La Madonna del Popolo, Mediatrix of All Graces

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Federico Fiori Barocci's Madonna del Populo (1575–1579) depicts the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mediatrix of All Graces. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) The Mother of God presents to her all–merciful Son the needs of a people engrossed in the preoccupations of everyday life. Note that the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, is depicted below the hand of the Blessed Virgin. Mary, by her prayer, obtains the descent of the Holy Spirit into the chaos and sorrow of the world.


A dear friend began a novena today to ask the Blessed Virgin for light and counsel as he seeks to discern whether or not God is calling him to monastic life. I suggested that he pray the Ave, Maris Stella and the Veni, Creator, the two prayers recommended by Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort in The Secret of Mary, and so suited to the month of May and to these weeks leading up to Pentecost.

Also this afternoon, I began praying the Rosary and the Litany of Loreto together with our postulants and novices in the chapel of the Madonna of Bon Aiuto. This will be our daily devotion for the month of May. There is an indescribable sweetness when Mary's sons come together in humility and peace to pray her Rosary together.

John Henry Cardinal Newman, who once lived within these monastery walls, wrote:

"Why is May chosen as the month in which we exercise a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin? The first reason is because it is the time when the earth bursts forth into its fresh foliage and its green grass after the stern frost and snow of winter, and the raw atmosphere and the wild wind and rain of the early spring. It is because the blossoms are upon the trees and the flowers are in the gardens. It is because the days have got long, and the sun rises early and sets late. For such gladness and joyousness of external Nature is a fit attendant on our devotion to her who is the Mystical Rose and the House of Gold."


Fr. Mark, I wonder if you could give us an idea of the monastic schedule at Santa Croce. In particular, I'm wondering about the Divine Office schedule. It must be a real grace to live at Santa Croce. Thanks for sharing something of your life as a Cistercian.

I want to be there with you when you pray the rosary and litany.

Just curious to know if you apply any of these suggestions of JP2 from his rosary letter when you pray with the brethren:

n. 30 ...In order to supply a Biblical foundation and greater depth to our meditation, it is helpful to follow the announcement of the mystery with the proclamation of a related Biblical passage, long or short, depending on the circumstances. No other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired word. As we listen, we are certain that this is the word of God, spoken for today and spoken “for me?.

n. 30 ...In certain solemn communal celebrations, this word can be appropriately illustrated by a brief commentary.

n. 31 ...After the announcement of the mystery and the proclamation of the word, it is fitting to pause and focus one's attention for a suitable period of time on the mystery concerned, before moving into vocal prayer. A discovery of the importance of silence is one of the secrets of practicing contemplation and meditation. One drawback of a society dominated by technology and the mass media is the fact that silence becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. Just as moments of silence are recommended in the Liturgy, so too in the recitation of the Rosary it is fitting to pause briefly after listening to the word of God, while the mind focuses on the content of a particular mystery.

n. 33 ...The center of gravity in the Hail Mary, the hinge as it were which joins its two parts, is the name of Jesus. Sometimes, in hurried recitation, this center of gravity can be overlooked, and with it the connection to the mystery of Christ being contemplated. Yet it is precisely the emphasis given to the name of Jesus and to his mystery that is the sign of a meaningful and fruitful recitation of the Rosary. Pope Paul VI drew attention, in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, to the custom in certain regions of highlighting the name of Christ by the addition of a clause referring to the mystery being contemplated. This is a praiseworthy custom, especially during public recitation

n. 34 Trinitarian doxology is the goal of all Christian contemplation. For Christ is the way that leads us to the Father in the Spirit. If we travel this way to the end, we repeatedly encounter the mystery of the three divine Persons, to whom all praise, worship and thanksgiving are due. It is important that the Gloria, the high-point of contemplation, be given due prominence in the Rosary. In public recitation it could be sung, as a way of giving proper emphasis to the essentially Trinitarian structure of all Christian prayer.

n. 35 ...In current practice, the Trinitarian doxology is followed by a brief concluding prayer which varies according to local custom. Without in any way diminishing the value of such invocations, it is worthwhile to note that the contemplation of the mysteries could better express their full spiritual fruitfulness if an effort were made to conclude each mystery with a prayer for the fruits specific to that particular mystery. In this way the Rosary would better express its connection with the Christian life.

n. 37 ... The Rosary is then ended with a prayer for the intentions of the Pope, as if to expand the vision of the one praying to embrace all the needs of the Church. It is precisely in order to encourage this ecclesial dimension of the Rosary that the Church has seen fit to grant indulgences to those who recite it with the required dispositions.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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