Chaplet of the Ten Evangelical Virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Pray the Ten Virtues and Imitate Our Lady
Andrew R. Maczynski, MIC
A powerful prayer that can help you reflect on Mary’s virtues and imitate her.
If you want to live a truly holy life today, one of the best ways is to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her Ten Evangelical Virtues shine through the Holy Scriptures as a glorious way to salvation for each of us.
We can reflect on Mary’s virtues and invoke her powerful, maternal intercession by praying the “Chaplet of the Ten Evangelical Virtues of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.”
But first let us consider Our Lady’s virtues, their basis in the Gospels, and their historical development. Then we will turn to the Chaplet itself as a powerful prayer.
Mary in the Gospels
We can find the Ten Evangelical Virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary recorded in the Gospels. There, she is presented as the Most Holy Virgin Mary — an evangelical model for the whole Church:
Certainly, the first Christians, as they reflected on these Gospel accounts, must have looked to Mary in particular as their model par excellence of love and service.
The infancy narratives in the first chapters of the Gospels of both Sts. Matthew and Luke are particularly illustrative of her virtuous character as the Mother of the Lord.
- Most Pure (Mt. 1:18, 20, 23; Lk 1:27,34)
- Most Prudent (Lk 2:19, 51)
- Most Humble (Lk 1:48)
- Most Faithful (Lk 1:45; Jn 2:5)
- Most Devout (Lk 1:46-7; Acts 1:14)
- Most Obedient (Lk 1:38; 2:21-2, 27)
- Most Poor (Lk 2:7)
- Most Patient (Jn 19:25)
- Most Merciful (Lk 1:39, 56)
- Most Sorrowful (Lk 2:35)
An example for us
But how specifically was the Mother of Our Lord viewed by the first followers of her Risen Son?
Certainly, she was seen, in the light of the fullness of graces bestowed on her, as one who reflected the very image of God the Father. Christians perceived in the Blessed Mother the Eternal One after whom Jesus had taken not only physically but spiritually.
She was the first to believe and the first to be redeemed as the preeminent member of the Church. She showed through her faithful obedience to God and His laws that she truly loved God as her Father.
The inspiring fact is that Mary’s virtues have a singular significance for each of us as members of the Church. As Mother of the Church and its preeminent member, she shows the rest of us how to follow her Son more closely.
It’s no wonder, then, that the imitation of Mary’s evangelical virtues has long been regarded as a sure way to Christian perfection. The virtue associated most closely with her is purity. But her faith, obedience, love, and poverty also come readily to mind.
A glory to behold
Mary’s Ten Evangelical Virtues are typically presented in the shape of a ten-ray star. A prime example of such Marian iconography can still be seen on the ceiling of an 18th century Marian Church in Gozlin, Poland.
Above all, the star has great spiritual meaning, but it is also significant for our edification. As the morning star, Mary is radiating her Ten Evangelical Virtues and inviting us to be inspired and guided by her glorious example on our earthly pilgrimage. In our battle against evil, the Blessed Virgin Mary shines as a pattern of perfection.
What is most inspiring about Our Lady’s virtues, as recorded in the Gospels, is their perfect correspondence with the beatitudes of her Son in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5: 3-12)! These blessings of Jesus form the very heart of the Gospel, which Mary’s life perfectly reflects.
So it is not surprising that Mary’s virtues have been a source of inspiration down through the centuries, starting with the early Christians. After all, whoever takes to heart Jesus’ teachings and follows Him is like Mary, the model disciple of the Lord.
To Jesus through Mary
We are considering here one of the Church’s great treasures. Great mystics saw in Mary’s virtues a simplified way to holiness for the faithful: Let us be like Mary and we will be holy, fulfilling the challenge of the Gospels.
Thus, a great Marian devotional tradition started, best described by the principle “To Jesus through Mary.” And it has always received the support of the highest Church authorities.
Both Popes Paul VI and John Paul II are good examples of this. In his exhortation Signum Magnum, published on the 50th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Paul VI dedicated the entire second part to the “devout following of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s virtues.” He again confirmed the rightness of the way to holiness in Jesus “through Mary”. So, too, John Paul II is known for his deep Marian piety, summed up best in his papal motto, Totus Tuus, and his everyday entrustment of himself to the Blessed Mother.
Our model of life
Turning to our own Marian Congregation, it is not an accident of history that no one else but Mary has been given to our religious community as a model. We were called into existence by Divine Providence and, in our early history, were known as the Order of the Immaculate Conception.
We Marians were called from our beginnings to defend Our Lady’s perfect holiness in her Immaculate Conception. That also entailed glorifying her and imitating her evangelical virtues.
One of the greatest of our early Marians, Fr. Casimir Wyszynski, said: “Whoever wants to glorify the Blessed Virgin Mary and wishes to stay under her protection, should love and respect her – but above all, should exercise the evangelical virtues and, through this, shall follow Mary’s example.”
It makes perfect sense, then, that, as our rule of life, we Marians chose the Rule of the Ten Virtues of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. This rule has its roots in a religious order dedicated to Our Lady.
Let me share with you a bit about its origins. In 1502, an order of women religious was founded. It was named the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Members of this order were, and still are today, called Annunciades. The co-founders of the Order were St. Joanne de Valois (1464-1505) and Blessed Gilbert Nicolas, OFM, also known as Gabriel Maria (1460-1532).
Inspired by the founding of the Order, Blessed Gilbert wrote the Rule of the Ten Virtues of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. He reasoned that since Mary was the model for the Sisters, her virtues – as named in the Gospels – should form the basis of their rule of life.
According to the Sisters’ history, the “Chaplet of the Ten Evangelical Virtues of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary” was then composed by St. Joanne, who was canonized in 1950 by Pius XII. This prayer is based on the Church’s rich rosary tradition and reflection on Our Lady’s virtues (See section on how to pray the Chaplet at the end of this article.) For the Sisters, the Chaplet served as a daily reminder of their rule of life and Marian foundation.
Copperplate depicting the Immaculate Mary against the background of the ten-ray star that symbolically represents evangelical virtues of the Mother of God. The image is taken from the book entitled “Gwiazda zaranna” [The Morning Star], which was translated and edited by the Venerable Servant of God Fr. Casimir Wyszyński. The book appeared in print in 1749, in Warsaw, and is now preserved in the Library of Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland.
A rule and a prayer for Marians
The Marians were the first and remain the only community of men religious based upon the Rule of the Ten Virtues of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. We received this rule in 1699.
Until the renovation of the Order which occurred in 1909, Marian priests and brothers professed their solemn vows based on the Rule of the Ten Virtues written by Blessed Gabriel Maria.
This Chaplet of the Ten Virtues of the B.V.M. was recovered from the gravesite of Fr. Tadeusz Bialowieski, the saintly Superior General of the Marians from 1793 to 1829. He was buried in 1832 inside the Church of the Cenacle, in Gora Kalwaria, Poland. This Chaplet has survived the elements since the early 19th Century.
It is important historically to note the prominence of the Chaplet in the life of our Marians before the renovation. Each Marian would hang his chaplet beads from the sash of his white habit. Called a decade, the chaplet is comprised of ten black beads, with a crucifix on one end and a medal with an image of Mary Immaculate on the other.
The White Marians carried their chaplet, or decade, with them all their lives, and were buried still holding it in their hands. This chaplet was given to each White Marian on the first day of his religious life, when he was vested in his habit.
“The Chaplet of the Ten Evangelical Virtues of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary” was the Marians’ everyday prayer for almost two and a half centuries. In fact, in Marian iconography, paintings of our Marian Founder, Bl. Stanislaus Papczyński, and Fr. Casimir Wyszynski typically depict them holding their chaplet beads.
A remaining part of the Chaplet of the Ten Virtues of the B.V.M. recovered from the original gravesite of the Venerable Servant of God, Fr. Casimir Wyszynski in the Marian Shrine on Mount Balsamao, Portugal. This chaplet has survived the elements since the 18th Century.
A prayer for all
Perhaps the Venerable Servant of God, Fr. Casimir understood and expressed best the spiritual significance of this powerful prayer when he wrote in the introduction to the book called The Morning Star: Although our most beloved Lady was shining with innumerable virtues, all but ten were difficult not only to imitate, but even to understand, because, through them, Our Lady surpassed the angels themselves, let alone the holiest of men. The Holy Spirit desired that the Gospels recount for us only those ten virtues since they can be acquired not by Mary alone, but by all of us.
With these stirring words of encouragement to each of you as our Marian Helpers, here are simple directions for praying the Chaplet. I encourage you to pray it with all your heart and reflect on Our Lady’s virtues:
First, we make the Sign of the Cross, then we recite one Our Father and ten Hail Mary’s, mentioning after the words “Holy Mary, Mother of God” one virtue, in the following order.
The Marians have recited this prayer since the time of approval of the Order upon the “Rule of the Ten Evangelical Virtues of the B.V.M.” by Pope Innocent XII in 1699. Saint Stanislaus Papczynski, Founder of the Marians, was the first to make his solemn vows on this rule in Warsaw, on June 6, 1701.
To pray the Chaplet, use only 10 beads of a Rosary or a 10-bead chaplet. Begin with the Sign of the Cross, followed by one Our Father. Then on each of the 10 beads, pray one Hail Mary, adding after the words “Holy Mary, Mother of God…” one of the following virtues.
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN.
Our Father Who art in heaven…
V. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
R. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.
V. In Your Conception, O Virgin Mary, You were Immaculate.
R. Pray for us to the Father whose Son, Jesus, you brought forth into the world.
Let us pray:
Father, You prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of Your Son. You let her share beforehand in the salvation of Christ would bring by His death, and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Help us by her prayers to live in Your presence without sin. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
V. The Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception,
R. Be our Health and our Protection.