Titles of Our Lady from the Litany of Loreto

Virgin Most Merciful

The prudent Virgins of the Parable would not give any of their oil to their sisters in need, for fear of not having enough left for themselves; but Mary, the Virgo Prudentissima, the Most Prudent Virgin, is so full of grace, mercy, and compassion, that She is not only able, but willing, to supply oil (which signifies mercy) to all who invoke Her. She is "rich unto all that call upon Her." "Until the world to come," She once told a Saint, "I shall not cease to be the Mother of Mercy."

In the Hail Holy Queen, we salute Our Lady as Mother of Mercy. Mercy is Her most distinctive virtue and characteristic. No one else bears this title.

What does Mercy mean? The Latin word misericordia expresses more than our "mercy;" it means, literally, "a heart for the miserable," that is, a heart full of compassion for those who are suffering, a heart ready to pardon and forgive. Clemency, as in the title Virgo Clemens, means showing mercy to the guilty who have deserved punishment.

Now if there is one thing we all need, it is mercy, clemency. We are all sinners, we all need forgiveness. "Forgive us our trespasses," Our Lord instructs us all to say in His Prayer.

Our Blessed Lady realizes far more than we can ever do, how great is our wretchedness when we have sinned, and so She longs with an earnestness we cannot picture to obtain for us pardon and mercy. This is Her own special office—to show mercy, clemency, forgiveness. Whenever we say these words, "Virgin Most Merciful," we should call to mind that we are sinners, in need of mercy, of Mary's powerful help, and beg Her to obtain for us the great grace of an abiding sorrow for our sins. Go to Her in all your trials, for no friend or dear one on earth has more than a fraction of the sympathy and compassion that She feels for you.

We must also try, in honor of the clemency of Our Mother, the Virgin Most Merciful, to show mercy and compassion in our turn to all who suffer. "As you do to others, so also will My Heavenly Father do to you." We must be merciful in thought, word, and deed. "Judge not, and you shall not be judged."

Of the "valiant woman," who is a type of Mary, we read that "the law of clemency is on her tongue," that is, all she says is inspired by tenderness and mercy. Note that the word used is clemency, indicating that there may be something to be pardoned, to be forgiven; even when dealing with undeniable faults, "the law of clemency" is observed by this Valiant Woman.

There is one act of mercy and compassion which it is in the power of every one of us to practice, and which gives very special joy to Our Most Merciful Mother, and that is, to help the poor suffering souls in Purgatory. Our Lady once said to St. Bridget: "I am the Mother of all the souls in Purgatory, for all the pains that they have deserved for their sins are every hour in some way mitigated by my prayers." There is perhaps no offering we can make which will be more pleasing to Her than prayers and acts of self-denial for the relief of the souls She most specially desires to help. There is nothing She desires so much as to bring these poor souls out of their prison of suffering, and present them to Our Lord, and by our prayers and sufferings we can help Her to do this.

By sympathy, by feeling for the sorrows of others, by pity for all poor and suffering people, by kindness to the poor, and above all, by readiness to forgive and excuse those who have injured or hurt us, we shall most especially honor Our Mother, the Virgin Most Merciful.

Motto: "The law of clemency is on Her tongue.

Practice: Aim at charity and kindness in thought, word and deed, to honor Our Lady, the Mother of Mercy.


Rogation Procession of St. Gregory the Great to End the Plague in Rome

In the year 590, the city of Rome was in danger of becoming a desert, on account of the vast numbers who fell victims to the terrible plague then raging. Pope St. Gregory the Great, who also had been stricken with the dread disease, seeing that all human precautions had been in vain, had recourse to the most powerful of all protectors, Our Blessed Lady, the Virgin Most Powerful and Most Merciful. He gave orders that a picture of the Mother of God, believed to have been painted by St. Luke, should be carried in a general procession of all the clergy and laity as far as the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The violence with which the plague was raging may be judged that even during the procession eighty persons perished from it, but before it came to an end an Angel in human form was seen above Adrian's tower (since called the Castle of St. Angelo) sheathing a sword tinged with blood, and from that moment the pestilence ceased. At the same time angelic voices were heard in the air singing, "Regina Coeli, laetare, allelluia, quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia, resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia." The Holy Pontiff immediately added: "Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia."

As this event occurred at Easter time, the Church from that time ordered all the faithful to recite this Antiphon during the Paschal season. Let it remind us of the powerful intercession of the Virgin Most Merciful, Who by Her prayers disarmed the vengeance of Her Divine Son, and shortened the term of punishment which He had decreed to inflict on men for their sins.

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