For over thirty years now, my dear old friend Father Jacob, O.P. and I have renewed our consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God annually on January 1st. Experience has taught me the wisdom of entrusting the new year to Our Blessed Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces. Readers of Vultus Christi may want to join me in asking the Mother of God again today to open her hands over the entire year.
I offer today my translation of the sublime prayer of Saint Ildephonsus of Toledo (+667). This prayer, taken from his treatise De virginitate perpetua Sanctae Mariae, is one of the earliest expressions of total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In it, heralding an expression that Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort will make famous, the Bishop of Toledo declares himself the slave of Mary, Handmaid of the Lord. He also emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit with theological keenness and tender piety.
To illustrate the prayer, I chose Murillo’s painting of the Virgin Mother bestowing on Saint Ildephonsus a splendid (blue and gold!) chasuble woven in heaven, to reward him for having written so beautifully in defense of her perpetual virginity.
Prayer of Saint Ildephonsus of Toledo, Bishop
The Abundance of the Sweetness of Thy Son
I come to thee, only Virgin Mother of God,
and fall prostrate before thee,
who alone didst cooperate in the Incarnation of God.
I humble myself before thee,
who alone wast found to be the Mother of my Lord.
I pray thee, who alone wast found to be the handmaid of thy Son:
obtain that my sins be wiped away;
command that I be cleansed of the wickedness of my deeds,
and, that I may love the glory of thy virtue,
reveal to me the abundance of the sweetness of thy Son.
Thou Art His Co-Worker in My Redemption
Bestow upon me the gift of proclaiming the true faith of thy Son,
and of defending it.
Grant that I may cleave to God and to thee,
that I may serve thy Son and thee,
that I may be His bondsman and thine;
His, because He is my Creator,
and thine, because thou art the Mother of my Creator;
His, because He is Lord of the angelic powers,
and thine, because thou art the handmaid of the Lord of All;
His, because He is God,
and thine because thou art the Mother of God;
His, because He is my Redeemer,
and thine because thou art His co-worker in my redemption.
The Body by Which He Healed My Wounds
That which He wrought for my redemption,
verily He formed in thine own person.
That He might be my Redeemer,
He became thy Son.
That He might be the price of my ransom,
He became incarnate of thy flesh.
The Body by which He healed my wounds,
He took from thee so that He, in it, might be wounded.
The mortal Body by which He took away my death,
He took from thy mortality.
The Body by which He brought my sins to nought,
He received sinless from thee.
This nature of mine that ahead of time, in Himself,
He placed above the angels in the glory of His Father’s right hand,
He assumed — humbling Himself — out of thine own true body.
I Am Thy Slave
Therefore, I am thy slave,
because Thy Son is my Master.
Therefore thou art my Lady,
because thou art the handmaid of my Lord.
Therefore I am the slave of the handmaid of my Lord,
because thou, my Lady, didst become the Mother of my Lord.
Therefore I have become thy slave,
because thou didst become the Mother of my Maker.
By the Holy Spirit
I pray thee, I pray thee, holy Virgin,
may I, by the Spirit through Whom thou didst give birth to Jesus,
have Jesus and hold Him.
By that Spirit through Whom
thou didst conceive this same Jesus in thy flesh,
may my soul receive Jesus.
Let the Spirit gift me with the knowledge of Jesus,
this Spirit by Whom it was given Thee to bear Jesus and to give Him birth.
Let the Spirit in Whom thou didst declare thyself the handmaid of the Lord,
choosing that it should be done unto thee according to the Angel’s word,
grant me to proclaim the heights of Jesus with lowliness.
To Love Jesus and to Fear Him
In the Spirit thou didst adore Jesus as thy Lord
and gaze upon Him as thy Son;
in that same Spirit may I love Him.
And may I fear this same Jesus,
with that reverence by which He, truly being God,
became subject to His parents.