Friday of Sorrows
In certain Catholic countries, especially in Mexico, Guatemala, Italy, Peru, Brazil, Spain, Malta, Nicaragua and the Philippines, it is seen as the beginning of the Holy Week celebrations and termed as Viernes de Dolores (Friday of Sorrows). It takes place exactly one week before Good Friday, and concentrates on the emotional pain that the Passion of Jesus Christ caused to his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is venerated under the title Our Lady of Sorrows.
In certain Spanish-speaking countries, the day is also referred to as Council Friday, because of the choice of John 11:47-54 as the Gospel passage read in the Tridentine Mass on that day (which is now read in slightly expanded form on Saturday of the fifth week of Lent), which recounts the concilliar meeting of the Sanhedrin priests to discuss what to do with Jesus.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the practice of religious veneration towards the Blessed Virgin Mary was designated on any given Friday, which was initiated by the Friday before Holy Week as well as Good Friday itself, after Palm Sunday.
In 1727, Pope Benedict XIII extended a feast commemorating the sorrowful Virgin Mary to the whole of the Latin Church, assigning to its celebration the Friday in Passion Week, one week before Good Friday.
In 1954, the feast still held the rank of major double (slightly lower than the rank of the 15 September feast) in the General Roman Calendar. Pope John XXIII's 1960 Code of Rubrics reduced it to the level of a commemoration.
in 1969 the celebration was removed from the General Roman Calendar as a duplicate of the feast on 15 September. Each of the two celebrations had been called a feast of "The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary" (Latin: Septem Dolorum Beatae Mariae Virginis) and included recitation of the Stabat Mater as a sequence. Since then, the 15 September feast that combines and continues both is known as the Feast of "Our Lady of Sorrows" (Latin: Beatae Mariae Virginis Perdolentis), and recitation of the Stabat Mater is optional.
Observance of the calendar as it stood in 1962 is still permitted as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, and even where the calendar as revised in 1969 is in use, some countries, such as Malta, have kept it in their national calendars. In every country, the 2002 edition of the Roman Missal provides an alternative collect for this Friday:
O God, who in this season
give your Church the grace
to imitate devoutly the Blessed Virgin Mary
in contemplating the Passion of Christ,
grant, we pray, through her intercession,
that we may cling more firmly each day
to your Only Begotten Son
and come at last to the fullness of his grace.
Celebration of Friday of Sorrows in Malta, Spain, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala and the Philippines, includes processions, public penance, mournful singing and the mortification of the flesh.
In Mexico and Nicaragua, the faithful make small shrines of the Virgen de Dolor and decorate them with Christmas lights and perform street plays.
In Guatemala, the people make oversized flowerbeds on the road where the religious float will pass while being incensed by the crowd.
In the Philippines, candle-lit religious floats carry a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows in procession through the streets. This is followed by the recitation of the life of Christ using the pious Filipino book Pasiong Mahal; a localised version of the Passion of Christ. In some regions, penitents whip themselves in the streets.
In Malta, beginning on this day, penitents place multiple chains on their feet and walk barefoot on the public streets hiding their identity via a conical hat.
In Spain, the Catholic faithful shout ejaculatory praises to the float of the Sorrowful Virgin passing by; often accompanied an exclamatory response Viva!. The floats are also preceded by a military parade and a musical band.
In Italy, the practice is called La Festa dell'Addolorata and uses famous Baroque images made in the area of Naples.
Some of the most commonly used associated Marian titles are:
- Our Lady of Sorrows
- Our Lady of Pain
- Our Lady of Dolours
- Our Lady of Solitude
- Our Lady of Patience
- Our Lady of Charity (Charity to Jesus and Mary)
- Our Lady of Anguish
- Frederick Holweck, "Feasts of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1912)
- Calendarium Romanum (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis 1969). p.119
- Roman Missal, Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
- Brugada Martirià. La Virgen de los Dolores: Always at his side , Ed Centre for Pastoral Liturgy, Barcelona 2002, collection Saints and Santas n. 71 (version in Catalan and Spanish)