The “memorare” is a prayer that was composed by Saint Bernard to Our Lady. In the 16th century, the “memorare” was spread by Father Claude Bernard.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine 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 stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
The “memorare” is a beautiful prayer in which each word is full of meaning.
“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary” – what does “most gracious” mean?
Most gracious is the superlative of gracious. In this context, gracious means someone who is very compassionate.
Therefore, we could say, “Remember O most compassionate Virgin Mary.” In other words, someone who is compassionate, who forgives much.
“... never was it known ...”. Take note of the words “never was it known”. “Never” means not at any time or place in the entire world.
“ ... implored thy help ...” – meaning to ask Thee to watch over them, to look after them, to keep them safe.
“...or sought thine intercession....”,-- the meaning is evident.
“... was left unaided...” – this is a beautiful proclamation.
Never in any era has the Virgin Mary abandoned those who ask Her for help. There is not one case in any circumstance where someone was left unaided. Never.
So, the same goes for us if we have the misfortune to sin. Even worse – this goes also for those who have the misfortune to fall into a vice, or into some immoral attitude that becomes habitual.
Don’t give up. Pray and ask. Pray and ask. Pray and ask. Because Our Lady will end up having pity on the person.
“...Inspired by this confidence ...” – in other words, inspired by this reason.
“…I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother…” – which means Thou who are more a virgin than all the virgins, the holy Virgin of virgins.
“... my Mother...” – as if to say, “Thou are incomparable, and as my Mother I go to Thee and count on Thee.”
In other words, “Thou art my Mother, Thou art the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but Thou are the Mother of all men. And because Thou art the mother of all men, Thou art my Mother too. I may be the last of men, but Thou art the highest and most elevated of Mothers.”
And Thy compassion is worth more than my sins. If my sins are an abyss, Thy compassion is a mountain that is far larger than my abyss.
“…to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful…” -- so the person saying the prayer is a sinner who is groaning. He sinned so much that he groans under the weight of his sins, but he throws himself at Our Lady’s feet.
“…O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions…” -- which means, “Mother, Thou who are the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, do not despise my petitions.”
So, I acknowledge that my petitions may be despised because in themselves they are nothing. But, do not despise them because I am Thy son. And a son may ask this of his mother.
The heart of a mother is always ready to listen, forgive, love, etc. This is especially true of Our Lady, the Mother of mothers, the perfection of perfections.
“...but in thy mercy hear…” “In thy mercy hear,” means to listen with favor, good will, good disposition.
“...and answer me. Amen.”-- and give me what I am asking of thee.
It could be remedy for a fault, the breaking of a vice, the acquiring of a virtue, etc., etc.
Considering everything the Church has taught about Our Lady, we have every reason to believe that She will end up granting our request. And so we ask Her with great ardor and insistence.
There’s a very beautiful and pious Latin liturgical song that refers to Our Lady as the Mountain of all virtue (Maria mons). She is the fountain of all virtue (Maria fons). And finally, She is the bridge that crosses all abysses (Maria pons).
In other words, we say to Our Lady:
“When I pray to Thee, O Lady, I think of all Thy virtues and of all my defects.
“But never, never, never, does Thou turn away from a son who begs Thy help. I ask Thy help with insistence; have pity on me and rip me away from my sins.”
Our request will be granted!
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira