The devotion to Mary, Undoer (or Untier) of Knots is about 300 years old but became more widely known as Pope Francis spoke about and promoted it throughout his papacy, and while he was Archbi shop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pope Francis said: Through Mary, “All the knots of our heart, everyknot of our conscience can be undone.” Unlike many other Marian devotions, the devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots did not come about through an apparition, but through herintercession!
German Nobleman Wolfgang Langenmantel and his wife, Sophie, had marital problems and were on the brink of adivorce. Wolfgang was very distraught and went to Jesuit priest Fr. Jakob Rem for counselling. The two prayed together to the Blessed Virgin Mary for Wolfgang’s marriage each time they met. While meeting for the last time on Sept. 28th, 1615, Wolfgang provided Fr. Rem with his wedding ribbon, which was used during his wedding ceremony to tie the couple together as a symbol of unity. Fr. Rem then took the ribbon, lifted it up next to an image of Our Lady of the Snows, and asked Mary if she would “untie the knots” of Wolfgang’s marriage. The ribbon then loosened, completely untied, and became extremely white. Even though precise details were not given, Wolfgang and Sophie reconciled after this happened. (This is the primary story behind the painting, butreferring to Mary as an untier of knots goes back to St.Irenaeus, in the second century. St. Irenaeus said, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith.”)
Wolfgang and Sophie’s grandson, Fr. Hieronymus Langenmantel, became a priest and asked for a painting to bedone in memory of the story. In the painting, Mary unties the knots of marriage. One angel gives her the knotted ribbon,while the other holds the unknotted side and presents it tous. Mary also crushes Satan’s head, representing herImmaculate Conception. The dove above her head symbolizesher spouse, the Holy Spirit. At the bottom of the image, St.Raphael the Archangel accompanies Wolfgang walking towards a monastery. Johann Melchior Georg Schmittdner painted the Mary, Undoer of Knots image around the year 1700. It is on display at St. Peter am Perlach-Church inAugsburg, Bavaria in Germany.
There are several prayers to Mary, Undoer of Knots, including a novena, and Pope Francis’ prayer. Pope Franciscame to love this devotion after seeing it while studying in Germany in the 1980s.