Published: 4 September 2014
The Blessed Virgin Mary is venerated as Mother of Consolation, because through her, God sent Jesus Christ the Consoler to the world. At least since the seventeenth century, “Our Lady of Consolation” or “Our Lady of the Cincture” is a key title with which the Order honours the Virgin Mary.
Its origin among the Augustinians is directly tied to the life of the mother and son Saints Monica and Augustine who are commonly depicted together with the figures of Mary and the Child Jesus in renditions of the image. The other title of the devotion is Our Lady of the Cincture.
Based on these titles, numerous statues and paintings depict the Virgin with the child Jesus, who is giving the cincture to Saint Monica and to Saint Augustine as a sign of consolation. The painting above is displayed in the Augustinian parish church at Shiroyama district, Nagasaki, Japan, where the church is dedicated in honour of Mary as the Mother of Consolation. (For more pictures of this church, go to http://english.pauline.or.jp/church/shiroyama.php The church is shown in the photo below.)
In 1439, the Order obtained the faculty to constitute groups of laity in the “Confraternity of the Cincture”. In 1495, in the Augustinian church in Bologna, the “Confraternity of St. Mary of the Cincture” came into existence. In 1575, various confraternities were united into the Archconfraternity of the Cincture, which received multiple indulgences from the Holy See.
According to tradition, Monica, immersed in sorrow because of the death of her husband and the waywardness of her son, was granted a vision of Mary and the Child Jesus, who sought to offer her comfort or consolation. Mary handed her a leather cincture which she asked Monica to wear as a continual reminder of her presence and thus, a visible sign of encouragement. From that moment Monica wore the cincture and, after his conversion, recommended it also to her son as an indication of Mary’s abiding protection. Thus, by this same tradition, it became the principal and common symbol for all who follow Augustine’s Rule.
The various titles by which the Order venerates Mary – Help, Grace, Good Counsel, Consolation – all suggest an understanding of the Mother of God as benefactress or patroness of her people, as one who responds to the many needs which humanity experiences. Mary is truly mother and sister to us, because as faithful disciple of her Son, she learned well the lessons of selfless love and generous service. As Mother of Consolation she is particularly near to those in need of companionship and comfort.
Annual feast day: 4 September.