The Compassion of the Mother

At the death of my Son, I was like a woman having her heart pierced with five lances. For the first lance was the shameful and opprobrious nudity, because I saw my most beloved and powerful Son standing naked at the pillar, and having no clothing. The second was His accusation, for they accused Him, calling Him a traitor and a liar, and even an assassin, whom I knew to be just and truthful, offending and wishing to offend no one. The third lance to me was the crown of thorns, which so cruelly pierced His sacred head that the blood flowed into His mouth, down His beard, and into His ears. The fourth was His piteous voice on the cross when He cried to His Father, saying: “O Father, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” as though He would say: “Father, there is none to pity Me but Thou.” The fifth lance which pierced my heart was His most cruel death. My heart was pierced with as many lances as there were veins from which His precious blood gushed, for the veins of His hands and feet were pierced, and the pain of His lacerated nerves came inconsolably to His heart, and from His heart to the nerves again; and as His heart was most excellent and strong, as being formed of the best substance, therefore life and death contended, and thus life was bitterly prolonged in pain.

            But as death approached, when His heart was breaking with intolerable pain, then His limbs quivered, and His head, which had sunk on His shoulders, was slightly raised. His half- closed eyes were opened midway. His mouth, too, opened, and His tongue was seen drenched in blood. His fingers and arms, which were somewhat contracted, expanded. Having given up the ghost, His head sank on His breast, His hands sank a little from the place of the wounds; His feet sustained the greater weight. Then my hands dried up, my eyes were darkened, and my face became corpse-like. My ears heard naught, naught could my mouth utter; my feet, too, shook, and my body fell to the earth. But rising from the ground, when I beheld my Son more fearful than a leper, I gave my will entirely to Him, knowing that all had been done according to His will, and that it could not have been done but by His permission, and I thanked Him for all. A certain joy was blended with my sorrow, for I beheld Him who never sinned, willingly, from His great charity, enduring such things for sinners. Let everyone, then, in the world, consider what I was at the death of my Son, and keep it ever before his eyes.

            Consider the Passion of my Son, whose members were as my members, and as my heart. For He was within me as other children in their mother’s womb; but He was conceived from the fervent charity of divine Love, others from the concupiscence of the flesh. Hence John, His cousin, says well: “The Word was made flesh,” for by charity He came and abode in me, but the Word and charity formed Him in me. Hence He was to me as my heart. Hence, when He was born, I felt as though half my heart were born and went out of me. And when He suffered, I felt as though half my heart suffered, as when a body is half within and half without, when anything wounds what is without, that within feels it equally. So my heart was scourged and pierced when my Son was. I was nigher to Him in His Passion, and did not leave Him. I stood nearer to His cross, and as what is nearer the heart wounds more keenly, so the pain of it was keener to me than to others. And when He looked upon me from the cross, and I on Him, then tears streamed from my eyes as from veins. And when He beheld me spent with grief, He was so afflicted by my pain that all the pain of His own wounds was, as it were, dulled at the sight of the grief in which He beheld me. Hence, I say boldly that His pains were mine, because His heart was mine. For as Adam and Eve sold the world for an apple, so my Son and I redeemed the world, as it were, with one heart. Think, then, how I was at the death of my Son, and you will not find it hard to leave the world.

This article is taken from a chapter in Revelations of St. Bridget by St. Bridget of Sweden, which is available from TAN Books.



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