Dear Fr John Flader, A Brazilian friend recently told me he prays a devotion to Our Lady of Tears every day. I asked him the origin of the devotion and he wasn’t sure. Can you help me?
The devotion owes its origin to apparitions received by Sr Amália of Jesus Scourged in the chapel of the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of Jesus Crucified in the Brazilian city of Campinas, state of Sáo Paulo, in 1930.
The bishop of Campinas, Count Francisco von Campos Barreto, had established the institute with the help of Sr Amália, who was born in Spain in 1901, and seven other women.
Like St Francis of Assisi, St Padre Pio and St Therese Neumann, among others, Sr Amália bore the stigmata of Christ on her body. She was known for her generous and self-sacrificing nature.
She received the habit on 8 December 1927, feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, and made her perpetual vows four years later on the same feast.
On 8 November 1929, one of her relatives called on her at the convent to say that his wife was seriously ill and he was greatly distressed. He told Sr Amália that the doctors told him his wife’s condition was incurable and he did not know what God expected of him. He was particularly worried about what would happen with his children.
Sr Amália was deeply moved and felt compelled to help in any way she could. While he was talking, she turned interiorly to Our Lord, asking him what she could do. She felt an inner urge to visit Jesus in the chapel, and when their meeting ended she did so.
Kneeling before the tabernacle, she said to Jesus: “If there is no hope for this man’s wife, then I am ready to offer my life for the mother of the family. What do you want me to do?”
Jesus answered: “If you want to receive these favours, ask me for the sake of my mother’s tears.” Sr Amália then asked Jesus how she should pray.
He told her to pray the following invocations: “O Jesus, listen to our prayers for the sake of the tears of your most holy mother! O Jesus, look upon the tears of the one who loved you most on earth and loves you most ardently in heaven!”
He added: “My daughter, whatever people will beg of me for the sake of the tears of my mother, I shall lovingly grant them. Later, my mother will hand over this treasure to our beloved Institute as a magnet of mercy.”
Four months later, Jesus’ promise was fulfilled when Our Lady appeared to Sr Amália and gave her the devotion to Our Lady of Tears as a treasure of the institute. She recalled it like this:
“It was March 8, 1930. I was in the chapel kneeling on the steps of the altar, when I suddenly felt myself being lifted up. Then I saw a woman of unspeakable beauty approaching me. She wore a violet robe, blue mantle, and a white veil draped over her shoulders.
“Smiling, she floated in the air towards me, holding a rosary in her hands, which she herself called a ‘corona’. Its beads shone like the sun and were as white as snow.”
“This chaplet is the chaplet of my tears, that my son wants to entrust to your institute as part of his inheritance,” Sr Amália said Our Lady told her.
“My son has already taught you the invocations. Through these invocations, he wants to honour me in a very special way and, therefore, willingly will grant all graces that are begged for the sake of my tears. This chaplet will serve for the conversion of many sinners, and especially those who are possessed by the devil.
“To the Institute of Jesus Crucified is reserved a special honour, which is the conversion of many members of a sect, transforming them into flowering trees within the church. Through this chaplet the devil will be defeated and the power of hell will be destroyed. Get ready for this great battle!”
The chaplet is prayed on a rosary with seven decades of seven beads each. On the large beads one says: “O Jesus, look upon the tears of the mother who loved you most while on earth, and who loves you so ardently in heaven.”
And on the small beads: “O Jesus hear our petitions, for the sake of the tears shed by your dearest mother.”
There are other prayers at the beginning and the end. Many favours have been attributed to the recitation of this chaplet, especially conversions and healings.