Pope Benedict XIII proclaimed Our Lady of Sorrows patroness of Slovakia in 1717 at the request of the nation's bishops. A small country in the heart of Europe, Slovakia was one of the first Slavic nations to embrace Christianity. Because of its size Slovakia was prone to invasions and pillaging. The Slovaks bore these afflictions with courage, strengthened by their faith in God and devotion to the Blessed Mother. The predominant symbol of their Marian affection is the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows in the town of Sastin, completed in 1744. This chapel, a gift of the First Catholic Slovak Union of the United States, was dedicated Sept. 5,1965. Above the altar a Slovakian inscription reads: "Our Mother of Sorrows, patroness of Slovakia, pray for us." The seven sorrows of Mary are represented by a series of bronze reliefs and a life-sized sculpture of the Mary with the crucified Christ (often called a "Pieta," meaning mercy, in the theme of the famous statue by Michelangelo). The statue is the creation of Ernest Morenon and is noted for its simple lines, which reverently reveal the depths of Mary's grief.
The seven sorrows are: The prophecy of Simeon that a sword of sorrow would pierce Mary's heart (cf. Luke 2:25-38), Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt with Jesus to avoid King Herod's murderous plot (cf. Mt 2:13-18), Jesus' parents search for Him in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52), Mary's encounter with Jesus on the way to Golgotha; and her witnessing His crucifixion (cf. John 19:16-30), Jesus' body being placed in His mother's arms (depicted by the statue), and the burial of her Son (cf. Luke 23:50-55).
Prayer in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows
Father, As your Son was raised on the cross,
His mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His suffering.
May she, who is also our spiritual Mother
and Patroness in heaven,
help us to find renewed strength
at the cross of Christ
and so to come to share in His rising to new life,
where He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.