Friday, February 17, 2012

7 Servants of Mary

The 7 Servants of Mary
Can you imagine seven prominent men of Boston or New York or London banding together, leaving their homes and professions, and going into solitude for a life directly given to God? That is what happened in the cultured and prosperous city of Florence in the middle of the 13th century. The city was torn with political strife, morals were low and religion seemed meaningless. In 1240 seven noblemen of Florence mutually decided to withdraw from the city to a solitary place for prayer and direct service of God. Their initial difficulty was providing for their dependents, since two were still married and two were widowers. Their aim was to lead a life of penance and prayer, but they soon found themselves disturbed by constant visitors from Florence.
The statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, Rabat Malta
In 1244, under the direction of St. Peter of Verona, O.P., this small group adopted a religious habit similar to the Dominican habit, choosing to live under the Rule of St. Augustine and adopting the name of the Servants of Mary. The new Order took a form more like that of the mendicant friars than that of the older monastic orders. Community members combined monastic life and active ministry. In the monastery, they led a life of prayer, work and silence while in the active apostolate they engaged in parochial work, teaching, preaching and other ministerial activities. They were especially devoted to the Mother of God, with special reference to her sorrows. They are also known as the Seven Holy Founders and the Servants of Mary. The church celebrates their liturgical feastday today, February 17. The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is on September 15, but in Malta, a special devotion in her honor is held on the Friday before Palm Sunday, with processions in all the parishes. 

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