The devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots dates back to the beginning of the 18th Century when a famous painting from that time period, carrying the same name, became well known. However, it isn’t until the end of the 20th Century that the image of the painting becomes known all over resulting in Catholic devotion worldwide. The novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots as a result is one of the most prayed novenas in the world!
The history of the devotion of Mary, Undoer of Knots begins in Germany in 1615. A young couple, married only for three years, were having serious marital problems and were seriously considering getting divorced. However, before making a definite decision, they decided to visit an Austrian Jesuit priest , Jakob Rem, for guidance and prayer. The wife gave the priest a ribbon that was used to tie the couple together during their wedding ceremony. The ribbon had many knots as everytime they had a quarrel, she would make a knot in the ribbon.
Father Jakob, who had a great devotion to Mary, prayed for the couple in front of the painting of Our Lady of Snow while holding the ribbon in his hands. He begs Mary to undo the knots, meaning the marriage difficulties of the couple. All of a sudden, he witnesses that the knots become undone miraculously one after the other until the ribbon is completely smooth. The couple reconciles and live a happy marriage until the end of their days.
In 1700, Father Jerome Ambroise von Langemantel, grandson of the couple, ordered a painting to be done in memory of the miracle and to reinforce the devotion to the Virgin Mary. The painting shows Mary undoing knots, with two angels holding the ribbon. He names it, “Mary, Undoer of Knots”.
Up until the twentieth Century, the devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots existed only in Germany. But in the eighties, when the future Pope Francis was finishing his thesis for his doctorate in Augsburg, near Munich, he was profoundly moved by the painting. He took pictures back of the painting and started distributing them in Argentina. He also had a few copies made of the painting. Soon enough, an important movement of popular piety spread all through Latin America and throughout the world.
In 1997, Father Ramon Celeiro, parish priest for Jorge Mario Bergoglio (futur Pope Francis) wrote a novena especially for Mary, Undoer of Knots. Even though it was initially written for the parishioners, it was rapidly diffused worldwide.
Hozana is a website of Catholic prayer which gives each of us the opportunity to join hundreds of prayer communities offering many spiritual themes. If you would like to discover more about Mary or have a devotion to her, take a look at our Marian prayer groups: