Renew My Church


Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Presbyteral Council approved the new name of Mary, Undoer of Knots, for unified St. Constance and St. Robert Bellarmine faith community. 

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!
Reflection by Fr. Brendan Guilfoil

On the weekend of January 22-23, we announced that our new, unified parish’s name is Mary, Undoer of Knots. It’s a bit unconventional, I suppose, but I think it’s a wonderful name and a wonderful devotion. After all, there are all sorts of “knots” in our lives which tie us down and prevent us from being the people we were meant to be. We know that we need help undoing those things which bind us to painful pasts and habits of sin. I think it’s a very practical way of seeing Mary and I think it’s a title we should know more about.

There are many titles for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Some of those titles reflect places that she has appeared in apparitions, such as Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Guadualupe. Others reflect dogmas, or theological truths, about Mary, such as Immaculate Conception or Mother of God. Others come from prayerful ways of asking Mary’s intercession in prayer, such as Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Mary, Undoer of Knots is another devotional name given to our Blessed Mother based on devotional ways that people have sought her intercession for centuries.

The origin of this name for Mary goes all the way back to the second century, when the church was still very young and ancient Rome was persecuting Christians. St. Irenaeus, one of the early bishops of the Church and a prominent theologian, described Eve’s fall in the garden as a knot which binds humanity to sin and Mary as the person whose “yes” to God undoes that knot by bringing Jesus Christ into the world. He builds on what St. Paul wrote about Jesus being the new Adam and describes Mary as a new Eve. Mary’s “yes” to God is what unties the knots of sin that hold us fast to this world.

Devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots as we know it today has existed since at least the late 1600’s. In Germany, a nobleman by the name of Wolfgang Lagenmantel and his wife Sophia were on the brink of divorce. In distress, Wolfgang sought spiritual direction from a nearby monastery. They prayed with Fr. Jakob Rem and asked Mary’s intercession. Through their prayer, the work that the couple did and Mary’s intercession, their marriage was saved. They had brought a cord, to which they were symbolically tied on their wedding day, to the priest and it began shining brightly.

Their grandson became a priest and commissioned a painting of Mary for an altar in the church. The artist was inspired by the family’s story and painted Mary as the Undoer of Knots. People have had a devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots since that time. This devotion has spread to different parts of the church. It grew to prominence in South America when then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) promoted this devotion. Many people have come to this devotion, placing whatever difficulties they are facing before Mary to ask her to undo those knots in their lives.

Why did we receive this name? As you know, St. Constance and St. Robert Bellarmine were made into a unified parish in July. The archdiocese determined that this was necessary to best serve the church in Chicago with the current circumstances and, as a newly created parish, it needed a new name. We were given the temporary name of Sts. Constance and Robert Bellarmine, with a new name to be determined. A new name helps parishes to form a new identity, which is important, even as it is challenging. Our unification committee formed a group to solicit parishioner input for the new name. They used the archdiocese’s criteria to sort through the suggestions that parishioners gave and picked six names which they discerned most closely aligned with the archdiocese’s goals and would unify the parish. These were submitted to Cardinal Cupich, who is responsible for choosing a name. While we work to unify, let us ask Mary, Undoer of Knots, to pray for our community as we come together.

Prayer to Mary, Undoer of Knots

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.

You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.

No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.

Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot… I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.

Hear my plea. Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.