The 5 Sorrowful Mysteries in Sacred Art

“The sorrowful mysteries help the believer ... to enter with Mary into the depths of God's love for man and to experience all its life-giving power.” —Pope St. John Paul II

A common practice of personal piety that some Catholics undertake during the weeks of Lent is praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary every day, not just on Fridays.

The Sorrowful Mysteries echo the hardest parts of our lives when we meditate on Christ’s sufferings. These mysteries can stir in us empathy for the pain of others and can help us identify with Christ through our own sorrows. It was through these specific mysteries of Christ’s life that I formed my affections for the Blessed Virgin Mary as she endured every parent’s worst fear.

While all the mysteries of the Holy Rosary are a beautiful reflection on the life of Christ, the Sorrowful Mysteries prayed during Lent provide us with deeper meaning into the sacrifice Christ made for our salvation. Their daily recitation builds in our hearts a profound longing for the resurrection. To encourage devotion to the Sorrowful Mysteries during Lent I’ve prepared this visual journey, through the use of sacred art, to make our eyes see what our mind tries to comprehend.


1st Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

Corrado Giaquinto


2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, “The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ”, 1880



3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

Sir Anthony van Dyck 1618-20; the oil on canvas is owned by the Museo del Prado, in Madrid.


4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross

El Greco, 1577


5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

“Christ Crucified” (c. 1632) by Diego Velázquez