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Journal > Volumes > 48 (2017) / 3 (Autumn)
Stabat Mater Dolorosa: Mary at the Foot of the Cross
Robert S. Miola
Loyola University Maryland

From earliest times, controversies abounded about the Blessed Virgin Mary, her Immaculate Conception or capacity for sin, and other issues. These controversies achieved particular intensity and expression in a debate about the Mater Dolorosa, the “sorrowful mother” at the foot of the Cross, a debate that began with the patristic writers and came to intense new life in early modern English polemic. Like many before, Edmund Bunny argued that Mary’s grief demonstrated culpable doubt in the divinity of her son. Defenders, contrarily, thought Mary’s sorrow an exemplary response to the Passion, some even maintaining that Mary’s grief constituted a co-passio, a sharing in the Passion of Christ and in his work of redemption. This debate inspired European art and early modern English poets, including Protestants (George Herbert, Robert Herrick, Aemilia Lanyer, Anthony Stafford) and Catholics (Robert Southwell, Richard Verstegan, Richard Crashaw).

Pages: 653 - 679