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Mirror Of The Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Bonaventure

CHAPTER XVI

WHO AND WHAT WAS THE FRUIT OF THE WOMB OF BLESSED MARY

Blessed is the fruit of thy womb. It has been shown above how Mary, because 
of the innocence of her life, is rightly saluted by the Ave; how because of 
the abundance of her grace, she is called full of grace; how because of the 
familiar presence of God with her it is said that the Lord is with her. We 
have now to show how, because of the most useful excellence of her Child, 
the Fruit of her womb is called blessed. Blessed, therefore, is the Fruit 
of thy womb, O Blessed Mother of the Son of God ! This is that Fruit of 
which the Prophet saith: "The Lord will give benignity, and our earth will 
give its fruit." Commenting on this passage, Bede says: "The Lord gave 
benignity, because, by the entrance of His Only Begotten Son, He 
consecrated by the grace of the Holy Ghost the temple of the virginal womb. 
And our earth will give its fruit, because the same Virgin, who had her 
body from the earth, brought forth a Son, co-equal indeed in divinity with 
God the Father, but in the reality of His Flesh consubstantial with her." 
We have to consider, that this Fruit is a most well-born Fruit, a most 
delicious Fruit, a most virtuous and most abundant Fruit. A Fruit, I say, 
most sublime in being well-born, most desirable in delight, most useful in 
virtue, most universal in its abundance.

First, consider how the Fruit of the virginal womb is most well-born. It is 
well-born, because it is from a regal womb; it is more well-born because it 
is from a virginal womb; but it is without doubt most wellborn because it 
is from the paternal womb, that is, from the womb of the Eternal Father. I 
say that this Fruit is well-born because it proceeds from a regal womb, 
that is, from the womb of King David, as the Lord had promised him, saying 
in the Psalm: "Of the fruit of thy womb I will place upon the throne." The 
Apostle bears witness to this in his letter to the Romans: "Who was made 
from the seed of David according to the flesh." Without doubt this Fruit is 
well-born and noble, not only because of King David, but because of all 
those noble kings, his progenitors, by whom, according to the genealogy 
described by Matthew, He came into this world, according to that word of 
Wisdom: "He came from a royal throne" (Wisd. XVIII, 15.) Again, this Fruit, 
although it is well-born because of the regal womb, is even more well-born 
because of the virginal womb, of which it is said: "Blessed is the fruit of 
thy womb," of that womb which, according to what is signified by the rod of 
Aaron, retained the flower of virginity together with the fruit of 
fecundity. Therefore, St. Bernard says: "Christ is born of a woman, but one 
to whom the fruit of fecundity came in such a manner that the flower of 
virginity did not fall." This nobility of the virginal fruit, as it is more 
wonderful, so it is also more excellent than the former, as far as the 
heavens are above the earth. O truly wonderful and unheard-of nobility! O 
truly noble birth from the Virgin! "The nobility of the Child was in the 
virginity which brought Him forth," says St. Augustine, "and the nobility 
of the parent was in the Divinity of the Child." Again, this Fruit is well-
born because of the regal womb which bore it; more well-born because the 
womb was virginal; most well-born of all, because of its fatherhood. We can 
understand of this Fruit that word of Osee: "From me is thy fruit found to 
be" (Osee XIV, 9.3 The original text has "thy," but the Septuagint has 
"hers." Let God the Father, therefore, say to Mary: let Him say to the 
faithful soul, let Him say to the Church: "From Me is thy fruit." Thine, O 
Mary, chosen to produce this fruit; thine, O soul, who art drawn to love 
this Fruit; thine, O Church, gathered together to partake of this Fruit. 
Thine, without doubt in the body by the nature He assumed; thine 
spiritually by grace; thine sacramentally by the Eucharist; thine eternally 
by glory. But it is of me that He is thine, because He was begotten from my 
womb, as it is written in the Psalm: "From the womb, before the day-star I 
have begotten thee." O truly wonderful and venerable nobility, that the 
fruit of the maternal womb is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Wisdom 
of the paternal Heart, as St. Bernard says of this Fruit: "O Mary, thou 
wilt be the Mother of Him whose Father is God; the Son of the paternal love 
will be the crown of thy chastity; the Wisdom of the paternal heart will be 
the fruit of the virginal womb." The nobility of this most well-born fruit 
precedes in dignity the first and the second in an infinite degree, and 
exceeds by its sublimity every intellect, both human and angelic. Well, 
therefore, is it said of this fruit by Isaias: "There will be a bud of the 
Lord in magnificence and glory, and a sublime fruit of the earth"; in 
magnificence, because of the regal dignity; in glory, because of the 
virginal dignity; and it will be sublime, because of the eternal or 
paternal generosity.

Secondly, let us consider how the Fruit of the virginal womb is most 
delightful. It is delightful in smell, more delightful in appearance, but 
most delightful in savor. Its beauty is in faith, its odor in hope. We 
perceive its beauty by faith, its fragrance by hope, its savor by charity. 
I say that the Fruit of Mary is delightful by its sweet fragrance. 
Therefore, the Mother of this Fruit can well say with Ecclesiasticus: "I 
like a vine have borne a fruit of sweetness of odor." The fruit of the vine 
is the Child of the Virgin. But what is truly wonderful, and wonderfully 
true, as says St. Augustine, speaking of this fruit: "The Creator of all 
things is born of a creature, a great fountain flows from a little rill, 
the root of all things springs from its stem, and the true vine is the 
fruit of its own branch." The fruit of the vine is wine; the smell of wine 
is delightful. So without doubt the fragrance of the examples of Christ, 
the fragrance of the consolations of Christ, the fragrance of promises of 
Christ, is most delightful to the soul that thirsts for Christ. And, 
therefore, as the smell of wine draws one who thirsts, so does the odor of 
Christ draw one who runs and says: "Draw me after thee," etc. That we 
miserable ones do not run, but creep, is a sign that we little relish the 
sweet odor of this Fruit. Oh, that we had Isaac's sense of smell, who 
perceived the odor of this divine fruit from such a distance; as St. 
Bernard says: "He perceived the fragrance of this sweet-smelling fruit, who 
said: Behold the smell of my son is as the smell of a full field, which the 
Lord hath blessed." Again, this Fruit is not only delightful to the sense 
of smell, but it is more delightful in beauty and fairness. Note on this 
point what is said in Leviticus: "Ye shall take on the first day the fruit 
of the most fair tree." The first day illumining the soul is faith. And 
certainly, if we ought to eat the Fruit of the most beautiful tree, that 
most fair tree is Mary; fair indeed in the leaves of the words of her 
mouth; fairer in the flowers of her heart; fairest of all in the most 
beautiful Fruit of her womb. Of which St. Bernard well says: "If that fruit 
of death was not only sweet to the palate, but also, according to 
Scripture, 'delightful to behold'; how much more should we seek the 
vivifying beauty of this life-giving Fruit, on which the angels long to 
look? Christ indeed is a beautiful Fruit, beautiful in form above the sons 
of men." But if we wish to appreciate more fully the beauty of this Fruit, 
let us have recourse to the beautiful tree itself, let us seek that most 
beautiful Mother herself, and let us speak to her that word of the 
Canticle: "What manner of one is thy beloved of the beloved, O thou most 
beautiful of women?" And behold she will at once answer: "My Beloved is 
white and ruddy, chosen from thousands." He, the brightness of eternal 
light, is indeed white in His divinity, but ruddy in His humanity, white in 
His life, ruddy in His Passion. Behold how beautiful is this Fruit! Well, 
therefore, doth St. Augustine say of Him: "Beautiful in Heaven, beautiful 
on earth, beautiful as the Word in the Father, beautiful in His Mother as 
the Word and as Flesh" And this most beautiful tree, Mary, has not only the 
most beautiful Fruit of the womb, but also the most beautiful Fruit of the 
mind. Of these fruits the Apostle, writing to the Galatians, says: "The 
fruit of the spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, 
longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continence, and chastity." Again, 
this fruit is not only delightful in fragrance, and more delightful in 
beauty, but it is also most delicious in savor. This was felt by that holy 
soul who says: "I sat under the shadow of Him whom I desired, and His fruit 
was sweet to my palate." What wonder if this Fruit is so sweet, which is 
also so high? For St. Bernard says: "The higher a fruit is, the sweeter it 
is." Therefore, thou alone art most sweet, because thou alone art Most 
High. But how can that fruit be most high, whose tree is most short? But 
without doubt this tree, which is Mary, is at the same time most high and 
most short. She is most high in dignity, most lowly in humility; most high 
in the eyes of the Lord, most lowly in her own; although in this manner she 
is lowly, her fruit is nevertheless exceedingly sweet. Therefore is it said 
in Ecclesiasticus: "The bee is small among flying things, but her fruit 
hath the chiefest sweetness" (XI, 3.) If, therefore, the fruit of Mary is 
most delicious in fragrance, in appearance, and in savor, therefore is it 
truly blessed, as St. Bernard testifies, saying: "Blessed is the fruit of 
thy womb": blessed in smell, blessed in savor, blessed in beauty.

Thirdly, consider that the fruit of the virginal womb is most powerful. It 
has great power to save the lost, to multiply the number of those who are 
to be saved, and to preserve this great number. I say that this blessed 
fruit is powerful to save, or powerful unto salvation, and for this reason 
it is called the Fruit of salvation. Ecclesiasticus says: "The fear of the 
Lord is the crown of wisdom, filling with peace and the fruit of 
salvation." Why does he say, peace and fruit? The fruit of our salvation 
and our peace is He who maketh both one, Jesus Christ. And certainly, the 
fear of the Lord did fill this fruit, this peace, as Isaias says: "And He 
was filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord." Well is He called the 
Fruit of salvation, without whom we have no salvation, according to that 
word: "There is no salvation in any other." And St. Anselm says: "There is 
no salvation except Him whom thou, O Virgin, hast brought forth." Thou, 
therefore, O Mary, art truly the tree of salvation, who hast borne for the 
world the Fruit of salvation, as St. Bernard says: "O truly celestial 
plant, more precious than all, more holy than all ! O truly a tree of life, 
which alone was worthy to bear the fruit of salvation!" But, alas, there 
are many who make this life-giving fruit one of death; they turn this 
fruit, which is so sweet, so to speak, into an eternal wormwood for 
themselves, as it is said in Amos: "Ye have turned judgment into 
bitterness, and the fruit of justice into wormwood." Again, this fruit is 
exceedingly powerful, not only with a saving power, but with a multiplying 
power. We could explain it well perhaps by that word which is written, "By 
the fruit of their wheat, wine and oil they are multiplied," if we say that 
the wheat is the Body of Christ, the oil the soul of Christ, and the wine 
the Divinity of Christ. We can see in the fruit of the wheat the Sacrament 
of the Body of Christ, in the fruit of the wine the Blood of Christ in the 
Sacrament, and in the fruit of the oil the unction of the Holy Spirit. By 
this fruit sons are multiplied to the Church, and the Church is multiplied 
in sons. For all the sons of the womb of the Church are the inheritance and 
the fruit of the womb of Mary, as it is said in the Psalm: "Behold, the 
inheritance of the Lord is sons, the fruit of the womb." Of this St. Jerome 
says: "The Lord Himself, born of the Virgin, became the fruit of the womb, 
whose assumed humanity obtained this reward, that the nations called to be 
His sons should be His inheritance." Again, this blessed fruit is powerful 
not only in its salvific virtue, not only more powerful by its multiplying 
power, but also most powerful by its preserving virtue. Of this fruit we 
may understand that word of the Proverbs: "The fruit of the just is the 
tree of life." For, as the tree of life, which was in the middle of the 
earthly paradise, had power to preserve the life of nature, so without 
doubt the fruit of Mary's womb, which is the Tree and the Fruit of Life, in 
the midst of the Paradise of the Church, preserves the life of grace; in 
the midst of the Paradise of the heavenly life, preserves the life of 
glory. It preserves the life of grace from the corruption of guilt, and the 
life of glory from the corruption of every misery, that so we may receive 
in the fruit of Mary what we lost in the fruit of Adam and Eve, as Bede 
well says: "Blessed is the fruit of the womb of her by whom we have 
received the fruit of the seed of incorruption in the field of the eternal 
inheritance, which we had lost in Adam." Let, therefore, the fruit of Mary 
by spiritually giving salvation, by universally multiplying those who are 
to be saved, by eternally preserving those who are multiplied, be most 
powerful.

Fourthly, consider how the fruit of the virginal womb is most abundant. It 
is, in fact, so abundant that it can abundantly refresh the soul; it is so 
abundant that it can suffice for all; it is so abundant that it can never 
fail. In the first it is abundant; in the second it is more abundant; in 
the third it is most abundant of all. I say that this blessed Fruit is so 
abundant that it can refresh to satiety the rational soul, which the whole 
world and every creature cannot satisfy. Therefore it is written: "Of the 
fruit of thy works the earth shall be filled" (Ps. CIII, 13.) The fruit of 
the womb of Mary is the fruit of thy works, O Lord: indeed, of Thine, not 
of human beings, not of mortals, but of Thine. Thine, O Lord, is the work 
of the preparation of so much power; Thy work is the mission of Gabriel; 
the supervention of the Holy Ghost is Thy work; the union of the Word with 
Flesh is Thy work. Of such works of Thine, O Lord, is this fruit, because 
from such works proceeded this fruit, as it were from flowers. Therefore 
aptly did these flowers appear in Nazareth, which is interpreted as 
"flower." For St. Bernard says: "In Nazareth is it announced that Christ 
will be born, because of the flower is hoped the coming of the fruit." The 
earth which is filled with this fruit is human nature, which, like the 
earth, is ever ready to germinate either useful or noxious plants, that is, 
thoughts and desires. This earth, I say, is filled with the fruit of Mary, 
as is written: "I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear." What 
wonder if those enjoying this fruit in glory are satisfied, when even those 
in misery here below are satisfied in believing in it! Therefore 
Cassiodorus cries out: "Oh, that wonderful Fruit, which has satisfied the 
human race in sweet belief !" Not to taste of it is to sin. See, therefore, 
how abundant this Fruit is, which can satisfy the soul, which the whole 
world cannot satisfy. Again, this Fruit, this blessed Fruit, is not only so 
abundant that it can fully refresh the insatiable soul, but it is also so 
abundant that it can well suffice for the whole number of those who are to 
be saved. Hence it is the fruit of that glorious tree of which it is said: 
"Its fruit was exceeding much; and in it was food for all" (Dan. IV, 9), 
certainly for all those who live in the Lord, those who rest and those who 
rise again, as it may be beautifully signified in Leviticus, where it says: 
"I will give you my blessing in the sixth year, and it will bring forth the 
fruit of three years" (Lev. XXV, 21) The sixth year signifies the sixth 
age, the seventh the seventh age, and the eighth the eighth. This sixth 
year is the year of fullness, according to the Apostle: "But when the 
fullness of time was come, God sent His Son," etc. This year, therefore, 
brought forth the Fruit, the Son of God--a Fruit so abundant, that by it, 
in the sixth year of the living, in the seventh year of the dead, and in 
the eighth year of those rising again, we have all the fruit of our souls. 
He, therefore, is the Fruit sufficing to the universality of souls, because 
it is the Lord who suffices to all creatures. This indeed is the Fruit of 
the womb of Mary, as St. Augustine testifies, saying: "This Virgin was 
prevented and filled by a singular grace, that she might have Him for the 
fruit of her womb, whom from the beginning all things had as their Lord." 
Again, this blessed Fruit is not only abundant in this that it can fill to 
repletion all souls who are to be refreshed; it is not only more abundant 
in this that it can satisfy all the souls who need to be refreshed; but it 
is also most abundant in this that it can never fail in satisfying souls 
and angels, according to that word of Ezechiel, "Its fruit shall not fail" 
(Ezech. XLVII, 12.) O infinite abundance! O abundance which knows no defect 
! The abundance of this Fruit can never fail, for it is most abundantly 
blessed forever. St. Bernard says: "Blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, who 
is blessed forever." Thus this blessed fruit is abundant, for it refreshes 
unto complete satisfaction; it is more abundant, because it suffices to the 
whole multitude of those who are to be fed upon it; it is most abundant 
because it never fails those who feed upon it, nor ever will for all 
eternity. You see now, O reader, O hearer, how exceedingly well-born, how 
exceedingly delicious, how exceedingly abundant is the blessed Fruit of the 
womb of Mary. You see, I say, how it is well-born because it is from a 
regal womb, more well-born because it is from a virginal womb, most well-
born from its paternal origin. You see also how it is delightful in smell, 
more delightful in beauty, and most delightful of all in savor. You see how 
powerful it is to heal, more powerful in multiplying, most powerful of all 
in preserving. You see, moreover, how it is abundant to satisfy, more 
abundant in its universality, most abundant in its perpetuity. These twelve 
conditions or qualities of this Fruit may be signified by those twelve 
fruits of which it is said in the Apocalypse, that the angel showed John a 
tree of life bearing twelve fruits. And because this Fruit, the Fruit of 
life, the tree of life, is produced for the life of all men, therefore it 
is fitting and right that all men should praise the Maker of this Fruit in 
the words of the Psalm: "Let all peoples praise thee, O God, let all 
peoples praise thee; the earth hath given its fruit" (Ps. LXVI, 7.) O 
blessed Mother of this blessed Fruit, grant us that we may enjoy this fruit 
forever, by the same Fruit, Jesus Christ Our Lord, thy Son. Amen.








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