SHOULD BE READ.
My beloved reader and brother in Mary: Since the devotion that led me to
write, and moves you to read, this book makes us happy children of the
same good Mother, should you hear it remarked that I might have spared
myself the labor, as there are already so many celebrated and learned
works on the same subject, I beg that you will reply, in the words of the
Abbot Francone, that "the praise of Mary is an inexhaustible fount: the
more it is enlarged the fuller it gets, and the more you fill it so much
the more is it enlarged" ("Laus Mariae
fons est indeficiens, qui, quanto longius extenditur, tanto amplius
impletur, et quanto amplius impletur, tanto latius dilatatur." De Grat.
Dei. lib. vii). In short, this Blessed Virgin is so great and
so sublime that the more she is praised the more there remains to praise;
so much so, says an ancient writer, "that if all the tongues of men were
put together, and even if each of their members was changed into a tongue,
they would not suffice to praise her as much as she deserves"
("Etsi omnium nostrum membra verterentur
in linguas, eam laudare sufficeret nullus."Serm. 208. E. B. App.).
I have seen innumerable works of all sizes which treat of the
Glories of Mary; but finding that they were rare, voluminous, or did not
answer the object I had in view, I endeavored to collect, from as many
authors as I could lay my hands on, the choicest passages, extracted from
Fathers and theologians, and those which seemed to me to be the most to
the point, and have put them together in this book, in order that the
devout may with little trouble and expense be able to inflame themselves
with the love of Mary, and more particularly to furnish priests with
matter for their sermons, wherewith to excite others to devotion towards
this divine Mother.
Worldly lovers often speak of those whom they love, and praise
them, in order that the object of their affections may be praised and
extolled by others. There are some who pretend to be lovers of Mary, and
yet seldom either speak of her or endeavor to excite others to love her:
their love cannot be great. It is not thus that true lovers of this
amiable Lady act; they desire to praise her on all occasions, and to see
her loved by the whole world, and never lose an opportunity, either in
public or in private, of enkindling in the hearts of others those blessed
flames of love with which they themselves burn towards their beloved
That every one may be persuaded how
important it is, both for his own good and that of others, to promote
devotion towards Mary, it is useful to know what theologians say on the
St. Bonaventure says that those who make a point of announcing
to others the glories of Mary are certain of heaven; and this opinion is
confirmed by Richard of St. Laurence, who declares "that to honor this
Queen of Angels is to gain eternal life"
("Honorare Mariam, thesaurizare est sibi vitam aeternam."De Loud.
B.M.V. l.2, p.1); and he adds, "that this most gracious Lady
will honor in the next world those who honor her in this"
("Glorificabit in futuro honorificantes se
in praesenti."Ib.). And who is ignorant of the promise
made by Mary herself, in the words of Ecclesiastes, to those who endeavor
to make her known and loved here below, they that explain me shall have
life everlasting; ("Qui elucidant me,
vitam aeternam habebunt."Ecclus. xxiv. 31) for this passage
is applied to her by the Church, in the office of the Immaculate
Conception. "Rejoice, then," exclaims St. Bonaventure (who did so much to
make the glories of Mary known), "rejoice, my soul, and be glad in her;
for many good things are prepared for those who praise her"
("Exsulta, anima mea, et laetare in illa;
quia multa bona sunt laudatoribus praeparata."Psalt. B.V. p. 43);
and he says that the whole of the sacred Scriptures speak in praise of
Mary: let us therefore always with our hearts and tongues honor this
divine Mother, in order that we may be conducted by her into the kingdom
of the blessed" ("Si enim omnes Scripturae
loquuntur de ea, Deiparam perpetuo contemplemur corde, et lingua
celebremus, ut ab ipsa ad gaudia perpetua perducamur."Paciucch. in Ps.
86, exc. 25).
We learn from the revelations of St. Bridget, that the blessed
Bishop Emingo was in the habit of always beginning his sermons with the
praises of Mary. One day the Blessed Virgin herself appeared to the
saint, and desired her to tell him that in consequence of his pious
practice, "she would be his mother, that he would die a holy death, and
that she would herself present his soul to God"
(Rev. extr. C. 104.Rev. l. 4, c.
125.); he died like a saint in the act of praying, and in the most
heavenly peace. Mary also appeared to a Dominican friar, who always
concluded his sermons by speaking of her; when on his deathbed the Blessed
Virgin defended him from the devils, consoled him, and then she herself
carried off his happy soul (Auriem. Aff.
scamb. P. 1, c. 13.). The devout Thomas ΰ Kempis represents to
us Mary recommending a soul who had honored her to her Son, and saying,
"My most loving Son, have mercy on the soul of this servant of Thine, who
loved and extolled me" ("Fili mi
amantissime, Miserere animae famuli tui, amatoris et laudatoris mei."Ad
Nov. s. 21).
Next, as to the advantage of this devotion for all, St. Anselm
says, that as the most sacred womb of Mary was the means of salvation for
sinners, the hearing of her praises must necessarily convert them, and
thus also be a means of their salvation; "how can it be otherwise than
that the salvation of sinners should come from the remembrance of her
praises, whose womb was made the way through which the Savior came to save
sinners?" ("Quomodo fieri potest, ut ex
memoria laudis ejus salus non proveniat peccatorum, cujus uterus factus
est via ad sanandum peccatores?"De Excell. V. c. 1.) And
if the opinion is true, and I consider it is indubitably so
(as I shall show in the fifth chapter),
that all graces are dispensed by Mary, and that all who are saved are
saved only by the means of this divine Mother, it is a necessary
consequence that the salvation of all depends upon preaching Mary, and
exciting all to confidence in her intercession. It is well known that it
was thus that St. Bernardine of Sienna sanctified Italy, and that St.
Dominic converted so many provinces. St. Louis Bertrand never omitted in
his sermons to exhort all to love Mary; and many others have done the
I find that Father Paul Segneri the younger, who was a very
celebrated missioner, in every mission preached a sermon on devotion to
Mary, and always called it his beloved sermon. And in our own missions,
in which it is an inviolable rule to do the same, we can attest, with all
truth, that in most cases no sermon is more profitable, or produces so
much compunction in the hearts of the people, as the one on the mercy of
Mary. I say, on her mercy; for, in the words of St. Bernard, "we praise
her virginity, we admire her humility; but because we are poor sinners,
mercy attracts us more and tastes sweeter; we embrace mercy more lovingly;
we remember it oftener, and invoke it more earnestly"
(Laudamus virginitatem, humilitatem
miramur; sed miseris sapit dulcius mesericordia; misericordiam amplectimur
carius, recordamur saepius, crebrius invocamus."In Assumpt. S.
4.); and for this reason I here leave other authors to describe the
other prerogatives of Mary, and confine myself for the most part to that
of her mercy and powerful intercession; having collected, as far as I was
able, and with the labor of many years, all that the holy Fathers and the
most celebrated writers have said on this subject; and as I find that the
mercy and power of the most Blessed Virgin are admirably portrayed in the
prayer "Salve Regina," the recital of which is made obligatory for the
greater part of the year on all the clergy, secular and regular, I shall
divide and explain this most devout prayer in separate chapters. In
addition to this, I thought that I should be giving pleasure to Mary's
devout clients, by adding discourses on the principal festivals and
virtues of this divine Mother, and by placing at the end of the work the
devotions and pious practices most used by her servants, and most approved
of by the Church.
Devout reader, should this work, as I trust it will, prove
acceptable to you, I beg that you will recommend me to the Blessed Virgin,
that she may give me great confidence in her protection. Ask this grace
for me; and I promise you, whoever you may be, that I will ask the same
for you who do me this charity. O, blessed are they who bind themselves
with love and confidence to these two anchors of salvation, Jesus and
Mary. Certainly, they will not be lost. Let us then both say, devout
reader, with the pious Alphonsus Rodriguez, "Jesus and Mary, my most sweet
loves, for you may I suffer, for you may I die; grant that I may be in all
things yours and in nothing mine" ("Jesu
et Maria, amores mei dulcissimi! pro vobis patiar, pro vobis moriar; sim
totus vester, sim nihil meus"). Let us love Jesus and Mary, and
become saints; we can neither expect nor hope anything better. Farewell,
then, until we meet in Paradise, at the feet of this most sweet Mother and
of this most loving Son; there to praise them, to love them face to face
for all eternity. Amen.