Lady of Sorrows’ Day, or “Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Day”, is a public holiday in Slovakia that falls on every 15 September. This is a Roman Catholic holiday that has been celebrated since the 17th Century but was only an official feast day starting in 1814.
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The date of the religious feast was originally the third Sunday of September, but this was adjusted to a fixed date on 15 September in 1913 by Pope Pius X. In 1927, “Our Lady of Seven Sorrows” was designated as Slovakia’s patron saint, and in 1964, the shrine of the same name was declared to have “basilica status”.
Every 15 September, a special mass is held in the Basilica of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, which is located in the town of Sastin-Straze.
The basis of the day and its name is the “seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary” officially designated by the church. These are as follows:
- Simeon prophesies of opposition to Jesus and of Mary’s sorrow, along with predictions of Jesus bringing salvation.
- The flight to Egypt. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lived in exile of sorts for two years.
- Mary and Joseph accidentally leave Jesus behind in Jerusalem and search frantically for Him.
- Jesus’ meeting of Mary on His way to the cross.
- Mary witnesses the crucifixion of Jesus.
- Mary is there when the body of Jesus is taken off the cross.
- Mary also witnesses the burial of Jesus in the tomb.
Many in Slovakia go on pilgrimage to Sastin to the shrine on Lady of Sorrows’ Day to reflect on the sorrows of Mary’s life and to attend the special services. Others attend a special mass at their local church.