April 21, 2021
Dear Friend of Saint Jude,
In this beautiful medieval hymn, attributed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the word “crown” is written as “corona” in the original Latin:
O sacred Head surrounded
By crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding Head, so wounded, Reviled and put to scorn!
The pow’r of death comes o’er You, The glow of life decays,
Yet angel hosts adore You And tremble as they gaze.
Because the virus causing the current pandemic has a series of crown-like spikes on its surface, it was given the same Latin name, “Corona.” This connection is providential, because Jesus shows us how to transform our own “crown of thorns,” our sufferings, into a crown of glory.
The May crowning of Mary is a wonderful sign of this hope that, as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, we too will receive a royal coronation. Yet before Mary was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth, she, like her divine Son, felt the thorns of sorrow.
As Saint Bernard exclaimed, “O Blessed Mother, a sword has truly pierced your soul! … So deeply has the violence of pain pierced your soul, that we may rightly call you more than a martyr, for, in you, participation in the passion of the Son by far surpasses in intensity the physical sufferings of martyrdom.”
Jesus gave us His mother from the cross to show us the way to transform the crown of thorns we are given in life into a crown of glory by offering up our sufferings to Him as she did. “In danger, in distress, in uncertainty,” Saint Bernard says, “think of Mary, call upon Mary. She never leaves your lips, she never departs from your heart; and so that you may obtain the help of her prayers, never forget the example of her life. If you follow her, you cannot falter; if you pray to her, you cannot despair; if you think of her, you cannot err. If she sustains you, you will not stumble; if she protects you, you have nothing to fear; if she guides you, you will never flag; if she is favorable to you, you will attain your goal.”
In other words, the saint of Clairvaux points out the surest way of reaching our goal: “per Mariam ad Iesum”, through Mary we are led to Jesus. In this issue of the Saint Jude Messenger, you will read about ordinary Catholics who called upon the saints, crowned in glory, to help them through difficult times. May we too never fear a crown of thorns placed upon us but see in it a weight of eternal glory.
Fr. Gabriel Gillen, O.P.
Rosary Shrine of Saint Jude