Mary Untier of Knots – Pope Francis’ Favorite Marian Image

Our new Pope Francis has a very special devotion to Our Lady Untier of Knots. Many have never heard of this devotion, but it’s a great one…going all the way back to the second century.

Our Lady Untier of Knots,
Marian Image Beloved by Pope Francis

Before describing “Our Lady Untier of Knots,” I’d like to share a recent experience from my own life as it relates to this special Marian devotion:

During the offertory of our High Mass for the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, a student tapped me on the shoulder, “Dr. Marshall, you’re needed in the courtyard.” I was a bit puzzled, but I followed the student outside.

Outside in the courtyard, I saw one of the altar servers handing a hot thurible and the chains were tangled and knotted. The priest was about to incense the altar, and in its current condition, the thurible would not close. It was a jangled up mess. Apparently, the base of the thurible had flipped over a few times and the chains were wound up around each other. If you have handled a thurible, you may have experienced this before.

We literally had 45 seconds until the priest needed the thurible at the altar. I prayed, “Our Lady, Untier of Knots, pray for us.” And like magic I tumbled around the base of the thurible about three times. Aha! It was straight again. The altar server used his bare hands to put the coals in the thurible (he was in a hurry, after all) and he darted inside to the altar…just in time.

So what is meant by the title Our Lady Untier of Knots?

Pope Francis’s Devotion to ‘Our Lady Untier of Knots’

Our new Pope Francis has been one of the chief promoters of “Our Lady Untier of Knots.” When Pope Francis, then Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was studying in Germany, he was stunned by a Bavarian painting of “Holy Mary, Our Lady Untier of Knots.” He acquired a copy of the painting and brought it to Argentina and promoted devotion to Mary under this title. Apparently it has caught on with the faithful of Argentina.

It is interesting that this Marian devotion of Pope Francis is rooted in Bavaria – it therefore creates a bridge between the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and that of Pope Francis. In fact, Cardinal Bergoglio had an image of Our Lady Untier of Knots engraved into a chalice and presented it to Pope Benedict XVI.

The Theology of Our Lady Untier of Knots

The theology of Mary untying knots goes back to the second century – less than one hundred years after the death of the Apostles. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons wrote “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.” (Adversus haereses, 3, 22) This is one of the earliest examples of describing Mary as the “New Eve.” Eve, standing next to Adam, is the “co-peccatrix” (co-sinner) Mary, standing next to Christ crucified, is the “co-redemptrix” (co-redemptress). This does not mean that Mary directly saves or redeems us. It means that Mary consents and participates in the redemptive action of Christ. Her role is congruent and relative to the condign and absolute role of Christ.

Our Lady Untier of Knots is Patristic and may be the way forward for establishing and expanding Marian theology. The doctrine of Mary’s universal mediation and her subordinate role to Christ in human salvation is beautifully summed up in this saying of Saint Irenaeus of Lyons. The fact that it goes back to the second century reveals that this is not a medieval accretion. It’s a doctrine deriving from the Apostles themselves.

Question: Had you heard of this devotion, Our Lady Untier of Knots? If so, in what part of the world do you live? Is it popular there?

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  • Ona

    She’s fairly well-known in Brazil, where I live. I’ve been to a small shrine dedicated to her, and statues or little saints cards of her are found in most shops.

  • Colleen Sheehy

    Can’t recall if I first heard of Our Lady by this title from you or from Fr Gordon McCrae. Have spent the last few mounts requesting her intercession with the “knot” known as the PPACA, especially since a few folks tried the “Occam’s Razor” approach only to have it rejected…I’m confident Our Lord’s will will prevail through Our Lady Untier of Knots, but expect we’ll have some tough lessons to learn first!

  • Barbara Ann

    I live near Philadelphia and have several women friends who enthusiastically pray this for their children.

  • OFelixAnima

    Fargo, North Dakota!!!

  • Carol

    I have heard about it, however it was not until recently that I was trying to discern something and a priest told me to start praying the Mary Untier of Knots prayer and was I ever amazed — not too long after things started to sort out in my mind …. Now I pray this constantly!!!

  • smartypants

    I found this devotion online a few years ago and it worked a miracle for my daughter who was struggling with many difficult situations just after graduation from college. She found her vocation and reunited with her high school sweetheart , now husband after praying this novena.
    This is a powerful devotion.

  • Kathleen

    Yes, I heard about this special devotion to Mary about five years ago from a relative living in Carnation, Washington. I love this devotion to Our Lord, through His blessed Mother, Mary.

  • Jason

    From my experience, she is moderately known in Italy, mostly among the good ones of the Charismatic renewal. She helped me get a job and then a greater one later on.
    Very good for spiritual deliverance too.

    Praise the Lamb of God,

  • Josros

    Yes, it is quite well known here. I am in Malta in Europe.

  • Don Burns

    Duluth, GA – My wife nad I have prayed this Novena several times.

  • Chinelo

    Yes I have. A very close friend of mine introduced it to when I was very sick. Her husband is the one promoting it here in Lagos, Nigeria.

  • Irene Ragodon Guevarra

    It’s the first time I heard it and I don’t think it’s known here in the Philippines. I am fascinated with the idea. I personally ask my guardian angel to help me untangle knots. Now I know I can ask Mother Mary’s help too, although of course, I’ve been asking her to unknot the figurative tangles in my life. Thanks, Dr. Taylor for the information.

  • Mary

    My wonderful group of catholic friends on Facebook introduced me to Our Lady Untier of Knots! I am in Melbourne.

    • stef

      When praying the novena do you ask to untie a different knot each day or is the same knot for the whole novena?

  • Nancy White

    I live in a very small town in Southeastern Indiana. My friend and sister-in-law, Carol, sent me the pamphlet “Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots” and I have been praying it every day since receiving it. I love the prayers along with my daily rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Before receiving this, I had not heard of Our Lady Undoer of Knots. I am 75 years old and I have been a Catholic my whole life and went to Catholic School for eight years. I don’t understand why I have never heard of her before.

  • Carol O

    Casper, WY. The devotion is growing in popularity here!

  • Tony Lee

    Some two years ago, I had come across a Novena “Mary, Untier of Knots”
    which had not known to have failed. I had used it to pray for some of my private intentions which were granted. My greatest joy was to read that this was the favourite prayer of our Pope Francis.!

  • Kathleen

    The first I heard of this devotion was from one of our good Priests who conducts the perpetual Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour every Wednesday night at a Chapel here in Ballarat Victoria several months ago. I then researched the full story which is very consoling and rewarding. So am now adding it to our devotions, trusting that our Dear Mother will untie the knots that are binding our children, keepng them from coming back humbly to Her Son. Also thank you for your podcast on setting Goals. God Bless you & your loved ones. Kathleen

  • JoeAllen

    The biggest KNOT in Christianity today involves the many flavors of Christianity that are fighting and scratching at one another. They read basically the same Scriptures (Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Jehovah Witness, Mormon, etc) yet conclude vastly different realities.

    From Mary to the meaning of Salvation to the definition of DEATH, there is little agreement among good-hearted Christians. This fact alone is ABSOLUTE PROOF that humanity needs the Resurrection in order to truly appreciate Jesus.

  • Victor

    (((Had you heard of this devotion, Our Lady Untier of Knots? If so, in what part of the world do you live? Is it popular there?)))

    Dr. Marshall! As you probably know, I’m a Canadian and although I must say that I’ve never heard of the expression “Our Lady Untier of Knots” it doesn’t mean that some Canadians have not heard and/or follow it. As a matter of fact as a child in my teens, I probably held a thurible at least a hundred times as an altar boy and truth be told, I didn’t even know what they called it at the time. In my old age I can’t recall ever having dropped the thurible but I can see beginners having a little problem with that. Although, I was the leader of our team and that was not heard of cause the sisters were always watching me. Don’t tell anybody but, I sensed that one of the sister that was politely told to teach two of us after I got Father’s Francis permission to start a team, well my best friend had his team so why not me? (lol)
    I better close now by saying that I have no doubt that Our Lady can Untie any Knots if we simply have a little Faith in Her. The only advice that I might pass on in my old age is to stick to learning to perfect the last two thousand years or so when Our Lord and Savior walked His Fathers Worlds,
    Thanks Mom
    God Bless

  • Evalina Van Lengen

    I live in south Florida and found about this title of Our Lady through the SpirtiDaily web four or five years ago. I bought booklets in English and Spanish and distributed to family and friends.

  • Mike

    We have heard of the devotion in Toledo Ohio. My wife is very close to our Lady through it.

  • Jacqueleen

    I heard about Our Lady Untier of Knots from Sondra Abrahams who had a near death experience. Sondra lives in Louisiana and mentioned this devotion in one of her talks. She can be seen on You Tube. I sent for the booklets, etc. for family and friends in New Jersey. I liked the concept of untying the knots as you pray.

  • Missy Harris

    I live in the northeast mountains of Georgia (USA) and was given a holy card with the prayer by a fellow parishioner. I love the way Our Lady reminds us that God loves the most scrambled of us!

  • IndayS

    I live in the Philippines, honestly I have heard about Mary Untier of Knots but I happened to find this and I love the prayer, so I shared it on my facebook to let them see how beautiful the prayer is,And Include this in my prayers.God bless.

  • may

    Am I glad to know about this title of Our Lady dating back to the second century, no less!!! The comments below certainly convince me to pray to Our Mother specifically under this title. Thank you very much!

  • Darren

    Yes, I live in northern Illinois, U.S.A.. Read it in the N.C. Register online, but it’s not popular.

  • Alexandra

    I had never heard of her before until this year when I have now heard of her three times. I feel she is asking me to come to her and bring my own knots to her through this devotion. Thanks for the information. (Waco, TX)

  • Libby

    I was in Florida on vacation and visited the church in Orlando,Mary Queen of the Universe , as I went into the book store I saw the image and booklet….that’s when someone in there explained the meaning of Mary Undoer of Knots….I have given out booklets to others as well .

  • Barara Zinsmeyer

    could the Mary undoer of knots have lending towards abortion?