Saturday Consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, by Father B Rohner, OSB

In order to maintain in the hearts of her children a tender devotion to the Mother of God, our holy Church has been pleased to set apart every Saturday of the year as a day of special devotion to Mary. It is quite certain that this custom is very ancient, having existed in the first centuries of Christianity.

As a day sacred to Mary, Saturday has entered into the regular routine of ecclesiastical life. The Fathers who took part in the Council of Clermont, held in November, 1095, during the pontificate of Pope Urban II, decreed that votive Masses and the office of the Blessed Virgin should be sung on every Saturday. This practice still continues throughout the Church, unless some higher feast falls on that day.

But why has Saturday been consecrated to Mary full of grace? Saturday is the day of sacred rest. On that day God rested after His work during the preceding six days of creation, as we learn from Holy Scripture. Mary was the delight of the adorable Trinity. In her heart reposed the Holy Ghost. For several months her chaste womb was the chosen resting-place of the Son of the Eternal Father, hence this day of rest has been specially given up to her service by pious Christians.

Saturday is the preparation for Sunday, the portal of the day of rest, which itself is the symbol of eternal rest. The Blessed Virgin is called the gate or portal of heaven. Through her do we hope to enter into eternal rest.

Saturday is the day intervening between Friday, the great day of atonement, and Sunday, which is the great day of the Resurrection. So, too, is Mary, as Mother of the Mediator, the intervening medium and mediatrix between human guilt and God’s grace. Saturday is, as it were, a beautiful portal dedicated to the Mother of God. from which man steps into the sanctuary of God itself.

Saint Bernard teaches that the Catholic Church has made Saturday sacred to our blessed Lady in order to incite us to honor the remembrance of her grief and desolation, and withal her unshaken faith on the day following the death of her divine Son. Animated with like sentiments, Pope Innocent I had long before, namely, about the year 417, decreed that Saturday should be observed as a day of abstinence in honor of Mary’s sorrows.

Many of the saints considered it an honor and a privilege to die on a Saturday, and to obtain that grace they used to redouble their prayers on that day, as well as their aims and mortifications.

Saint Louis made it a constant practice to perform every Saturday the touching ceremony of washing the feet of several poor persons and of afterwards waiting upon them at table. He also made provision for Masses to be celebrated on every Saturday of the year in the Church of Our Lady of Chartres, and desired, as far as the rubrics of the Church would permit, that these Masses should be votive Masses to the Blessed Virgin.

In Rome Saturday is a day of affectionate devotion, for Rome is the city of Mary. There one cannot help feeling that the day is a day dedicated to Our Lady. All the lamps before the generous number of her images burn more brightly, and fervent prayers and joyous hymns rise up on all sides from the hearts of the faithful to the Virgin full of grace. During the morning a solemn Mass is offered up in many churches, in order to obtain the intercession of the “refuge of sinners.” In the evening the iron tongues of the bells belonging to the many churches dedicated to Mary peal forth the praises of the Mother of the Redeemer. And although the faithful flock in crowds to all the churches, yet they give the preference when possible to the favorite church, to the most beautiful of all the churches dedicated to God under her invocation, namely, the Church of Saint Mary Major. Under the lofty vaults of this majestic temple a countless throng of people, on every Saturday, sing the litany of Loretto in so devout and impressive a manner that the privileged listener might well imagine that they belonged to the choirs of the angels.

In every country, in fine, and in every family where exists true devotion to Mary in pious hearts, some tribute of respect and love to her is paid by each person, either the hearing of a holy Mass, a pious communion, an aims, fasting or abstinence, or some other devotion.

There exists in many places, too, a charming custom, namely, that of lighting every Saturday, before the picture or statue of the Blessed Virgin, in private houses, or in some neighboring chapel, a lamp or candle, or several of them, and then, in the evening, meeting in company before this simple shrine to offer up together the holy Rosary.

It is impossible, Christian reader, to describe the graces and blessings, the comfort and strength, that such a practice must necessarily draw down upon congregations and families, and on the hearts of all. You, too, Christian reader, should make the resolution to take upon yourself some such light and easy devotion every Saturday, or to persevere faithfully in what you have already begun, in order that the all-powerful Virgin may protect you in life and in death and lead you into a never-ending Sabbath rest.

Indulgenced Prayer

Mother of God, most holy Mary, how often by my sins have I merited hell! Ere now the judgment had gone forth against my first mortal sin, hadst not thou, in thy tender pity, stayed a while God’s justice, and then, softening my hard heart, drawn me on to take confidence in thee. And, oh! how often in dangers which beset my steps, had I fallen, hadst not thou, loving Mother that thou art, preserved me by the graces which thou didst obtain for me. My Queen, what will thy pity and thy favor have availed me, if I perish in the flames of hell? If ever I have not loved thee, now, after God, I love thee above all things. Ah! suffer not that I turn away from thee and from God, who through thee hath granted me so many mercies. Lady most worthy of all love, suffer not that I be doomed to hate and curse thee forever in hell. Could thou bear to see a servant whom thou love lost forever? O Mary, say not so. Say not that I shall be among the lost! yet lost am I assuredly, if I abandon thee. But who can have the heart to leave thee? How can I ever forget the love which thou hast borne me? No, it is impossible for him to perish who hath recourse to thee, and who, with loyal heart, confides in thee. Leave me not to myself, my Mother, or I am lost! Let me ever have recourse to thee! Save me, my hope, save me from hell, and first from sin, which alone can cause my eternal ruin. (“Hail, holy Queen,” etc., three times)

– 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