The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order in Florence are credited with starting devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows in A D 1239.
At one time there were two feasts of Our Lady of Sorrows – one on the Friday before Palm Sunday and the other on this day. The former was suppressed in the revision of the Roman Calendar after Vatican II, the latter was retained. Processions with the statue dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows are still popular in Malta and in Spain. Patrick Duffy gives the background.
The Servite Order
Although the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order in Florence are credited with starting devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows in 1239, its scriptural basis is found in the Gospel of John, especially where Jesus hands over Mary and John into each other’s care (Jn 19:25).
The devotion must also have been developed by the plaintive Latin hymn Stabat mater dolorosa, commonly attributed to Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi (1230-1306):
Stabat mater dolorosa
iuxta crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat filius.
(At the cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.)
The Seven Dolours
Different sorrows of Mary have been honored in the Church’s history, but since the 14th century these seven have commonly been regarded as the seven dolours (sorrows) of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Consenting with love to his offering
In his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus (1974) on the right ordering and development of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Paul VI writes of the faith and spirituality behind this devotion:
Mary, standing by the cross, suffered intensely with her only begotten Son and united herself as his mother to his sacrifice, consenting with love to the offering of the victim who was born of her, whom she offered to the eternal Father.