Malankara World

St. Mary- Theotokos - Virgin Mary - Mother of God

Virgin Mary - Advocate and Queen, Part II

by Edward Sri, S.T.D.

Editor's Notes: This is the second part of an article excerpted from the book, 'Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons' (Queenship, 2008). The article follows the teachings of Catholic Church. Orthodox Church teachings may not agree with all the statements and dogmas found here. For example, Orthodox Church does not believe in immaculate conception of Mary or in the corredemptrix  status of Mary (Belief that St. Mary has an equal role in the redemptive act of Jesus Christ.) The Orthodox Church do believe in the power of the intercession of Virgin Mary.  Part 1 of the article can be found here.

Virgin Mary as an Advocate: Foundations in Tradition and Magisterium

Let us turn our attention to Mary’s advocacy role as it unfolds in Catholic Tradition. The early Church quickly perceived the important role Mary played in God’s redemptive plan. The role of Mary as New Eve beside her Son in the economy of salvation is found already in the writings of St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenaeus of Lyons and Tertullian (and possibly other earlier sources) (34). In Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho, Eve is the virgin who "conceived the word of the serpent" and "brought forth disobedience and death"; whereas Mary is the virgin filled with faith, who through her obedience to the angel’s annunciation conceived the child who destroys the serpent and delivers from death those who believe in him (35). In Irenaeus’ Against the Heresies, Mary is described as the cause of salvation (causa salutis) whose obedience untied "the knot of Eve’s disobedience" (36). And in Tertullian’s De Carne Christi, he describes how Eve believed the serpent and conceived the Devil’s word; whereas Mary believed the angel and conceived in her womb the Word of God (37). However, it is St. Irenaeus who is the first to bestow upon Mary the title "advocate" with this Eve-Mary parallel, calling Mary the "advocate of the virgin Eve":

And if the former (Eve) did disobey God, yet the latter (Mary) was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate (Latin: advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so it is rescued by a Virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience (38).

In another text of St. Irenaeus called Proof of the Apostolic Teachings, Mary again is called "advocate" of the virgin Eve:

And just as it was through a virgin who disobeyed that man was stricken and fell and died, so too it was through the Virgin who obeyed the word of God that man, resuscitated by life, received life. For the Lord came to seek back the lost sheep, and it was man who was lost; and therefore he did not become some other formation, but likewise of her that was descended from Adam, preserved the likeness of formation; for, Adam had necessarily to be restored in Christ; that mortality be absorbed by immortality and Eve in Mary; that a Virgin became the advocate of a virgin should undo and destroy virginal disobedience by virginal obedience (39).

According to Luigi Gambero, this text, preserved in Armenian, "seems to indicate the word might have been parakletos, whose meaning is ‘defender, comforter, advocate.’ In fact, in another passage the author applies the title parakletos to the Holy Spirit with a meaning that seems to be in opposition to the term ‘prosecutor’" (40).

That early Christians already were invoking Mary as a powerful intercessor is seen clearly by about the third century. A prayer preserved in a papyrus that was discovered in the John Rylands library of Manchester in 1917, gives the first instance of a prayer addressed to Mary that bears witness to belief in Mary’s intercessory power and her being a source of protection in the face of life’s trials and temptations. The prayer, known as the Sub Tuum Praesidium, refers to Mary as the Mother of God in whom we find protection (Under your mercy we fly for refuge). The prayer then asks Mary to hear our prayers (despise not our petitions in our necessities) and asks Mary to "deliver us always from all dangers"—echoing the petition from the "Our Father" and in fact using the same word for deliver (rysai) from that prayer (cf. Mt 6:13) (41).

The testimony of Mary’s role as Advocate continued to unfold with greater clarity and elaboration throughout the centuries. St. Ephraim described Mary as "the friendly advocate of sinners" (42). St. Germanus of Constantinople describes Mary’s advocacy role: "For, just as in your Son’s presence you have a mother’s boldness and strength, do you wish your prayers and intercessions save and rescue us from eternal punishment, for we have been condemned by our sins and do not dare even to lift our eyes to heaven above" (43). St. Romanus the Singer envisioned Mary addressing Adam and Eve, saying "Cease your lamentations, I shall be your advocate with my Son" (44).

The twelfth-century liturgical antiphon Salve Regina portrays Mary as the Advocate interceding on our behalf: "…To thee we cry out, poor banished children of Eve; to thee we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary." Around this period, St. Bernard of Clairvaux refers to Mary’s role as Advocate in his De Aqueductu: "You wish to have an advocate with him (Christ)? … Have recourse to Mary." He beautifully pleads for Mary to be our Advocate before Jesus in his second sermon for Advent "Our Lady, our Mediatrix, our Advocate, reconcile us to your Son, commend us to your Son, represent us before your Son" (45).

Papal teaching from the sixteenth century onward has often used the title "Advocate" to describe Our Lady. Popes Leo X (in 1520), Sixtus V (in 1587), Clement IX (in 1667) and Clement XI (in 1708) all referred to Mary as Advocate (46). In his 1805 Apostolic Constitution Tanto Studio, Pius VII explained how Mary’s role as Advocate is more powerful than that of the saints by virtue of her being the Mother of Christ. "For, while the prayers of those in heaven have, it is true, some claim on God’s watchful eye, Mary’s prayers place their assurance in a mother’s right. For that reason, when she approaches her divine Son’s throne, as advocate she begs, as handmaid she prays, but as Mother she commands" (47). Pope St. Pius X, in his 1903 prayer "Virgine Sanctissima," links Mary’s advocacy with her queenship and asks Mary to present our petitions before God to be protected from the snares of the Devil: "Ah! Do thou, our Blessed Mother, our Queen and Advocate … do thou gather together our prayers and we beseech thee (our hearts one with thine) present them before God’s throne" (48).

Pius XI also affirmed Mary’s title as Advocate. In his 1928 Encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, he mentioned that Christ wished to make Mary "the advocate of sinners and dispenser and mediatrix of his grace" (49). Later, in a 1933 papal allocution, he showed how Mary’s advocacy role is animated by the love between a mother and her son: "…though the grace comes from God, it is given through Mary, our advocate and mediatrix, since motherly affection on the one hand finds response in filial devotion on the other" (50).

Pius XII underscored the universal scope of Mary’s role as Advocate. In a 1947 radio message to the National Marian Congress of Argentina, he notes that while the saints can intercede for our particular needs, Mary’s intercession as Advocate can address more effectively all our needs. He quotes Francisco Suárez, S.J.: "We have the Virgin as universal advocate in all things, for she is more powerful in whatever necessity than are the other saints in particular needs" (51).

Vatican II affirmed the title Advocate in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. First, the constitution relates Mary’s intercession as flowing from her "maternal charity," by which she "cares for the brethren of her Son." Lumen Gentium then mentions the title Advocate: "Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix" (LG, 62) (52). The constitution goes on to explain that this title Advocate (and the other related titles) do not take away from or add to "the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator" (LG, 62). Finally, Lumen Gentium itself concludes with a call to Mary to intercede for the unity of the entire human family in Christ’s Church:

The entire body of the faithful pours forth urgent supplications to the Mother of God and of men that she, who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers, may now, exalted as she is above the angels and saints, intercede before her Son in the fellowship of all the saints, until all families of people … may be happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God (LG, 68).

We can see how Pope John Paul II reaffirmed Mary’s role as Advocate at different points in his pontificate. For example, in his 1987 Encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, John Paul II notes how Mary intercedes for us, and quotes Lumen Gentium’s teaching about the Church invoking Mary as Advocate (RM, 40, cf. LG, 62). And like Lumen Gentium, this encyclical also calls on Mary to pray for unity (RM, 30). Ten years later, as part of a series of general audience addresses on Mary, John Paul II taught that the Church, following Mary’s example of intercession at Cana and at Pentecost, "learns to be bold in her asking, to persevere in her intercession" (53). In a later address in 1997, he goes on to explicitly discuss the title "Advocate." He first quotes Lumen Gentium’s affirmation of the title (in LG, 65). Second, he notes how the title goes back to St. Irenaeus, who described Mary’s yes at the Annunciation as the moment she "became the Advocate" of Eve, freeing her "from the consequences of her disobedience, becoming the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race." Third, he explains how Mary, as Advocate, works in union with her Son and the Holy Spirit to protect her spiritual children on earth:

Mary exercises her role as "Advocate" by cooperating both with the Spirit (the Paraclete) and with the one who interceded on the Cross for his persecutors (cf. Lk 23:34), whom John calls our "advocate with the Father" (1 Jn 2:1). As a mother, Mary defends her children and protects them from the harm caused by their own sins (54).

Queenship: Foundations in Tradition and Magisterium

Although the earliest Fathers of the Church did not explicitly give Mary the title "Queen," they did express the reality of her queenship in two ways (55). First, some saw royal significance in Mary’s name. For example, St. Jerome noted that Mary in Syriac can be translated as "domina" (56), meaning Lady, or sovereign, indicating her dignity. Similarly, Peter Chrysologus held that Mary should be translated from the Hebrew as "domina" (57). Subsequent Western authors such as Eucher of Lyons, Isidore of Seville and Venerable Bede followed this approach when discussing Mary’s royal position (58).

On a more exegetical level, initial attention was given to Mary being called "the mother of my Lord" in the Visitation scene (Lk 1:43). For example, Clement of Alexandria, Jerome, Ambrose and Augustine all emphasized Mary being the mater domini (59). With deeper reflection on what it meant for Mary to be the Mother of the Lord, there arose a deeper understanding of Mary being associated with Christ’s kingship. Origen was one of the first to make this move, by referring to Mary as kuria in his commentary on this passage. Origen viewed Elizabeth’s greeting of Mary with the words "Mother of my Lord" as honoring her with a royal dignity (60). Similarly, St. Ephrem referred to Mary as "the Most Holy Sovereign Lady (Domina), Mother of God" (61). Jerome (62) and Augustine (63) also spoke of Mary’s sovereignty (64).

Another line of development can be seen in patristic references to Mary as the mother of the king (65). With the New Testament bestowing on Jesus the title of king, it was easy for some Fathers to describe the Mother of Jesus as the mother of the king, thus linking her closely with Christ’s royal status (66). This set the stage for the title "queen" being used explicitly by later Church Fathers. Chrysippus of Jerusalem, for example, in his homily on Psalm 44, describes Mary as the mother of the king, who herself will be changed into a heavenly queen (67).

As the early Church developed its understanding of basic Marian truths (especially after the Council of Ephesus), there arose greater reflection on the meaning and extent of Mary’s queenship (68). For example, Idelfonse of Toledo not only viewed Mary as a royal figure, but even placed himself as a servant of the queenly Mother of Jesus: "I am your servant, for your Son is my Lord. You are my Queen because you have become the handmaid of my King" (69). Andrew of Crete elaborated on Mary’s royal office, describing her as being crowned in heaven and being the "Regina universorum hominum" (70). St. Germain of Constantinople referred to Mary as "Queen of the Universe" (71), while John Damascene taught that she is queen because she is the Mother of the Creator (72), and even went on to ask Mary to rule over his entire life (73).

Moving into the medieval period, there was frequent mention of Mary’s queenship by writers such as Peter Damian, Anselm, Eadmerus and Bernard of Clairvaux (74)—the latter two laying deeper theological foundations for the queenship in Mary’s divine maternity and her unique cooperation in Christ’s redemptive work (75). This two-fold foundation was discussed more in subsequent centuries. For example, a famous medieval work, the Mariale super missus est, explained how Mary’s queenship is based on her being the Mother of God and her being uniquely associated with Christ’s triumph and royal reign in the kingdom (76).

In this period, the nature and function of Our Lady’s queenship were treated in more detail. Bernardine of Siena taught that Mary reigned over all creatures, including souls on earth, in purgatory and in heaven, and even all devils (77). The function of her royal office is to direct, protect and intercede—thus showing Mary’s advocacy in relationship to her queenship (78). A popular title for Mary in this period was "Queen of Mercy," which described her royal position in terms of her intercessory role (79). At the same time, there were some suggestions that Mary is queen not only because of her intercessory influence at her Son’s throne, but also in a formal and proper sense. This can be seen, for example, in the writings of Peter Canisius and the Mariale (80).

In the seventeenth century, there was increased emphasis on Mary’s queenship in the strict, formal sense. Ferdinand de Salazar and Christopher de Vega treated Mary’s queenship as having real power, with Mary having real reign over her subjects. Although subordinate to her Son, Mary truly rules with Christ the king. If a king receives his reign by natural right or by right of conquest, the parents participate in that reign. They concluded that since Mary was mother of the king and shared in her Son’s victorious work of redemption, she was queen by natural right and right of conquest and therefore gained a share in her Son’s royalty (81).

Bartholomew de los Rios is another theologian of the period who stressed Mary’s queenship as a real dominion. In scholastic fashion, he outlined the different kinds of royal authority and showed how all apply to Mary (82). These notions find themselves worked out in the eighteenth-century reflections on the spiritual dimension of Mary’s queenship, as seen in St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s The Glories of Mary, and St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary (83).

Liturgical worship in both East and West attest to the queenship of Mary. For example, the non-Byzantine liturgies of the East mention Mary’s queenship implicitly, in texts referring to her as "Lady" or "Our Lady." The Ethiopian Rite expresses the universal nature of Mary’s reign, calling her "The Lady of us all" (84). The Byzantine liturgy often calls Mary "Queen." For the feast of the Dormition, Mary is honored as being set upon a throne and reigning with her Son (85). Since the eleventh century, the West has honored Mary as queen quite explicitly in sacred songs. The great Marian hymns Salve Regina and Ave, Regina Caelorum (eleventh century) as well as the Regina Caeli (twelfth-thirteenth century) all express her queenly status and came to be part of the Church’s liturgical worship (86). Further witness to Mary’s queenship is found in popular devotions such as the Rosary (the fifth Glorious Mystery), the Litany of Our Lady, which invokes Mary as "Queen" (Litany of Loreto) (87), and in sacred art, which has
commonly depicted Mary with queenly imagery (seated on a throne, crowned, wearing royal clothes, surrounded by angels and saints venerating her, and even being crowned by her Son) (88). Such evidence from popular piety and sacred art reflects an understanding of Mary’s royal status in the believing Church.

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Although Mary’s queenship was not an explicit topic of discussion in early magisterial teachings of the first millennium, a number of popes and councils referred to Mary as a queenly figure in passing. For example, the Third Council of Constantinople described Mary as Lady—"despoina"—a queenly title. In a letter to St. Germain, the patriarch of Constantinople, Pope Gregory II expressed the universality of Mary’s queenship, calling her the ruler of all Christians who will triumph over enemies of the faith (89). While defending the legitimacy of sacred images, the Second Council of Nicea referred to images of "our undefiled Lady (dominae), or holy Mother of God" (90).

In his constitution on the Immaculate Conception, Cum Praecelsa (1477), Pope Sixtus IV referred to Mary as "the Queen of Heaven, the glorious Virgin Mother of God, raised upon her heavenly throne" (91). Pope Benedict XIV’s (1740-1758) papal bull Gloriosae Dominae (1748) (92) not only spoke of Mary as "Queen of heaven and earth," but also discussed how Christ grants to her "nearly all his empire and power" (93).

Turning to the nineteenth century, Pius IX’s 1854 definition of Mary’s Immaculate Conception (Ineffabilis Deus) described the universal extent of her queenship (Queen of heaven and earth) and directly linked Mary’s royal office with her intercessory power (94).

Popes from the time of Leo XIII to John Paul II have continued to teach of Mary’s queenship with increased frequency and precision. Leo XIII (1878-1903) referred to Mary as queen in several encyclicals and other teachings (95). Pope St. Pius X (1903-14), in his Encyclical Ad Diem Illum (1904), based Mary’s queenship on her unique participation in Christ’s redemptive work (96). Writing during World War I, Pope Benedict XV (1914-22) often entrusted the world to the protection of Mary "Queen of Peace" (97). Pope Pius XI (1922-39) entrusted the Church’s missionary efforts to Mary "Queen of Apostles" (98), and the unity of the Church was entrusted to Mary "the heavenly Queen" (99).

This brings us to Pope Pius XII (1939-58), who was described by one theologian as making Our Lady’s queenship the Marian doctrine most illumined throughout his papal teachings (100). His Encyclical Mystici Corporis refers to Mary as the "true Queen of Martyrs" (101), and as reigning with her Son in heaven (102). In the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, defining the Assumption, Pius XII mentions the queenship in his explanation of the Assumption: As the New Eve sharing in the suffering and victory of the New Adam, Mary "finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of Ages" (103).

Pius XII offered the Magisterium’s most extensive treatment on Mary’s royal office in 1954, when he instituted the feast of the Queenship of Mary in the Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam. Near the beginning of this document, the Pope explains that he does not intend to propose Mary’s royal status as a new doctrine, but that he is reaffirming a truth held by the faithful for centuries and instituting a liturgical feast to promote that truth (104). The encyclical discusses two theological foundations for Mary’s royal office: her divine motherhood and her unique cooperation in her Son’s work of salvation. The divine maternity is "the main principle" on which Mary’s queenship rests (105). Pius XII says "it is easily concluded that she is a queen, since she bore a son who, at the very moment of his conception, because of the hypostatic union of the human nature with the Word, was also as man King and Lord of all things" (106). However, since Christ is king not only by natural right, but also by his salvific work, Mary in a similar way is queen not only by her divine motherhood, but also by her unique cooperation in Christ’s work of redemption. Describing her cooperation in redemption as a second basis for Mary’s queenship, Pius XII, quoting Suárez, teaches

For "just as Christ, because he redeemed us, is our Lord and king by a special title, so the Blessed Virgin also (is our Queen), on account of the unique manner in which she assisted in our redemption, by giving of her own substance, by freely offering him for us, by her singular desire and petition for, and active interest in, our salvation" (107).

The encyclical then expounds on the two-fold meaning of Mary’s queenship. First, Pius XII says it is a "queenship of excellence." "Hence, it cannot be doubted that Mary Most Holy is far above all other creatures in dignity, and after her Son possesses primacy over all" (108). This unique dignity flows from Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Citing Pope Pius IX’s Ineffabilis Deus, Pius XII notes how Mary, from the first moment of her conception, was filled with every heavenly grace and thus possessed a fullness of innocence and holiness to be found nowhere outside of God (109).

Second, her queenship is one of "efficacy." This refers to Mary’s real share in Christ’s influence over humanity. As queen, Mary has "a share in that influence by which he, her Son and our Redeemer, is rightly said to reign over the minds and wills of men" (110). The encyclical explains this royal power of Mary in the context of her role in the "distribution of graces" (111) through her motherly intercession—again linking Mary’s queenship with her advocacy.

With a heart that is truly a mother’s … does she approach the problem of our salvation, and is solicitous for the whole human race; made Queen of heaven and earth by the Lord, exalted above all choirs of angels and saints, and standing at the right hand of her only Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, she intercedes powerfully for us with a mother’s prayers, obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused (112).

Vatican II, in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, explicitly refers to Mary as "Queen over all things," linking it to her Immaculate Conception and Assumption (LG, 59). Later, the document alludes to Mary’s royal status by speaking of her being "exalted above all angels and men to a place second only to her Son, as the most holy Mother of God who was involved in the mysteries of Christ: she is rightly honored by a special cult in the Church" (LG, 66).

In Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, he explicitly treats the feast of Mary’s queenship, showing its link with the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. Here, he explains how in the revised liturgical calendar the Solemnity of the Assumption is prolonged in the celebration of Mary’s queenship, which occurs seven days later. And he does so in a way that links Mary’s queenship with her advocacy role of interceding before her Son on our behalf: "On this occasion we contemplate her who, seated beside the King of ages, shines forth as Queen and intercedes as Mother" (MC, 6) (113).

A significant development on Mary’s queenship can be seen in Pope John Paul II’s Redemptoris Mater. While re-affirming the teaching of Pius XII and Vatican II, and associating Mary’s queenly position with her Assumption, the Pope then expounds upon a new emphasis: he places Mary’s exalted queenship in the context of her humble service in the kingdom. Peña notes three principal ideas set forth by John Paul II along these lines. The Pope first illustrates how Mary’s exalted royal office must be understood in relation to Christ’s kenosis and royal exaltation. Christ himself humbly served even to the point of death and was therefore raised and entered into the glory of his kingdom, exalted as Lord over all (cf. Phil 2:8-9). The Pope discusses the gospels’ portrayal of the true disciple who will reign in the kingdom as the one who follows Christ’s example through service: "to serve means to reign!" (RM, 41) (114). In this regard, the Pope notes how Mary is the model disciple. At the Annunciation, she called herself the "handmaid of the Lord" and lived out this title throughout her life. She is the first disciple who served Christ in others and led them to him. This is the basis of her queenship: "Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, has a share in this Kingdom of the Son" (RM, 41) (115).

Secondly, the Pope shows how Mary’s queenship continues to be based on her servanthood, even in heaven. "The glory of serving does not cease to be her royal exaltation: assumed into heaven, she does not cease her saving service, which expresses her maternal mediation ‘until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect’" (RM, 41) (116).

Thirdly, John Paul II also shows the ecclesial dimension of Mary’s unique royal privilege, placing it in the context of the Communion of Saints who all participate in Christ’s reign. "Thus in her Assumption into heaven, Mary is as it were clothed by the whole reality of the Communion of Saints, and her very union with the Son in glory is wholly oriented towards the definitive fullness of the Kingdom, when ‘God will be all in all’" (RM, 41) (117).

Theological Conclusions and Applications

In summary, our exploration of the Biblical foundations for Mary as Queen and Advocate has demonstrated the important role of the queen mother in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom: she had a real participation in the reign of her son, served as a counselor to her son and most especially, served as an advocate for the people, bringing their petitions to the king. Then we have seen how the New Testament portrays Mary in ways that recall this queen-mother tradition, thus presenting Mary as the new Queen Mother and Advocate in Christ’s kingdom. Next, we have seen how the Church’s understanding of Mary as Queen and Advocate emerged in the early Church, and has deepened and developed throughout the centuries in her Tradition and magisterial teachings. Now, we will briefly consider some ways the biblical queen-mother theme can shed light on certain aspects of Mary’s position as Advocate and Queen.

The queen-mother background offers strong Biblical support for Mary’s intercessory role as Advocate. Since the queen mother served as an Advocate, bringing petitions from the people to the king, the fact that the New Testament presents Mary as the new Queen Mother in Christ’s kingdom indicates that, from a scriptural perspective, Mary should be understood as our Advocate, interceding for us citizens in the Kingdom of her Son.

The queen-mother background also underscores the Christological basis of Mary’s titles as Queen and Advocate. As Vatican II taught, Mary’s queenly and intercessory role should be seen in their relationship with Christ—as dependent upon him and subordinate to him (cf. LG, 62), and as a participation in his reign (cf. LG, 59). The queen-mother theme highlights exactly this point. Just as the queen mother’s royal office and advocacy role in the Davidic kingdom was completely dependent on her son’s reign as king, so too Mary’s position as Queen Mother and her ability to exercise that office through intercession as our Advocate is completely dependent on Christ and his kingship.

Mary’s queenship and advocacy being thus seen as a participation in Christ’ kingship will further highlight how it is not merely an honorific title, but a real queenship, with real power, rooted in humility, service, and sacrifice. The kingdom in which Mary reigns—the kingdom of Christ—is presented in the Scriptures as very different from the kingdoms of this earth. Christ’s kingship "is not of this world" (Jn 18:36), and it is not based on political, militaristic or economic power. While rulers of worldly kingdoms "lord it over" their subjects, Christ exercises his reign through humility and becoming a servant, even to the point of giving his life as a ransom for many (Mt 20:25-28; Phil 2:5-11). Furthermore, the New Testament describes how because of his humble service Christ is exalted by the Father and enthroned over all things (Heb 1:9, 13), victorious over the enemies of sin (Heb 1:3), the Devil (Heb 2:14) and death (1 Cor 15:24) (118). This abasement-exaltation of Christ is seen especially in Philippians 2:5-11, which describes how every knee shall bend to Christ and every tongue shall confess him as Lord, but also emphasizes that his supreme exaltation flows from his abasement, becoming a slave, being obedient unto death, death on a cross.

All this is important because Mary is portrayed in the New Testament as a person who exemplifies this Christ-like abasement-exaltation pattern. She is described as a humble servant of the Lord (Lk 1:38, 48); she is the first who obediently hears God’s word and accepts it (Lk 1:38, 45; Lk 11:27-28), and she perseveres even unto the greatest human suffering, second only to her divine Son (Lk 2:34-35; Jn 19:25-27) (119). And it is precisely in her lowliness as the Lord’s servant that God has exalted her (Lk 1:46-55). In this light, one can conclude that the life of Mary is a testimony to the kingdom of God, and it is through her humble, obedient service that she has a share in Christ’s reign, reigning with him over the powers of sin and death (120).

This is the proper context for understanding the meaning of Mary’s queenship. Mary’s royal position, when viewed through the Biblical view of the kingdom, will be seen in light of the way she imitates Christ’s reign through humble service, obedience to God and persevering faith. As Pope John Paul II has taught in Redemptoris Mater, this perseverance of Mary as "the handmaid of the Lord" is an important basis for understanding her queenship in the kingdom of Christ.

In this she confirmed that she was a true "disciple" of Christ, who strongly emphasized that his mission was one of service: the Son of Man "came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt 20:28). In this way Mary became the first of those who, "serving Christ also in others, with humility and patience lead their brothers and sisters to that King whom to serve is to reign," and she fully obtained that "state of royal freedom" proper to Christ’s disciples: to serve means to reign! (RM, 41) (121)

This also sheds light on the ecclesial dimension of Mary’s queenship. The Scriptures attest that Christ promised all his faithful disciples a share in his reign. The New Testament describes how those disciples who have been willing to give up everything and follow Christ will "sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Mt 19:28-30). Anyone who hears Christ’s voice and "opens the door" will sit with him on his throne (Rev 3:20-21). His disciples who have continued with him through trials will rule over the new Israel (Lk 22:28-30), and those who will die with him will reign with him (2 Tim 2:11-12).

Mary certainly meets the Biblical criteria for reigning with Christ (122). From the Annunciation to Pentecost, Mary is portrayed as a model disciple who heard God’s word and accepted it (Lk 1:38, 45; 8:21; 11:27-28), and persevered throughout her life (Acts 1:14), following Christ even through the torment of her Son’s death (Lk 2:34-35; Jn 19:25-27). Thus, having been a true disciple of Christ, it is fitting that she would share in the reign Christ promised all of his disciples.

One Mariologist has noted how this Biblical understanding of Christ’s kingdom also places Mary’s queenship more clearly in the context of the royalty of the whole people of God, highlighting the ecclesial dimension of her royal office:

The insertion of the queenship of the Virgin in the context of the royal office of the people of God (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:9; 20:4-6), while not detaching the person of Mary from the ecclesial community, helps to understand better the significance of Mary’s queenship and its meaning for Christians today (123).

Mary’s queenship is not something far removed from the Christian life, an exalted position in heaven that we are to honor only from a distance. "She is not an isolated and extraneous figure, but one who, in communion with all Christians, participates in the same reign of Christ" (124). As such, Mary becomes "an example from within the people of God" of the destiny to which we are all called (125). We can see in Mary a model of what all faithful disciples will become. Through imitating Mary’s humble service as a faithful disciple of the Lord, we can hope to have a share in the same Kingdom of Christ that she does. In this light, we can see that Mary’s queenship has great practical significance for Christians of all ages, of all cultures and in all states of life. As Pope John Paul II taught in an Angelus exhortation in 1981:

Therefore, fixing our gaze on the mystery of Mary’s Assumption, of her "crowning" in glory, we daily learn to serve—to serve God in our brothers and sisters, to express in our attitude of service the "royalty" of our Christian vocation in every state or profession, in every time and in every place. To carry over into the reality of our daily life through such an attitude the petition, "thy kingdom come," which we make every day in the Lord’s Prayer to the Father (126).


(34) For a discussion of possible Eve-Mary parallels in the middle second century, Epistle to Diognetus, and in a possible allusion to Papias in Victorinus of Pettau’s treatise De Fabrica Mundi, see L. Gambero, "Patristic Intuitions of Mary’s Role as Mediatrix and Advocate: The Invocation of the Faithful for Her Help" Marian Studies 52 (2001), pp. 79-83.
(35) St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 100, PG 6, 711-12; L. Gambero, "Patristic Intuitions," pp. 83-84.
(36) St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3:22 PG 7, 958-960; L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999), p. 58; idem, "Patristic Intuitions," p. 88.
(37) Tertullian, De Carne Christi, 17, PL 2, 827; L. Gambero, "Patristic Intuitions," pp. 95-96.
(38) St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 5, 19, 1, PG 7, 1175-1176; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1:547.
(39) Cf. L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, p. 55.
(40) L. Gambero, "Patristic Intuitions," p. 93.
(41) See M. O’Carroll, Theotokos, p. 326.
(42) St. Ephraim, S. Ephraiem Syri testim. De B.V.M. meditatione, Ephemeredes Theologicae Lovanienses, IV, fasc. 2, 1927. As cited in M. Miravalle, Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1993) p. 63.
(43) St. Germanus of Constantinople, Homily on the Cincture PG 98, 380 D-381 A. As translated in L. Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, p. 388.
(44) St. Romanos the Singer, Homily on the Nativity, II, SC 110, 100. As translated by M. O’Carroll, "Advocate" in Theotokos, p. 6.
(45) De Aquaeduc, 7 ed. J. Leclercq. V, 279. As translated by M. O’Carroll, in Theotokos, p. 6; PL 183, 43C.
(46) Leo X, Bull Pastoris Aeterni (October 6, 1520); Sixtus V, Bull Gloriosae (June 8, 1587); Clement IX, Brief Sincera Nostra (October 21, 1667); Clement XI, Bull, Commissi Nobis (December 8, 1708). As Cited in M. O’Carroll, Theotokos, p. 6.
(47) Pius VII, Apostolic Constitution Tanto Studio (Feb. 19, 1805) in Our Lady (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961), p. 42.
(48) St. Pius X, prayer for the 50th anniversary of the definition of the Immaculate Conception, "O Most Holy Virgin" (Sept. 8, 1903) in Our Lady, p. 165.
(49) Pius XI, Encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor (May 8, 1928) in Our Lady, p. 209.
(50) Pius XI, Papal Allocution to pilgrims present at the reading of the decree de tuto for the canonization of Bl. Antida Thouret (August 15, 1933) in Our Lady, p. 223.
(51) Pius XII, radio message to the National Marian Congress of Argentina (Oct. 12, 1947) in Our Lady, p. 280.
(52) Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents, ed. A. Flannery (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1992).
(53) John Paul II, "Mary is a Model of Faith, Hope and Charity" general audience of September 10, 1997, in Theotokos (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2000).
(54) John Paul II, "Mary Has a Universal Spiritual Motherhood," general audience of September 24, 1997, in Theotokos.
(55) L. Gambero, "La Regalità di Maria nel Pensiero dei Padri," p. 435.
(56) "Sciendumque quod Maria sermone Syro domina nuncupetur." Jerome, Liber de Nominibus Hebraicis, PL 23, 842. See also M. Donnelly, "The Queenship of Mary During the Patristic Period," p. 90.
(57) Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 142, PL 52, 579c.
(58) L. Gambero, "La Regalitá nel Pensiero dei Padri," pp. 441-442; M. Donnelly, "The Queenship of Mary During the Patristic Period," pp. 99-100.
(59) M. Donnelly, "The Queenship of Mary During the Patristic Period," p. 87.
(60) Fragmenta Origenis, Ex Macarii Chrysocephali Orationibus in Lucam, PG 13, 1902. "Cur me igitur prior salutas? Nunquid ego sum quae Salvatorem pario? Oportebat me ad te venire: tu enim super omnes mulieres benedicta: tu Mater Domini mei: tu mea Domina."
(61) Ephrem, Ed. Assemani, III, 524 as cited in M. Donnelly, "The Queenship of Mary During the Patristic Period," p. 87.
(62) Jerome, Homilia in die Dom. Paschae, ed. D. Morin, Anecdota Maredsolan, t. III, pars. II, p. 414 as cited by M. Donnelly, "The Queenship of Mary," p. 88.
(63) Augustine, In Joannis Evangelium VIII, PL 35, 1456.
(64) M. Donnelly, "The Queenship of Mary During the Patristic Period," p. 88. On the significance of this title "Domina," see G. Kirwin, The Nature of the Queenship of Mary, p. 39: "The name, ‘Domina’ indicates a great dignity and the fact that it is applied to Mary who is the Mother of the ‘Dominus’ leads us easily to the conclusion that she too is a sovereign."
(65) For example: Gregory of Nanzianzus, Poemata Dogmatica, PG 37, 485a; Hesychius, de Sancta Maria Deipara Homilia, PG 93, 1465-1468; Sedulius, Opus Paschale, PL 19, 599; cf., John Chrysostom, In Annuntiationem Deiparae, PG 62, 765.
(66) M. Donnelly, "The Queenship of Mary During the Patristic Period," pp. 88-89; L. Gambero, "La Regalità di Maria nel Pensiero dei Padri," pp. 438-441.
(67) Chrysippus of Jerusalem, In S. Mariam Deiparam, PO 93, 339.
(68) Cf. L. Gambero, "La regalità di Maria nel Pensiero dei Padri," p. 433.
(69) Idelfonse of Toledo, Liber de Virginitate Perpetua S. Mariae, PL 96, 106.
(70) Andrew of Crete, In Dormitionem S. Mariae, PG 97, 1107.
(71) Germain of Constantinople, In Praesentationem SS. Deiparae I, PG 98, 304.
(72) John Damascene, De Fide Orthodoxa Lib. IV, PG 96, 1157, 1162.
(73) John Damascene, Homilia II in Dormitionem B.V. Mariae, PG 96, 721.
(74) W. Hill, "Our Lady’s Queenship in the Middle Ages and Modern Times," pp. 135-143.
(75) W. Hill, "Our Lady’s Queenship," pp. 139, 143; F. Schmidt, "The Universal Queenship of Mary," p. 530.
(76) W. Hill, "Our Lady’s Queenship," p. 148.
(77) G. Kirwin, The Nature of the Queenship of Mary, p. 53. Conrad of Saxony drew a similar conclusion. F. Schmidt, "Universal Queenship of Mary," p. 531.
(78) G. Kirwin, The Nature of the Queenship of Mary, p. 53.
(79) W. Hill notes Bonaventure, the Mariale, Richard of St. Lawrence, Bernardine of Siena, and Denis the Carthusian as examples. W. Hill, "Our Lady’s Queenship," pp. 146, 149-152.
(80) W. Hill, "Our Lady’s Queenship," p. 153.
(81) G. Kirwin, The Nature of the Queenship of Mary, p. 55. W. Hill, "Our Lady’s Queenship," pp. 159, 161.
(82) G. Kirwin, The Nature of the Queenship of Mary, p. 55. W. Hill, "Our Lady’s Queenship," pp. 164-167.
(83) W. Hill, "Our Lady’s Queenship," p. 168.
(84) G. Kirwin, The Nature of the Queenship of Mary, pp. 62-63.
(85) G. Kirwin, The Nature of the Queenship of Mary, p. 63.
(86) E. Lodi, "Preghiera Mariana" in Nuovo Dizionario di Mariologia, eds. S. De Fiores & S. Meo (Milan: Edizioni San Paolo, 1996), p. 1029. C. O’Donnel, At Worship with Mary: A Pastoral and Theological Study (Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1988), p. 153.
(87) G. Besutti, "Litanie," in Nuovo Dizionario di Mariologia, eds., S. De Fiores & S. Meo (Milan: Edizioni San Paolo, 1996), p. 684.
(88) G. Kirwin, The Nature of the Queenship of Mary, pp. 40-41, 68-79. Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, AAS 46 (1954) 632-633.
(89) E. Carroll, "Our Lady’s Queenship in the Magisterium of the Church," pp. 38-39.
(90) Council of Nicea II in The Sources of Catholic Dogma, ed. H. Denzinger (St. Louis: Herder, 1957), p. 121.
(91) E. Carroll, "Our Lady’s Queenship," p. 41.
(92) Benedict XIV, Gloriosae Dominae (September 27, 1748) in Our Lady, pp. 25-29.
(93) Benedict XIV, Gloriosae Dominae, in Our Lady, p. 26.
(94) Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus in Our Lady, p. 82.
(95) For example: Supremi Apostolatus, ASS 16 (1883) 116; Octobri mense, ASS 24 (1891-1892) 202; Magnae Dei Matris, ASS 25 (1892-1893) 140; Laetitiae sanctae, ASS 26 (1893-1894) 193; Iucunda semper, ASS 27 (1894-1895) 177; Adiutricem populi, ASS 28 (1895-1896) 129; Fidentem piumque, ASS 29 (1896-1897) 204. See E. Carroll, "Our Lady’s Queenship," pp. 47-53.
(96) Pius X, Ad Diem Illum, AAS 36 (1903-1904) 454. See Our Lady, pp. 165-182.
(97) See E. Carroll, "Our Lady’s Queenship," pp. 55-56.
(98) Pius XI, Rerum Ecclesiae, AAS 18 (1926) 83. Trans. from Our Lady, p. 207.
(99) Pius XI, Lux Veritatis, AAS 23 (1931) 515. Trans. from Our Lady, p. 218.
(100) "If we should wish to determine from the documents we have what truth Pius XII has above all illuminated in Our Lady, it seems no mistake to say: the queenship … On this point the teaching of Pius XII far surpasses in richness and development that of his predecessors." D. Bertetto, "La Dottrina Mariana di Pio XII," Salesianum 11 (1949), pp. 22-23 as cited in E. Carroll, "Our Lady’s Queenship," pp. 61-62. Note how this statement was made about Pius XII even before the definition of the Assumption and his encyclical on Mary’s queenship, Ad Caeli Reginam!
(101) Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, AAS 35 (1943) 248.
(102) AAS 35 (1943) 248.
(103) AAS 42 (1950) 768-769. Trans. from Papal Teachings, p. 318.
(104) Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, AAS 46 (1954) 626-627. For more extensive treatments on this encyclical, see: N. Peña, "La Encíclica ‘Ad Caeli Reginam,’" EphMar 46 (1996), pp. 485-501; M. Peinador, "Propedeutica a la Encyclica ‘Ad Caeli Reginam,’" EphMar 5 (1955), pp. 291-316; G. Roschini, "Breve commento all’Enciclica ‘Ad Caeli Reginam,’" Marianum 16 (1954), pp. 409-432.
(105) AAS 46 (1954) 633. Trans. from Ad Caeli Reginam, 34 in The Papal Encyclicals.
(106) Ibid.
(107) AAS 46 (1954) 634. Trans. from Ad Caeli Reginam, 36 in The Papal Encyclicals.
(108) AAS 46 (1954) 635. Trans. from Ad Caeli Reginam, 40 in The Papal Encyclicals.
(109) AAS 46 (1954) 636.
(110) AAS 46 (1954) 636. Trans. from Ad Caeli Reginam, 42 in The Papal Encyclicals.
(111) AAS 46 (1954) 637. Trans. from Ad Caeli Reginam, 42 in The Papal Encyclicals.
(112) Emphasis added. AAS 46 (1954) 636-637. Trans. from Ad Caeli Reginam, 42 in The Papal Encyclicals.
(113) Emphasis added. AAS 66 (1974) 121. Trans. from Marialis Cultus, 6 (Boston: St. Paul’s Editions, 1974).
(114) AAS 79 (1987) 417. Trans. from Redemptoris Mater, 41 (Boston: Pauline Books, 1987).
(115) AAS 79 (1987) 417. Trans. from Redemptoris Mater, 41 (Boston: Pauline Books, 1987). See N. Peña, "La Encíclica ‘Ad Caeli Reginam,’" p. 499.
(116) AAS 79 (1987) 417. John Paul II Redemptoris Mater, 41 (Boston: Pauline Books, 1987).
(117) AAS 79 (1987) 418. Trans. from Redemptoris Mater, 41 (Boston: Pauline Books, 1987). See N. Peña, "La Encíclica ‘Ad Caeli Reginam,’" p. 499.
(118) A. Serra, "Regina," p. 1076.
(119) See C. O’Donnell, Life in the Spirit and Mary (Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1981), p. 45. Cf., idem., At Worship with Mary, pp. 153-154.
(120) S. De Fiores, Maria nel Mistero di Cristo, p. 89.
(121) AAS 79 (1987) 417. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 41 (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1987).
(122) A. Serra, "Regina," pp. 1074-1075.
(123) See S. De Fiores, Maria Presenza Viva nel Popolo di Dio (Rome: Edizioni Monfortane, 1980), p. 58.
(124) S. De Fiores, Maria Presenza Viva nel Popolo di Dio, p. 59.
(125) M. Masciarelli, "Laici," in S. De Fiores and S. Meo, eds., Nuovo Dizionario di Mariologia, (Milan: Edizioni San Paolo, 1986), p. 659.
(126) Pope John Paul II, "To Serve is to Reign," Angelus Message at Castel Gandolfo (August 23, 1981) in L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, 35 (699) August 31, 1981, p. 3.

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