Our Lady Undoer of Knots
The Icon, History, and Devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots
As individuals and as a nation we all have knots in our lives—problems and struggles for which we cannot see a solution. Certain situations, dilemmas, or mental disorders, no matter how large or small, require divine intervention. Christians of the apostolic faith have always known that the best prayer partner to have in this struggle is Mary, the Mother of Jesus and (as proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council) ‘Mother of the Church’.
From the moment Jesus bequeathed His Mother to the faithful from the cross, with the words, “BEHOLD THY MOTHER” (John 19:27), enlightened Christians have understood the special bond Christ established between Mary and all believers in Christ. Through our Baptism, Jesus’ Mother has become our Mother, and the concern we feel for our own temporal welfare and eternal salvation have become her maternal concern.
As early as AD 180, Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, in his writings ‘Against ‘the Heretics’, first referred to the Virgin Mary as ‘The Undoer of Knots’ because, in her obedience to the angelic invitation to become the mother of the Savior, Mary undid the knot that Adam and Eve tied by their disobedience. Thus, the title of Undoer of Knots is perhaps one of the oldest and most profound titles given to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
A German variation of this devotion links to the Marian devotion of Our Lady of the Snows and the miracle attributed to her of reconciling failing marriages. Images of Mary, Undoer of Knots vary from romanticized Baroque paintings, with ribbons and angels fluttering about, to the calm theologized style portrayed in the Byzantine Icon chosen for this year’s celebration. But whatever style meets your preference the message of ‘Mary, Undoer of Knots is the same: To have a devotion to Mary under the title of ‘Undoer of Knots” is not just to seek divine assistance for a particular problem, but first and foremost to consecrate ourselves to imitating her obedience to God plan of salvation.
Mary desires to assist us in untying the knots of our own sinfulness: those vices, habits, and addictions that bind us -- keeping us from enjoying the freedom of the children of God. Mary, like all mothers, cares deeply for our temporal welfare and knows well how problems of this world can distract us from “keeping our minds on things above, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand.” (Colossians 3:2)
In reading the Icon of Mary, Undoer of Knots, the keen eye will note that the ribbon of knots forms the border of the icon and that, as the knotted ribbon flows through the hands of Mary and Jesus, the knots are thoroughly undone. Pope Francis, in offering this devotion to the Universal Church, said, “Through Mary, Undoer of Knots, all the knots of our broken hearts and wounded consciences and insurmountable problems can be overcome and undone.”
MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS, BECAUSE SOMETIMES, NOTHING LESS THAN A MIRACLE WILL DO!
Contributed by, Very Reverend Robert Rankin, Pastor
Saint Melany Byzantine Catholic Church, & Dove Mountain Mission
Visit the Byzantine Catholic Shrine of Mary, Undoer of Knots
Atop Mt. Lemmon, Summerhaven, Arizona call: (520) 576-9653