Mirror Of The Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Bonaventure



Ave Maria, gratia plena. We have still some things to say of the grace of 
the most sweet Mary. We will now consider the fourfold grace of her gifts, 
her speech, her privileges, and her rewards.

First, consider in Mary the grace of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. To this 
grace Mary, giving thanks, could apply the word of Ecclesiasticus: "In me 
is all grace of the way and the truth." What wonder if she herself is the 
grace full of life and truth, who is the Mother of Him who was "full of 
grace and truth"? And what wonder if in that rod is so great an affluence 
of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, in whose flower the Holy Spirit rested with 
such an abundance of His gifts? Mary is that rod, and the Son of Mary is 
that flower, of whom it is said in Isaias: "There shall come forth a rod 
from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall ascend from that root, and there 
shall rest upon Him the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit 
of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of piety, and he 
shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord." On this flower 
was a great abundance of the Holy Spirit, which has overflowed into the 
whole Church, so that the Evangelist John says: "Of His fullness we have 
all received, and grace for grace." Now that such an abundance of grace has 
overflowed from this flower into the whole garden, how much more will it 
abound in the rod or stem of the flower, in Mary herself? Let Mary, 
therefore, say in all security, "In me is all grace of the way and the 
truth." Certainly the grace of the way and the truth consists in the 
aforesaid seven gifts of the Holy Ghost; it was by the aforesaid seven 
gifts that the grace of the way and the truth was in Mary. The grace of the 
truth set Mary in order in the truth above herself, below herself, in 
herself, and without herself. The grace, I say, of the truth set Mary in 
order above herself by the gift of Wisdom; below herself, by the gift of 
counsel; in herself, by the gift of understanding; without herself, by the 
gift of knowledge. The grace of the truth set in order the soul of Mary in 
truth above herself, in the most wise contemplation of things to be 
enjoyed; below herself, in fleeing foresight of things that were to be 
shunned; in herself, in her sure knowledge of what to believe; without 
herself, in a most reasonable discretion concerning all she had to do. The 
grace of her life set Mary in order in a good life with regard to the 
devil, with regard to her neighbor, and with regard to God. The grace, I 
say, of life set Mary in order in a good life; towards the devil, by 
fortitude; towards her neighbor, by the gift of piety; towards God, by the 
gift of fear. The grace of life set Mary in order in a most strong 
resistance to the devil; in a most loving kindness to her neighbor; in a 
most devout reverence towards God. This was signified by the Holy Ghost in 
a most fitting manner by the house which Wisdom built for Himself, having 
seven columns, which were the seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost. Whoever, 
therefore, feels within himself the beginning of a desire for the Gifts of 
the Holy Ghost, can find the shape of these pillars in this house, and he 
ought to desire these seven pillars with great ardor and much prayer. 
Likewise, he who desires the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit must look 
for the flower of the Holy Spirit in the rod. By the rod or stem we attain 
to the flower, and so to the Spirit that rests upon the flower. By Mary we 
approach to Christ, and by the grace of Christ we find the Holy Spirit. 
Therefore St. Bernard well says, addressing Mary: "By thee we have access 
to thy Son, O blessed finder of grace, mother of life, mother of salvation, 
that by thee He may receive us, who by thee was given to us."

Secondly, consider in Mary the grace of the lips, or of speech, of which it 
is said in the Psalm: "Grace is shed abroad on thy lips." Such was the 
grace of the lips in Mary that she could excellently be prefigured by 
Judith, of whom it is said: "There is not such another woman upon earth in 
look, in beauty, and in sense of words" (Judith XI, 19.) Truly there is 
not, nor ever was, nor ever will be, such another woman upon earth, as Mary 
was, in her glorious life, in the beauty of a pure conscience, and in the 
sense of words of a most skilled tongue. We shall clearly see the grace of 
the lips in Mary if we diligently gather and meditate the words of her lips 
as recorded in the Gospel. We find in the Gospel seven sentences, sweeter 
than honey, dropping from the lips of Mary, and indicating excellently the 
honeyflowing grace of her lips, as it is said in the Canticle: "Thy lips 
are as a dropping honeycomb" (IV, 11.) The seven words of Mary, spoken to 
the Angel, to God, and to men, are as seven wells of honey. To the Angel, 
Mary spoke the word of chastity and the word of humility. Mary had on her 
lips the word of chastity when she said in answer to the Angel: "How shall 
this be done, for I know not man?" This is a lesson to the unchaste, who 
have on their lips not chaste, but base and carnal words. Mary spoke to the 
Angel the words of humility when she said: "Behold the handmaid of the 
Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word." This is a lesson to the 
proud and arrogant, who neither think nor speak humbly of themselves, but 
have words of boasting and elation on their lips. Again Mary spoke to men 
the word of charity and the word of truth: the word of charity in greeting, 
the word of truth in instruction. Mary spoke the word of charity when she 
so affectionately saluted the mother of the Precursor that even the infant 
in that mother's womb exulted. This is a lesson to the rancorous, who will 
not only not speak charitably to their neighbors, but disdain to speak to 
them at all. Mary spoke the word of truth when, the wine failing, she said 
to the servants at the marriage feast: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do 
ye." This is a lesson to those who will not only not speak good words to 
their neighbors, but urge them to evil deeds. Again, Mary spoke three times 
to the Lord. She spoke more to God than to angels or to men, for she spoke 
twice to the angels and twice to men, but three times to God. To God she 
spoke a word of praise, of loving complaint, and of compassion. Of praise 
for the benefits bestowed on herself; of loving complaint for the loss of 
her Son; of compassion for the failing of the wine. Mary had the word of 
praise to God on her lips, when in thanksgiving for that God had looked 
upon her lowliness, she said: "My soul doth magnify the Lord." This is a 
lesson to the ungrateful, who, alas, give such scant thanks to God for His 
benefits, and at times grow puffed up against God by these very benefits. 
Mary had the word of loving complaint to God upon her lips, when she said 
to her Son, after the three days' loss: "Son, why hast thou done so to us? 
Behold thy Father and I have sought Thee sorrowing." Here is a lesson for 
the indevout, who do not seek Jesus sorrowing, when by the withdrawal of 
devotion they have lost him for many days. Mary spoke the word of 
compassion to God when at the marriage feast she said to her Son: "They 
have no wine." Here is a lesson to the unmerciful, who are not moved to 
compassion by the needs of others, and who neither help their neighbors, 
nor draw them to God. Behold now, O Mary, our advocate, it is still needful 
to us that thou shouldst speak to thy Son for us, that many of us have no 
wine; we lack the wine of the Holy Spirit, the wine of compunction, the 
wine of devotion and spiritual consolation. Of which St. Bernard thus 
speaks: "How often is it necessary for me, O my brethren, after your 
tearful complaints to beseech the Mother of Mercy to say to her Son that 
you have no wine! And she, I say, beloved, if she is piously besought by 
you, will not be lacking to your need, for she is merciful, she is the 
Mother of Mercy. For if she had compassion for the shame of those whose 
guest she was, much more will she have compassion on you if you call upon 
her earnestly." Consider well, from what we have said, what power Mary hath 
with the King of kings, because of the grace of her lips, for it is written 
in the Book of Proverbs: "He who loveth cleanness of heart, for the grace 
of his lips shall have the king for a friend" (Prov. XXII, 11.)

Thirdly, consider in Mary the grace of privileges. Of this grace it is 
said: "Thou hast found grace with the Lord, behold thou shalt conceive in 
the womb, and shalt bear a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He 
shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High." See how 
Gabriel, asserting that Mary had found grace, immediately specifies what 
that grace is, saying: "Behold thou shalt conceive in the womb." Oh, how 
great and how unheard-of in all the world that a virgin should conceive and 
bring forth the Son of the Most High. We can perceive in Mary seven 
privileges, privileges full of immense graces, granted to Mary alone by 

The first privilege of Mary was that she was, above all men, free from sin 
and most pure. For she was so abundantly sanctified by grace in her 
mother's womb that it is believed she was never in the least degree 
inclined to the slightest venial sin. Therefore St. Bernard saith: "It 
behoved the Queen of Virgins, by a singular privilege of sanctity, to lead 
a life free from every sin, so that, while she brought forth the slayer of 
sin and death, she should obtain for all the gift of life and justice."

The second privilege of Mary is that, above all men, she was full of grace. 
St. Jerome saith: "On others grace was bestowed in measure; but the whole 
fullness of grace was poured into Mary." And, therefore, well doth this 
same Blessed Doctor, comparing the grace of Mary with that of the angels 
and preferring it, say: "It is to be believed that the glorious Virgin Mary 
merited greater privileges of virtue, and received grace praised by the 

The third privilege of Mary was that she alone was a mother and at the same 
time an inviolate virgin. St. Bernard, praising this privilege, says: "Mary 
chose for herself the better part. Clearly the better, because conjugal 
fecundity is good, but virginal chastity is better, but the best is 
virginal fecundity, or fecund virginity. The privilege of Mary will not be 
given to another, because it will not be taken away from her."

The fourth privilege of Mary is that she alone is the ineffable Mother of 
the Son, the Mother of that Son of whom alone God is the Father; wonderful 
above measure that so great a privilege should be granted to a creature. Of 
this privilege St. Bernard saith: "This is the singular glory of our 
Virgin, and the excellent prerogative of Mary, that she merited to have her 
Son in common with God the Father."

The fifth privilege of Mary is that she alone above all creatures was in 
the body most familiar with God. For, what was never granted to any other 
creature, nor will ever be granted again in eternity --she bore God for 
nine months in her womb, she nourished God from her breasts full of heaven, 
for many years she sweetly brought up our Lord, she had God subject to her, 
she handled and embraced her God in pure embraces and kisses with tender 
familiarity, as St. Augustine says: "No wonder, Mary, that God reigning in 
Heaven deigns to rejoice with thee, whom, when He was a little child born 
of thee, thou didst so often kiss on earth." (Serm. de Sanct., XXV, CCVIII, 
n. II, appendix.)

The sixth privilege of Mary was that she alone, above all creatures, is 
most powerful with God. St. Augustine says: "She merited to be the mother 
of the Redeemer." He also says: "Beg for what we ask, excuse what we fear, 
because we shall never find one more powerful in merit than thee, who hast 
merited to be the Mother of the Redeemer and of the Judge. It is a great 
privilege that she is more powerful with God than all the Saints, as St. 
Augustine declares: "There is no doubt that she who brought forth the price 
by which all were freed, can above all others pay the suffrage of holy 
liberty." But what would it avail us for Mary to have such great power if 
she cared nothing for us ? Therefore, brethren, we must hold it for 
certain, and incessantly give thanks for this, that, as she has more power 
with God than all the Saints, so is she also more solicitous for us before 
God than all the Saints. It is the same Augustine who teaches us this, 
saying: "We know, O Mary, that thou above all the saints art solicitous for 
the holy Church--thou who obtainest for sinners time to repent, that they 
may renounce their errors."

The seventh privilege of Mary is that she, above all the Saints, is most 
excellent in glory. St. Jerome says: "Everywhere the holy Church of God 
sings, what it is unlawful to believe of any other of the saints, that the 
merits (of Mary) transcend those of all angels and archangels. This 
privilege not, as it were, of nature, but of grace--belongs to the Virgin 
Mary." Behold how glorious is the privilege of Mary's glory that she, after 
God, is most exalted in glory. The glorious privilege of the glory of Mary 
is, that whatever after God is most beautiful, whatever is sweetest, 
whatever is pleasanter in glory, that is Mary's, that is in Mary, that is 
by Mary. It is entirely the glorious privilege of Mary, that, after God, 
our greatest glory and our greatest joy is because of her. St. Bernard 
says: "After God, it is our greatest glory, O Mary, to behold thee, to 
adhere to thee, to abide in the defense of thy protection."

These, therefore, are the seven privileges of Mary by which we obtain the 
life of grace. And therefore, we may implore Mary, as Abraham implored 
Sara: "Say, I beseech thee, that thou art my sister, that it may be well 
with me because of thee, and that my soul may live by thy grace" (Gen. XII, 
13.) 0 Mary, our Sara, say that thou art our sister, that because of thee 
it may be well for us with God, and that our souls may live in God because 
of thy grace. Say, O our most beloved Sara, that thou art our sister, that, 
for the sake of such a sister, the Egyptians, that is, the evil spirits, 
may reverence us, that, because of such a sister, the angels may fight for 
us, and that above all, for the sake of such a sister, the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost may have mercy on us.

Fourthly, consider in Mary the grace of rewards, on which we have already 
touched in speaking of her seventh privilege. To this grace can be applied 
that word of Ecclesiasticus: "Grace upon grace hath a chaste and holy 
woman" (XXVI, 19.) The woman chaste above all women is Mary, the woman holy 
above all women, in whom is grace above grace, the grace of glory above the 
grace of the way, the grace of rewards in Heaven above the grace of merits 
in this world. This grace of the beatitude of Mary consists in seven gifts 
of body and of soul. Every glorified body has four glorious gifts: the gift 
of wonderful clarity, the gift of wonderful subtility, the gift of 
wonderful agility, and the gift of wonderful impassability; and if every 
glorified body has these gifts, how much more so will the body which 
brought forth Him who is the Glorifier of all bodies? What wonder if her 
gift of clarity is the brightest in Heaven, who by the gift of holiness was 
so resplendent in this world that St. Bernard says of her: "While yet thou 
didst live among sinners, thou didst shine before God with such sanctity, 
that thou alone didst merit to approximate to the glory of the eternal 
King." Again, what wonder if by the gift of subtility she is most subtile, 
who by the gift of humility was most subtile in this world? Speaking to 
her, Blessed Bernard says: "Thou wouldst never have ascended far above all 
the choirs of angels, if on earth thou hadst not lowered thyself by 
humility below all men." Again, what wonder if by the gift of agility she 
is swiftest in Heaven, who by her gift of loving kindness was so swift upon 
earth? For in the offices of charity she went with haste into the hill 
country, of the swiftness of whose haste St. Ambrose says: "Whither would 
she, who was now full of God, hasten, unless into the hill country with 
haste? For the grace of the Holy Spirit knoweth no tardy delays." Again, 
what wonder if by the gift of impassability she is impassable in Heaven, 
who by the gift of patience and equanimity was so impassable in this world 
that she never felt the slightest impatience or hatred when the sword 
passed through her own soul? For we neither read nor believe that the least 
sign of impatience ever appeared in Mary. St. Bernard says: "Diligently 
revolve in thy mind the whole of the Gospel story, and if thou discoverest 
in Mary the least sign of rebuke, of hardness, or of indignation, then thou 
mayest hesitate to believe in her virtue in other things, and fear to 
approach her."

If such is the glory of the body of Mary, what, thinkest thou, is the glory 
of her soul ? This blessed soul has three beatific gifts--the gift of 
wonderful love, the gift of wonderful knowledge, and the gift of wonderful 
fruition, or, to put it in a more modern way, the gifts of vision, 
fruition, and experience. But in whatever manner the gifts of Mary are 
expressed, it is certain that these gifts surpass those of all other souls. 
For if all blessed souls are endowed with these gifts in Heaven, how much 
more the soul of her who brought forth in this world the soul of the 
Beatifier of all souls? St. Bernard says: "She penetrated the most profound 
abyss of divine Wisdom beyond what could be believed, and as far as the 
condition of a creature is capable, she was united to that inaccessible 
Light." Again, what wonder if the soul of Mary is immersed in fecund love, 
what wonder if she is loving above all, who is above all beloved? Truly, 
before and above all; for St. Augustine thus addresses her: "The King of 
kings, loving thee above all as His true Mother and Spouse, is joined to 
thee in the embrace of love." Again, what wonder if in most delightful 
fruition is immersed the soul of Mary who was fed by the most blessed Fruit 
of her womb? St. Augustine says: "Mary in brightness of soul enjoys Christ, 
and His glorious embraces, always present, always beholding Him, always 
thirsting to see Him, she is ineffably nourished by Him." Therefore, as the 
most glorious Mary exceeds all Saints in the grace of the way and in the 
grace of merits, so she exceeds all Saints in the grace of glory and in the 
grace of rewards. Therefore, she is well symbolized by Queen Esther, of 
whom we read that, being led to the nuptial chamber of King Assuerus, she 
found grace and mercy before him above all women, and he placed the diadem 
of the kingdom upon her head. This is eminently suited to Mary, of whom St. 
Jerome says: "She is raised above the choirs of angels, that she may behold 
the beauty and the countenance of the Savior, whom she had loved and 
desired with all the desire of her heart." This Queen Esther, the blessed 
Virgin Mary, at her Assumption was led into the bridal chamber of the King 
Assuerus, the Eternal King, of which incident St. Augustine, addressing 
Mary, says: "The Queen Mary, being led into the bridal chamber of 
everlasting rest, possesses the favor and grace of the King Assuerus, that 
is, the grace of the True King above all women, that is, above all 
angelical intelligences, and above all beatified souls, so that in Mary 
there should be grace above that of all the blessed. And in very truth the 
King of kings placed on her head the diadem of the kingdom, a truly 
priceless diadem, so delightful, so wonderful, that no tongue can fitly 
speak of it and it is incomprehensible to every intellect.

Now, therefore, beloved, you have seen with how great grace of gifts Mary 
is enriched, with how great grace of the lips, with how great privileges, 
with how abundant a dower of rewards. Let us, therefore, beseech this 
finder of graces that she may let us find grace with God, through Our Lord 
Jesus Christ, Amen.

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