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the memorare prayer to the blessed virgin mary

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins and Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand sinful and sorrowful asking for thine assistance.

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the memorare prayer to the blessed virgin mary

The Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary (“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary”) is one of the best known of all Marian prayers.

The Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
An Explanation of the Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Memorare is often described as a “powerful” prayer, meaning that those who pray it have their prayers answered. Sometimes, though, people misunderstand the text, and think of the prayer as essentially miraculous. The words “never was it known that any one… was left unaided” does not mean that the requests that we make while praying the Memorare will be automatically granted, or granted in the way we desire them to be. As with any prayer, when we humbly seek the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the Memorare, we will receive that aid, but it may take a very different form from what we desire.

Who Wrote the Memorare?
The Memorare is frequently ascribed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a famous monk of the 12th century who had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This attribution is incorrect; the text of the modern Memorare is a section of a much longer prayer known as the “Ad sanctitatis tuae pedes, dulcissima Virgo Maria” (literally, “At the feet of your Holiness, most sweet Virgin Mary”). That prayer, however, wasn’t composed until the 15th century, 300 years after Saint Bernard’s death. The actual author of the “Ad sanctitatis tuae pedes, dulcissima Virgo Maria” is unknown, and, thus, the author of the Memorare is unknown.

The Memorare as a Separate Prayer
By the early 16th century, Catholics had begun to treat the Memorare as a separate prayer. St. Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva in the early 17th century, was very devoted to the Memorare, and Fr. Claude Bernard, a 17th-century French priest who ministered to the imprisoned and those condemned to death, was a zealous advocate of the prayer. Father Bernard attributed the conversion of many criminals to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoked through the Memorare. Father Bernard’s promotion of the Memorare brought the prayer the popularity it enjoys today, and it is likely that Father Bernard’s name has led to the false attribution of the prayer to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

Definitions of Words Used in the Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Gracious: filled with grace, the supernatural life of God within our souls

Fled: normally, to run from something; in this case, though, it means to run to the Blessed Virgin for safety

Implored: asked or begged sincerely or desperately

Intercession: intervening on behalf of someone else

Unaided: without help

Virgin of virgins: the most saintly of all virgins; the virgin who is the example for all others

The Word Incarnate: Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh

Despise: look down on, spurn

Petitions: requests; prayers

memorare prayer miracles

A Memorare Miracle
By John Kilcoyne

In 1981 I began to do hospital visitations to the sick.

One summer, I walked into a ward in Bethesda Hospital and looked at a man in his early fifties with so many tattoos on his body that they dominated his entire figure. I’ll call him “George.” He had “white power” written down the side of his arms and tattoos on his face, including a swastika. As I looked down at the man, I thought, “God, what are you doing to me here?”

George asked me what I was doing there, using more profanity than language. I told him I came to pray with him, and that I hoped he didn’t mind. I don’t remember his exact response, but it was laced with profanity.

I took out my Memorare holy card and proceeded to pray the Memorare while looking down at the card, not wanting to look at George and see his response. When I finished praying, I looked up at him, and tears were streaming down the side of his face.

He looked at me and he said, “I grew up in Philadelphia, and my mother, when I was a child, prayed the Memorare with me every night before bed.”

George was in the hospital as a cardiac patient. He was to be operated on the next morning, and so we prayed and talked, and I gave him my holy card so that he could continue to pray the prayer of his childhood memory.

After his operation, we continued to meet, pray, and talk together. We got on the subject of mothers and how wonderful mothers are. I asked him if his mother was alive, and mentioned that my mother was not.

He said, “I really don’t know. I haven’t talked to her for maybe twenty years.”

“Have you ever tried?” I asked.

He said, “Maybe my sister knows. She lives somewhere around here, but I haven’t talked to her in ten years.”

“Maybe you should try to get in touch with her,” I said.

The next day I visited the hospital, a nurse greeted me and said she would try to help George locate his sister. A few days later he was released.

Three months passed. One day I walked into the ICU and saw George. I said, “George, what are you doing here? You’re back!”

“The first operation didn’t quite work,” George explained. “I’ve got to go through a whole series of operations.”

We prayed the Memorare again. George was to be operated on in two days, and I suggested to him, “How would you like it if I have Father come in and give you the sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick?

He said, “No way. No priest in the world wants to hear my confession.”

“Well, you know, I bet Father Richard would, he’s pretty good,” I said.

“Are you sure?”
“Trust me on this, George. He’s never failed me in the past.”

I called Father Richard. He went immediately to George and administered the sacraments. The next day George went through his operation. I went to see him afterwards, but he wasn’t conscious. I prayed the Memorare by his bed and I had the feeling that he was aware of it. When I came back the following day and saw a black sheet draped over the bed, I knew George had died.

Several months later, my wife and I were at a fish fry at a neighboring parish. Having traveled a lot in my career, I’ve often eaten alone; so whenever I see someone dining alone, I invite them to sit with me. An elderly lady was sitting by herself, and I asked her if she minded if my wife and I joined her for supper. She accepted. Before we started eating, I suggested that we pray. After praying, I looked down, and there on the table in front of the woman was a Memorare card. I recognized it as the same one I had given George.

I said “Oh that’s an interesting thing! Where did you get… Is that one of your favorite prayers?”

“Oh yes, this card was given to me by my son who recently died,” the woman said. She went on to tell me that she had been contacted by George through a nurse, and was living with him and ministering to him the last few months of his life. For me, it was a memorable encounter with the
Holy Spirit and the Lord.

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

powerful prayer to the blessed virgin mary

Dedicated to and named after the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is comprised of over 80 chapels and oratories, more than half of which are explicitly devoted to portraying the roles Our Lady has taken on throughout history and culture.

Today we look at three Marian chapels and accompanying prayers featured at the Basilica. May your faith be strengthened as you turn to the Mother of God for her intercession, protection, and hope.

Pokrov: Holy Protection of the Theotokos
Featuring a larger-than-life mosaic of the ‘Holy Protection’ the Byzantine-Ruthenian Eastern Rite Chapel at the Basilica recalls the intervention of the Blessed Mother in the year 626 A.D. during the siege of Constantinople. Fearing for their lives, the entire population gathered at the Church of Blachernae, which preserved the famous icon of the ‘Holy Protection’. During an all-night vigil, they implored her intercession to save them from the hands of their enemies. According to eyewitness accounts, the Blessed Virgin appeared to those gathered in the church, sheltering them under her veil throughout the siege.

Prayer to Our Lady, Holy Protection of the Theotokos
In remembrance of this miraculous event, let us turn to Our Lady, Holy Protection of the Theotokos, and ask that she intercede for us as she did for the population of Constantinople, all those years ago:

‘O Mary, Mother of God, as you are above all creatures in heaven and on earth, more glorious than the Cherubim, more noble than any here below, Christ has given you to His people, firm bulwark and protectress, to shield and save sinners who fly to you. Therefore, O Lady, all-embracing refuge, we solemnly recall your sweet protection and beg the Christ forever for His mercy. Amen.’

Our Lady, Queen of Ireland
Another beautiful tribute to the care of the Blessed Mother is the chapel of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland, the focal point of which is a life-sized carving of Our Lady, holding the Holy Child, while seated on a hexagonal rock, representative of the Giant’s Causeway (the basalt columns which protrude out of the sea along the coast of Northern Ireland). Named the “Protectress of Ireland” in 1642, her motherly protection has been invoked many times during the conflict-filled history of the Irish, from the sieges of British troops to the Great Potato Famine, always with great success.

Prayer to Our Lady, Queen of Ireland
Imitating the powerful cultural devotion that the Irish have to the Blessed Mother, let us pray:

‘Holy Mary, if thou wilt, hear thy suppliant; I put myself under the shelter of thy shield. When falling in the slippery path, thou art my smooth supporting hand staff. There is no hound in fleetness or in chase, north wind or rapid river, as quick as the Mother of Christ to the bed of death, to those who are entitled to her kindly protection. Amen.’

Our Lady, Queen of Hope
The chapel of Our Lady of Hope pays special homage to Our Blessed Mother’s appearance in France during the Franco-Prussian War, featuring a bronze statue of Mary and two angels, hovering in a protective manner over the altar. On January 17, 1871, Our Lady appeared to six children in the village of Pontmain, France, a central location at that time of the war. As troops marched closer, she instructed the children and townspeople to pray fervently, assuring that if they did so, the conflict would end. The town gathered at the site of the apparition and prayed as instructed. Only three days later, the Prussian troops withdrew and within a week the war ended. All men from Pontmain who enlisted in the war returned home safely.

Prayer to Our Lady, Queen of Hope
With the same faith as the villagers of Pontmain, we can offer a prayer of intercession to Our Lady, Queen of Hope:

‘O Mary, my Mother, I kneel before you with heavy heart. The burden of my sins oppresses me. The knowledge of my weakness discourages me. I am beset by fear and temptation of every sort. Yet I am so attached to the things of this world that instead of longing for Heaven I am filled with dread at the thought of death.

O Mother of Mercy, have pity on me in my distress. You are all-powerful with your Divine Son. He can refuse no request of your Immaculate Heart. Show yourself a true Mother to me by being my advocate before His throne. O Refuge of Sinners and Hope of Hopeless, to whom shall I turn if not you?

Obtain for me, then, O Mother of Hope, the grace of true sorrow for my sins, the gift of perfect resignation to God’s Holy Will, and the courage to take up my cross and follow Jesus.

But above all I pray, O dearest Mother, that through your most powerful intercession, my heart may be filled with Holy Hope, so that in life’s darkest hour I may never fail to trust in God my Saviour, but by walking in the way of His commandments I may merit to be united with Him, and with you in the eternal joys of Heaven. Amen.’

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