Ignatians' Devotion to Our Lady of Chivalry

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 “Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?” (Song of Solomon 6:10)

Ignatians, through their devotion to Our Lady under the title of “Our Lady of Chivalry” keep before their minds God’s promise from ancient times concerning her: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (Gen 3:15)

C. S. Lewis has a brief comment on this passage from the Book of Genesis in his Reflections on the Psalms:

“I think, too, it will do us no harm to remember that, in becoming Man, He bowed His neck beneath the sweet yoke of a heredity and early environment.

“Humanly speaking, He would have learned this style, if from no one else (but it was all about Him) from His Mother. ‘That we should be saved from our enemies and from the hands of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant.’ Here is the same parallelism. (And incidentally, is this the only aspect in which we can say of His human nature ‘He was His Mother’s own son’?

“There is a fierceness, even a touch of Deborah, mixed with the sweetness in the Magnificat to which most painted Madonnas do little justice; matching the frequent severity of His own sayings. I am sure the private life of the holy family was, in many senses, ‘mild’ and ‘gentle’, but perhaps hardly in the way some hymn writers have in mind. One may suspect, on proper occasions, a certain astringency; and all in what people at Jerusalem regarded as a rough north-country dialect.)

“ ‘He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.’ (Luke 1:51-53)

Sovereignly and Peerlessly Beautiful

She is the Queen who is engaged in the spiritual warfare that is occurring unto the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Knights of old were aware of this and this was one more reason why they had special devotion to her.

For her, the sovereignly and peerlessly beautiful, the perfectly virtuous, and the one who, after Christ, suffered the most heroically, they willingly unsheated the sword and charged into battle.  How could she not be the Queen of Chivalry and the Lady of all chivalrous men? As King Alfonso X wrote:

“Rose of roses and flower of flowers,

Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.

Rose of beauty and fine appearance

And flower of happiness and pleasure,

lady of most merciful bearing,

And Lord for relieving all woes and cares;

 

Such a Mistress everybody should love,

For she can ward away any evil

And she can pardon any sinner

To create a better savor in this world.

 

We should love and serve her loyally,

For she can guard us from falling;

She makes us repent the errors

That we have committed as sinners:

 

This lady whom I acknowledge as my Master

And whose troubadour I’d gladly be,

If I could in any way possess her love,

I’d give up all my other lovers.”

(Cantigas de Santa Maria: Núm. 10, “Rosa de beldad’e de parecer” ( Lyrics of the Middle Ages, ed. James J. Wilhelm. NY: Garland Publ., 1990, 244.)

The Ideal Love in the Male Heart

“Every man who pursues a maid, every maid who yearns to be courted, every bond of friendship in the universe, seeks a love that is not just her love or his love but something that overflows both her and him that is called “our love.”

“Everyone is in love with an ideal love, a love that is so far beyond sex that sex is forgotten. We all love something more than we love. When that overflow ceases, love stops. As the poet puts it: “I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honor more.” That ideal love we see beyond all creature-love, to which we instinctively turn when flesh-love fails, is the same ideal that God had in His Heart from all eternity—the Lady whom He calls “Mother.”

“She is the one whom every man loves when he loves a woman—whether he knows it or not. She is what every woman wants to be when she looks at herself.

“She is the woman whom every man marries in ideal when he takes a spouse; she is hidden as an ideal in the discontent of every woman with the carnal aggressiveness of man; she is the secret desire every woman has to be honored and fostered; she is the way every woman wants to command respect and love because of the beauty of her goodness of body and soul.

“And this blueprint love, whom God loved before the world was made, this Dream Woman before women were, is the one of whom every heart can say in its depth of depths: “She is the woman I love!” – Fulton J. Sheen Mary, the Woman the World Loves