Litany of Loreto – Health of the Sick
St. Simon Stock call Mary “the medicine of sinners” but is it all a bit too much to call Mary “Health of the Sick”? Is this just an example of the overeager ‘Marian worship’ that the Catholic Church is often accused of? This doubt in the validity of the title brings St. Bonaventure’s first Marian maxim to mind: One should carefully beware of decreasing, even in the slightest, the honor that is due to Mary. Rather than being an example of medieval-Marian-mania, this title has its roots in the early Church. St. Ephrem, writing in the fourth century, calls Mary “health itself … Robust health for those who have recourse in her”.
In calling Mary ‘Health of the Sick’ we do not in any way relegate Christ, who brings true health. Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus cured and healed the sick. He not only healed physical ailments but also healed souls. Christ shares the gifts and missions of healing with his Church. Our Lady, as the preeminent disciple, shares most closely in this mission of her Son but she is also, through her Immaculate Conception and Glorious Assumption, the shining example of the healing and restoration offered through Christ. She stands as a sign of hope for the sick who call upon her, and Mary wants to be called upon. She has suffered through her sorrows and “shared in the mystery of pain ” in a unique and special way, that can rarely be understood by the rest of humanity, but that allows her to better understand our pain and suffering. It is through this healing ministry that we see Christ, as Pius XII said “a vision of the Divine Redeemer Himself.”