Our Lady of the Way

Our Lady of the Way (Santa Maria della Strada) is a feast celebrated by the Society of Jesus in its communities, schools and parishes.

The first Jesuit church in Rome was called Madonna della Strada, Our Lady of the Way. When Ignatius and his companions came to Rome in 1537-38, they celebrated Mass in this church, heard confessions, preached, and taught catechism to children. Witnessing the good accomplished, the pastor of the church entered the Jesuits and asked the pope to place the church under the Society’s care in 1542.

It was before the image of Our Lady in this church that many early Jesuits pronounced their vows and prayed before departing for foreign lands. When the church was replaced by the church of the Gesu, the image of Our Lady was placed in a special chapel. This title of Our Lady echoes the perduring Ignatian motif of the pilgrim and of the Society as a “pathway to God” (see Exposcit Debitum 1550, Formula of the Institute), as well as the words of Jesus, who called himself:

…the Way, the Truth, and the Life… (John 14:6)

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