Pay a Visit to the Sorrowful Mother and Hear a Latin Mass

The Sorrowful Mother, Madonna Dolorosa, is an integral part of Italian Catholicism. Perhaps more importantly, She is a necessary component in the memorial of Our Lord’s Passion and Death. The account of Christ’s sacrifice cannot be told without commemorating the anguish of His Sorrowful Mother.

Staged in the sanctuary at St. Rocco Church in Cleveland, Ohio, an historic (1921) statue of the Sorrowful Mother stands, awaiting the visits of the Faithful. She stands near the communion rail, where Her Divine Son will be given to the Faithful in Holy Communion. The Madonna Dolorosa was always near His Body.

This particular statue of Our Lady dates back to the early days of St. Rocco parish. In grand Italian style, Good Friday has been kept in a very pious and cultural manner. Fr. James Mayer, the pastor of the parish, relates the tradition well in a 2014 article in La Gazzetta Itialiana:

At first, the procession was small with only the statues of the dead Christ (Cristo mort) and the Sorrowful Mother. The solemn and sorrowful pageantry from Good Friday processions in Italy was preserved as the statues were carried by the men, on their shoulders; the women dressed in black; everyone caring lighted candles, singing lenten hymns and praying the Holy Rosary.

As the years progressed and the parish grew, the Good Friday Procession became larger with the addition of more statues depicting the Passion of our Divine Lord…Following the Three O’Clock Services on Good Friday, the sanctuary of St. Rocco Church becomes a display of the statues of the Passion which depict the Agony of our Lord in the Garden; Ecce Homo; Scourging at the Pillar; Veronica; Carrying the Cross; Crucifixion; St. John; Pieta; Christ in the Tomb; the Sorrowful Mother. These same statues are carried in procession.

All the statues are returned to the church sanctuary but the Sorrowful Mother. She remains in the vestibule, draped in black, until the priest preaching beckons her with the famous “Vieni Maria!” As the priest repeats “Vieni Maria, Vieni!” the Sorrowful Mother is carried into the church on a bier as all the faithful stand and witness her slow approach to her Son, dead upon the cross. Upon arriving at the foot of the cross, the priest then places a large crucifix over the Sorrowful Mother’s heart, symbolizing her shared agony and pain in her Son’s redemptive work. The faithful are then given a blessing with the relic of the true cross and the opportunity to kiss the same relic.

In this era of Covid, Good Friday may look a little different in some ways. But don’t let that be an obstacle to taking advantage of this opportunity to pay the Sorrowful Mother a visit. She has been a part of the Italian Catholic and neighborhood culture for 100 years and will continue to be.

Of course, we highly recommend you visit Her on Sunday’s at noon, for the Traditional Latin High Mass. It is a feast for the eyes, the ears and the soul.

Please visit our gallery of Lenten images from St. Rocco for more visuals of the Sorrowful Mother and the Church.

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