Stories of Mary 8:
Disproportionate Love in Return
For The Simplest Devotion
To Her, She Gives Such A
It is narrated by Father Auriemma that a poor shepherdess loved Mary so much that all her delight was to go to a little chapel of Our Lady on a mountain, and there in solitude, while her sheep were feeding, to converse with her beloved Mother and pay her devotion to her.
When she saw that the figure of Mary, in relief, was unadorned, she began, by the poor labour of her hands, to make a drapery for it. Having gathered one day some flowers in the fields, she wove them into a garland, and then ascending the altar of that little chapel, placed it on the head of the figure, saying: “Oh, my Mother, I would that I could place on thy head a crown of gold and gems; but as I am poor, receive from me this poor crown of flowers, and accept it as a token of the love I bear thee.” Thus this devout maiden always endeavoured to serve and honour her beloved Lady.
But let us see how our good Mother, on the other hand, rewarded the visits and the affection of her child. She fell ill, and was near her end.
It happened that two religious passing that way, weary with travelling, stopped to rest under a tree; one fell asleep and the other watched, but both had the same vision. They saw a company of beautiful virgins, and among them there was one who, in loveliness and majesty, surpassed the rest. One of the brothers addressed her, and said: “Lady, who art thou? And where art thou going?”
“I am the Mother of God,” she replied, “and I am going to the neighbouring village with these holy virgins to visit a dying shepherdess, who has many times visited me.” She spoke thus and disappeared.
These two good servants of God proposed to each other to go and visit her also. They went towards the place where the dying maiden lived, entered a small cottage, and there found her lying upon a little straw. They saluted her, and she said to them: “Brothers, ask of God that He may permit you to see the company that surrounds me.”
They were quickly on their knees, and saw Mary, with a crown in her hand by the side of the dying girl, consoling her. Then those holy virgins began to sing, and with that sweet music the blessed soul was released from the body. Mary crowned her, and took her soul with her to Paradise.
Oh Lady, Ravisher of hearts! I would exclaim with St. Bonaventure; who, with the love and favour thou dost bestow upon thy servants, dost ravish their hearts; take my miserable heart also, which desires so earnestly to love thee.
Thou, Oh my Mother, with thy beauty, hast enamoured a God, and hast drawn Him from Heaven into thy bosom, and shall I live without loving thee? No. I will say to thee with thy loving child John Berchmans: “I will never rest until I have attained a tender love for my Mother Mary.” No, I will not rest until I am certain of having obtained a love – a constant and tender love for thee, my Mother, who hast loved me with so much tenderness even when I was so ungrateful towards thee.
And where should I now be if thou, Oh Mary, hadst not loved me, and obtained so many favours for me? If then thou hast loved me so much when I did not love thee, how much more may I confide in thy goodness, now that I love thee?
I love thee, Oh my Mother, and would wish for a heart capable of loving thee, for all those unhappy beings who do not love thee. Would that my tongue could praise thee with the power of a thousand tongues, in order to make known thy greatness, thy holiness, thy mercy, and thy love, with which thou lovest those who love thee.
If I had riches, I would employ them all for thy honour; if I had subjects, I would make them all thy lovers; for thee and for thy glory I would give my life, if it were required. I love thee, Oh my Mother, but at the same time I fear that thou dost not love me, for I have heard that love makes lovers like those they love. If then I find myself so unlike to thee, it is a proof that I do not love thee.
But this, Oh Mary, is to be thy work; since thou lovest me, make me like unto thyself.
Thou hast the power to change the heart; take then mine and change it.
Let the world see what thou canst do for those who love thee. Make me holy; make me worthy of thy Son.
Thus I hope; thus may it be.
“Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy