Our Lady of Consolation

In our monastic calendar today is kept as the feast of Our Lady of Consolation, (originally, Our Lady of Comfort). It was a devotion popular in the Low Countries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,  when it was adopted by the English Benedictine nuns of Cambrai. English sailors took the devotion to Galicia in Spain where you can still find the occasional statue dedicated to Our Lady under this title. In recent centuries Our Lady has acquired other, more popular titles, but I find this one rich in scriptural allusion and content.

Consolation is a beautiful word, so is comfort in its former sense of giving strength. Consolamini, consolamini, Comfort, comfort ye my people . . . Every Christian must be, in some measure, a giver of strength and consolation to others, but it is not something we can do through our own efforts. Mary, the Mother of God, was a mulier fortis, a strong woman, a valiant woman, one who allowed grace to flower in her, an excellent teacher of what it means to be a giver of comfort to others. I like the way in which Mary is always and everywhere leading us to her Son. As she said to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana, ‘Do whatever He tells you.’ With that advice she solved the problem of the wine running out, taking nothing to herself but giving the glory to God, to whom alone it belongs.



12 thoughts on “Our Lady of Consolation”

  1. I have to admit, that the more I read of things such as this, the more I am attracted to the BVM.

    You are aware of my thoughts of a few years ago, but I can now see how silly I was. In the end, the idea of Mary of Comfort or Consolation fits in so well with what we know of her life and her ministry as a faithful Mother, Servant and exemplary Saint for us.

    I shall say my Hail Mary’s later at Holy Communion with meaning.

  2. You’ve made my day! It saddens me when I see the Blessed Virgin Mary made a source of division among Christians when she is, I believe, a very great help to all of us on our pilgrimage of faith.

    • I think Mary was a source of division between my Catholic father and my Anglican anti-Catholic mother. She saw devotion to Mary and the Saints as being akin to statue slobbering, idolatry, whereas my father saw these and other Catholic devotions as aids to faith. I was punished as a child for keeping a dashboard Mary I’d found on the ground, and while baptized in a Protestant church, as an adult I was confirmed a Catholic. Having lived both sides of the coin, I can say we grow as Christians when we open our hearts to Mary’s love, recalling the words of the “Hail Mary” are God’s words, delivered through the angel.

  3. Just to agree with the above … as someone who was once very ignorant about Mary, and was even taught in certain church circles (which I no longer frequent!) to have nothing to do with her, she is becoming a real inspiration and example to me, for which I am so thankful!

    I love this title for her.

  4. Is it consolation or sheer joy that I read in today’s newspaper that the manuscript stolen from Compostela, the Codex Calixtinus, has been found and appears to be undamaged.

    I struggle with Mary, or rather I find her in some ways superfluous (apologies to all who find this hard to read), but I certainly give thanks today.

  5. Love of and devotion to our Blessed Mother has been a feature of Christianity from its inception and in no way supplants our worship of the Holy Trinity. For those Christians who are uncomfortable with praying with her, I ask you to think of her as the mother of your Best Friend. You would not ignore her throughout the year, only to pay lip service to her during the Christmas holidays, would you? Praying with Mary is no different than asking any other relative or friend to pray with you or for you and can be a source of great comfort and spiritual growth, as she will always lead you deeper into your relationship with her Son.

  6. I was so happy to see this today since it happens to be my birthday; now I can keep this feast on this day, at least privately. In recent months I have been in dire need of consolation and strength, so I decided a few weeks ago to launch a discreet one-person ‘Consolamini movement’ to take consolation seriously, not as a distraction or concession but as something that points towards the reality of God’s joy, in which we are invited to share in the midst of all difficulties and sorrows. I have also been discovering a new closeness to Our Lady, so this post couldn’t have been more apposite! – I think sometimes we modern Christians (especially those of a ‘traditional’ bent like myself) can be so concerned with showing ourselves to be tough-minded and ‘hard core’ that we allow too little room for consolation as a legitimate side of our religion and an important work of mercy.

    • A very Happy Birthday to you, Anna B., and many happy returns! May Our Lady of Consolation enfold you in the mantle of her love.

  7. Thank you all for your comments. We spent yesterday back at Hendred, working on our audio book service for the blind and visually impaired, Veilaudio (not that we do much compared with our volunteers, I feel). We thought that was an appropriate way of celebrating the feast.

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