Mirror Of The Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Bonaventure



Hail Mary. This most sweet and affectionate name, so full of grace and so 
noble, so glorious and so worthy, excellently befits Our Lady. For most 
fittingly is so loving a virgin named Mary. For she is Mary, in whom there 
is no vice, and who is glorious with every virtue. She is Mary, who was 
entirely immune from the seven capital sins. She was most humble in 
opposition to pride; most loving by charity in opposition to envy; most 
meek against anger by her gentleness; indefatigable by her diligence 
against sloth; Mary by her poverty was detached against avarice; against 
gluttony she was most sober by her temperance; against lust she was most 
chaste by her virginity. We can gather all these things from the 
Scriptures, in which we find the name of Mary written.

First, Mary was most humble. She is that Mary of whom St. Luke says: "And 
Mary said, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord' " (I, 38.) O wonderful and 
profound humility of Mary! Behold the archangel speaks to Mary; Mary is 
called full of grace; the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit is announced; 
Mary is made Mother of God; Mary is set before all creatures; Mary is made 
the Lady of Heaven and earth; and for all that she is not the least elated, 
but in all she is deeply grounded in humility, saying: "Behold the handmaid 
of the Lord." Well, therefore, doth Bede say: "Mary never exalted herself 
by reason of heavenly gifts; as she became more and more acquainted with 
heavenly mysteries, she fixed her mind more firmly in humility, answering 
the Angel, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord.' This is an example to many, 
who in honors and prosperity, in graces and virtues, do not humble 
themselves with Mary and with Christ, but grow elated with pride like Eve 
and Lucifer. But the humility of Mary was most certainly not in word only, 
but also manifested itself in deeds; not alone in the word of her official 
reply, but in the fact of her submitting to the legal purification; not 
alone in the word by which she humbled herself as a submissive handmaid, 
but also in the deed by which she humbled herself as guilty and a sinner. 
For she is that Mary of whom it is said in St. Luke: 'After the days of her 
purification . . . were accomplished.' O hard, unhappy pride! O proud and 
unhappy hardness of the sinner! Behold Mary, who is without all sin, 
submitted herself to the law of purification, and thou, a wretch full of 
sins, submittest not to the law of satisfaction."

See how Mary was most loving by her charity. For she is that Mary of whom 
St. Luke saith: "Mary rising up with haste, went into the hill country." 
She went that she might visit, and salute, and minister to Elizabeth. See 
how this visitation of Mary was full of charity. In the description of that 
visit Mary is four times named and her charity towards God and towards her 
neighbor is most fully declared. Charity to our neighbor should be kept and 
cherished in the heart, in word and in deed. Mary had charity to her 
neighbor in her heart, and therefore, arising, Mary went with haste into 
the hill country. What was it that urged her on to haste in this office of 
charity but the love that burned in her heart? We read that the shepherds 
came with haste to the crib; that Mary went with haste to render a service; 
and that Zacheus made haste to come down and receive the Lord into his 
house. Woe, therefore, to those who are tardy in works of charity! Mary, 
again, cherished charity to her neighbor in her words; she is that Mary of 
whom it is said: "When Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary." Charity in 
greeting our neighbor and on all other occasions of charitable speech is, I 
say, to be cultivated. The Angel salutes Mary; Mary saluted Elizabeth; the 
Son of Mary saluted those whom He met coming forth from the sepulcher, 
saying to them: "Avete, All hail !" Woe to those who, out of hatred or 
dislike, deny to their neighbor greetings of politeness. Woe to those who 
deceitfully salute their neighbor like Judas, when he said: "Hail, Rabbi !" 
Oh, how sweetly did Mary know how to salute! O Mary, deign to greet us by 
thy grace! And most certainly she willingly salutes us by her benefits and 
her consolation, if we willingly greet her with Ave Maria. Mary not only 
had charity in her heart and in her words, but she also exercised herself 
in charitable deeds. For she is that same Mary of whom it is said: "Mary 
remained with her about three months." She remained for the service and the 
consolation of Elizabeth. Therefore St. Ambrose saith: "She who came out of 
charity, remained at her post." As Mary in all things had charity for her 
neighbor, so above all things she had charity towards God. For she is that 
same Mary who said: "My soul doth magnify the Lord." The soul magnifies 
that which it loves and rejoices in. Therefore, the soul of Mary most 
befittingly magnified God and most securely rejoiced in God, because she so 
ardently loved God. Of this love Master Hugh of St. Victor saith a good 
word: "Because the love of the Holy Spirit burned in a singular manner in 
her heart, therefore the power of the Holy Ghost did wonderful things in 
her flesh."

Thirdly, see how Mary was most meek by gentleness, most patient in all 
adversity. For she is that same Mary to whom it is said, according to St. 
Luke: "And he (Simeon) said to Mary His Mother: Behold this Child is set 
for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign 
which shall be contradicted, and thine own soul a sword shall pierce." This 
sword signifies the bitter Passion and death of her Son. The material sword 
cannot kill or wound the soul, so the sharp Passion of Christ, although by 
compassion it pierced the soul of Mary, never dealt it a mortal wound. For 
Mary never killed the executioners of her Son by hatred nor wounded them by 
impatience. Now, if other martyrs were most patient in their bodily 
martyrdom, how much more so was our martyr, Mary, in her spiritual 
martyrdom? Of her noble martyrdom St. Jerome saith: "O marvelous patience 
and meekness of Mary, who was not only most patient while her Son was 
crucified in her presence, but also before the crucifixion, when her Son 
was reviled, as it is said in the Gospel of St. Mark, 'Is not this the Son 
of the carpenter and of Mary?' and a little further on: 'And they were 
scandalized in Him.' " Truly is Christ a carpenter, but the works of His 
hands are the sun and the aurora. Alas, how far from the grace of Mary most 
meek are they who are so peevish, so impatient, so irritable as to torment 
their neighbors, companions, and fellowworkers.

Fourthly, see how untiring and diligent Mary was by her assiduity in good 
works. For she is that Mary of whom it is said: "They were all persevering 
in prayer in one mind, with the women, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus" (Acts 
I, 14.) Mary, by persevering indefatigably in prayer, gave an example, 
which it behooves us to follow, and not to faint. And if Mary prayed so 
sedulously on earth, why should she not pray most earnestly for us in 

Therefore St. Augustine well doth admonish us, saying: "Let us with all 
earnestness implore the patronage of Mary: that while we serve her on earth 
with suppliant ardor, she by her fervent prayer may deign to help us from 
Heaven." But see, our Mary was not only untiring and most diligent in the 
prayer of the lips, but also most earnest in holy meditations of the heart. 
For she is that same Mary of whom it is said in the Gospel of St. Luke: 
"Mary kept all these words, pondering in her heart" (Luke II, 19.) Mary was 
never idle or slothful, and therefore she not only occupied her mind in 
holy meditations, and her tongue in devout prayers, but also her hands in 
good works.

It was thus that Mary remained three months with Elizabeth. To what 
purpose? Bede answers: "That the virgin might render diligent service to 
her aged relative." Alas, how unlike Mary is the wretched sluggard whose 
mind, hands, and tongue are so often devoid of merit!

Fifthly, see how detached Mary was by her poverty. For she is that same 
Mary of whom it is said: "They found Mary, and Joseph, and the infant lying 
in the manger" (Luke II, 16.) The poor shepherds found the poor Mother, 
Mary, and the poor Infant in the poor spot, not in splendid pomp, but in a 
poor manger. But if the Mother had not been poor, she would indeed have 
found fitting hospitality. While you diligently consider these things, you 
may realize how great was the poverty of Mary, of which St. John Chrysostom 
says: "See the greatness of the poverty of Mary, and whoever is poor, may 
receive thence great consolation."

Most certainly, whoever is poor willingly and freely for God's sake, or who 
is poor of necessity, yet patiently, can be much consoled by the poverty of 
Mary, and of Jesus Christ. Far from this consolation are those rich men who 
seek things so very different. Therefore Our Savior saith: "Woe to you rich 
who have here your consolation" (Luke VI, 24.)

But the rich must not despair, because not only the poor shepherds, but 
also the rich kings, found the poor Mary and her poor Son, as it is said in 
St. Matthew's Gospel: "Entering into the house, they found the child . . ." 
(Matt. II, 11.) So also these rich ones found them who had brought gifts. 
The poor find this consolation by poverty; the rich by liberality. While 
the poor are conformed to Christ by poverty, the rich are reformed to the 
likeness of Christ by liberality.

Sixthly, see how temperate Mary was by sobriety. For she is that Mary to 
whom it is said: "Fear not Mary, for thou hast found grace" (Luke II, 30.) 
Note that it is said: "thou hast found grace." Never would Mary have found 
grace, unless grace had found Mary temperate in food and drink. For grace 
and gluttony do not go together. And it is impossible that a man should at 
the same time be pleasing to God by grace, and displeasing by gluttony. It 
is good, therefore, to seek grace and to fly gluttony. For St. Paul says: 
"It is best that the heart be established with grace, not with meats; which 
have not profited those that walk in them" (Heb. XIII, 9. ) Note that it is 
said: "Thou shalt conceive in the womb" (Luke I, 31.) Never would Mary have 
conceived God in her womb if she had given way to gluttony. How far from 
the grace of Mary are they who so often exceed due moderation in food and 
drink !

Seventhly, see that Mary was most chaste by virginity. For she is that Mary 
of whom it is said: "The name of the virgin was Mary" (Luke I, 27.) We have 
as witnesses of the resplendent chastity of Mary: the Evangelist, Mary 
herself, and the Angel. For she was chaste in her virginal body, as the 
Evangelist testifies, saying: "And the name of the virgin was Mary" (Luke 
I, 27.) In her virginal mind Mary was even more chaste, as she herself 
testifies. For she said to the Angel: "How shall this be done, because I 
know not man" (Luke I, 34.) That is to say, I do not intend to know a man. 
But Mary was most chaste of all in her virginal offspring, as the Angel 
testifies, who spoke of her thus in St. Matthew's Gospel: "Joseph, Son of 
David, fear not . . ." (Matt. I. 29.) For from the time the Virgin Mary was 
divinely overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, her virginity was never dimmed, 
but was glorified in a divine and truly marvelous manner. By her Child she 
was approved, by her Child she was ennobled, by her Child she was enriched. 
By thy Child, O Mary, thy virginity was gifted, endowed, and consecrated. 
Therefore St. Augustine well saith: "Truly do we proclaim Mary to be both 
Virgin and Mother, for true fecundity glorified her virginity and undefiled 
virginity glorified her true fecundity. Her virginity was rendered more 
glorious by her fecundity, and her fecundity by her virginity." Alas, how 
far from the grace of Mary are they who are not chaste, who are enemies of 
chastity !

Now, since the sweet name of Mary is of such favor as we have set forth, 
rightly do we call upon her, according to that word of St. Bernard: "O 
clement Queen, may Jesus Christ, thy Son, bestow the gifts of His grace on 
thy servants, who invoke the sweet name of Mary--Jesus Christ, who with the 
Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth God for ever and ever. 

Copyright 1999-2023 Catholic Support Services all rights reserved