Mirror Of The Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Bonaventure. CHAPTER XI


"Dominus tecum"--The Lord is with thee. That devout client of Mary, St.
Anselm, alluding to these sweet words, says: "Mary, I beseech thee, by the
grace by which the Lord wished so to be with thee, and thee with Him, grant
for His sake, according to the same grace, His mercy to me; grant that the
love of thee may be ever with me, and that my care may be about thee; grant
that the cry of my necessity may be with thee, as long as it lasts, and
that the look of thy loving kindness may be on me as long as I live; grant
that my joy in thy beatitude may ever be with me, and that compassion for
my misery may be with thee as far as it is expedient for me."

The Lord is with thee, O Mary. Certainly with thee, as the sun is with the
aurora which goeth before him; with thee as the flower is with the stem
which produces it; with thee, as the King is with the Queen going in to
him. For the Sun, which is the most lightsome of all luminaries, the Flower
which is more precious than all flowers, and the King, who is more glorious
than all kings, is Our Lord Jesus Christ. The aurora, therefore, going
before this Sun with resplendent radiance, the stem producing by a most
wonderful flowering this Flower, the Queen entering in to the King in
solemn procession, is the most Blessed Virgin Mary. Of all these points we
shall treat in order.

"The Lord is with thee." With thee, certainly, as the sun is with the
aurora going before it, and preceding its rise, and beginning the day by
its light. Truly, indeed, Mary, the aurora of the world, prepared in a most
singular manner by the Eternal Sun, being thus marvelously irradiated,
herself prepares the rising of this Sun, has wonderfully inaugurated for
the world the day of grace of such a Sun, as St. Bernard says: "Like the
aurora exceedingly resplendent hast thou come into the world, O Mary, when
thou didst foreshew the splendor of the true Sun by such a wonderful
radiance of sanctity that truly the day of salvation, the day of
propitiation, the day which the Lord hath made, was worthy to be begun by
thy bright light." Mary is, therefore, the aurora, of whom it is said: "Who
is this, who cometh forth," etc. Fitly is she compared to the aurora, as
well for herself, as for us; for herself especially, for us in general.
Mary for herself is well compared to the aurora according to Scripture;
first, because of the driving away of the night of sin; secondly, because
of the approach of the light of grace; third, because of the rising of the
Sun of justice; fourth, because of the place of her throne of glory. First,
in her most full sanctification; secondly, in her most bright conversation;
thirdly, in her most wonderful generation of her Son; fourthly, in her most
glorious Assumption.

First, note that Mary is, as it were, a happy aurora because of the absence
or happy driving away of guilt in her own sanctification. Therefore Job,
cursing the night in which it was said: "A man is conceived," said: "Let
the stars darken their light. Let it expect light and not see it, nor the
rising of the dawning of the day" (Job III, 9.) What is meant here by the
stars, by the light, by the dawn ? I say that the stars are the souls of
the Saints; the light is the Holy of holies; the dawn is the Queen of
Saints. The stars indeed are all the Saints, who never abandon good order
and discipline of morals, the course of fervor and of a good life, and so
they fight with vigor against the devil. Of these stars it is well said in
the Book of Judges: "The stars remaining in their order and courses fought
against Sisara" (Judg. V, 20.) Sisara is interpreted, taking away the
departing one, and it signifies the devil, who takes anyone that departs
from God. The light signifies the Holy of Holies, Jesus Christ, as He
Himself shows, saying: "I am the light of the world, who followeth Me,
walketh not in darkness" (John VIII, 12.)

Let us, brethren, follow this light, lest, walking in darkness, we should
fall into the mire of sin and the pit of hell. Let us follow not haltingly,
according to what is said, "How long will you halt between two sides? If
the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is, follow ye him" (3 Kings XVIII,
21.) The dawn, whose rising the night does not see, signifies the Blessed
Virgin, whose nativity was not initiated by the night of original sin. For
the night which Job cursed, the night in which man was conceived, is
original sin; in which we are all conceived. Hence the Psalmist says: "In
sins did my mother conceive me." Because all the Saints are conceived in
sin, they are born in sin, and hence it is rightly said that this night has
seen no light.

Secondly, note that Mary is, as it were, a happy aurora, because of her
happy progress in the light of grace, according to that word: "Who is this
that advances like the aurora," etc. (Cant. VI, 9.) For as the light of the
aurora progresses by gradually growing in brightness, so Mary advanced by
advancing in the splendor of grace and of a good life. She made progress
indeed by advancing in all virtues universally, so that in all the glory of
all virtue she was, as it were, in herself the rising aurora, fair as the
moon to her neighbors, as the sun towards God. She made progress also by
advancing in special virtues, of which St. Bernard speaks thus: "Charity
burned in Mary by seeking grace, virginity was resplendent in her body, in
service she was eminent in humility." By the glory of these virtues Mary
was, as it were, the rising aurora in her shining virginity, fair as the
moon in her resplendent humility, clear as the sun in her radiant charity.
Happy he who cultivates these three splendors, these three virtues of Mary,
by which she conceived the God and Master of all virtues, as St. Bernard
again testifies, saying: "She who was already full of grace found grace,
that, being fervent in charity, intact in virginity, devout in humility,
she might become pregnant without any intercourse with man, and might bring
forth a child without the usual travail."

Thirdly, note that Mary is, as it were, a happy aurora, because of the
happy rising of the Sun of justice. For the Sun of justice, Christ Our
Lord, by means of His aurora, Mary, rose upon this world. His rising was
unaccompanied by any cloud of sin; wherefore this aurora was exceedingly
resplendent in the rising of her Sun, according to that word: "As the light
of the morning when the sun riseth, shineth in the morning without clouds"
(2 Kings, XXIII, 4. ) The light of this morning is the holiness of Mary, by
which the Sun of justice, who was about to come forth from her, deigned to
irradiate her. Of this St. Bernard well saith: "Rightly, O Mary, hast thou
fulfilled the office of the morning. For the Sun of justice, who was
Himself about to proceed from thee, preventing as it were His own birth by
a certain morning splendor, copiously transfused thee with the rays of His
own light." The light of this morning shone forth wonderfully when the Sun
rose without clouds, that is, when Christ was born without any of the
darkness of original sin. Behold, here it is said that the sun rose without
clouds, and in Exodus we read that the bush was on fire without being
burned; and in Daniel, that a stone was cut without hands. What, therefore,
is signified by the sun, by the fire, by the stone, if not Christ? For He
Himself is the sun enlightening the intellect, the fire enkindling the
affections, the stone strengthening us against defect. I say that Jesus
Christ is the sun illuminating the intellect, according to Malachias: "The
sun of justice will rise upon you who fear my name" (IV, 2.) See,
therefore, if thou fearest the Lord, for it is written: "Who feareth God,
neglecteth nothing" (Ecclus. VII, 19.) Again Christ is the fire enkindling
the affections, as the Apostle says to the Hebrews: "Our God is a consuming
fire" (Hebr. XII, 29. ) This fire was not only in the bush of the virginal
womb, but also in the bush of her devout heart. They have felt this fire
who said: "Were not our hearts burning within us," etc. Again, Christ is
the stone strengthening us against failings, if we are well founded upon
Him. Therefore it is said in St. Matthew: "The rains fell, and the floods
came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not,
for it was founded on a rock" (VII, 25.) Behold, neither the rain of
heretical eloquence, nor the floods of worldly concupiscence, nor the winds
of human violence, could injure the house of a mind founded upon the rock
of Christ. What does it mean, therefore, that the sun rises without a
cloud, the bush is on fire without being consumed, the stone is cut without
hands, unless it be that Christ, who is the sun of truth, the fire of
charity, the stone of firmness or of eternity, is conceived and born
without the cloud of original sin, without the fire of carnal
concupiscence, without the agency of the marital embrace? For in the
conception of Christ you will find neither sin in the offspring, nor
concupiscence in the mother, nor the embrace of a father. That this Virgin
conceived so miraculously, He could effect who sent beforehand so many
wonderful things prefiguring this miracle, as St. Augustine testifies,
saying: "He who wrote on the tablets of stone without iron, made Mary with
child of the Holy Ghost; and He who produced bread in the desert without
ploughing, impregnated the virgin without corruption; and He who made the
rod to bud without rain, made the daughter of David bring forth without

Fourthly, note that Mary is, as it were, a happy aurora because of her
place in glory; and according to this Job well says of the aurora: "Didst
thou . . . shew the dawning of the day its place ?" (Job XXXVIII, 12.) Now
certainly, our aurora, Mary, elevated high in Heaven, holds the place
nearest to the Eternal Sun. We may consider that the throne of Mary in
Heaven has a threefold greatness. The first is that she received Our Lord
spiritually; the second, that she received Him corporeally; the third, that
she received Him eternally. Behold the threefold place of Mary. I say that
the first place in which Mary received Our Lord spiritually, is her mind,
tranquil and peaceful, according to the Psalmist: "His place is in peace,
and His dwelling in Sion," which, interpreted, means a mirror or
contemplation. Whoever wishes to contemplate God, or to behold Him with the
eyes of the mind, must make Him a place in peace in his mind; for without
peace of mind no one can arrive at the knowledge of contemplation.
Therefore the Apostle saith: "Follow peace with all men, and holiness,
without which no man shall see God" (Hebr. XII, 14.) Oh, who shall relate,
or who can even imagine, in what contemplations daily that Sion, that holy
mind of Mary, was employed, while she fervently revolved in her mind all
those mysteries known to herself above all mortals ? Of this St. Jerome
well says: "If there are in you any bowels of piety or mercy, consider with
what love was crucified, with what desire this virgin burned, while she
revolved in her soul all that she had heard and seen, all that she had
known; with what emotions she was moved, being filled with the Holy Ghost,
with the thrilling knowledge of heavenly secrets." The place in which Mary
conceived corporeally was her holy womb, to which may be applied the word
of Genesis: "The river which came forth from the paradise of pleasure
(Jesus Christ from the Virgin's womb) was to water the garden" (Gen. II,
10.) The special paradise is Mary; the universal paradise is the Church.
Happy is the watering of both these gardens by the mystic river from the
womb of Mary, Jesus Christ, who has said: "I will water my garden of
plants" (Ecclus. XXIV, 42.) Well, therefore, doth St. Jerome say,
commenting on these words: "I saw her coming up beautiful from the banks of
the water." Well is it said, "above the rivers of water," because the Lord
had nourished her on the waters of refreshment, and brought her up on them;
from whom many rivers emerge, water all the land of delights, and flow over
the garden of pleasure." Again, the place wherein Mary received the Lord
when she was about to dwell forever in Heaven is the place of glory, of
which the Lord said to Job: "Hast thou shown the dawn its place?" (XXXVIII,
12), as if he said, "Not thou, but I." It does not belong to thee to show
Mary, the dawn, her place in Heaven, but to me. Well doth he say, her
place, as it were appropriating it to her, and discriminating it from all
the other places of the Saints. Hence we read: "The priests brought in the
ark of the covenant into its place" (3 Kings, VIII, 6.) This place is most
certainly above all the choirs of angels. Finally, this place is the most
worthy in Heaven, as St. Bernard testifies saying: "Neither was there in
the world a more worthy place than the bridal chamber of the virginal womb,
in which Mary received the Son of God, nor in the heavens one more worthy
than the royal throne to which the Son of Mary raised her." Mary is
compared to the dawn; first, because she put an end to the night of guilt,
in her most full holiness; secondly, because of the advance of the light of
grace in her most bright conversation; thirdly, because of the bringing
forth of the Sun of justice in her wonderful generation of her Son;
fourthly, because of her taking possession of her place in glory in her
most glorious Assumption.

Then we have to consider that the most lightsome Virgin is compared to the
aurora, not alone for herself, but also because of us. For as in Scripture
she is signified by the aurora, she is for us a mediatrix with God, with
the angels a peace-maker, against the devils a defender, to ourselves a

First note that our aurora, Mary, is for us a mediatrix with God, as is
signified in the Psalm: "Thine is the day and thine is the night, thou hast
made the aurora and the sun" (Ps. LXXIII, 6.)

Thus St. Gregory well says: "The day is the life of the just, but the night
is taken to mean the life of the sinner." And therefore the Lord went
before the children of Israel by night in a pillar of fire, by day in a
pillar of cloud, and because the cloud protected the wicked from the fire
of His wrath, and He burns the wicked like fire. Therefore the sun
signified Christ, who enlightens the elect and burns the reprobate. He
sometimes burns them severely in this world, but more severely at the last
judgment, and most severely of all in hell. Of this threefold burning can
be understood that word of Ecclesiasticus: "The sun three times as much,
burneth the mountains" (Ecclus. XLIII, 4), that is, proud sinners. On this
account we are in need of a refreshment, of a mediatrix between us and the
just Sun. And well, therefore, doth the Psalmist, in the aforesaid verse,
place the aurora midway between the night and the sun, because in the
natural order it certainly holds this place. The aurora, therefore, is the
Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the most excellent mediatrix between the night
and the sun, between man and God, between unjust man and just God; she is
the best cooler of the wrath of God. St. Bernard bears witness, saying:
"Man now has secure access to God, for he has as a Mediator of his cause
the Son before the Father, and the Son before the Mother. The Son shows His
naked body, with His wounds in hands, feet, and side to His Father; Mary
shows her breasts to her Son. There can be no question of a repulse, where
so many marks of charity appear in one, and present their prayer."

Secondly, note that our aurora, Mary, is for us peace-maker with the
angels, as it is signified in Genesis, where we read that the angel who
wrestled with Jacob blessed him at dawn. For when the angel said, "Let me
go, it is morning," Jacob would not let him go till he had blessed him. In
the morning took place the struggle between the angel and Jacob, the
discord between God, the angels, and men. For man by sin had offended his
Creator; and the Creator being offended, every creature was offended; how
much more she who is more closely bound to the Creator ! This struggle,
therefore, was perhaps a figure of that discord. But when the aurora
appeared at the coming of Mary, men and angels were pacified, because in
that dawn, in the Virgin Mary herself, man received the angelic
benediction. For the angel said to the Virgin: "Blessed art thou among
women," and by this blessing of the Virgin man obtains the blessing of
peace and salvation in the Virgin's Son --that blessing of which the
Apostle says: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
hath blessed us in every blessing in the heavenly places in Christ," which
blessing the Son Himself will confirm when He will say: "Come, ye blessed
of My Father," etc. As Jacob gave thanks at the rising of dawn, let us,
therefore, thank Mary for that blessing by which we made peace with the
angel. By the aurora, by the dawn, by Mary, men made peace with the angels,
since the time when, by Mary, the depleted choirs of angels were peopled by
men, as St. Anselm signifies, saying: "O wonderfully singular and
singularly wonderful Woman, by whom the elements are renewed, the injuries
of hell repaired, men are saved, angels are restored !"

Thirdly, note that Mary, our dawn, is for us a defender against the devils,
as signified in Job, where it is said of the murderer, the thief, and the
adulterer, "He diggeth through houses in the dark, as in the day they had
appointed for themselves, and they have not known the light" (Job XXIV,
16.) "If the morning suddenly appear, it is to them the shadow of death"
(Job XXIV, 17.) The murderer is a devil, the thief is a devil, the
adulterer is a devil. The murderer, because he takes human life; the thief,
because, whatever good thing he can rob us of, he; does; the adulterer,
because he corrupts the soul, which is the spouse of God. Alas, what evil
these wicked people do us, what evil the wicked spirits do us! For
sometimes they dig in the darkness of ignorance, in the darkness of
obscurity, the interior houses of our minds, the houses indeed, of which it
is said in the Psalm: "God is known in their houses" (Ps. XLVI, 14.)
Without doubt they dig into our souls by their piercing temptations, those
houses in which He joyfully dwells who has said: "Today I must abide in thy
house" (Luke XIX, 5.) And having dug through these houses, having indeed
dug into the minds of men through to an unhappy consent to sin, alas, how
great evils these wicked ones do in souls by murder, theft, and adultery!
That we may evade such perils, let the dawn come, let Mary help us! For if
the morning shall suddenly appear, if she quickly comes to our aid, and if
her grace and mercy supervene, it will be as the shadow of death to the
demons; they will tremble and fly; they will fear, as men fear and fly the
shadow of death. Well doth St. Bernard say: "An army of enemies does not so
much fear an immense host of armed soldiers, as the powers of the air do
the very name of Mary, and her holy example; they fly and melt like wax
before a fire, wherever they find the frequent invocation of this holy
name, its remembrance and imitation."

Fourthly, note that Mary, our dawn, is, as regards ourselves, a light-giver
to help us to do good. For from the first rays of light, workmen begin to
work. Whence in the second book of Esdras it is said: "And let us do the
work; and let one-half of us hold the spears from the rising of the
morning, till the stars appear" (2 Esdras 21.) Two things are needful to
us, namely, that we be earnest in our good works, and therefore well do the
builders say: "Let us do the work." What work is this, but that of which
the Apostle says: "While we have time, let us do good to all, especially to
those who are of the household of the faith" (Gal. VI, 10.) Well do they
say: Let us do the work, not our representatives. And in another passage:
In all things let us show ourselves as the ministers of God. But Mary did
not commission a nurse, or a representative, but showed herself always a
handmaid to the Lord, as St. Augustine testifies: "Mary without doubt was a
worker, who bore Him in her womb, and when He was brought forth, nourished
and nursed Him, laid Him in the manger, and during the whole of His infancy
served Him as a loving Mother, so that even to the death of the cross she
never left Him." Not only did she follow Him by her footsteps, as from the
love of a son, but also by the imitation of His life, as out of reverence
for a Lord." It is needful for us, not only to be instant in good works,
but also to resist vices; and therefore well do they add that the lances
should be held; for we should hold the lance of zeal against the attacks of
vice, against the attacks of the devil, the flesh, and the world. Of these
lances it is well said in Jeremias: "Furbish the spears, put on the coats
of mail." By the coat of mail of justice we are protected, but with the
lance or spear of zeal we attack evil. If thou dost not launch the spear of
zeal in this world against evil, God will use the lance His zeal against
thee on judgment day. Therefore it is said in the Book of Wisdom: "He will
sharpen His dire wrath as a spear" (Wisd. V, 21 . ) Oh, what a warrior was
Mary, whose holy zeal was her spear. St. Bernard says to her: "Thou wert a
formidable warrior, for thou wert the first manfully to attack him who had
supplanted the first Eve." Therefore, that we may faithfully persist in
good works manfully resist vices, it is needful for us to look on the
example of Mary, to implore the suffrages of Mary. Then, as it were from
the rising of the morning, we work, when being irradiated by the example
and the life of Mary, when being illuminated by the patronage and the mercy
of Mary, we are incited to good. We ought to work well till the rising of
the stars, that is, until our souls, having become lightsome like stars, go
forth from our bodies and fly to the stars. But above every star that ever
appeared, above every star that ever will come forth in the heavens, the
most splendid is Mary, our aurora, our morning, as St. Bernard testifies,
saying: "Thou art the most vivid image of the true Sun, amongst the myriads
of stars that are before God, thou shinest forth gloriously in Heaven by
thy virginal purity." Thus you see how fittingly Mary is called the
morning, the aurora. The Lord is with thee, O Mary, as the sun is with the
dawn. Therefore, O Lady, most sweet morning, our Lady, most sweet Mary, let
us be with the Sun of Justice, our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who with the
Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.