Rosary of the Seven Sorrows
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The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, also known as the Chaplet of Seven Sorrows or the Servite Rosary, is a Rosary based prayer that originated with the Servite Order. It is often said in connection with the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
It is a rosary consisting of a ring of seven groups of seven beads separated by a small medal depicting one of the sorrows of Mary, or a single bead. A further series of three beads and a medal are also attached to the chain (before the first "sorrow") and these are dedicated to prayer in honour of Mary's Tears, as well as to indicate the beginning of the chaplet. Conventionally the beads are of black wood or some other black material indicating sorrow. It has also been called the Seven Swords Rosary referring to the prophecy of Simeon:
"Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed." - (Lk.2:34-35)
Methods of praying the chaplet vary. Some begin at the first sorrow, and end on the final three beads, others begin on the medal and the three beads and work around. A method provided by the 1866 version of "The Raccolta" is shown below. The recitation begins with the sign of the cross and an Act of contrition. Each sorrow is announced, (and in some versions of the recitation, a meditatory prayer is said, or a segment from the Hymn Stabat Mater Dolorosa). Then on the separate bead an Our Father is said, followed by a Hail Mary for each of the seven beads. Some then close the septet of Hail Marys with a brief invocation to Our Lady of Sorrows (Commonly: "Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary pray for us"), or a Glory Be. The next sorrow is then announced, and carried out in the same manner until all seven have been meditated upon. The three Hail Marys dedicated to her tears are said and then a closing prayer is said, the most commonly known or traditional closing prayer in the English speaking world is the following:
V. Pray for us, O most sorrowful Virgin.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, we now implore, both for the present and for the hour of our death, the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose holy soul was pierced at the time of Thy passion by a sword of grief. Grant us this favor, O Saviour of the world, Who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen.
Promises regarding recitation
According to St. Bridget of Sweden, seven promises were made to those who meditate on Our Lady's Tears and Sorrows.  The Blessed Virgin grants seven graces to the souls who honour her daily by saying seven Hail Marys while meditating on her tears and Sorrows. These are:
1. I will grant peace to their families.
2. They will be enlightened about the Divine Mysteries.
3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death - they will see the face of their mother.
7. I have obtained this grace from my Divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and Sorrows will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy.
"This devotion, which brings to mind the seven sorrows of Mary has a long history which began with the Servites (Servants of Mary) in Monte Senario, Italy about the time the order was started (1233), feast of the Assumption. Seven professional men from Florence, which was an important commercial center of Europe, were influenced by the repenting spirit common to the Brothers of Penance with whom they were in close contact. It is believed that Mary came to them and requested that they devote themselves to her service. In 1240 they withdrew from the world to pray and serve the Lord, leading a life of penance, prayer and service to 'St Mary'. Because of so many visitors, they retreated again to Monte Senario, nearby where Mary again visited the men. Here the Servites were formed. By 1244, under the direction of St. Peter of Verona, they began to wear a religious habit similar to the Dominicans and began to live under the rule of Saint Augustine. The order took on new life and before the end of the 14th century had over 100 convents throughout Europe, India and Crete. The Servites devoted their prayer to the rosary of the Seven Sorrows."
Mother of the Word
On July 2, 2001, the Holy See released a declaration of Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro, on apparitions that took place in 1982-83 in Kibeho, Rwanda indicating that they were worthy of belief. Visionaries reported appearances by Mary who identified herself as Our Lady of the Word. Mary instructed one of the visionaries (Marie-Claire Mukangango) to spread devotion of the Seven Sorrows Rosary. According to the visionary she is quoted as saying:
“One must meditate on the Passion of Jesus, and on the deep sorrows of His Mother. One must recite the Rosary every day, and also the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, to obtain the favour of repentance.”
- Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 487
- The Raccolta, 1867 version by T. Galli, published by Burns and Lambert London, 1857, page 208, has this as item 97 . More recent versions of the Raccolta do not.
- St. John, A. (1857). The Raccolta: 97. Chaplet of the Seven Dolours
- http://www.fatima.org/essentials/requests/devotion_of_seven_sorrows.pdf page 6
- Seven Sorrow Chaplet
- To avoid a horrible war
- Matthew Bunson, 2004, Encyclopedia of Catholic History, OSV Press ISBN 978-1-59276-026-8