Artwork created 17–19 Feb 2023.
The Servite Founders were seven rich men (possibly cloth merchants) of Florence, Italy, who all experienced the same vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the feast of the Assumption in 1233 and gave them this message:
Leave the world, retire together into solitude, that you may fight against yourselves, and live wholly for God. You will thus experience heavenly consolations. My protection and assistance will never fail you.
With the approval of their Bishop, Ardingo de Forasboschi, they founded a hermitage on Monte Senario, Florence circa May, 1234.
The above image is based on the apparition of Our Lady of Sorrows (Dolours) on Good Friday, in 1240, surrounded by angels caring the Rule of St Augustine, a palm branch (symbol of martyrdom), and the black habits that they were to wear. They had previously been robed in grey since 1233. Above them in gold were the words: Servants of Mary.
Our Lady clothed each one of them in these robes then said:
I come, Servants well beloved and elect, I come to accomplish your desires and grant your prayers; here are the habits in which I wish you should in future be clothed; their black hue should always bring to mind the cruel Dolours which I felt by reason of the Crucifixion and Death of my only Son; the Rule of St. Augustine, which I give you as the form of your Religious Life, will gain for you the palm prepared in heaven, if you serve me faithfully on earth.
Then apparition vanished form the Servite Founders' sight, and so was finalised the foundation of the Servants of Mary (O.S.M.) order by Our Lady.
The feast day of the Holy Servite Founders is on 17th of February.
A more in depth retelling of the Servites' foundation by C. Kegan Paul in 1895 can be found here.
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