Introduction to the Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots:
The Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots (also known as the Novena to Mary, Untier of Knots, or the Novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots) was inspired by a German baroque icon (pictured at the right). The icon features the Blessed Virgin Mary, surrounded by the heavenly host and under a dove representing the Holy Spirit, undoing knots while crushing the head of the serpent under her heel. (See Genesis 3:15.)
Both the icon and the devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots, trace their roots to a passage from a famous work, Against Heresies, by a second-century bishop, Saint Irenaeus of Lyons. In discussing Mary's role as the Second Eve, Saint Irenaeus writes that "the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith."
In popular devotion, this image was extended to the Blessed Virgin's intercession for us in Heaven. The knot is a good representation of the results of sin in our spiritual life: As we engage habitually in sin, it becomes harder and harder to return to virtue, just as a knot that is pulled tighter and tighter becomes harder to untie. God's grace, however, offered to us through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, can undo any knot and conquer any sin.
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