Mary, queen of martyrs

Mary was not only queen of martyrs because her martyrdom was the longest of all, but also because it was the greatest of all. Who can measure the greatness of her sorrow? Jeremiah seems to find no one to compare this sorrowful mother to when he contemplates her suffering for the death of her son, and says: "To whom shall I compare thee? to whom shall I liken thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? Your affliction is as great as the sea; who will have compassion on you?" (Lm 2:13). Cardinal Hugo, commenting on these words, says: O blessed Virgin, as the bitterness of the sea surpasses all other souls, so your sorrow surpasses all other sorrows. That is why St. Anselm assures us that if God, with a very special miracle, had not preserved Mary's life, her pain would have been enough to cause her death at any moment of her life. St. Bernardine of Siena goes so far as to say that Mary's sorrow was so great, that if it were distributed among all men it would be enough to cause them all to die suddenly.

But let us consider the reasons why Mary's martyrdom was greater than that of all the martyrs. In the first place, it must be considered that the martyrs have suffered their martyrdom in the body by means of the sword or fire. Mary, on the other hand, suffered her martyrdom in the soul, as Simeon foretold her: "And a sword of sorrow shall pierce through your soul" (Lk 2:35). As if the holy old man had said to her: "O most holy Virgin, the other martyrs will see their bodies lacerated with the sword, but you will be martyred in the soul with the passion of your Son himself" (Lk 2:35). And since the soul is nobler than the body, so much greater was Mary's pain than that of all the martyrs. Thus Jesus Christ said to St. Catherine of Siena: There is no comparison between the pain of the body and the pain of the soul. The holy Abbot Arnold of Chartres says that whoever found himself on Calvary contemplating the great sacrifice of the immaculate Lamb as he died on the cross, would have seen there two altars: one in the body of Jesus and the other in the heart of Mary, where at the same time that her Son sacrificed his body with death, Mary sacrificed her soul with compassion.

The Glories of Mary, St. Alphonsus M. Liguori