The 12th-century prayer has been connected to numerous miracles throughout the centuries.
One of the most widely known Catholic prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, almost as popular as the Hail Mary, is the Memorare. It is an ancient prayer that has a miraculous reputation. Below are the English and Latin versions.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Memoráre, o piísima Virgo María,
non esse audítum a saéculo,
quemquam ad tua curréntem præsídia,
tua implorántem auxília, tua peténtem suffrágia esse derelíctum.
Ego tali animátus confidéntia ad te, Virgo Vírginum,
Mater, curro; ad te vénio; coram te gemens peccátor assísto.
Noli, Mater Verbi, verba mea despícere, sed audi propítia et exáudi. Amen.
An Explanation of the Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Memorare is often described as a “powerful” prayer, meaning that those who pray it have their prayers answered. Sometimes, though, people misunderstand the text, and think of the prayer as essentially miraculous. The words “never was it known that any one… was left unaided” does not mean that the requests that we make while praying the Memorare will be automatically granted, or granted in the way we desire them to be. As with any prayer, when we humbly seek the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the Memorare, we will receive that aid, but it may take a very different form from what we desire.
Who Wrote the Memorare?
The Memorare is frequently ascribed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a famous monk of the 12th century who had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This attribution is incorrect; the text of the modern Memorare is a section of a much longer prayer known as the “Ad sanctitatis tuae pedes, dulcissima Virgo Maria” (literally, “At the feet of your Holiness, most sweet Virgin Mary”). That prayer, however, wasn’t composed until the 15th century, 300 years after Saint Bernard’s death. The actual author of the “Ad sanctitatis tuae pedes, dulcissima Virgo Maria” is unknown, and, thus, the author of the Memorare is unknown.
The Memorare as a Separate Prayer
By the early 16th century, Catholics had begun to treat the Memorare as a separate prayer. St. Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva in the early 17th century, was very devoted to the Memorare, and Fr. Claude Bernard, a 17th-century French priest who ministered to the imprisoned and those condemned to death, was a zealous advocate of the prayer. Father Bernard attributed the conversion of many criminals to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoked through the Memorare. Father Bernard’s promotion of the Memorare brought the prayer the popularity it enjoys today, and it is likely that Father Bernard’s name has led to the false attribution of the prayer to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
Definitions of Words Used in the Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Gracious: filled with grace, the supernatural life of God within our souls
Fled: normally, to run from something; in this case, though, it means to run to the Blessed Virgin for safety
Implored: asked or begged sincerely or desperately
Intercession: intervening on behalf of someone else
Unaided: without help
Virgin of virgins: the most saintly of all virgins; the virgin who is the example for all others
The Word Incarnate: Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh
Despise: look down on, spurn
Petitions: requests; prayers