of the
De Laudibus Virginis matris


Sermons of St. Bernard on Advent and Christmas : including the famous treatise on the incarnation called “Missus est” J. C. Hedley, O.S.B. (Benziger, 1909). pp. 59-70  Latin, PL 185.83-84.  Off.Readings O.L. of Sorrows.








HOMILIA IV. In Luc. cap. I, V. 32-38.







[1] WHO doubts that the praises we give to the Mother of God redound to the honour of the Son of God ; and, in like manner, that in honouring the Son we are also honouring the Mother ? For if, according to Solomon, “ A wise son is the glory of the father,” (Prov. 10.1) how much more glorious is it to become the Mother of Wisdom Himself ! 1. Non est dubium, quidquid in laudibus Matris proferimus, ad Filium pertinere; et rursum, cum Filium honoramus, a gloria Matris non recedimus. Nam, si juxta Salomonem, Filius sapiens gloria est patris (Prov. X, 1): quanto magis gloriosum est matrem ipsius effici Sapientiae?







[8] YOU have heard, O Virgin, the announcement of the great mystery; the means designed for its fulfilment [68] have been unfolded to you, each wondrous, each replete with joy. “ Rejoice, O daughter of Sion, and exult exceedingly, O virgin daughter of Jerusalem.” (Zach. 9. 9)

8. Audisti, Virgo, factum; audisti et modum: utrumque mirum, utrumque jucundum. Jucundare, filia Sion; et exsulta satis, filia Jerusalem (Zach. IX, 9).

And because to you has been given joy and gladness, allow us to hear from your lips the answer and the good tidings which we desire, that the bones that have been humbled may rejoice. You have heard the fact, and have believed ; believe also in the means which have been explained to you. You have heard that you are to conceive and bring forth a Son, and that it will not be through the power of man, but by the virtue of the Holy Ghost.

Et quoniam auditui tuo datum est gaudium et laetitia, audiamus et nos a te responsum laetitiae quod [83C] desideramus, ut jam exsultent ossa humiliata. Audisti, inquam, factum, et credidisti: crede et de modo quod audisti. Audisti quia concipies, et paries filium: audisti quod non per hominem, sed per Spiritum sanctum.

The angel awaits your reply, for it is time that he should return to God, Who sent him. We, too, are waiting, O Lady, for a word of mercy we, who are groaning under the sentence of condemnation. Exspectat angelus responsum: tempus est enim ut revertatur ad Deum qui misit illum.Exspectamus et nos, o Domina, verbum miserationis, quos miserabiliter premit sententia damnationis.





AND Behold, the price of our salvation is offered to you ; if you consent, we shall at once be delivered.

Et ecce offertur tibi pretium salutis nostrae: statim liberabimur si consentis.

By the Eternal Word of God we were all created, and behold we die.

By your short answer we shall be refreshed and recalled to life.

In sempiterno Dei Verbo facti sumus omnes, et ecce morimur: in tuo brevi responso

sumus reficiendi, ut ad vitam revocemur.

Adam, with all his race Adam, a weeping exile from Paradise, [cf, Salve Regina] implores it of you, as does Abraham, as does David.

Hoc supplicat a te, o pia Virgo, flebilis Adam cum misera sobole sua exsul de paradiso, hoc Abraham, hoc David.





This is the object of the burning desires of the holy fathers, of your fathers, who are still dwelling in the region of the shadows of death. Behold the entire human race prostrate at your feet in expectation.

Hoc caeteri flagitant sancti [83D] Patres, patres scilicet tui, qui et ipsi habitant in regione umbrae mortis. Hoc totus mundus tuis genibus provolutus exspectat.

And rightly, for on your word depend the consolation of the wretched, the redemption of the captive, the freedom of the condemned, the salvation of your entire race, of all the children of Adam. Hasten, then, O Lady, to give your answer ; hasten to speak [69] the word so longed for by all on earth, in limbo, and in heaven. Yea, the King and Lord of all things, Who has greatly desired your beauty, desires as eagerly your word of consent, by which He has purposed to save the world.

Nec immerito quando ex ore tuo pendet consolatio miserorum, redemptio captivorum, liberatio damnatorum: 753 salus denique universorum filiorum Adam, totius generis tui. Da, Virgo, responsum festinanter. O Domina, responde verbum, quod terra, quod inferi, quod exspectant et superi. Ipse quoque omnium Rex et Dominus quantum concupivit decorem tuum, tantum desiderat et responsionis assensum: in qua nimirum proposuit salvare mundum.

He whom you have pleased by your silence will now be more gratified by your reply. Hark ! He calls to you from heaven : “ most beautiful among women, give me to hear your voice.” If you let Him hear your voice, He will enable you to see our salvation. And is not this what you have sought for, what you have prayed for night and day with sighs and tears ? Why, then, delay? Are you the happy one to whom it has been promised, or “ look we for another? “(Mt 11.3)  Yes, you indeed are that most fortunate one. You are the promised virgin, the expected virgin, the much- longed-for virgin, through whom your holy father Jacob, when about to die, rested his hope of eternal life, saying : “ I will look for thy salvation, O Lord.” (Gen.49.18)

Et cui placuisti in silentio jam magis placebis ex verbo, cum ipse [84A] tibi clamet e coelo: O pulchra inter mulieres, fac me audire vocem tuam. Si ergo tu eum facias audire vocem tuam, ipse te faciet videre salutem nostram. Nunquid non hoc est quod quaerebas, quod gemebas, quod diebus et noctibus orando suspirabas? Quid igitur? tu es cui hoc promissum est, an aliam exspectamus? Imo tu ipsa, non alia. Tu, inquam, illa promissa, illa exspectata, illa desiderata, ex qua sanctus pater tuus Jacob jam morti appropinquans vitam sperabat aeternam, cum dicebat: Exspectabo salutare tuum, Domine (Gen. XLIX, 18).





You, O Mary, are that virgin in whom and by whom God Himself, our King before all ages, determined to operate our salvation in the midst of the earth. Why do you humbly expect from another what is offered to you, and will soon be manifested through yourself if you will but yield your consent and speak the word 

In qua denique, et per quam Deus ipse rex noster ante saecula disposuit operari salutem in medio terrae. Quid ab alia speras, quod tibi offertur? quid per aliam exspectas, quod per te mox exhibebitur, dummodo [84B] praebeas assensum, respondeas verbum?





Answer, then, quickly to the angel “yes;”

through the angel give your consent to your God.

Responde itaque citius angelo,

imo per angelum Domino.

Answer the word,
and receive the Word.

Utter yours,
conceive the Divine.

Speak the transitory [word],
and embrace the everlasting

Responde verbum,
et suscipe Verbum:

profer tuum,
et concipe divinum:

mitte transitorium,
et amplectere sempiternum.

Why do you delay?

Why are you fearful?

Quid tardas?

quid trepidas?






    et suscipe.

 Let humility put on courage, and timidity confidence. It is certainly by no means fitting that virginal simplicity should forget prudence. Yet in this one case only the prudent virgin need not fear presumption, because, though modesty shone forth in her silence, it is now more necessary that her devotion and obedience should be revealed by her speech.

  Sumat humilitas audaciam, verecundia fiduciam. Nullatenus convenit nunc ut virginalis simplicitas obliviscatur prudentiam. In hac sola re ne timeas, prudens Virgo, praesumptionem: quia, etsi grata in silentio verecundia, magis tamen nunc in verbo pietas necessaria.





Open, Blessed Virgin,

your heart to faith,

your lips to confession,

your womb to your Creator.

Aperi, Virgo beata,

cor fidei,

labia confessioni,

viscera Creatori.

Behold, the desired of all nations stands at the gate and knocks. (Rev. 3:20) Ecce desideratus cunctis gentibus foris pulsat ad ostium.
Oh, suppose He were to pass by while you delay! How would you begin again with sorrow to seek Him whom your soul loves! (cf. Song 3.4; 5.6) O si te morante pertransierit, et [84C] rursus incipias dolens quaerere quem diligit anima tua!







Arise by faith,

run by devotion,

open by confession.


Surge per fidem,

curre per devotionem,

aperi per confessionem.





[9] MARY speaks. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)

9. Ecce, inquit, ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.

Humility is ever the close companion of Divine grace, for “God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.”(Jas 4.6)  She answers humbly, therefore, that the throne of grace may be prepared. “ Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” She is the chosen Mother of God, and she calls herself His handmaid. Truly, it is no small sign of humility to preserve even the remembrance of the virtue in presence of so great glory.

Semper solet esse gratiae divinae familiaris virtus humilitas. Deus enim superbis resistit, humilibus autem dat gratiam. Humiliter ergo respondet, ut sedes gratiae praeparetur. Ecce, inquit, ancilla Domini. Quae est haec tam sublimis humilitas, quae cedere non novit honoribus, insolescere gloria nescit? Mater Dei eligitur, et ancillam se nominat. Non mediocris revera humilitatis insigne, nec oblata tanta gloria oblivisci humilitatem.












The Office of Readings
for Our Lady of Sorrows (Sept. 15)  

Sermo in dom. infra oct, Assumptionis 14-15 Opera Omnia edit. Cisterc. 5 [1968] 273-274







THE martyrdom of the Virgin is set forth both in the prophecy of Simeon and in the actual story of our Lord’s passion. The holy old man said of the infant Jesus: He has been established as a sign which will be contradicted. He went on to say to Mary: And your own heart will be pierced by a sword Martýrium Vírginis, tam in Simeónis prophetía quam in ipsa domínicæ passiónis história commendátur. Pósitus est hic, ait sanctus senex de párvulo Iesu, in signum cui contradicétur, et tuam ipsíus ánimam, ad Maríam autem dicébat, pertransíbit gládius.
Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus – who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours – gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering. Vere tuam, o Beáta mater, ánimam gládius pertransívit. Alióquin nónnisi eam pertránsiens, carnem Fílii penetráret. Et quidem posteáquam emísit spíritum tuus ille Iesus, ómnium quidem sed speciáliter tuus, ipsíus plane non áttigit ánimam crudélis láncea, quæ ipsíus, nec mórtuo parcens cui nocére non posset, apéruit latus, sed tuam útique ánimam pertransívit. Ipsíus nimírum ánima iam ibi non erat, sed tua plane nequíbat avélli. Tuam ergo pertransívit ánimam vis dolóris, ut plus quam mártyrem non immérito prædicémus, in qua nimírum corpóreæ sensum passiónis excésserit compassiónis efféctus.
Or were those words, Woman, behold your Son, not more than a word to you, truly piercing your heart, cutting through to the division between soul and spirit? What an exchange! John is given to you in place of Jesus, the servant in place of the Lord, the disciple in place of the master; the son of Zebedee replaces the Son of God, a mere man replaces God himself. How could these words not pierce your most loving heart, when the mere remembrance of them breaks ours, hearts of iron and stone though they are! An non tibi plus quam gládius fuit sermo ille, revéra pertránsiens ánimam, et pertíngens usque ad divisiónem ánimæ et spíritus: Múlier, ecce fílius tuus? O commutatiónem! Ioánnes tibi pro Iesu tráditur, servus pro Dómino, discípulus pro Magístro, fílius Zebedǽi pro Fílio Dei, homo purus pro Deo vero. Quómodo non tuam affectuosíssimam ánimam pertransíret hæc audítio, quando et nostra, licet sáxea, licet férrea péctora, sola recordátio scindit?
Do not be surprised, brothers, that Mary is said to be a martyr in spirit. Let him be surprised who does not remember the words of Paul, that one of the greatest crimes of the Gentiles was that they were without love. That was far from the heart of Mary; let it be far from her servants. Non mirémini, fratres, quod María martyr in ánima fuísse dicátur. Mirétur qui non memínerit audísse se Paulum inter máxima géntium crímina memorántem quod sine affectióne fuíssent. Longe id fuit a Maríæ viscéribus, longe sit et a sérvulis suis.
Perhaps someone will say: Sed forte quis dicat:

“Had she not known before that he would not die?”


“Did she not expect him to rise again at once?”


“And still she grieved over her crucified Son?”


«Numquid non eum præscíerat moritúrum?».

     Et indubitánter.

«Numquid non sperábat contínuo resurrectúrum?».

     Et fidénter.

«Super hæc dóluit crucifíxum?».

     Et veheménter.

Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? Alióquin, quisnam tu, frater, aut unde tibi hæc sapiéntia, ut miréris plus Maríam compatiéntem quam Maríæ Fílium patiéntem? Ille étiam córpore mori pótuit, ista cómmori corde non pótuit?

He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known.

Fecit illud cáritas, qua maiórem nemo hábuit; f

She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.

ecit et hoc cáritas, cui post illam símilis áltera non fuit.






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