“Memorare”, or “Remember”, by Father B Rohner, OSB

detail of a stained glass rose window of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception; date unknown, artist unknown; Saint Nicholas Catholic Church, Zanesville, Ohio; photographed on 31 December 2014 by Nheyob; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsAmong the standard canticles used by the faithful in praise of Mary, the “Salve, Regina,” or “Hail, holy Queen,” is the most tender and love-breathing. But the one prayer that inspires and expresses most confidence, and bids us hope for certain hearing, is the prayer, “Memorare,” beginning with the words, “Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary,” etc. Who does not know this prayer? Who has not said it in his hour of need and affliction? It is as follows:

“Memorare”

Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, and sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother! To thee I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate! despise not my petitions, but, in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

What boundless hope, what a wealth of affection for Mary, must have dwelt in the soul of the man who was able to give such utterance to his sentiments of confidence and love! This beautiful prayer has been ascribed to Saint Bernard, the great doctor of the Church, and it is truly worthy of his enthusiastic, deep-seated, genuine veneration for the Queen of heaven. But this generally received Opinion lacks the necessary authority. It is far more probable that it was composed by another devout servant of Mary, also called Bernard. but whose full name is Claudius Bernard, and who is universally venerated under the fond and endearing title of “the poor priest.” This pious man was born in the year 1588, at Dijon in France, of respectable family. At an early age he renounced the world and all its enticements and devoted himself exclusively to the service of the poor, and, more especially, to criminals condemned to death. The great Cardinal Richelieu urged him in vain to accept some honorable and lucrative position. When he was pressed to ask at least for some favor for himself, this humble priest made the following reply: “Then I would beg your Eminence to have some stronger planks placed in the bottom of the cart in which I ride with the condemned criminals when going to the place of execution, so that the constant fear of falling through to the pavement may not hinder any penitents from praying to God with recollection and attention.”

Father Bernard constantly visited the prisons in Paris, endeavoring to inspire their inmates with sentiments of resignation, penitence and Christian hope. At the end of his exhortations he would invite his hearers to join him in singing the “Salve, Regina.” He was particularly zealous in promoting the recital of the celebrated prayer, “Memorare,” or “Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary.” He caused it to be translated into various languages and distributed hundreds of thousands of copies of this excellent prayer, by means of which he effected innumerable conversions. One day be accompanied to the scaffold a hardened culprit who even then ceased not to blaspheme. The good priest followed him to the block and made an effort to embrace him. The other pushed him back so violently as to throw him down. Although much hurt by the fall, Bernard rose and falling on his knees began his favorite prayer, “Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary.” The hitherto impenitent culprit burst into tears and gave every sign of sincere repentance.

On another occasion Father Bernard visited a prisoner under sentence of death, who refused to approach the Sacrament of Penance. He saluted the unhappy man, exhorted him to hope in God, and menaced him with the divine judgment in case he continued obstinate. The culprit remained unmoved. The priest begged him to recite at least one short prayer to Mary. He refused. Then Father Bernard himself began his favorite prayer, “Remember,” etc., in the hope that the prisoner would join him, but the unhappy man remained silent. Not dismayed by his want of success, the holy man persisted in his efforts and at length triumphed over the obstinacy of the object of so much zeal. Scarcely were the first words again pronounced, “Remember,” etc., when the other burst into tears and manifested the deepest compunction.

Today the admirable prayer is uttered by the lips of millions of Catholics who find themselves standing in need of the help of Mary for body or soul. The innocent utter it to secure the clearest treasure of the soul on earth, holy purity, from sensual contamination. The sinner utters it, begging from the Mother of sinners that she would be to him a guiding, saving star of hope at the hour of his death, to enlighten his benighted soul. The penitent utters it to obtain relief from the gnawing worm of remorse in his conscience. The anxious father of a family, and the mother solicitous for her children, utter it together in order to obtain from Mary’s motherly heart innocence for their children. The dying Christian utters it in order to obtain her assistance in the dread hour of death.

Our holy Mother, the Church, sets a high value on this prayer. To all of her children who recite it with proper dispositions, she grants many indulgences, namely, three hundred days at each recital and a plenary indulgence once a month to all those who observe the pious custom of saying it at least once every day and of receiving communion once a month with that intention. (per Pope Pius IX, 11 December 1846)

Christian reader, do you not feel the necessity of saying this prayer? Do you not feel and believe that it will strengthen you and help you in the great work of saving your immortal soul?

– text taken from Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Her Feasts, Prayers, Religious Orders, and Sodalities, by Father B Rohner, OSB, adapted by Father Richard Brennan, LLD, published in 1898 by Benziger Brothers; it has the Imprimatur of Archbishop Michael Augustine, Archdiocese of New York, New York, 22 June 1898