Novena in Honor of Our Sorrowful Mother

For the past 40 years, Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church has had the privilege of participating in the Novena in Honor of Our Sorrowful Mother.  This Novena starts every year at our parish 9 Fridays before Good Friday and includes Novena prayers, the Via Martis and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament [Our current schedule is at 7:00 PM on the 9 Fridays before Good Friday, for dates, please see our current bulletin]. Our parish has sustained a great devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and many graces have been poured out upon our parishioners. Yet, not everyone knows the history behind this beautiful devotion. Consequently, I have provided below a short history of the devotion as it is found in the official Novena booklets produced by the Servite Fathers in Chicago, IL. It is fitting to post this today (February 17th) as it is the feast day of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order.

In the very early days of 1937, His Eminence George Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago, approved the Perpetual Novena in honor of Our Sorrowful Mother for the Servite Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago, Illinois. This devotion was originated in its present form by the Rev. James R. Keane, O.S.M., then Prior of the Servite Community in Chicago. The first Novena services were held on Friday, January 8, 1937. They consisted of the Via Martis, six prayers culled from the ancient Servite Manual, two hymns to Our Blessed Mother, the Memorare, and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
On March 22 of the same year the Cardinal Archbishop gave his Imprimatur for the publication of the Novena prayerbook. One year after His Eminence granted the Imprimatur, 73,000 people were making the Novena at 38 services each Friday in Our Lady of Sorrows Church. This phenomenal weekly attendance at one church constituted a world record.
[...] This devotion to Our Sorrowful Mother is new only in its Novena from. The Via Martis and the other prayers date back to the Middle Ages. The devotion itself-devotion to Mary's Sorrows-is as old as the Catholic Church. An intimate corollary of the Incarnation, it was publicaly announced to all mankind by Our Divine Savior in His Agony on the Cross, when He said to St. John, "Behold Thy Mother" (John XIX, 27).
[...] The Novena to Our Sorrowful Mother is such a powerful and beloved devotion that the church, Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago, where the Novena originated, has been raised to the dignity of a basilica, principally because of the devotion associated with the church through the Novena. Some indication of the importance of this church and shrine is to be found in the following decree, by which Pope Pius XII raised Our Lady of Sorrows church to the exalted rank of basilica: 
First and most important church in America dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows is to be found in the teeming city of Chicago. The Order of Servants of Mary established this place of devotion in the year 1874. In the beginning of this century they built a spacious Church with a seating capacity of approximately 3,000 people, patterned after a style of architecture identified with the Renaissance. Wonderful are the graceful towers rising at each side of the facade of the Church. the marble of the Main Altar was imported from famed Carrara and is topped by a picture of the Sorrowful Mother.  
[...]what is most worthy of praise is the fact that this Church is an outstanding place of devotion in America, where the Sorrowful Virgin is venerated. From this Shrine, the devotion in the form of the "Novena to Our Sorrowful Mother" spread everywhere like an inundating river.
It is well to remember the Novena prayers to the Blessed Mother of God were first compiled and then prayed in this church and are now used in 2,300 churches throughout the U.S.A. and other parts of the world. These prayers have been said by countless numbers of people with great spiritual benefits.[...] Pius PP. XII

 For more information:

Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows

To purchase a copy of the Novena booklet:

Friar Servants of Mary Bookstore