The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Remember: the story behind The Memorare

That first word — “Remember…” — gives meaning and hope to one of the most popular prayers of the Church, the Memorare. A deacon friend today asked me to whisper one for him. That sparked quite a few remembrances of my own.

My father used to pray it, incessantly, in his wheelchair at the nursing home after he’d suffered a stroke, his one good hand fingering his beads. And to this day, it’s one prayer my wife and I share together every night.


You probably know it:

Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary,

that never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection,
implored Thy help
or sought Thy intercession,

was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence,

I fly unto Thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother;

to Thee do I come,
before thee I kneel,
sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate,

despise not my petitions,

but in Thy clemency, hear and answer me.


What you may not know is the surprising history behind this prayer, which was popularized in the 15th century by Fr. Claude Bernard (not Bernard of Clairvaux, as many believe). Fr. Bernard evidently learned it from his own father:

Fr. Claude Bernard, known as the “Poor Priest”, zealously dedicated himself to the preaching and aiding of prisoners and criminals condemned to death. Trusting his charges to the care and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Fr. Bernard employed the Memorare extensively in his work of evangelization to great effect. Many a criminal was reconciled to God through his efforts. At one time he had more than 200,000 leaflets printed with the Memorare in various languages so he could distribute the leaflets wherever he felt they would do some good.


Part of the reason Fr. Claude Bernard held the prayer in such high regard was because he himself felt that he had been miraculously cured by its use. In a letter to Queen Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII, he wrote that he was deathly ill once. In fear of his life he recited the Memorare and immediately began to get well again. Feeling unworthy of such a miracle, he attributed the cure to some unknown natural cause. Sometime later, Brother Fiacre, a discalced Augustinian, came to call upon Fr. Bernard. The good brother begged Fr. Bernard’s pardon for disturbing him, but he desired to know how Fr. Bernard was getting along. Brother Fiacre then went on to say that the Virgin Mary had appeared to him in a vision, told him of Fr. Bernard’s illness, told him how she had cured Fr. Bernard of it, and that he was to assure Fr. Bernard of this fact. Fr. Bernard then goes on to write in his letter that he was ashamed of his ingratitude in attributing the cure to natural causes, and asked for God’s forgiveness in the matter.

You can read much more at the link. In the meantime, please whisper one up for all those in need.

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posted July 10, 2010 at 12:59 pm

When I was in high school and the students were selecting a prayer, this was what we would choose.

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posted July 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I too, learned this prayer at St. Irenaeus grammar school and prayed it many times at Mater Dei High School. It’s one of my favorites and never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
When my father was dying of brain cancer at age 56, I prayed this prayer so many times over and over, confident that the Blessed Mother would hear my prayer and heal my father.
He died 6 weeks later. I was devastated.
BUT, now, in retrospect, I have come to understand that the Blessed Mother did hear and answer my prayer. She didn’t leave me unaided.
Although my father died, I truly became a more responsible adult after his death and did not rely on him to always save me from my bad decisions. I am confident now that she has given me the strength to deal with death as a part of our life everlasting. She has blessed me in my family and friends, and has taught me to stand on my own two feet and rely on God, rather than my Dad. So, she did hear and answer my prayers, although not in the way I wanted at the time.

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Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk

posted July 13, 2010 at 6:22 am

I couldn’t help but think of two things yesterday as Westboro Church and Fred Phelps harassed the parishoners of The Cathedral of The Virgin of Guadelupe. One, about my own father’s stories how as a boy he had to run to evade the rocks thrown at him by adults on his way to sunday school at Holy Trinity because he was Catholic. The other thing I thought about was the irony that this cathedral had its breathtaking steeple paid for by the late Raymond Nasher, a Jewish man who loved Dallas, and the vision of its Arts District, so much that he wanted to contribute to the church. His doing this made the church is a true symbol of Dallas’ interfaith collaboration among its citizens.
In the midst of things, the Priests came out with their cross and blessed both the Westboro people and our group as well. They bowed their heads and prayed. It made me think of my favorite Catholic Prayer:
Lord make me an instrument of thy peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is the giving that we recieve,
it is in the aprdoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in the dying that we are born to eternal life.
I no sooner had I posted this short story above than my father’s favorite bird, a blue jay flew outside my window. Before he died, he said he would send this type of bird to show his love to me from the spirit world. Today, I wore his Rosary, with which he prayed the prayer i listed above for every one of the beads. God is seen in the tiny things…

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Jack Endres

posted January 5, 2016 at 11:24 pm

I prayed this prayer so many times begging for someone to love. Then I was asked out on a date by a girl named Mary. We have been married 35 years. I still pray the Memorare for her. She is my life and my love.

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