Ave Virgo Mater Christi

"Hail, virgin, mother of Christ,
you who by your purity merited
to be called phoenix of virgins;
hail, virgin, whose fruit gave to us
the end of sorrow and
the limit of lamentation.

Hail, beautiful virgin,
for whose praise neither rhythm
nor meter suffices;
hail, virgin, turning-post of evil,
vein of life, through whom the theta
of foul death is accomplished.

Hail, glorious virgin,
you who are the comment and gloss
of prophetic scripture,
whose gloss makes bare
that which is veiled
by the hard shell of the letter.

Hail, virgin, key of heaven,
hail, new ship weighed down
with novel wares,
through whom on full sails
is brought the full light from heaven
to the blind and wandering.

Hail, maidenly gem,
hail, bright star of the sea,
hail, satchel of the divine will,
hail, torch and lantern
whom the supernal light sets light,
firebrand of eternal light.

Hail, virgin, whose womb
diligently sealed
swelled with a new growth;
without pain and torment
the splendor and figure of the Father
wished to be born from you.

Hail, virgin, room of the Word,
purely pregnant by chaste breath
not impure seed;
to you worthily we give odes,
you who knot God with mud,
and mother with virgin.

Hail, virgin, cell of the Word,
concealing the light-beam of deity
under a cloud of flesh;
hail, virgin, covering of God,
through whom the clouded, bleary, blind
mind has its salve.

Hail, virgin, abyss of honey,
you who drive far away the ancient gall
of death and sorrow,
you who with the needle of providence
joined God with mud
and the lowest with the highest.

Hail, virgin, saw of death,
whose womb is a casket
of celestial incense;
hail, virgin, whom the power
of the bountiful spirit made sacred,
fortunate and fertile.

Hail, gracious virgin,
alone pregnant and ventrosa
without the work of the sea,
the support of the sick
lifting the burden of sins
with the pious burden of the womb.

Hail, virgin, sweetness of mind,
in whom the accused and exiled heart
is founded, fixed, anchored,
whether in sickness or at sea,
whoever strives to be freed
remembers studiously...."

[And so forth for, believe it or not, another 152 stanzas.]

--Walter of Wimborne (fl. 1260s), Ave Virgo Mater Christi, stanzas 1-12, ed. A. G. Rigg, The Poems of Walter of Wimborne (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1978), pp. 146-48, my translation.*

*Sorry, I didn't feel up to making it rhyme tonight. Besides, Walter’s images are weird enough in plain translation; you’d just think I was making it up if I tried to make them rhyme.


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