Passio in Cordibus


The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life and Teaching of Saint Paul of the Cross
                                                                                                    (Talk given at Oxford to the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1994)

Mary in Paul's Childhood and Early Years

Born on the third of January 1694, Paolo Francesco Danei, known to us as Saint Paul of the Cross, was, on his own admission, a Lombard.  The town of Ovada, in which his father carried on business as a tobacco merchant, was in the far north of the Republic of Genoa, on the old pilgrim road from England to Rome, as were Cremolino, Campo Ligure and Castellazzo, the towns in which he would spend his teenage and early adult years.  Anyone growing up in eighteenth century Italy would have found himself in an atmosphere of Marian piety, as Italy was, in the words of Stefano de Fiores[i], the "epicentre" of Mariology for the 1700s.

In Paul's case, he seems to have been close throughout his formative years to groups known for their devotion to Mary.  His parents had met through their membership of the Confraternity of Our Lady of the Annunciation; they had in fact been married in the confraternity chapel.  Paul himself was to be inducted into the confraternity at the early age of thirteen.  A blue habit such as he would have worn for processions and other ceremonies can be seen in the Danei family home in Ovada.  Directly opposite the house was the Dominican Church and Priory of Santa Maria delle Grazie.  The Dominicans are no longer there, but a short walk around the interior of the church is sufficient to assure us that the young Paul was from his earliest years confronted with the role of Mary in the life of the Christian.  His lifelong devotion to the rosary would lead him, a few weeks before his death, to ask the Master General of the Dominicans for the faculty to enrol his religious in the Compagnia del SS. Rosario.[ii]

Paul's formal education began at the Carmelite Priory in the nearby village of Cremolino.  The priests who staffed the school were Carmelites of the Ancient Observance (the so-called Calced Carmelites) and the walls of the main corridor were, and still are, decorated with frescoes of the saints of the Carmelite Order.  The first of these depicts Mary giving the scapular to the English Carmelite, St Simon Stock.
When the Danei family moved to Castellazzo in 1718, they took possession of the old family home near the parish church of Santa Maria, which was in the care of the Servites.  One of three parishes in the town, it was here that Paul was confirmed on 23 April 1719.  Here too he found the first priest who was to act as his spiritual director.  His early years, then, were spent in a Marian confraternity and under the guidance of three of the religious communities most noted for their devotion to Mary: the Dominicans, the Carmelites and the Servites.
The Presence of Mary in Paul's Founding Experiences

When we look at the key experiences which led Paul to found his community, we see a presence of Mary which, discreet in its origins, is underlined by later generations.

 In a document known as the Preface to the First Rules, written during his 1720 retreat, Paul gives an account of the "lights" or "inspirations" he received concerning the founding of the Congregation of the Passion, which was at first to be known as the Poor of Jesus.  He tells us how his first inspiration to begin a new way of life came as he was walking along the coast at Sestri Ponente, near Genoa.  High above the coast road he saw a centre of Marian piety which was well known to him at the time, the little church and hermitage of the Madonna del Gazzo.  He tells us: "As soon as I saw it, my heart longed for that place of solitude."[iii]

 The decisive experience which led Paul to found his community, and which crystallised the various inspirations he had received, was his vision of the habit of the congregation in the summer of 1720.  He describes what happened in these words:
            This last summer (I do not remember the day or the month because I did not write it down but I do know it was the grain harvest time) on a certain weekday in the Capuchin church in Castellazzo, I received holy Communion with a deep sense of my unworthiness.  I remember that I was deeply recollected and then I left to go home.  Walking along the street I was as recollected as if I were at prayer.  When I came to a street corner to turn towards home, I was raised up in God in the deepest recollection, with complete forgetfulness of all else and with great interior peace.  At that moment I saw myself clothed in a long black garment with a white cross on my breast, and below the cross the holy name of Jesus was written in white letters.  At that instant I heard these very words spoken to me: "This signifies how pure and spotless that heart should be which must bear the holy name of Jesus graven upon it."  On seeing and hearing this I began to weep and then it stopped.
            Shortly afterwards I saw in spirit the tunic presented to me with the holy name of Jesus and the cross all in white, but the tunic was black.  I pressed it joyfully to my heart.[iv]
Frequently in biographies of St Paul of the Cross, we read that he had a vision of Mary, wearing what was to be the Passionist habit, who told him to found a community who would dress in this way and who would mourn the death of her Son.  Such descriptions are based on testimonies found in the Processes of Canonization, and in particular on the testimony of Rosa Calabrese.  Rosa met Paul for the first time just a few months before his death, when he was eighty-one years old, and her recollections of the frequent conversations she had with him during a pilgrimage to Rome in 1775 often give a very different picture of Paul's interior life from what we find in other sources.  In speaking of the vision of the habit she says:
            One day he [Paul of the Cross] confided to me...: "I saw the most holy Virgin dressed in black with the sign on her breast, which is the one in fact that I wore myself and had my religious wear, and with love beyond that of a mother, she said to me: My son, do you see how I am dressed in mourning?  This is for the most sorrowful Passion of Jesus, my beloved Son.  You are to dress like this and to found a Congregation whose members will dress in this way and will mourn constantly for the Passion and death of my dear Son.[v]

 We are immediately struck by the difference between Rosa Calabrese's account of this experience and the account written by Paul himself shortly after it happened.  However, while Rosa tells the story according to her own categories and understanding, there are in her testimony elements which were present in Paul's founding inspiration.  The idea of being clothed in mourning, which Paul found in the Treatise on the Love of God of St Francis de Sales[vi], is present in the remaining fragment of the Rule of 1720, where Paul writes: "You must know, dearly beloved, that the main object in wearing black (according to the special inspiration that God gave me) is to be clothed in mourning for the Passion and Death of Jesus."[vii]  Nor is the reference to Mary without foundation, as we know from the testimony of Father Gianmaria di S. Ignazio.  He tells us how Canon Paolo Sardi, who had been Paul's close friend at the time of the vision, some thirty years later wrote an account of what had happened in which he said that Paul had seen the Blessed Virgin.  When Paul was shown the text, he said that it was not accurate since "he had not seen Mary with bodily eyes, although he had been aware of her and understood that she was present."[viii]
It was on the feast of Mary's Nativity in 1721 that Paul first saw Monte Argentario, which would become the cradle of his Congregation.  This was during his first journey to Rome, and it was while at Rome that he made the vow to promote the memory of the Passion of Jesus which is still the characteristic vow of Passionist religious.  This took place in the chapel of Our Lady in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, before the icon of Mary known as Salus Populi Romani.  Speaking of this event, his first biographer Saint Vincent Mary Strambi says:
            He made the vow as if presenting it [to the Lord] in the hands of Our Lady, with great spiritual consolation and trusting that he would carry it out faithfully, as he was under the protection of Mary most holy.[ix]
Mary in Paul's Retreat Journal

The earliest written text we have from St Paul of the Cross is the diary or prayer journal he kept during the retreat of forty days which he made in Castellazzo from 23 November 1720 to 1 January 1721, after receiving the black tunic from Monsignor Gattinara, Bishop of Alessandria.  The first words in the journal are Deo gratias et Mariae semper Virgini.  He begins his retreat in an attitude of thanksgiving to God and to Mary ever-virgin.  In addition to this invocation, he speaks of Mary six times during the course of his retreat.
On the sixth day of the retreat, 28 November, he writes:
           I remember that I kept praying to the Blessed Virgin, and to all the angels and saints, especially the holy founders.  Suddenly I seemed in spirit to see them prostrate before the most holy Majesty of God praying for this.  That happened to me in a second, like a flash of lightning, in sweetness mingled with tears.  The way in which I saw them was not in bodily form; it was therefore in the mind, with understanding in the soul which I do know how to explain, and almost at once it vanished.[x]

In this text we have Paul's only written account of a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It impresses us by its sobriety and by the clarity with which he explains how it affected him.  His prayer to Mary and the saints is here directed towards the foundation of his new community.
Two days later, he again records praying to Mary, this time for the grace of humility:
            I remember that I kept praying to my Jesus to grant me the greatest degree of humility.  I wanted to be the least of mankind, the very scum of the earth, and I kept on praying to the Blessed Virgin with many tears to obtain this grace for me.[xi]
The next references to Mary in the diary of St Paul of the Cross occur on 21 December.  Here Paul turns to Mary for help in time of temptation.  This occurs twice on the same day.  The first temptation is occasioned by priests arriving late for Mass.  While Paul was on retreat in the Church of San Carlo, he would also serve the Masses of any priests who came to celebrate there.  This had been a particularly trying day for him.  He was, he says, "greatly troubled by assaults and combats...."  He writes:
            ...I have been very violently troubled by most of these things on this particular day.  The spirit kept resisting and wanted to remain with God in prayer although it felt desolate and afflicted.  The flesh on the other hand did not want to.  On this account the passions were stirred up with such intensity of feeling that my heart jumped and made me tremble from head to foot until my very bones ached and I came to the point when I felt I could bear no more.[xii]
It was in this context, then, that Paul experienced the two severe temptations which made him turn to Mary:
            Then the enemy appeared with temptations to impatience.  He roused me to indignation against the priests who were coming late to say mass, suggesting to me that they came too late, and it seemed to me that I was being forced to make unbecoming remarks to them.  At this point I called upon God and Mary most holy to help me, and I kept on saying to myself that I would stay there until all the masses were said.  This was to resist the temptation for it seemed to me that I was being forced to leave.[xiii]
The second temptation he experiences is, for Paul, much more trying.  Here he is tempted to blasphemy against God:
            When that [-the temptation to impatience] was over I felt assailed by temptations to the most frightful blasphemies against God.  I seemed to hear myself interiorly repeating the most outrageous and appalling things; whereupon I kept calling upon Mary to help me.  You must know that when in this state the soul feels as if it were utterly abandoned.  It no longer feels any movement of the heart towards God; no longer does it remember anything of the special favours of the Spirit; it seems reduced to an abyss of miseries.  ...With regard to these temptations against God, I pray to him to deliver me from them, from those diabolic locutions that lacerate heart and soul.  It does not matter so much about the suffering, but the soul cannot endure the feeling of being thus tempted against its God.[xiv]
It is noteworthy that he turns to Mary in these moments of severe temptation and profound desolation.
On 28 December, the feast of the Holy Innocents, Paul recalls the Flight into Egypt and experiences a closeness to Mary in her sorrows.  He writes:
           I recalled the Flight into Egypt made with such lack of comfort, with such suffering, and the sorrow of Mary most holy and Saint Joseph, but especially of Mary most holy.  Within my poor soul there was a mingling of sorrow and love, with many tears and much sweetness.
            Of all this the soul has deep infused understanding, sometimes of all at the same time, sometimes of one mystery only.  But it understands these things in a moment, without bodily forms or even imaginary ones.  God infuses them into the soul by a work of his infinite mercy and love.  In the very same moment in which the soul understands this in the most elevated fashion, it either rejoices or is sorrowing according to the mystery.  In the majority of cases there is always a mingling of holy satisfaction.[xv]
The final occasion on which Paul speaks of Mary in the Diary is on the last day of the retreat, 1 January, which at that time (and until recently) was the feast of the Circumcision.  While serving Mass at an altar above which was an image of the Virgin Mary, Paul experiences a deep sense of his sinfulness and weakness which he describes in the concluding paragraph of the Diary:
            I have had other very special graces, especially in contemplating the holy mystery of the Circumcision.  Likewise, when serving mass, I had such a deep light on the great love which God displays towards me, and on my misery, my ingratitude, my whole life, that I did not venture even to raise my eyes to look upon the picture of Mary - and always with abundance of tears mingled with great sweetness especially on seeing my Spouse, Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament.[xvi]
We can sum up Paul's references to Mary in the diary as follows:
            he thinks of Mary when he becomes conscious of his frailty;
            he prays to Mary in time of temptation;
            he prays to her for the gift of humility;
            he prays to her for the founding of his new community;
            he carries the memory of Mary's sorrows in his heart.
Mary's Place in the Passionist Rule

Paul's understanding of Mary's place in the life and mission of his Congregation is expressed clearly in the Rule.  He saw Mary as model and inspiration of those whose task in the Church was to keep alive the memory of the Passion of Jesus.
The section of the Rule which speaks of prayer gives as the elements of the Congregation's contemplative life:
            meditation on the mysteries of the life, passion and death of Jesus;
            a tender devotion to Jesus present in the Eucharist, living memory of his passion
(with provision in the earliest text of the             Rule for perpetual adoration);
            a compassionate love for Mary, centred on the sorrows she endured in the passion of her Son.
What in the earliest text was simply a reference to "devotion to the sorrows of Mary" was gradually expanded until, in the text of 1775, approved shortly before Paul's death, we read:
            They should honour with due devotion the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, ever Virgin, have her for chief patroness, constantly commemorate the most bitter sorrows which she suffered in the Passion and Death of her Son, and promote her veneration both by word and example.[xvii]
Commenting on Mary's presence in the Rule, Fabiano Giorgini says:
            Paul understood the charism proper to the Congregation as the call to live the memory of the Passion of Jesus, revelation of the merciful love of God, and at the same time to recall the sorrows of Mary, Mother of Christ, God-made-man, because her sorrows and her boundless love are intimately linked to those of Christ.[xviii]
Titles of Mary associated with Saint Paul of the Cross

In the life and writings of St Paul of the Cross, there are three titles of Mary which are of particular significance; these are Mary presented in the Temple, Our Lady of Sorrows and Mary, Queen of Martyrs.
Mary Presented in the Temple

Throughout his life Saint Paul of the Cross had a special love for the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple.  It was on this day in 1720 that he received the blessing of his parents before setting out to the bishop's palace in Alessandria to receive the black habit of the Passion.  (According to Rosa Calabrese, it was also on the feast of the Presentation of Mary that he received the grace of mystical marriage.)  Paul dedicated the first Retreat of his Congregation to the Presentation of Mary and also the first monastery of the Passionist contemplative nuns.  Saint Vincent Mary Strambi gives this account of Paul's devotion to the Presentation of Mary:
            He prepared himself for the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the temple... by a fervent novena.  He desired that the religious community of the Retreat of Monte Argentario, whose church is dedicated under the title of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, would make this novena with him, using the following ritual: After the Blessed Sacrament had been exposed for adoration and the appropriate prayers had been said, Psalm 65, Cry out with joy to God, all the earth, O sing to the glory of his name, was to be sung.  In this psalm Paul recognised the way in which God had led him.  The psalm also reminded him of the exceptional graces he had obtained through the Blessed Virgin, who had always helped and protected him....  On the day of the feast, he seemed to be totally penetrated by a spirit of tender devotion.  Even on his deathbed, he recalled: "The day of the Presentation was always a most holy and solemn day for me."[xix]
According to Brother Bartolomeo, who as infirmarian first at Vetralla and later at Rome, cared for Paul in the last years of his life, Paul would make extraordinary efforts to be at Monte Argentario for the feast of the Presentation of Mary:
            How often have I seen him set out from the Retreat of Sant'Angelo [at Vetralla] or from Toscanella in the month of November with bad weather and dreadful road conditions.  This poor, crippled old man would set out for Monte Argentario to celebrate the feast of the Presentation.[xx]
Strambi explains to us why the Presentation of Mary meant so much to him:
            Paul used to say that this feast was the blessed anniversary of that day on which he took leave of the world and wore the habit of the Passion for the first time.  It was the day on which, in the flower of his youth, he offered himself to the Divine Majesty.  Thus he imitated the heavenly Queen who presented herself in the temple as a sacrifice most pleasing to the heart of God.[xxi]
Paul chose Mary presented in the Temple as the principal patroness of his Congregation.[xxii]  The reasons for this were not made clear by him and it is difficult to believe that he would have done so simply on account of personal considerations.  Fabiano Giorgini sees the Presentation of Mary in the Temple as referring not simply to the Temple in Jerusalem but to Calvary, where Mary offers herself in union with her Son.[xxiii]  Tito Paolo Zecca, following Carmelo Naselli, links the Presentation with Monte Argentario, the place of solitude indicated by Mary.  He relates the Presentation to Mary's aloneness on Calvary and to the call to interiority and contemplation.[xxiv]
However, perhaps the place to look for a deeper understanding of Paul's choice of the Presentation of Mary is his teaching on the Temple.  Often in his letters of spiritual direction Paul introduces the theme of the Temple.  For example, he writes to Sister Colomba Geltrude Gandolfi:
           In his vision of heaven, St John the Evangelist saw that there was no temple in the city and he added that God is the temple of that great city of peace.  Oh, how good (soave) it is to pray, whether our prayer is vocal or mental, in that divine temple which is God himself!  Pray therefore in a silence of faith and love, in this temple which is God; lose yourself there, humble yourself, be obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Remain in simplicity; never give in to curiosity (God forbid!) about understanding the divine workings of the Lord [His Divine Majesty] in the temple of the soul of his beloved.  Who could understand them?  Love, suffer and be silent, and remain hidden from all.[xxv]
Here we see Paul speaking of the temple of the new Jerusalem, which is God himself.  Those who are to enter this new temple, who are to be presented there, must take on Mary's attitudes of humility, obedience and childlike simplicity.  They must learn to be true adorers who worship God in spirit and in truth:
           Become accustomed to making your meditation in the interior church of your soul.  It is of the faith that our soul is the temple of the living God; our faith teaches that God lives in us.  Therefore enter within, to the deepest part of yourself and there adore the most high in spirit and in truth.[xxvi]
The mystery of Mary presented in the Temple reminds us that we are the temple of the living God[xxvii] and invites us to withdraw into that interior temple so as to be reborn in Christ:
            The more often you become centred in God in the deepest interior solitude, the more frequently you will celebrate the mystical Divine Nativity in the interior temple and you will be reborn every moment to a life more deified, deiform and holy, et fiet in te Divina Nativitas.[xxviii]
Our Lady of Sorrows

In eighteenth century Italy, there was a great deal of popular devotion to Mary as Mother of Sorrows, with numerous pilgrimages and processions to honour the Addolorata
[Our Lady of Sorrows] .  For Paul of the Cross, who was opposed to emotionally charged procession during parish missions, devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows meant more than a mere accumulation of pious practices.  He writes to one of his religious, inviting him to practice a 'sincere devotion to the Addolorata which cannot simply be reduced to any of the common practices of piety.'[xxix]  This sincere devotion to Mary means, as he writes to Agnes Grazi, to recollect oneself at the foot of the Cross and share in the sufferings of Jesus with Mary's sorrowing heart, since 'these two hearts are two furnaces of love; in fact, they form one furnace.'[xxx]  It means to pray at the foot of the Cross in union with Mary, 'offering Jesus Crucified to the Father through Mary, as she [herself] offered him when she stood at the foot of the Cross.'[xxxi]  It means to live in a spirit of interior solitude, in imitation of Mary who on Calvary pondered in her heart the mystery of Christ's Passion; as Paul writes to Sister Maria Cherubina Bresciani:
            Above all I recommend interior solitude, and I pray you to fly in spirit to the dear Heart of Jesus.  Once there, lock yourself inside with the gold key of God's love, placing that precious key on the most pure Heart of Mary most holy, Mother of Sorrows.[xxxii]

Paul makes his own the Franciscan tradition of affective union with Jesus Crucified through Mary which we find in the Stabat Mater, where the author (possibly Jacopone da Todi) prays to the Mother of Sorrows:
           Make me feel as thou hast felt; make my soul to glow and melt, with the love of Christ my Lord.
            Holy Mother, pierce me through; in my heart each wound renew, of my Saviour Crucified.
Similarly, in one of Paul's letters of spiritual direction, we find this prayer:
            Most Holy Redeemer, imprint your sacred Passion on my heart!  Mary most holy, give Jesus to me, let me hold him close to my heart.  Imprint your great sorrows on my heart, let me love Jesus with your most pure Heart.
Queen of Martyrs

When St Paul of the Cross speaks of Mary's presence in the Passion of Christ and her role in the redemptive work of her Son, he calls her not only l'Addolorata [Our Lady of Sorrows], but also the Queen of Martyrs.  We find this already in the liturgy which speaks of Mary as the Virgin who 'without dying, gained the palm of martyrdom beneath the cross of the Lord.'[xxxiii]  This theme is developed by St Francis de Sales in Book VII of the Treatise on the Love of God, which was Paul's principal guide to the spiritual life during his early years.  Francis de Sales writes in Chapter XIII:
            Several holy lovers were present at the death of the Saviour; those among them who loved more, suffered more, since this love was soaked in suffering and the suffering in love; and all those who were passionate in their love for the Saviour, were full of love for his Passion and suffering.  But [his] dear Mother, who loved more than anyone, was, more than anyone, pierced through with the sword of sorrow: the pain of her Son became a sharp sword which passed through [his] Mother's heart, since that Mother's heart was so fixed, joined and united to her Son that nothing could wound the one without equally piercing the other.[xxxiv]
According to Francis de Sales, Mary is wounded by love at the foot of the Cross and from that moment she carries the death of Jesus continually in her heart.  He continues:
            That maternal breast, thus wounded by love, not only sought no healing for her wound, but loved her wound more than any healing, and lovingly watched over the marks of suffering which she had received, because of the love which had scored them in her heart, wishing constantly to die of them, since it was thus her Son had died.[xxxv]
Taking up the same theme, Paul of the Cross  would say that the Queen [of Martyrs] suffered pains so intense that no human mind could understand them.[xxxvi]  According to Francis de Sales, Mary held in her spirit, by contemplation, a continual memory of the mysteries of the life and death of Jesus.[xxxvii]  It is the loving and sorrowful remembrance of the Passion of Jesus which Mary carried constantly in her heart which Paul of the Cross wished to keep alive in the church through the Congregation of the Passion.
Francis de Sales sees the death of Mary as being brought about by an excess of love, in which her heart can no longer contain her longing to be one with Jesus.  He speaks of Mary's death as a death of love, the consequence of her overwhelming desire to be united with her Son:
            Finally the sacred fire of divine love consumed her totally, a holocaust of sweetness, to such an extent that she died of this, her soul enraptured and transported to the loving arms of her Son.  Oh, death lovingly life-giving; oh, deadly life-giving love![xxxviii]
This same understanding of the death of the Virgin Mary is taken up by St Paul of the Cross in a letter written to Agnes Grazi for the octave of the Assumption.  He begins by speaking of the Assumption as caused by the wound of love in Mary's heart, a wound intensified by her sharing in the continuing Passion of Jesus:
            This great wound of love with which her pure heart was sweetly pierced, from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception, increased to such an extent during the course of her life that it penetrated so deeply within her as to separate her holy soul from her body.  So it was that this death of love, sweeter than life itself, put an end to the great sea of sorrow which that Mother endured throughout her most holy life, not only in the Sacred Passion of Jesus, but in seeing so many offenses against the Divine Majesty committed by ungrateful men.[xxxix]
In the same letter, Paul returns to the theme of the sea of Mary's sorrow:
            Let us fly to the most pure heart of Mary... asking the grace to remain always immersed in the immense sea of God's love, from which flows that other sea of the sufferings of Jesus and the sorrows of Mary; let us allow ourselves to be penetrated by these sufferings, these sorrows; and let us allow the sword or lance or dart to be well tempered, so that the wound of love may penetrate more deeply.[xl]
For Paul the sea of Mary's sorrow is also the sea of the Passion of Jesus.  By entering into the mystery of Mary's sorrowing love, we penetrate more deeply the Passion of her Son and come to the fulness of God's love, as he writes to Lucia Burlini:
           I recommend that you go often in spirit to fish in the holy sea of the sufferings of Jesus Christ and the sorrows of Mary most holy.  In this great sea you will fish for the pearls of the holy virtues of Jesus and your soul will become more and more beautiful and adorned with these precious pearls.  This holy fishing is done in the sea of divine charity, from which proceeds this sea of the most holy Passion of Jesus Christ, which is two seas in one.  It is done in the interior kingdom of the spirit, in pure faith and ardent love.[xli]
Devotion to Mary according to St Paul of the Cross

We can say that Paul's devotion to Mary has the following characteristics:

1.  It is theologically well-founded, rooted in Mary's role as Mother of the Redeemer and Handmaid of the Lord.  Paul acknowledges Mary's Immaculate Conception and her Assumption, and he relates these privileges to her place in the plan of salvation.  In a letter to Agnes Grazi he underlines Mary's proper place in the life of prayer:
           I have read one of your letters [in which you say]: 'I prayed to the most holy Virgin, to the most holy Trinity and all the saints, etc.'  Oh, what ignorance, what blindness!  How is it that you pray first to the blessed Virgin and then to the holy Trinity?  The holy Trinity is God; the blessed Virgin is a most pure and holy creature, she intercedes for us before the holy Trinity.  Consequently you should pray to Mary most holy that she will pray to the holy Trinity for us poor wretches; and it is in this way that you should also pray to the saints, that they might intercede for us before God.[xlii]
2.  It is concerned with interiorised values, not with externals.  According to Father Domenico di Sant'Antonio, Paul insisted that true devotion to Mary should show itself in imitation of her faithful love, rather than in a multiplicity of external practices.  He tells us:
           [He] tried to ensure that no one would content himself with a sterile devotion, consisting solely in devotional exercises, such as prayers, pilgrimages, bodily fasts and abstinence, but that there would be a true, sound and fruitful devotion, which would eagerly imitate the sublime virtues of the most holy virgin, since God and Mary most holy do not draw near to one who merely recites prayers and does other external things,... [as it says in the Old Testament:] "These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."[xliii]
3.  It leads us to imitate Mary's virtues.  For Paul the sure sign of a sincere devotion to Mary is the practice of the virtues of humility, charity, faith, etc.  In the chapter of the Rule on chastity we read:
            Let the religious culivate a deep and ardent devotion towards the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, strive to imitate her sublime virtues and to merit her protection amidst so many dangers.[xliv]
4.  It teaches us true worship.  Mary presented in the Temple is the model of the true worshipper who worships in spirit and in truth.  Her total offering of self to the Father leads her to the offering of her Son on Calvary.  Paul writes:
            Offer to the Divine Father, through Mary most holy, the most precious Heart of the Divine Word-made-flesh, with the treasure of the infinite price of his most holy Passion and the sorrows of his holy Mother.[xlv]
5.  It opens our hearts to the transforming love of God, revealed in the Passion of Jesus.  By contemplating the mysteries of the Passion in union with Mary, our hearts are transformed in love.  Mary, who experienced the death of love on Calvary, points the contemplative towards that mystical death and divine rebirth which is a participation through faith and love in the paschal mystery of Christ:
            Ask Mary's permission to enter that chamber of love which is her sacred Heart....  All this must be done in pure faith, in spirit, without images, but totally immersed in God....

Paul confides his Congregation to Mary

In the presence of Mary, Saint Paul of the Cross founded a Congregation dedicated to promoting the memory of the Passion of Jesus.  He also founded a monastery of contemplative nuns whose role in the church would be the same.  He wrote to the first superior of the women's monastery, Maria Crocifissa Costantini, a former Benedictine, that the Abbess of the monastery was to be Our Lady of Sorrows.[xlvi]  His two communities, founded with Mary's inspiration and placed under her protection, were called to model their lives on her who stood faithfully at the foot of the cross.  On his deathbed, after receiving the Eucharist as Viaticum, Paul prayed for his religious:
            O Immaculate Virgin, Queen of Martyrs, by the sorrow you felt in the Passion and death of your most beloved Son, grant to all your maternal blessing.  I place all [the religious of the Passion] under your mantle and leave them in your care.[xlvii]



[i].DSAM, X, 460.

[ii].Strambi, Vita, p.367.

[iii].Lettere, IV, 217. (References are to the edition of Padre Amedeo, 1924)

[iv].ibid, p.218-219.

[v].Processi, IV, pp.150f. (References to the Processi are to the edition published by Padre Gaetano dell’Addolorata.)

[vi].Saint Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God, Book V, Chapter V.

[vii].Lettere, IV, 220.

[viii].Processi, I, p. 38.

[ix].Strambi, Vita, p.363.

[x].Diario Spirituale (ed. Zoffoli), p.59.

[xi].Diario, p.61.

[xii].Diario, p.72.

[xiii].Diario, p.72-73

[xiv].Diario, p.73-74.

[xv].Diario, p.82.

[xvi].Diario, p.87.

[xvii].Rules and Constitutions, Chap.XXI.

[xviii].This is taken from a conference given by Father Fabiano Giorgini at Mascalucia, Italy. Unfortunately, I have lost the reference to the source of the original text, but the quotation comes from page 42.

[xix].Strambi, Vita, p.359-360.

[xx].Processi IV, 279.

[xxi].Strambi, Vita, p.360.

[xxii].This was changed to Our Lady of Sorrows in 1973.

[xxiii].see note 19 above.

[xxiv].Tito Paolo Zecca, Il mistero e patrocinio di Maria SS. Presentata al Tempio nella spiritualità passionista, Roma, 1982.

[xxv].Lettere II, 522.

[xxvi].Lettere III, 359.

[xxvii].Lettere I, 577; I, 655.

[xxviii].Lettere III, 348.

[xxix].Lettere III, 205.

[xxx].Lettere I, 228f.

[xxxi].Text quoted by Maurizio de Sanctis in Elementi di Teologia Mariana in Paolo della Croce (unpublished dissertation), Romae, 1993, p.30.

[xxxii].Lettere I, 477.

[xxxiii].Paul of the Cross says it was a miracle that Mary did not die on Calvary, so immersed was she in the sufferings of Jesus (Lettere I, 350).

[xxxiv].St Francois de Sales, Oeuvres (ed. Ravier), p.704f.

[xxxv].ed. Ravier p.705.

[xxxvi].cf. ProcessiIII, 282.

[xxxvii].ed. Ravier p.704

[xxxviii].ed. Ravier p.704.

[xxxix].Lettere I, 349.

[xl].Lettere I, 349.

[xli].Lettere II, 717.

[xlii].Lettere I, 212.

[xliii].POR 1854v.

[xliv].Rule, Chapter XV.

[xlv].Lettere II, 464.

[xlvi].Lettere II, 304.

[xlvii].Lettere V, 258.