|Mary - Softener of Evil Hearts|
|Immaculate Heart of Mary|
|Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary|
This idea of Mary suffering is to be found in images of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows and Our Lady of the Seven Dolours (right) in the Catholic tradition. The sorrows in such images are represented by 7 swords piercing her heart. *
This image of Mary with a heart wounded by seven swords is also one we find in the Orthodox tradition - in icons of Mary of the Seven Sorrows or Mary - Softener of Evil Hearts (above left). Unlike the devotion to the Sacred Heart, the devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Mary++ is common to both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.
Such images remind us that the Blessed Virgin - the Theotokos - is our mother who understands and shares in our pain and sorrow.
She stood at the foot of the cross and shared in his pain.
She is with us as we carry our cross.
She was with Jesus as his heart was wounded.
She is with us when our hearts are wounded.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us, now and at the our of our death.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, To thee do we send up our sighs, Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Akathist to the Mother of God, Softener of Evil Hearts
Soften our evil hearts, O Theotokos, and quench the attacks of those who hate us and loose all straitness of our soul. For looking on thy holy icon we are filled with compunction by thy suffering and loving-kindness for us and we kiss thy wounds; we are filled with horror for the darts with which we wound thee. Let us not, O Mother of Compassion, according to the cruelty of our hearts, perish from the cruelty of heart of those near us, For thou art in truth the Softener of Evil Hearts.
*The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34-35)
The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43-45)
Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary.
Jesus dies on the cross. (John 19:25)
The piercing of the side of Jesus, and Mary's receiving the body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57-59)
The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb. (John 19:40-42)
++ The Seven Sorrows of Mary. There are many devotional prayers which consist of meditations on her Seven Sorrows. See, for example Servite rosary, the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady and the Seven Joys of Mary. The "Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary" refers to the combined devotion of both the Immaculate Heart and the Seven Sorrows of Mary.