The month of September (Overview – Calendar) is dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Devotion to the sorrows of the Virgin Mary dates from the twelfth century, when it made its appearance in monastic circles under the influence of St. Anselm and St. Bernard. The Cistercians and then the Servites undertook to propagate it. It became widespread in the fourteenth and especially the fifteenth centuries, particularly in the Rhineland and Flanders, where Confraternities of the Sorrowful Mother sprang up. It was in this context that the first liturgical formularies in her honor were composed. A provincial council of Mainz in 1423 made use of these in establishing a “Feast of the Sorrows of Mary” in reparation for Hussite profanations of her images.
In 1494 the feast appeared in Bruges, where the Precious Blood of Christ was venerated; later on it made its way into France. It did not, however, become widespread in France before Benedict XIII included it in the Roman Calendar in 1727 and assigned it to the Friday before Palm Sunday.
Some Churches had previously celebrated this feast during the Easter season. Others, however, celebrated the Joys of the Blessed Virgin during the Easter season, as is still done today at Braga. In some places it was entitled “Recollection of the Feasts and Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
Excerpted from The Church at Prayer, Vol. IV A.G. Martimort.