I’ve written here before about the growing devotion to Our Lady as “the Untier of Knots” or “Mary the Unknotter”. Here’s the Pope sitting with his copy, over at the Vatican.
Here’s a post about how the devotion started in Augsburg, Germany; and here’s another about the patristic roots (ie, St. Irenaeus) of the devotional image.
Pope Francis is one of the many South Americans who are devoted to Mary as “La Desatadora.” He has often praised her under this title, too.
So Philadelphia’s cathedral is setting up an art exhibit in honor of Our Lady, which is a nice idea. But unfortunately the sculpture is of nothing but ugly knots and a loom of people’s written problems, rather than of Mary’s intercession and God’s power helping to untie them for us and make things right. But it’s not the ugliest modern art installation ever, and it’s at least trying to be reverent. Here’s the Philadelphia folks from the Presbyterian Church’s blogpost about it. Here’s the Mercy and Justice Committee page about it, which includes one of the Untier of Knots devotional prayers.
(Some news reports said that people were being invited to burn their knots and their sins, but apparently this was incorrect. Which I’m glad to hear, because the whole “burning sins” thing has been associated in the US with Catholics being told they don’t have to go to Confession if they go to a sin-burning session.)
Also, we have a nice example of urban hagiography legends, as the newspaper tells us that young Fr. Jorge Bergoglio was the first guy to bring the devotion to Argentina and Brazil! Seriously??? Please check your timelines, my friends.
The devotion to Our Lady under this title actually was around for quite a while, and was even suppressed for a bit for being done in a weird and occultish way. He was one of the younger priests who favored bringing it back in a good way, so of course he is now getting a lot of the credit. (Heh, I remember seeing absolutely nothing about some guy named Bergoglio on Desatadora websites, and a lot of stuff about how you shouldn’t be confused by the weird occultish people’s weirdness. Now the Pope is everywhere, and the sketchy part of the history is forgotten. So you can’t really blame the newspapers for getting caught up in it.)
Father Bergoglio did commission a painting of Mary for the Universidad de Salvador chapel, which in 1986 was given to the parish church of San Jose del Talar. It was based on a nice postcard brought back by Bergoglio from visiting her painting in Augsburg. The parish is now Argentina’s national shrine for “Our Lady who unties the knots;” and there are special devotions at 6 AM on the eighth of every month (because this is a title related to Mary as the Immaculate Conception and the New Eve, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is December 8).
Here’s a gallery of photos of the parish. (I like the big Christ statue.) The parish also features Confession being available all the time the church is open, and other prayer-friendly features. Naturally they are very proud of Pope Francis!
(It all looks very likeable. The only thing I don’t like is that it’s creepy to put the presiders’ chairs on the top steps of the old altar against the wall. I don’t think they meant to put people’s butts up there where the worship used to be, but it just looks bad.)
Here’s a chapel also dedicated to Our Lady Untier of Knots, at a drug addiction treatment center. There’s a picture of Archbishop Bergoglio.
The article says:
Cardinal Bergoglio explained that the devotion to Our Lady, Untier of Knots, arose around the year AD 1700, promoted for a marriage that was in permanent conflict of spouses.
“It occurred to this gentleman to ask the Virgin to fix the situation. As he was a very Christian man, he found a phrase written by St. Irenaeus of Lyons in the year 200, which says, “The knots which were tied by Eve’s disobedience and lack of faith, were untied by the obedience and faith of Mary.” All the knots that arm us with our failings, problems, infidelities — like a good mother, she is going to untie them. This is the meaning of this image,” he defined.
“This here cannot be called a construction company’s enterprise. The boys have made this church with their own hands, day by day, under the direction of Father Alejandro. The children make a house for their Mother, because she unties the knots for us. We all have knots in our hearts. We all have failings, and we all go through difficulties in life,” added Cardinal Bergoglio.
Here’s a remixed South American version of the traditional German iconography.