Our Lady Undoer of Knots
The Devotion to Mary Undoer of Knots originates from a painting by Johann Georg Schmidner (painted around 1700) which is in the church of St. Peter am Perlach in Augsburg, Germany. The painting was commissioned to commemorate an event in the family history of the donor: his grandparent’s marriage had been on the verge of collapse when his grandfather asked a priest for help. The priest advised him to pray to Our Lady saying, “I raise the bonds of matrimony, to untie all knots and smoothen them.” Through faithful use of this prayer peace was restored in the grandparents’ marriage.
The image shows Mary arrayed as Queen of Heaven. With her foot she treads upon a serpent, who represents the devil and Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” Above Mary’s head are twelve stars, referencing the Marian prophesy in Revelation 12:1. “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Above the crown of stars hovers the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.
The angel to Mary’s left hands her a ribbon full of knots. These knots are symbolic of the suffering and difficulty in the world caused by sin. St. Irenaeus of Lyons wrote of Mary, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary.” Mary unties these knots leaving the ribbon which she hands to the angel to her right entirely smooth.
Devotion to Mary Undoer of Knots became popular in Argentina and Brazil in the last thirty years. There are different stories as to how the devotion reached South America from Germany, with some people crediting Pope Francis (then Cardinal Burgoglio) with spreading the devotion to the poor of Buenos Aires after hearing about it from a German nun. Many people in Argentina and Brazil felt close to the image of Our Blessed Mother as an intercessor would could untie the knots of everyday life. Pope Francis himself has a devotion to Our Lady Undoer of Knots and has helped to spread the devotion worldwide.
The feast day of Our Lady Undoer of Knots is September 28th.
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