Stabat Mater is the title of what was originally a 13th century Latin hymn. The words Stabat (stood) and Mater (mother) are found in the first stanza:
‘At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last’.
From about the same century on, it had become popular among artists to show Mary fainting at the foot of the cross. This erroneous motif, applied for the sake of emotion, compromises the gospel. St John explicitly tells us that Mary stood at the foot of the cross (Jn19:2). The fact that she stood, not fainted, carries significant theological weight. In her love, Mary would not further the sorrow of Jesus by collapsing. Standing took fortitude and acceptance of God’s will. By her standing she is repeating her fiat, and by her standing she is hanging on the cross with her son.
Love is not to be confused with sentimentality; its focus is objective not subjective. Christian love calls us to stand firm and faithful to Christ’s way regardless of our feelings. And so, we are to be stout-hearted not faint-hearted.