As I’ve expressed before, I’ve been a bit weary of the massive attachment some Catholics have to Mary. I’ve just never had that strong of a draw to her, but I do find her loving and interesting. And the whole New-Eve-bringing-forth-our-Savior-into-the-world thing was pretty rad. But since it’s May, which is a month often associated with Mary, I decided that each Monday in May will look at some of Mary’s titles that I really like.
The first is the Undoer (or Untier) of Knots. I’m picking this one first because I’m currently doing this novena. But it’s actually a rather late title attributed to Mary, based on a seventeenth century German painting in which, surprisingly, Mary is undoing knots. It’s such a basic, tangible representation of the saints’ intercessions. We take Mary our problems, and like any mother, she helps us. Maybe I relate to this title a lot because my own mother has many, many times gotten tiny knots out of my silver chain necklaces. The symbolism hits close to reality.
The painting, by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner, also shows Mary stepping on the head of a knotted snake, which ever since I learned about it, I love images of Mary crushing the serpent. The world that Eve’s disobedience tangled up, Mary’s obedience sets straight again. The Undoer of Knots is one of Pope Francis’ favorite devotions.