Painted around 1700 by Johan Schmidtner, the original painting of Our Lady Undoer of Knots is found in the Church of Saint Peter in Augsburg, Germany. A priest named Father Langenmantel had commissioned the work to honor Mary and to thank her for a favor received by his grandparents, who at one point were on the verge of divorce.
The husband went to seek counsel from a priest, Father Rem, a Jesuit from Ingolstadt. During their talks they would pray together asking Mary’s intercession. As they did so, Father Rem held up the husband’s wedding ribbon (most likely part of a wedding tradition of the time), untied its knots, and offered it to Mary. This was a symbolic way of entrusting the couple to Mary’s tender intercession. He asked the Blessed Virgin Mary “to untie all knots and smoothen them” between the couple.
Immediately peace was restored between the couple and the divorce didn’t occur.
The couple reconciled their differences and they lived together happily for the rest of their lives.
This Catholic devotion has promoted throughout South America by Pope Francis, when he was still known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio SJ. He bought a postcard of the painting at the German chapel in which the painting is displayed and brought it to Argentina sometime in the 1980s.
Today, more and more people all over the world are turning to Our Lady Undoer of Knots for help with the “knots” in their own lives.
But what are these knots?
They are the problems and struggles we face for which we do not see any solution. Knots of discord in our family, lack of understanding between parents and children, disrespect, violence, the knots of deep hurts between husband and wife, the absence of peace and joy at home. They are also the knots of anguish because of the deep healing needed for abortion, drug addiction, children who are sick or separated from home or God; knots of alcoholism, depression, unemployment, financial problems, fear, solitude… How the knots in our life suffocate our spirit and make us suffer!
For that reason, Mary who undoes the knots, the Woman who was chosen by God to crush the evil one with her feet, comes to us to reveal herself.
Mary comes to provide jobs, good health, to reconcile families, because she wants to undo the knots which dominate our lives, so that we can receive the promises reserved for us from all eternity. She comes with promises of victory, peace, blessings and reconciliation.
Then, free from our knots—filled with happiness—we can be a testimony of the Mercy of God in this world.
Like ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we can rescue those who in turn cry out for our compassion and bring them also to Mary, the Mother of God.