The Rosary of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a way of rememorating certain events in the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Compassion of His Virgin Mother. As such, it is a prayer well suited to these days of Passiontide. The fruits of this particular prayer are compunction of heart, detachment from the occasions of sin, chastity, humility, reparation, compassion, intimacy with the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and desire to contemplate the Face of Christ. The power of this prayer — something that many have experienced — comes from allowing one’s own heart to be irrigated and purified by the tears of the Mother of God. The tears of the Sorrowful Mother bring purity and healing wherever they fall.

It is significant, I think, that the first three of Our Lady’s Sorrows were shared with Saint Joseph and the last four with Saint John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus. Both saints appeared together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Lamb at Knock in County Mayo on 21 August 1879. Saint Joseph and Saint John, the two men chosen by God to live in the intimacy of the Virgin Mother, were also chosen by God to enter into the mystery of her sorrows.

Here is one method of saying the Rosary of the Seven Dolours:
+ Incline, unto my aid, O God.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia. (In place of Alleluia, from Ash Wednesday until Easter is said: Praise be to thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.)

1. The prophecy of Simeon.
Lectio: “And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. ” (Lk 2:34–35).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart upon hearing Simeon’s prophecy, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to God’s people Israel” (cf. Lk 2:32).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

2. The flight into Egypt.
Lectio: “And after they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son. ’” (Mt 2:13–15).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart at the flight into Egypt by night, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, born “to save his people from their sins” (cf. Mt 1:21).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

3. The loss of Jesus for three days.
Lectio: “And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father’ s business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.” (Lk 2:48–50).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when together with Saint Joseph thou didst search for Jesus for three days, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

4. Her meeting Jesus, carrying His cross.
Lectio: “He was oppressed and was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. . . . Yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Is 53:7, 12).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst encounter thy Jesus bearing His cross, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “despised and rejected by men” (Is 53:3).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

5. Her standing beneath the cross on Calvary.
Lectio: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’ s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.” (Jn 19:25–27).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst see thy Child’s hands and feet nailed to the wood of the Cross and His side pierced by the soldier’s lance, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus Crucified, bowed in death.
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

6. The Sacred Body of Jesus, taken down from the cross.
Lectio“To what shall I compare thee? or to what shall I liken thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? to what shall I equal thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Sion? for great as the sea is thy destruction. Let tears run down like a torrent day and night: give thyself no rest” (Lam 2:13, 18).
Meditatio: Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst behold the lifeless Body of Jesus taken down from the cross, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, “beautiful above the sons of men” (Ps 44:3).
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

7. Her witnessing the burial of the Sacred Body of her Son.
Lectio: Joseph of Arimathea “went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And taking him down, he wrapped him in fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre that was hewed in stone, wherein never yet any man had been laid. And it was the day of the Parasceve, and the sabbath drew on. And the women that were come with him from Galilee, following after, saw the sepulchre, and how his body was laid” (Lk 23:52–55).
Holy Mother of God, I remember the sorrow of thy heart when thou didst behold the Body of Jesus wrapped in a linen shroud and laid in the tomb, and I desire to contemplate with thee the Face of Jesus, covered with a veil in death.
Oratio: One Our Father and seven Hail Marys.
Contemplatio: Holy Mother, this impart,
Deeply print within my heart,
All the wounds my Saviour bore.

In honour of the tears shed by Our Lady during these Seven Dolours: Three Hail Marys.
O Mother of Sorrows, by the tears which thou didst shed,
grant that I may weep for my sins. Hail Mary.
O Mother of Sorrows, by the tears which thou didst shed,
soften the hardened hearts of sinners. Hail Mary.
O Mother of Sorrows, by the tears which thou didst shed,
grant that I may make reparation for my sins. Hail Mary.