Undoing Life’s Knots

Mary Undoer of Knots detail

This Tuesday September 28th marks the feast of Mary Undoer of Knots and the 29th is the feast of St. Michael, to whom we pray for protection from the devil who invariably makes the knots.  It is also the feast of Ss Gabriel and Raphael.

The Undoer of Knots devotion is over 300 years old and is based on a Baroque painting by an unknown artist. The painting shows angels feeding a knotted rope to Mary who unties the knots one by one. It was inspired by an ancient homily by St. Irenaeus (d. 202) who made the comparison between Eve (who ‘by her disobedience tied the knot of disgrace’) and Mary (who ‘by her obedience undid it’).

But what are the knots? They represent the seemingly intractable problems in our lives such as family tensions and misunderstandings.  Ordeals like unemployment and illness.  Knots of despair, grief, addiction, and isolation – anything for which we suffer or issues we feel unable to resolve.  If we bring these problems to Mary in prayer, she steadily unties the knots so that graces can flow freely and joy be restored.  We all have problems which need healing and this prayer to Our Lady Undoer of Knots places them in her hands for her powerful intercession:

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me. Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exist in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exists in my life.  You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.   [Mention your request here]

I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope. O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains. Hear my plea. Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!  Amen


Saint Michael the Archangel isn’t a saint, rather he is an angel above all others charged with combating Satan, indeed anything that oppresses our spirit and separates us from the peace and love of God.  He also has the responsibility to escort us at their hour of death to our heavenly judgement.

Although his presence is implied elsewhere, such as in guarding the gates of Paradise, he is mentioned by name only a few times in scripture – for instance in Daniel with regard to the end times when he will stand for the “children of thy people.”  Another mention comes in St. Jude, where St. Michael is said to guard the tombs of Moses and Eve and struggled with Satan over the body of Moses.  The final named mention is in Revelation, where St. Michael and his angels battle with the dragon.

Holy Michael, the Archangel, defend us in our battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruination of souls.

Painting by Johann Melchior Georg Schmittdner


Mary Undoer of Knots