The above title refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Our Lady, Undoer or Untier of Knots” – a devotion said to be originally inspired by a meditation of St. Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyon and martyred in 202) based on the parallel made by Saint Paul between Adam and Christ. Saint Irenaeus, in turn, made a comparison between Eve and Mary, saying: “Eve, by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; whereas Mary, by her obedience, undid it”. Around the 17th century, an unknown artist painted Mary Undoer of Knots to show the mission granted to the Virgin Mary by her Son; his painting is being venerated in the Church of St. Peter in Perlack, Germany.
The time of Lent prods us to reflect on the knots in our life that need our hearts’ rending, as pointed out by the Prophet Joel at the start of this holy season: “Rend your hearts, not your garments. Return to Yahweh, your God—gracious and compassionate” (Joel 2:13). Only in a broken and repentant heart can the merciful love of God enter. By rending our hearts open can we lay bare those selfish, sinfully compulsive, hurting and disturbing experiences that create divisive relationships, the dissolution of the family, the knots of dishonesty, fear, anguish, depression, fear; the knots of a drug addict or wayward member of the family… all those knots that suffocate the soul, dispel joy, and separate a child of God from the loving and forgiving Father.
The devotion to Mary Undoer of Knots is becoming more and more known in many different countries, and Pope Francis himself composed a prayer to Mary Undoer of Knots, asking for her intercession to free persons from certain confusing knots “with which our enemy attacks…that prevent us from being united with God, so that we, free from sin and error, may find Him in all things, may have our hearts placed in Him, and may serve Him always in our brothers and sisters.” Mary was chosen by God to crush the devil with her feet; she wants to undo the knots of temptations and sins with which “the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). With Mary, let us work on undoing the knots to help restore and rescue our broken humanity back to God.