One of our children recently asked dad why there were seven swords in the icon of “Our Lady of Sorrows” of which we have two that are commonly venerated in the East Slavic Churches: the “Softener of Evil Hearts” and the “Seven Swords/Arrows” (differing in their arrangement of the swords: three each side and one central for the former icon, rather than being divided into four and three).
As adults, we hopefully all know that they represent the seven sorrows of the Mother of God, but do we know what her seven sorrows were?
In Nazareth House, we are blessed to see the seven sorrows above us every time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, in the beautiful stained glass of the east end of the convent church. The sorrows of the Mother of God are plain for all to see.
- The Prophecy of Simeon (in Luke 2), in which he tells that the heart of the Mother of God will be pierced by sorrow, like a sword, in the course of her son’s earthly life.
- The Flight into Egypt in Matthew 2, in which the Holy Family became refugees in a foreign land.
- The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, also in Luke 2;
- Mary meeting Jesus as He carried his cross to Golgotha;
- The Crucifixion of Jesus on Golgotha in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19;
- Jesus’s Descent from the Cross in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19;
- The Burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea also in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.
Not only are the icons of Our Lady of Sorrows extremely popular in our Church, but also the akathist hymn in honour of the icon of Mother of God, the Softener of Evil Hearts, especially in times of our own sorrows.
Акафист Пресвятой Богородице перед иконой «Умягчение злых сердец»:
Akathist in English: