The Desolata, a mediaeval Servite tradition where people grieve with Mary in expectation of the resurrection.
In this devotion which is celebrated in Servite Churches on the night of Good Friday Servites spend time reflecting on the Crucifixion from Our Blessed Mother’s perspective. In this we stand with the Mother of Our Lord at the foot of the Cross of Jesus and we share with her desolation as a Mother. The Desolata compels us as Servites to share in the suffering and pain of all, and to stand at the foot of the countless crosses where Christ our Lord is still being crucified today. The devotion can take on many forms but at the heart of the devotion is the experience of the Crucifixion of Our Lord and desolation of Our Blessed Mother.
The tradition has been celebrated in the parish since 1952. Joondanna parish priest, Servite Fr Peter Porteous, said it usually draws 200 to 300 people from the parish and beyond.
“There’s a lot of sorrow entering the room, you feel it. It’s a very sad night but also a great one,” he said.
Those who come along this year are invited to bring photos of their departed loved ones to the service.
“During the service, we invite them to place those photos at the foot of the Cross on the sanctuary with Our Blessed Mother,” Fr Peter said.
After the service, these photos will be perpetually placed in the Via Matris Chapel at the back of the church.
Dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, the Desolata Service is based on the seven-decade Servite Desolata Rosary which looks at the “sufferings of Mary as related to the sufferings of Jesus,” Fr Peter said.
It is also closely related to the Via Matris (the Way of the Mother): seven stations meditating on the sufferings of Mary.
The Desolata Rosary has seven mysteries and focuses on “Mary’s Passion”.
“In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Sorrows of Mary played a very important part in Servite spirituality,” Fr Peter said.
The Servite spirituality originally was imbued with a charism of service to Mary and then another charism centred on the suffering of Mary started to develop, Fr Peter said.
The Desolata Vigil Service will begin at 7pm – after sunset – on Good Friday and will focus on the seven mysteries: Simeon’s Prophesy; The Flight into Egypt; Jesus is Lost in the Temple; Jesus meets His Mother; Jesus dies on the Cross; The Pieta; and Jesus is Laid in the Tomb.
After the service, everyone is invited to stay in vigil with Our Blessed Mother until midnight.
Fr Peter said that this service is “very powerful for mothers because they can relate to the suffering of their children”.
“It’s very moving when they all come here; in many cases, parents have experienced what Mary’s going through in different ways,” he said.
“It becomes a good opportunity for people to connect with Mary in her suffering and their suffering,” he said.
The Desolata Vigil will be held at 7pm on Good Friday at St Denis’ parish,
60 Osborne St, Joondanna.