What is the Stabat Mater?

“Stabat Mater” generally refers to a 13th century Latin hymn entitled Stabat Mater Dolorosa (the sorrowful mother stood) though it can also refer to another Latin hymn from the 15th century entitled Stabat Mater Speciosa (the beautiful mother stood). Stabat Mater Dolorosa, the more well-known and widely utilized of the two hymns, recounts the experience of the Mother of God at the foot of the cross. It offers a glimpse of Mary’s grief at the crucifixion and asks that the faithful—in imitation of Mary’s fierce and holy love for her Son—be allowed to share in the depth of her grief as we contemplate the Cross. Catholics often pray or sing this hymn during Lent and Holy Week and it is also part of the liturgy on the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary (September 15). Its authorship has been attributed to a variety of saints, popes, and priests although it is uncertain who actually composed the hymn.