Mother and Son

"Already [her Son] was taken, already he was bound, already he was spat upon and struck, and it was said over him: 'He deserves death,' and it was shouted to the prefect: 'Crucify, crucify him.' These things were not hidden from the pious mother, who doubtless had come to Jerusalem at this time, whether for the festival of unleavened bread, or rather to see with pious eyes the agony of her Son, which had been specially revealed to her.

"And thereupon she heard from many: 'Don't you know, woman, what has happened to your son?' 'I knew,' she says, 'so be silent, and do not add to the pain of my wounds.' Thus however she was saying to herself: 'I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense. I will go and I will see his agony, and maternally I will die with him, because that prophecy which truth-telling Simeon said to me--His sword will pierce through your own soul--is to be fulfilled in this way. I will go, and I will see his cross terrible with evil spirits, the price of the world, his blood, the death of death, his death, and the gates of life, his wounds. I will go, and I will say farewell to him about to depart for distant parts, namely about to descend into hell, although there to make no delay. I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense, to whom once the Magi, when he was being fed at my breasts, offered frankincense and myrrh, to which they added also gold to show forth his kingdom.'

"So she spoke, and so she proceeded with heavy step to the place of salvation-bringing passion. Indeed, her Son drew her strongly with chains of motherly love, not wanting her unsaved to go so far, that is, even unto hell, since from there he was about to return quickly in triumph. Therefore, she came to that place, which is called Calvary, and as it is written: The mother of Jesus stood next to his cross, gazing with motherly eyes on the harshness of his execution, as she herself was fixed to a cross inwardly with the nails of motherly pain, those nails that were more penetrating than any two-edged sword, reaching even to the division of the soul and the spirit, the joints and the marrow (cf. Hebrews 4:12).

"When therefore Jesus saw his mother, crucified with the nails of pity and standing by his cross with his disciple whom he loved, he said to her: You are all beautiful, my love, and there is no spot in you."

--William of Newburgh, Explanatio sacri epithalamii in matrem sponsi, lib. IV [Song of Songs 4:6-7], ed. John C. Gorman, Spicilegium Friburgense 6 (Fribourg: Universitätsverlag, 1960), pp. 187-88; trans. Rachel Fulton, From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 450.

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