The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary As Set Forth in Her Litany – Queen of Martyrs

The great Doctor of the Church, Saint Jerome, declares that the shedding of one’s blood for Christ and His Church, is not the only martyrdom, but that a perfect submission to the mind and will of God, deserves the same name.

It is not given to all to be called to shed their blood for the faith, but all may merit the title of martyr, who bend the neck beneath the spiritual sword in overcoming the temptations of flesh and blood that arise in them.

To possess riches, yet be detached from all worldly goods as Job and David: to give bountifully of what we have, like Tobias or the widow of the Gospel; to preserve chastity in youth, as Joseph in Egypt, is to be worthy of the name of martyr.

The holy man, Simeon, predicted of Mary that a sword should pierce her heart: “Thy own soul a sword shall pierce” (Luke 2:35). As Mary participated in the coming of the Redeemer into the world, freely giving her consent to become His Mother, so, as willingly did she accept to share in all that God, in His infinite justice, would inflict of sufferings, even death itself, upon her Divine Son, our Saviour, who took upon His own shoulders the iniquities of the world.

Mary loved Jesus with a love that surpassed the love of all angels and men for Him. Her love for Him was that of a mother’s heart for her son. She loved Him more than herself, and would rather have suffered and died in His stead than see Him subjected to the ignominies with which His enemies loaded Him.

Christ endured the most fearful agonies in His senses and in His members, in all of which Mary shared through her sympathy for Him. She knew that our Lord was the Son of God, as well as her own Son in the flesh, which knowledge intensified the anguish of her soul.

The bitter sufferings of Christ and of His Mother were not of a moment or of short duration, but they began with His entry into life, and ceased only with His death upon the Cross.

In the words of her Divine Son, as He hung upon the gibbet of the cross, abandoned by all, might sorrowful Mary exclaim as she stood gazing into the face of her dying Son: “My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Had not God, for His own divine purposes, sustained her, she would have given up her soul into His hands, as the words fell from the lips of Jesus: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46). As the Saviour, in His death and passion, suffered greater torments than all the martyrs, so did His Mother, because of the depth of her maternal love for Him.

In sorrowful Mary, standing erect beneath the Cross, the martyrs of all times behold their prototype in patience, in suffering, in fortitude, in courage, in virtue, in the love of God, in the sacrifice of their life for Christ’s sake. The sufferings of the martyrs, in comparison to hers, are no more than a spring to a great river, or a rivulet to a vast ocean.

The halo of martyrdom that encircles her fair brow, gives luster to the crowns of all other martyrs. She is the first, the fairest, the greatest, the Queen of Martyrs.