In moments of sorrow and trial the Christian people have frequently turned to Mary for comfort and assistance. Today's commemoration of the Augustinian devotion to Our Mother of Consolation is an expression of that confidence in Mary's presence and solace. The devotion was born out of an experience of sorrow and loss, but became a reminder that we are never forgotten or abandoned, never alone.
The title of Our Mother of Consolation has been the principal devotion to Mary within the Order at least since the 17th Century. Its origin among the Augustinians is directly tied to the life of Saints Monica and Augustine who are commonly depicted together with the figures of Mary and the Child Jesus in interpretations of the image. The other title of the devotion is Our Lady of the Cincture. According to tradition, Monica, immersed in sorrow because of the death of her husband and the waywardness of her son, was granted a vision of Mary and the Child Jesus, who sought to offer her comfort or consolation. Mary handed her a leather cincture which she asked Monica to wear as a continual reminder of her presence and thus, a visible sign of encouragement. From that moment Monica wore the cincture and, after his conversion, recommended it also to her son as an indication of Mary's abiding protection. Thus, by this same tradition, it became historically, the principal and common symbol for all who follow Augustine's Rule.
The various titles by which the Order venerates Mary - Help, Grace, Good Counsel, Consolation - all suggest an understanding of the Mother of God as benefactress or patroness of her people, as one who responds to the many needs which humanity experiences. Mary is truly mother and sister to us, because as faithful disciple of her Son, she learned well the lessons of selfless love and generous service. As Mother of Consolation she is particularly near to those in need of companionship and comfort.