16th February : Our Lady Of The Thorn

Our Lady Of The Thorn

Country : France

Year :

The name of this shrine near Chalons-sur-Marne in France is due to a legend that had its origin in the devotion of the Augustinian canons of Saint-Victor, to the sinless Mother of God, unscathed among the world’s flames like the Burning bush.  During the Middle Ages the priests of St. Augustine had charge of this church.

The sanctuary decayed during the Wars of Religion and the Revolution, but it was restored during the nineteenth century, and the small medieval statue of Our Lady was repaired and replaced.  It is now once more a place of local pilgrimage.

The thornbush, burning  but unconsumed, from which God spoke to Moses, is used by the Church as a figure of Our Lady; and an antiphon at lauds on the feast of the Circumcision in the Little Office of Mary says:  “The bush which Moses saw unburnt we recognize as your glorious virginity:  Mother of God, intercede for us.”

Some Greek calendars have a commemoration of this under the title, Our Lady of the Thorn or of the Thorn-Bush.  St. Brigit writes, “This chosen Mother is appropriately likened to the bush which Moses saw all on fire, which yet remained unconsumed; for He who abode so long in the bush until He made Moses believe and carry out what He told him, to whom also when he asked His name said I AM WHO AM, this is my name forever; the same abode in His Mother’s womb for as long as other children must remain there before birth.  And as the Son of God took entire possession of the Virgin’s body in His conception, so did He come forth from her in His Nativity as the perfume yielded by the rose, in all the glory of His Godhead and manhood, the virginal glory of the Mother remaining untouched.”  By the bush which Moses saw is understood Our Lady that was afire and burnt not, she was mother without loss of maidenhood.

There is also a classical reference in English literature to this in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, when the Prioress invokes Our Lady’s help in the telling words:

O Mother maid, O Maid and Mother free,O bush unburnt, burning in Moses’ sight.

Draw us to thee, let us thine own be;Thy thorns protect us in God’s sight.

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