"O Lady, tell me, where were you on Calvary? Near the cross? No, I would rather say that you were actually on the cross, being crucified with your Son." ~St. Bonaventure.
The Blessed Virgin Mary suffered more by seeing her Divine Son suffer than if she had endured His Passion herself. What parent would not without hesitation volunteer for any martyrdom in order to save their child? Why is this? It is due to love, and also would it not be a greater suffering to see them suffer than to suffer for them? Mary loved the life of her Son many times more than she loved her own. Nothing could have caused our Blessed Mother's suffering more than witnessing The Passion. Saint Bernard states it thus: "The soul is where it loves, rather than where it lives." Our Lord speaks the same sentiment: "Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be (Lk 12:34).
St. Alphonsus Liguori boldly states that Mary experienced absolutely no relief whatsoever during her Son's torture and death. By contrast, martyrs were consoled in their sufferings by the love of Jesus - as related by those who experienced this firsthand. St. Vincent in his martyrdom suffered the rack, tearing with pincers, burning with red hot plates, all while speaking to his tormenters with "such energy...it seemed as if there were one who spoke and one who suffered." Saint Boniface had his body raked with hooks, reeds jammed between his fingernails and flesh, melted lead poured into his mouth, all the while uttering without respite "I give you thanks, O Lord Jesus Christ." Saints Mark and Marcellinus were tied to a post, their hands and feet run through with nails, when their torturer said to them "Wretches, see what a miserable condition you are reduced to; save yourself from these torments, " they replied; "What pains? What torments do you mean? We have never felt better than we feel at the present moment, now that we are suffering joyfully for the love of Jesus Christ." St. Lawrence as he was being slowly roasted to death over fire said to his tormentor, "If you want to feed on my flesh, part of it is now roasted; turn it and eat." In this St. Augustine comments, "Intoxicated by the wine of divine love, he felt neither torments nor death."
The stronger the martyrs experience love for Jesus, the less they felt their tortures. They were strongly consoled by mingling their sufferings with those of Christ. But was Mary likewise consoled at the sight of His Passion? No, for Jesus' suffering was the real cause of her suffering. Her love for Him was veritibly her own executioner. Mary's martyrdom consisted in seeing and compassionating her innocent Son's torturous death - the more she loved Him, the more she suffered - Great as the sea is your destruction; who shall heal you? (Lam 2:13) Jeremiah asks "who shall heal you?" For there was no one to sooth your grief. "Thine own Son is the cause of thy suffering, and your love of Him was what constituted your martrydom. Other martyrs are all represented with the instruments of their sufferings - St. Paul with his sword, St. Andrew with his cross, St. Lawrence with his gridiron - but Mary is represented with her dead son in her arms. Jesus himself, and he alone, was the instrument of her martyrdom, because of the love she had for him."
For other marytrs the greatness of their love consoled them, but for Our Lord's Mother, the greatness of her love caused an even more excruciating suffering.
"O all you that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow." (Lam 1:12) Let us picture ourselves at the foot of the cross beside Mary. Picture her there and hear her say "O all you who pass by the way, see if any sorrow on earth is like mine. O you who spend your lives on earth and do not pity me, do not give my pain or sacrifice any thought. See me here as my Son dies and tell me if any anguish on earth is like my anguish. Have you ever seen such sorrow as mine?"
(Source: The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri)
No, O suffering mother, Queen of all Martyrs there is not a sea more bitter than yours. No anguish greater than thine. I have failed to compassionate your tears nor appreciate your pain as through your soul the sword did pass - all for my sins and the sins of my fellow humans. I offer you my little prayers, sacrifices and sufferings in atonement for the neglect Mankind shows you. I beg you, cover my pathetic offering with the blood of your Son and offer them to the Father in atonement for my sins and those of the whole world. Amen+