Seven Holy Founders Triduum

Litany in Honor of the Seven Holy Founders

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Chris, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father in heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,

God the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete,

Holy Trinity one God, pray for us.

Virgin Handmaid of the Lord,

Virgin of Sorrows,

Queen of your servants,

St. Joseph,

St. John the Baptist,

Sts. Peter and Paul,

St. Augustine,

Seven Holy Fathers,

Founder of our Order,

Servants of the Word,

Servants of holy Mary,

Servants of your brothers,

Servants of the poor,

Good servants,

Faithful servants,

Vigilant Servants

Compassionate servants,

Seekers of God,

Adorers of the Father,

Disciples of the Father,

Disciples of the Son,

Temples of the Spirit,

Men of solitude,

Men of penance,

Men of silence,

Men of contemplation,

Messengers of the Gospel,

Builders of the Kingdom,

Models of the friendship,

Makers of Peace.

Lord, you satisfy our every need with your abundant gifts. We your servants trust in your mercy and ask that you receive the prayers we offer through the intercession of our Seven Fathers. Through Christ our Lord.


A Triduum of Reflection and Prayer in Honor of the Seven Holy Founders of the Friar Servants of Mary

What is a Triduum?

A triduum is a three-day period of prayer, usually in preparation for an important feast or in celebration of that feast. The best-known triduum is the Paschal or Easter Triduum, which begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday and continues until the start of second vespers (evening prayer) on Easter Sunday; “three days.”

The Origin of the Term Triduum is a Latin word, formed from the Latin prefix “tri” (meaning “three”), and the Latin word “dies” (meaning “day”). Like its cousin the “novena” (from the Latin “novem,” or “nine”), a triduum was originally any prayer recited over the course of multiple days (three for triduums; nine for novenas). As every novena recalls the nine days that the disciples and the Blessed Virgin Mary spent in prayer between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday, in preparation for the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, every triduum recalls the three days of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection.

Why are we having a “Triduum” during February?

Every Feb. 17, the Order of Friar-Servants of Mary celebrates the Feast of the Seven Holy Founders of the Order. We, the Servite Friars here at The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, as well as our staff and all of you, our friends, will therefore be celebrating a special “Triduum of Preparation for the Feast of the Seven Holy Founders” on Feb. 13, 14, and 15, in anticipation of the Feast, which, this year (only) will be celebrated on Feb. 16. It is usually celebrated on Feb. 17, but this year that day happens to be Ash Wednesday.

The Servite Community and the staff of The Grotto joyfully invite all of you, our good friends, to prepare heart, mind, and soul, to celebrate this great, annual, Feast of commemoration of our Seven Holy Founders … may their holy and compassionate service to God and all people, in the name of, and honoring the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, lift us all up, inspire us to service, and to the love of Christ and His Mother!

Day 1 of the Triduum – Saturday, Feb. 13


As the legend tells us, the Servite Order was founded in 1233 in Florence, Italy, by seven wealthy wool and textile merchants. They were canonized in 1888, By Pope Leo XIII, as the “Seven Founders of the Servants of Mary.”

History points to the early 13th century as being a time of rapid societal, religious, and political, change in Florence. The merchant class was forming, emerging strongly out of the development of trade, commerce, and banking, and becoming increasingly rich and influential across society.

The city of Florence became famous far and wide for textiles manufacturing. Its fine fabric materials were sought throughout Europe, Africa, and the East. In turn, Florence imported spices, scents, ivory and silks. As a sign of its prosperity and power, the city’s gold “florin,” bearing the imprint of her emblem, the lily, and her patron, St John the Baptist, went into international circulation as a basic monetary unit. Florence was built on the banks of the river Arno. Her prosperity was evident in the tremendous building development along the long, low, banks of the river. Cloth manufacturers, wool dyers, and allied crafts, were established on those banks. It was a time of political change, even upheaval, as well. The rise of the “commune,” a new type of democratic administrative body, made it possible for the merchants and craftsmen to have a say in governing the city, 4 and not just the traditional noble families, as before. The power of the landed gentry was broken. No longer would land be the sole criterion for having a say in government. Moreover, peasants and farmers left the land and small villages and poured into the city. They were looking for a share in the wealth that marked the life of people in Florence. Lastly, but not least, political conflict erupted between the Pope’s political supporters and the new, local “Middle Class” of merchants and artisans.

This was the world of the Seven Holy Founders. The Order of Friar-Servants of Mary traces its earliest expression to those days of political, economic, and religious ferment which were the dominant atmosphere of central Italy at the beginning of the 13th Century. Before the Servites ever existed as an official religious Order of the Church, seven men came together in that proud and prosperous city of Florence, Italy. It was by no means the first time that they had met. For some years, a firm friendship among them, based upon a common, mutual, understanding of Christian ideals drawn from the Gospels and the New Testament, had been growing among the seven friends. As a reflection of the penitential spirit of the times, it had been the custom of these seven men to meet regularly as members of a religious society established specifically to honor and praise Mary, the Mother of God.

Gradually, the seven wealthy merchants began drawing further and further away from the predominant values and concerns of the citizens, specifically the rampant thirst for wealth, for status, for prestige. And instead of falling in with the bitter hatred and open violence of the period, (the results of political strife), the seven original Servites were busily shaping their lives on the pattern displayed in the Gospel, a life of shared poverty, mutual esteem, love, and of concern for, and service to, the poor. One by one, the seven companions entered a group of penitents responsible for the running of a hospice dedicated to the care of the sick, the poor, and of pilgrims. The group was called the “Society of Our Lady,” and its members “Servants of Mary.”

Interestingly enough, in those early days of their association, the seven continued to live at home with their families, but they added to their lives a special “rule of life” which outlined their shared spirituality. They dedicated themselves to the Mother of God, and to the service of her Son through service to the poor and those persons on the fringe of society. Penance was a key aspect of the lives of the seven from the beginning of their association. Through penance, they prayed that Mary, their “Lady,” would reconcile them to her Son, Jesus. Living with the poor, faced with the raging injustices of the time, and forced to reject the compromised values of the society at large, the seven evolved a radical change in their lives. They became literally poor themselves, not by accident of birth (they were all merchants), but by choice, as they renounced their personal wealth…and put it to the service of those who truly lived in need.

“Tradition” and scientific history sometime differ in their presentation and interpretation of facts. So, the written, historical, documentation preserved in the Servite archives witnesses to a very special, “providential,” combination of persons and circumstances, movements, and ideals, which culminated in the founding of the Order. But the Servite tradition of “legends and stories” shows that “their Lady,” Mary, the one to whom they had dedicated their service for the love of Christ and His poor, revealed herself to the seven merchants in a powerful and symbolic vision in the year 1233. As a direct result of that revelation, the seven abandoned all their business interests, left their comfortable homes, put aside the finery which announced a person’s standing in society, and then went to live together in a very humble, run-down, building at the edge of the city of Florence. But as radical a move as that was, the seven felt that it was a reasonable enough price to pay for what they gained, i.e., a life shared as brothers in search of the Lord. The holiness and penitential lifestyle of the seven quickly attracted visitors, and then others, many of whom wished to join them in their newly found joy of fraternal living for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus. A new “Order” was coming to birth…!

Finally, the entire group decided to move from the “busyness” and chaos of the city of Florence, to more peaceful surroundings, and the seven men established a hermitage on the summit of a nearby mountain, called “Mount Senario” (“Mount Scenario” translates as something like “Sounding Mountain”). Servite tradition tells that the holy “sound” of the first Servants’ life of dedication and love went out from their mountaintop refuge to the entire countryside and was “heard” by many! Coming to be known finally as the “Friar-Servants of Mary,” the first Seven were joined by others on Mount Senario, and as the group continued to grow, the seeds of a new religious Order took root. Today, “Monte Senario” (as it is known in Italy, where it is located) is considered to be the “cradle of the Servite Order.” It is the “Mother House” of all the priories, and communities, of the Servants of Mary from then till today.

The Order of Friar-Servants of Mary was originally approved as a religious Order by the bishop of Florence sometime between the years 1240 and 1247. The Servants decided to live by the Rule of St. Augustine, and they added to the Rule their own expression of Marian devotion and dedication to Mary under the title of “Mater Dolorosa,” or “Mother of Sorrows.” We also know that by 1250, there were, besides the original Seven, a number of other individuals who were ordained to the priesthood within the Order, thus creating an Order with both priests and nonordained brothers.

By 1267, the Servite Order had come under the leadership of St. Philip Benizi, an extraordinary Friar-Servant, who was so renowned that the College of Cardinals in Rome attempted to elect him Pope of the universal Church…in his utter humility, he refused! By the year 1256, the Servants had received an official approval from Pope Alexander IV which allowed for continued expansion of the Community to other places where the needy 8 awaited. And finally, In the year 1304, the Order of Friar-Servants of Mary received definitive approval as a religious Order in the Church by Pope Benedict XI.

Since the time of the Seven Holy Founders, the Servite Friars have sought to live the Gospel way of life in the service of Mary, Mother and Servant of the Lord. Our Lady’s “most special” Order spread throughout Italy and the rest of Europe, and then around the globe to North America, South America, South Africa, Asia, and Australia. In 1870, Servite Fathers Morini, Ventura, Giribaldi, and Brother Joseph Camera, at the request of Bishop Joseph Melcher of Green Bay, Wisconsin, took up a mission in America, at Neenah, Wisconsin. Father Morini went on to establish the monastery and parish of Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago, Illinois, in 1874. A novitiate for training young men for the Servite Order was opened at Granville, Wisconsin, in 1892. And the first American Province of the Order of Friar-Servants of Mary was formally established in 1908. The land for The Grotto, The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, here in Portland, was purchased in 1924, by Servite Father Ambrose Mayer, and “the rest is history”!

A Prayer for Day 1 of the Triduum

We turn to you, our first Fathers, as children, disciples, and friends, to learn from you how to be followers of Christ:

How, together, to sing the praises of God, and share the bread of life as children gathered at the Father’s table;

How, in silence, we can hear the voice of the Spirit, and in listening, give words to our faith;

How, in faith, we can live without attachment to clothes, food, or home, seeking only the Kingdom of God and its justice;

How, living, suffering, and dying for the Church, we can announce to all the Gospel of peace.

O Holy Fathers, may your example of searching for God, and of service to Mary, remain with us, and may your prayer support us today and all the days of our life.


Fr. Richard Boyle, OSM

Day 2 of the Seven Holy Founders Triduum:
A Reflection on the Charism of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary
“Moved by the Spirit, we commit ourselves, as did our First Fathers, to witness the gospel in fraternal communion and to be at the service of God and all people, drawing abiding inspiration from Mary, Mother and Servant of the Lord” (Constitution, 1).
Right at the beginning of our Constitution, the Servites are already called to live out the Charism of the Order: fraternity, service and Mary. As Servites, we live in fraternal communion with one another. Our First Fathers had given us the example; they did not know each other… they called each other brother and they cared for each other that they could not bear to be absent from each other for even an hour without great annoyance (Legenda de Origine, 29).
Fraternity means to live as brothers (and sisters), to share with our brothers (and sisters) in the community. Fraternity is not limited only in living together as brothers, but also and most importantly, how we support, help and strengthen each other in all aspects of our life. “We are loyal to the community in good times and in bad. Within community we strive for brotherly friendship by giving ourselves and accepting one another with each other’s talents and limitations” (Constitution, 10). And this brings us to the second charism: Service.
As we learn to accept each other’s talents and limitations, We are “sent to extent its fraternity to the people of today who are divided by reason of age, nationality, race, religion, wealth and education” (Constitution, 74). Every member of the Order is called to serve God and His people. Our service is the form of our active collaboration with God in manifesting his redeeming work in our world. We are called to do the humble apostolic service wherever God calls us to be.
In our service to God and his people, we carry out Jesus own legacy, “to serve and not to be served” (Matt. 20:28). But the Servite service is service like Mary’s. “The soul and fundamental inspiration of Mary’s service can be found in a total faith and total readiness to serve: faith as her response to God; readiness to serve as her response to humankind and the Church.”
In our service, we, like Mary, radiate the love of Christ so that Christ’ presence and faithfulness can be experienced in the lives of the people we serve.
The third Charism of the Servite is Mary: drawing abiding inspiration from Mary, Mother and Servant of the Lord. This is a unique identity of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mother is the inspiration for all the members of the Order. She is our model and example in following and serving the Lord until He finishes his redeeming work on the Cross. Thus, the Servants of Mary are called to stand at the foot of other crosses where Jesus is still being crucified. Blessed Virgin Mary has taught us to love and to serve Christ, the Word who became Flesh.
Almighty and ever-living God, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, you called our First Fathers to live in fraternal communion and to serve you and your people.
Through Mary’s example, may we live out our fraternal commitment in our service to you and our brothers and sisters, children of the same Father.
Give us your strength, O God, that we may serve and help those who carry heavy crosses and bring them to you, the source of salvation.
May they come to know you and your redeeming work and may you lift up all their crosses and bring them peace and love.
Fr. Leo Hambur, OSM
Seven Holy Founders Triduum – Day 3
“The Servants have honored Saint Mary as their lady with particular acts of reverence: greeting her with the Angelic Salutation at the beginning of community gatherings; offering her the traditional homage of the Vigil; dedicating their churches to her; celebrating her feasts with solemnity and honoring her memory on Saturday and at the close of each day”. (Constitutions 6c)
The Angelic Salutation
The Angelus is the traditional prayer with which the faithful three times a day – morning, noon, sunset – commemorating the Angel’s proclamation to Mary and the Incarnation of the Word of God. The essential value of the Angelus is the commemoration of the saving event by which, according to the Father’s plan, the Word, through the work of the Holy Spirit, was made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
The Vigil of the Blessed Virgin
The Vigil is one of the oldest and most characteristic gift of the Servants of Mary to their Lady. The Vigil, although not composed by the Servants of Mary, however, over the centuries, has become an expression of prayer and characteristic greeting of the Servants to their Lady. At least since the last decades of the thirteenth century, in which St. Philip Benizi and Saint Alexis, one of the Seven Founders lived, the Vigil is in force in the Order and has remained unchanged in its form.
When we celebrate it, we enter a movement of communion that transcends the boundaries of time and space:
• communion with all the Servants of Mary – friars and nuns, religious and lay people – who, scattered throughout the world, regard Vigil as a gift to our Lady and as a humble but effective bond of community.
• communion above all with the generations of brothers and sisters who have preceded us in service to Mary, and who made this reverent devotion the sign of their faithful dedication to their Lady.
“In accordance with the traditions of the Order, the Secular Community shows special honor to the Blessed Virgin by means of particular acts of devotion such as the Hail Mary, the Vigil of the Blessed Virgin, and the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows; it celebrates as family feasts the principal Marian feasts of the Order and the local Church, and keeps the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, as well as the solemnities and memorials of the saints and blessed of the Servite Order”. (OSSM Rule of Life #29)
The Servite Marian Feasts
Mary at the Foot of the Cross (Friday of Fifth Week of Lent)Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15th)
The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows
The Rosary the Seven Sorrows of Mary, because of the decisive contribution with which the Friars Servants of Mary contributed to its formation and for the love with which they have propagated it among Christians, can be considered a pious exercise proper to the Servite Order.
The Way of the Sorrowful Mother (Via Matris)
It is the path our Madre traveled not only during her Son’s passion and death, but also throughout all her life. It is a painful path, like that of every human being. It is the path on which we all walk together with our Mother and which she knows well because she walked it before us. It is, in short, a path that goes not only to the summit of Calvary and that ends at the tomb, but that goes even beyond the horizons of this mortal life: until the resurrection of Christ.
The Seven Sorrows
1. The Prophecy of Simeon2. The Flight into Egypt3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple4. Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary5. Mary Stands at the Foot of the Cross6. Mary Receives the Body of Jesus Taken Down from the Cross7. Mary Places the Body of Jesus in the Tomb, Awaiting the Resurrection
A Prayer for Day 3 of the Triduum
We turn to you, our first Fathers, as children, disciples, and friends, to learn from you how to be followers of Christ:
— How we can serve God in joy, with innocent hands and pure heart.
— How we can be faithful to the command to bear one another’s burdens and freely serve one another.
— How we can live like the Lord’s humble Handmaid, making our lives a service of love to the Son of God and our sisters and brothers.
O Holy Fathers may your example of service to God and holy Mary remain with us and may your prayer support us today and all the days of our life.
Fr. Vidal Martinez, OSM