The Pierced Heart of Mary    


The Pierced Heart of Mary……a mysterious term that appears simultaneously ominous and encrypted.

Not at all. In understanding Mary’s Pierced Heart, we must first understand Mary. To do this we must first understand Christ; for all that is Mary is in Christ.

For the purpose of this dissertation, knowing Christ by the letter of St. John the Evangelist in 1Jn1-2 will more than suffice. In his letter, St. John simply tells us that he has seen, heard and touched the Holy Trinity manifested as the Son of Man:

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life-- for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us.”  (1Jn1-2 DRV)

For greater detail in Christic theology, please consult The Divinity of Christ in the dissertation The Immaculate Conception and Other Truths of Mary on this website.

Mary, in knowing Christ, her Son, most intimately---as in 1Jn1-2 --- knew Him as both God and the Child of her flesh in one and the same experience. No other creature can make this claim. Thus, no one can comprehend, let alone describe Mary’s sheer agony in her Immaculate Heart when she lived and participated in the death-agony of her Son on the cross.

But there she was---less than a few feet from Him---raised as He was about 4 feet above the ground--- nailed through the wrists and ankles upon the Tree of Life. His last gasps for air came as cries of love as He suffocated; drained of blood and no longer able to even hold up His head. And then came the thrust of the Roman lance.

Now the body of Jesus that would know no corruption was elevated on the cross above the ground so that the Roman soldier’s thrust of the narrow Roman lance permitted its tip to enter between the lower ribs and pierce the now still Sacred Heart of our Savior. Symbolically, but with mystical accuracy, the Heart of God was thus pierced by our sins.

But, alas! Also was the Immaculate Heart of our glorious Mother pierced!

"And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed." (Luke2:35 DRV)

This was so, because Mary kept everything that was Jesus to her, in her heart:

"But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." (Lk2:19RSV)

Now we can quote St. Bernard:

“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, Abbot, Sermon in dom. Infra. Oct. Assumptionis, 14-15:  Opera omnia, Editi Cisterc. 5 [1968], 273-274)

And the Seven Sorrows of Mary says:

"I compassionate thee, O sorrowful Mother Mary, on account of the anguish inflicted upon thy tender heart by the thrust of the lance that opened the side of thy Son, Jesus and pierced His most adorable Heart.  O dearest Mother, through this vicarious transfixion of thy own Immaculate Heart, implore for me the virtue of Brotherly Love and the Gift of Understanding." (The Sixth Sorrow)

 Why her Immaculate Heart was pierced is uncomplicated. What mother or father seeing a son or daughter thus nailed to a cross and witnessing the thrust of a spear---observing how the tip parted flesh and bone and enter into the cavity of the chest---would not be imparted as was Mary our Sorrowful Mother; even to the point of collapsing to the ground under the brute force of the shock.

The words of Jesus to St. John Eudes (1601-1680):

"I have given you this admirable heart of My dearest Mother which is but one with Mine, to be truly your heart. Also, so that the children may have but one Heart with their Mother; that you may adore, serve and love God with a Heart worthy of His infinite Greatness."

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