Mary Ward’s Prayer

Mary Ward, foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was an Englishwoman who lived in the 17th century (1585-1645). She wanted to establish a community of apostolic religious women that would follow a rule based of that of Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits).

This meant that members of her Institute could pursue the education of women and other good works that seemed appropriate for the times, free of enclosure.


O Parent of parents, and Friend of all friends, without entreaty you took me into your care and by degrees led me from all else that at length I might see and settle my love in you.

What had I ever done to please you? Or what was there in me wherewith to serve you? Much less could I ever deserve to be chosen by you.

O happy begun freedom, the beginning of all my good, and more worth to me than the whole world besides.

Had I never hindered your will from working in me, what degrees of grace should I now have. Yet, where as yet am I?

My Jesus, forgive me, remembering what you have done for me, and where you have brought me, and for this excess of goodness and love let me no more hinder your will in me.

Mary Ward
Retreat, Liége, 1616