As late medieval preachers looked for ways to describe the exact nature of Mary's involvement in the Passion, they not only attempted to set forth her pain in a very human and sympathetic way; they also constructed a Passion narrative in which the Virgin was actively involved from beginning to end.
At times, preachers ascribed to the Virgin the duties of a priest offering the sacrificial victim to God, and at others they scarcely distinguished between the physical passion of Christ and what was generally understood to be a reflection of his pain in the compassion of Mary's soul.
He commands Mary, "Offer your son, sacred Virgin, and present the blessed fruit of your womb to God.
The candles dedicated and offered to God by the faithful on 2 February are symbols of the supreme candle, the light of the world, offered by the Virgin. "Marye to Godde in that feest offird a candel bright,/The whilk Seinte Symeon cald thus: 'revelacioune of/folkes light.'/Jhesu Crist, Marie son, is this candel brynnung....
But because of the propensity of late medieval imagery to stress the bodily ties between Mary and Jesus and to see Virgin mother and divine Son as nearly equal, the difference between them in their sacrifice at Calvary became much less discernable.
Bernardino of Busti quoted John that "the griefs which the Virgin avoided in giving birth she sustained in the Passion of Christ.
Once Mary is convinced that he must indeed leave her, Maillard interjects his own comment, "O sinners, what was possible between those two virginal bodies?"(42) Maillard continues, "Then Jesus embraced the Virgin Mary in his virginal arms and the Blessed Virgin said to her son, 'It will soon be the twenty-fifth of March, the day on which I conceived you.
He stated that "because the body of Christ was taken from the substance of the Virgin, she was therefore closest to him in grief."(45) He quoted from Ubertino of Casale's Arbor vitae to say that the Virgin "is the ark and chest of the bodily sorrows of the good Jesus."(46) Busti also drew on several Franciscan scholars to support this point.
Based on what has been seen so far of late medieval Passion sermons, preachers had been inspired to dwell on the bodily torment of Christ; and they often chose likewise to illustrate the Virgin's compassion by a dramatic presentation of its physical manifestations.
As we have seen, de Sales explicitly denied any bodily connection between the Virgin and her son on the cross.
It was, of course, the Virgin's love for her son that caused her to grieve so deeply at his death.
Both men also compare the Virgin to Abraham who was willing at God's command to sacrifice his only son.