On the Queenship of Mary
Memorial of the Queenship of Mary
In 1954, Venerable Pope Pius XII formally promulgated the memorial of the Queenship of Mary with his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (Queen of Heaven). It was initially celebrated on May 31st but subsequently transferred to August 22nd, seven days after the Solemnity of the Assumption. In this encyclical, Pope Pius set down in writing what had long been part of our Catholic faith: that Mary is Queen, as seen in Scripture and the ancient Tradition of the Church, especially because of the words of the Archangel, who announced her royal position to her at the Annunciation. St. Gabriel foretold that her Son would reign forever (cf Luke 1:33). As well, St. Elizabeth’s words to Mary at the Visitation confirmed her as “Mother of my Lord” (cf Luke 1:43), the form of address for the mother of a king in the 1st century. And, the mother of a king is, of course, the queen mother.
Dr. Edward Sri brings out the subtle scriptural allusion to Mary as Queen in Matthew 2:11:
“All throughout the narrative in Matthew 1–2, Joseph is much more prominent than Mary. Matthew traces Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph. The angel appears to Joseph three times. It is Joseph who leads the Holy Family to Bethlehem, to Egypt, and back to Israel. From this we can see Joseph often takes the spotlight in the first few scenes of Matthew’s Gospel. However, in this particular episode when the Magi come to honor Jesus, Mary takes center stage and Joseph fades into the background. Why? Because it shows the importance of Mary as queen mother.”*
In addition to the Gospel references above, and the Old Testament prophecy of the virgin from whom would come a royal son (cf Isaiah 7), we know that the Blessed Mother is full of grace (cf Luke 1:28) and that nothing unclean may enter heaven (Revelation 21:27). Therefore, it’s no surprise, that Mary makes an appearance in Revelation 12 as Queen, as the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and, on her head, a crown of twelve stars (cf Revelation 12:1).
All who call her Queen and Lady express the consent of faith to this teaching. And, Pope Pius XII wrote that:
“…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. So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: ‘When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature.'”
The Blessed Virgin Mary has been celebrated and honored as Queen from the earliest history of the Church. Every honor and devotion we give to her “redounds to the glory of her Divine Son, not only because all graces and all gifts, even the highest, flow from Him as from their primary source, but also because ‘The glory of children [is their parentage]’ (Book of Proverbs, 17:6)” (Fulgens Corona — Radiant Crown).
It is interesting to reflect on Mary’s title “Mother of Mercy” (or “Queen of Mercy”). We hear her called that in various Church prayers. Although she has the title “Mirror of Justice” which we address her by in the Litany of Loreto, St. Alphonsus Liguori, in his famous treatise The Glories of Mary, points out that she is never called the Mother of Justice. “Mary, then, is Queen,” he writes, “but let all learn for their consolation that she is a mild and merciful Queen, desiring the good of all sinners… Kings… should principally occupy themselves with works of mercy, but they should not neglect the exercise of justice toward the guilty when it is required. But Mary is not a queen of justice, intent on the punishment of the guilty, but rather a Queen of Mercy, intent only on compassion and pardon for sinners. Accordingly, the Church calls her Queen of Mercy.”
So, let us invoke our Blessed Mother this day, frequently, just as is done in the beautiful prayer said at the end of the rosary, and sung often after Compline, or Night Prayer, in the Liturgy of the Hours, “Hail, Holy Queen.” “Salve Regina!”
*Sri, E. P. (2004). Treat Her like a Queen: The Biblical Call to Honor Mary as Royal Mother. In S. Hahn & L. J. Suprenant Jr. (Eds.), Catholic for a Reason II: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mother of God (Second Edition, pp. 78–79). Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing.
Art for this post on the Queenship of Mary: Partial restoration of Hippetsweiler, Gemeinde Wald, Landkreis Sigmaringen; Kapelle St. Wolfgang (Hippetsweiler, Municipality of Forest District of Sigmaringen, Chapel of St. Wolfgang) [Coronation of Mary], artist not identified, Andreas Praefcke photographer, September 2012 own work, CCA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons.