The Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Text of the Prayer and Its History

Icon - Madonna with child
Icon of the Madonna with Child. Nicolae Popovici / Getty Images

The Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary ("Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary") is one of the best known of all Marian prayers.

The Memorare to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. 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