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S.P. II, 162: Liturgy of the Hours of French countries, second half of 15th Cent.
Ambrosian Library

The crucified Jesus, the Mother and the disciple


V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R/. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to John. 19:25-27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother: "Woman, behold your son!" Then he said to the disciple: "Behold your mother!". And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.


She had begun to distance herself from her Son since the day when, at twelve years old, he had told her that he had another home and another mission to accomplish, in the name of his Father in heaven. But now Mary faces the moment of complete separation. At that hour she felt the agony of all mothers who, contrary to the very nature of things, see their children precede them in death. But the Evangelist John wipes away every tear from her sorrowful face, silences every cry of lament from her lips, and keeps Mary from flinging herself to the ground in despair.

Instead, there is an aura of silence broken by a voice that descends from the cross and from the lips of her dying Son. It is much more than the usual testament: it is a revelation which marks a turning-point in the life of his Mother. That supreme separation of death is not barren but unexpectedly fruitful, like a mother giving birth. Just as Jesus himself had said a few hours earlier, on the final evening of his earthly life: “When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world”[38].

* * *

Mary goes back to being a mother: it is significant that in the few lines of the Gospel account this word – mother – appears fully five times. Mary goes back to being a mother, and her children will be those who are like “the beloved disciple”, that is, all those who take shelter under the mantle of God’s saving grace and follow Jesus in faith and love.

From that moment on, Mary will no longer be alone. She will become the mother of the Church, an immense assembly of every language, nation and people, who down the centuries will join her in clinging to the cross of Christ, her firstborn Son. From that moment on, we too walk with her along the path of faith, we stay with her in the house where the Spirit of Pentecost blows, we sit at the table where the bread of the Eucharist is broken and we await the day when her Son will return to bring us, like her, into the eternity of his glory.


Pater noster, qui es in clis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in clo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
Crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

[38] John 16:21.

Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana