This is one of Pope Francis’ favorite devotions.
Where did it come from?
This particular devotion to the Blessed Mother is both old and new. Concretely it dates to the 18th century, to a Baroque painting entitled Wallfahrtsbild painted by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner. It is currently on display in the St. Peter am Perlach church in Augsburg, Bavaria.
The painting features an image of the Virgin Mary holding a long ribbon and untying the knots in it. The painter is said to have been inspired by the following passage from St. Irenaeus of Lyons’ “Against Heresies.”
[T]hus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.
With this in mind, Mary is then invoked through a popular prayer to untie the knots in our own lives.
In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.
Pope Francis discovered this painting while traveling in Germany and he took the devotion with him back to Argentina. According to the Catholic Herald, “[Pope Francis] bought a postcard of the painting at the German chapel in which the painting is displayed and brought it to Argentina sometime in the 1980s [and] prior to becoming Pope Francis, had this Marian image engraved on a chalice he gave to Pope Benedict XVI.”
It is a beautiful devotion, one that places our knotted lives in the hands of our Mother, trusting that she has the ability to untie what we thought was lost.
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