A PRAYER OF THE BLESSED BISHOP AMBROSE TO THE GLORIOUS VIRGIN MARIE translated by the holy martyr Saint Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, while he was in the Tower. (1610)

Transcribed by E.T.H. III from An epistle or exhortation of Iesus Christ to the soule, that is deuoutly affected towards him. VVherein, are contained certaine diuine inspirations, teachinng a man to know himself, & instructing him in the perfection of true piety. VVritten in latin by the deuout seruant of Christ, Ioannes Lanspergius a Charterhouse monke. And translated into English by the Lord Philip late Earle of Arundell. 1610.

O Mother and only virgin Marie of singular merit, without any match, whom our Lord kept unspotted both in mind and body, that thou mightest be a worthy vessel, out of whom the son of God might make a fit habitation for himself, and draw the price of our redemption. I beseech thee O most merciful virgin, by whom all the world was saved, be an intercessor for me, a most miserable sinner, and polluted with all iniquity, that even now our Lord may grant unto me unhappy soul, the love of purity, the affection of cleanness, and the perfection of charity. For I, O I a most unhappy creature, have lost the grace of all mine innocency, of all my holiness. I have sundry ways violated the holy temple of God. But what do I mean to rehearse my filthiness and uncleanness to thy pure ears. I quake for fear O sweet Lady, and mine own conscience accusing me, I stand as one deformed, and being naked in thy presence am ashamed of myself. But to whom else lying now at the point of death, should I show my wounds? Or from what other mean may I hope for the benefit of my safety, if that only sanctuary of eternal pity should be shut from me? Therefore hear O sweet Lady, hear O merciful virgin, hear and hearken attentively I humbly beseech thee, to the suit of a poor Citizen, utterly undone excluded now from all portion in thine inheritance, and returning in hope to receive some words of comfort from thy hands after the enduring of long banishment, after the suffering of grievous scorns, and after the sustaining of heavy punishment. I remember, O good Lady, and it delighteth me much to remember it, in what sort thou didest reveal thy memorable name to a servant of thine being ready to yield up the ghost, thereby to recommend thy singular and gracious protection to all persons in misery, for thou didst appear unto him when he was in these hard straights, and asked him whether he knew thee or no, when he answered, (O pure Lady) even trembling and quaking, that he did not, how graciously and familiarly didst thou then O glorious virgin, of thy benignity and goodness say unto him : I am the mother of mercy. Before whom therefore may we which are in misery, or before whom may we which are in desolation more rightly lament and bewail all the evils of our whole calamity and misery, then before thee, the true and undoubted mother of mercy, O holy mother, O unspotted mother, O most pure mother, O mother of mercy, piety and compassion, open the bosom of thy compassion, and receive into it a wretched creature even dead in sin. Behold O sweet Lady, the prodigal son with naked and worn feet, by reason of his continual travail, doth sigh, cry, and call unto thee, O blessed mother, out of the place of horror and fear : of the dark clouds of uncleanness, and filthiness, being not mindful how often thou hast relieved him, protected him, and excused him with God the father, but thou a sweet and loving mother. Acknowledge O blessed mother thy sons whom thy dearly beloved, and only begotten son was not ashamed to call his brothers. Although that a sword did pierce thy soul for that innocent and crucified son of thine only, yet how canst thou contain from taking compassion upon thy poor servants dead in sin, who shroud themselves only under thy protection, how canst thou refrain at any time (O gracious Lady) from showing thy motherly affection, and sorrow for us, with shedding of tears? We are violently plucked from thee, we are spoiled by force of all our consolation, we are brought under subjection, there is none to deliver us, there is none to redeem us, there is none to rise up early and to be bound for us, arise up thou therefore, O merciful Lady, arise up (O gracious virgin) out of that holy place of thine where thou standest to hear our prayers, and hold up thy immaculate hands before that golden Altar of man’s reconciliation, and we shall obtain that suit by thy mean, which we prefer by thy intercession, surely we shall be pardoned of that which we most fear, neither can he long withhold from showing us mercy at thy desire, whom thou didst often nourish, O sweet mother, when he was a sucking infant, and didst comfort when he fell a crying. Who therefore is more mighty in merits to pacify the wrath of so high a judge and Saviour? Doubt not O lady, to sue for us, for is made of our bones, and he is flesh of our flesh, he is our head, and knoweth our workmanship, and of what we are framed. O ornament of virgins, O Lady of nations, O Queen of angels, O fountain of all creatures, O the pure cleanser of sinners, O holy and perpetual Virgin marie, help me a poor miserable creature, relieve me which am utterly undone. And though I be one that dare not now (the more is my grief) hope for the incomparable robe of virgins which is angelical, yet let me I beseech thee (O blessed Virgin) receive by thy glorious merits some wedding garment how simple and base soever it be. To conclude, although I shall not deserve, to approach more nearly, and to be present amongst the beautiful, and odoriferous companies of your glory, yet let me standing a loose, and being placed afar off, attain to see and hear the order of your going, your music, and your harmony, and whatsoever else pertaineth to your glory and triumph, when you shall singing and dancing follow the Lamb wheresoever he goeth. O singular virgin, O most high and perpetual virgin, O only mother and blessed virgin marie, let me desire one thing at thy hands in the end of this my unworthy supplication, made without that reverence and devotion which I ought. Let me desire, and humbly beseech this one thing at thy hands in the name of thy dearly beloved son, that it would please thee to grant me a continual, and perpetual memory of thy most sweet name, let it be a most delightful meat unto me, to nourish me, let it be a most sweet food to refresh my soul, let it be a comfort unto me in all tribulations, let it be in the beginning of all my mirth and pleasure. For if I may obtain this by the gift of God and thy goodness, I can never fear then utterly to perish by any accident whatsoever, because thy grace shall be ever present with me, thy mercy and protection shall never be from me, and if I should chance to sink even into hell, yet there thou wouldest seek me, and thou wilt draw me from thence, and deliver me to thy son, which did redeem me, and wash away my sins with his blood, even Jesus Christ our Lord, which liveth and reigneth with the Father and the holy Ghost, one God world without end. Amen.

Christo Laudes, et Sanctae Matri Eius honor. Amen.

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