The month of May has long been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. While most Catholics know this, many are quite unsure of why of all months the month of May was chosen for this special honor. According to Church scholars, the month of May was chosen to be the month for Our Blessed Lady because of the fact that this month is recognized as the season of the beginning of new life. In the Roman culture, the month of May was when the winter comes to an end and the spring season begins, marking a new beginning and a new birth to Mother Earth. Being the Lady that brought new life to humanity by giving birth to our Savior Jesus Christ, it was realized that the month of May suited the Blessed Virgin perfectly.
Today I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the devotion to Mary under the title of “Our Lady Undoer (or Untier) of Knots.”
The theology of Mary untying knots goes back to the second century – less than one hundred years after the death of the Apostles. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons wrote “the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the Virgin Mary set free through faith.” (
, 3, 22)
Pope Francis has been one of the chief promoters of “Our Lady Undoer of Knots.” When Pope Francis, then Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was studying in Germany, he was stunned by a Bavarian painting of “Holy Mary, Our Lady Undoer of Knots.” He acquired a copy of the painting and brought it to Argentina and promoted devotion to Mary under this title.
The painting, executed in the Baroque style by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner (1625-1707), shows the
Blessed Virgin Mary
standing on the crescent moon (the usual way of depicting Mary under her title of the
), surrounded by angels and with the
in the form of a
hovering above her
circle of stars
as she unties knots into a long strip and at the same time rests her foot on the head of a "knotted" snake. The serpent represents the
, and her treatment of him fulfills the prophecy in
3:15: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
When we do not listen to God or follow His will a knot is created within us. These knots take away our peace and serenity. They are dangerous because they can grow into knots that are more and more difficult to undo. But nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled and tight knots can be loosened by His grace. May we allow Mary to intercede to Jesus on our behalf and undo the knots within our lives.
Rev. Robert J. Sullivan '82