméntem,
contristátam et doléntem
pertransívit gládius.

Standing there His Mother full of grief
Beside the cross and most tearful
As on it hung her Son
Her soul moaning
Sorrowful and grieving

O quam tristis et afflícta
fuit illa benedícta
Mater Unigéniti!
Quae moerébat et dolébat,
pia mater, cum vidébat
nati poenas íncliti.

O how sorrowful and afflicted
Was that blessed
Mother of the only Begotten
Who laments and grieves
And trembles, while she looks
Upon the punishing wounds of her Son glorious.

Quis est homo, qui non fleret,
Christi Matrem si vidéret
in tanto supplício?
Quis non posset contristári,
piam Matrem contemplári
doléntem cum Filio?

Who is the man who would not weep
The mother of Christ to see
In such tortuous prayer?
Who could not join in her grief
This mother reverent contemplating
As she suffers with her Son

Pro peccátis suae gentis
vidit Jesum in torméntis
et flagéllis subditum.
Vidit suum dulcem natum
moriéntem desolátum,
dum emísit spíritum.

For the sins of her people
She saw Jesus in torment
And struck down beneath the whip;
She saw her sweet Son,
Dying, desolate,
While he gave up His spirit.

Eia, mater, fons amóris,
me sentíre vim dolóris
fac, ut tecum lúgeam.
Fac, ut árdeat cor meum
in amándo Christum Deum,
ut sibi compláceam.

Alas, mother, font of love.
Make me feel the force of your grief
That with you I may mourn;
Make my heart burn
In loving Christ our God,
That to Him I may be pleasing.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifíxi fige plagas
cordi meo válide.
Tui Nati vulneráti,
tam dignáti pro me pati,
poenas mecum dívide.

Holy Mother, fix
The wounding blows of the Crucified
Deep within my heart;
Your Son wounded,
So worthy yet a victim and for me suffering,
Those punishing wounds share with me.

Fac me vere tecum flere,
Crucifíxo condolére
donec ego víxero.
Iuxta crucem tecum stare,
te libenter sociáre
in planctu desídero.

Make me with you truly to weep
With the Crucified to suffer
Until I shall have lived out my life
Beside the cross with you standing,
With you, freely sharing
In your lamentation; that is my desire.

Virgo vírginum praeclára,
mihi iam non sis amára,
fac me tecum plángere.
Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passiónis fac me sortem
et plagas recólere.

Virgin of virgins, above all radiant,
Toward me now be not bitter.
Make me with you to lament;
Make me bear Christ’s death
In his passion a consort
And his wounding blows to accept

Fac me plagis vulnerári,
cruce hac inebriári
et cruóre Fílii.
Flammis ne urar ne succénsus,
per te, Virgo, sim defénsus
in die iudícii.

Make me with these blows to be wounded,
On this cross to be drunk,
Even with the blood of your Son
Enflamed and set afire
Through you, virgin, may I be defended
On the day of judgment.

Fac me cruce custodíri
morte Christi praemuníri,
confovéri grátia.
Quando corpus moriétur,
fac, ut ánimae donétur
paradísi glória.
Amen. Alleluia.

Make me by the cross to be guarded
By the death of Christ fortified,
Warmed by grace.
So when my body dies,
To my soul be granted
Paradise and glory.
Amen. Alleluia.

(Translation of Stabat Mater courtesy of Joseph T. Moller: Copyright © 2017 The Abbey of Regina Laudis. All rights reserved.)