St. Alphonsus Liguori (Memorial: August 1)
Alphonsus painted many portraits of Mary, the woman he referred to as “Mamma Maria,” including one when he was bishop of St. Agatha. He was so caught up in his effort that he couldn’t stop gazing at it, saying, “She is so beautiful, so beautiful.” Pope Francis was once asked what Mary meant to him. His answer? She is my “mamma.” The invocation in the following poem by St. Alphonsus is addressed familiarly to Mary as “Mamma Mia.”
Run, Run, Mamma Mia Curri, Curri, Mamma Mia (written in Neapolitan dialect)
Run, run, Mamma mia;
run quickly, do not delay!
see, the serpent, (may it not be so),
comes my trembling soul to slay.
Alas, the mere sight of him
makes me tremble so;
Mamma, Mamma, see my fear,
as with might he draws near!
Lo, I’m helpless and faint away
and don’t know what to do;
now he darts at me his venom;
Mamma mia, come quickly, come.
Cries and tears have not availed,
in spite of all, he’s there to stay.
I am tired of calling on the saints,
he pays no heed and won’t stay still.
O, what a mouth he now has opened!
O, dear Mary, he’ll swallow me,
he is coiled, ready to strike
O dear Mary, make him flee!
I see that hearing of your name,
fills with dread my cruel foe;
so, to add to his dismay,
Mamma, come with me to stay.
See him fleeing! What has happened?
Who is chasing him away?
Serpent, cruel and angry,
may you never return this way!