Mater Dolorosa windows represent Mary as suffering mother

By Mary Powers

As the mother of the Redeemer, Mary shared in the suffering of her Son in a unique and unrepeatable way. Throughout her life she lived the Fiat that she proclaimed at the Annunciation, specifically in seven events in her life: Simeon’s prophesy, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the Child Jesus in Jerusalem, meeting Our Lord on His way to Calvary, standing at the foot of the cross, receiving the body of Jesus as He was taken down from the cross and placing Jesus’ body in the tomb.

In apparitions beginning in the 1300s to St. Bridget of Sweden and as recently as 1983 in Kibeho, Rwanda, Our Lady asked that we meditate on the sorrowful events of her life to grow closer to her Son, either in personal prayer or through the “chaplet” or “rosary” of Our Lady of Sorrows. This draws the pilgrim closer to Christ, and to His mother, understanding that as our mother she too has experienced pain, suffering, anxiety, grief and sadness.

No place is better to meditate upon these mysteries than Mater Dolorosa Church in South San Francisco, a short walk from Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma. Established as a parish on Good Friday in 1961 by Archbishop John J. Mitty and founding pastor Father John Norman Allen, the church was dedicated in 1963. The large stained-glass window behind the altar illustrates the seven sorrows of Mary. The artist, John Lukas of San Francisco, designed the windows with machine-rolled glass originating in Peyton City, West Virginia, and Kokomo, Indiana.

“When one walks into Mater Dolorosa Church one is captivated by the stained-glass windows,” said Contemplative of St. Joseph Father Vito Perrone, pastor of Mater Dolorosa Church. “While looking at the windows in prayer one is brought into an essential awareness that our Mother Mary is present for us in all of our trials and tribulations. I love our church and hope that others will come to experience how close our Blessed Mother is to her children.”

Honoring Our Lady’s request, the vibrant parish of Mater Dolorosa unites parishioners and visitors alike with the suffering of Mary, our mother, drawing our suffering in with the redemptive work of Christ and bringing her comfort into our own lives.

Mary Powers is the Assistant Director of Communications and Media Relations for the Archdiocese of San Francisco