St. Bernard’s Prayer to the Virgin Mary

Maiden and Mother, daughter of thine own Son,
Beyond all creatures lowly and lifted high,
Of the Eternal Design the corner-stone!

Thou art she who did man’s substance glorify
So that its own Maker did not eschew
Even to be made of its mortality.

Within thy womb the Love was kindled new
By generation of whose warmth supreme
This flower to bloom in peace eternal grew.

Here thou to us art the full noonday beam
Of love revealed: below to mortal sight,
Hope, that for ever springs in living stream.

Lady, thou art so great and hast such might
That whoso crave grace, nor to thee repair,
Their longing even without wing seeketh flight.

Thy charity doth not only him up-bear
Who prays, but in thy bounty’s large excess
Thou oftentimes dost even forerun the prayer.

In thee is pity, in thee is tenderness,
In thee magnificence, in thee the sum
Of all that in creation most can bless.

[From Dante’s Paradiso, trans. by Laurence Binyon]

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