Ad caeli Reginam
Encyclical of Pope Pius XII on proclaiming the Queenship Of Mary, 11 October 1954.
Excerpts from sections 1-40.
From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of
triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns
of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which
they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed
by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother's
solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the
glory of a Queen.
From early times Christians have believed, and not without reason, that she of whom was
born the Son of the Most High received privileges of grace above all other beings created
by God. He "will reign in the house of Jacob forever," "the Prince of
Peace," the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords." And when Christians
reflected upon the intimate connection that obtains between a mother and a son, they
readily acknowledged the supreme royal dignity of the Mother of God.
Hence it is not surprising that the early writers of the Church called Mary "the
Mother of the King" and "the Mother of the Lord," basing their stand on the
words of St. Gabriel the archangel, who foretold that the Son of Mary would reign
forever, and on the words of Elizabeth who greeted her with reverence and called her
"the Mother of my Lord." Thereby they clearly signified that she derived a
certain eminence and exalted station from the royal dignity of her Son.
So it is that St. Ephrem, burning with poetic inspiration, represents her as speaking
in this way: "Let Heaven sustain me in its embrace, because I am honored above it.
For heaven was not Thy mother, but Thou hast made it Thy throne. How much more honorable
and venerable than the throne of a king is his mother." And in another place he
thus prays to her: ". . . Majestic and Heavenly Maid, Lady, Queen, protect and keep
me under your wing lest Satan the sower of destruction glory over me, lest my wicked foe
be victorious against me."
She is called by St. John Damascene: "Queen, ruler, and lady," and also
"the Queen of every creature." Another ancient writer of the Eastern Church
calls her "favored Queen," "the perpetual Queen beside the King, her
son," whose "snow-white brow is crowned with a golden diadem."
As We have already mentioned, Venerable Brothers, according to ancient tradition and
the sacred liturgy the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without
doubt her Divine Motherhood.
But the Blessed Virgin Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine
Motherhood, but also because God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of
our eternal salvation. "What more joyful, what sweeter thought can we have"--as
Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI wrote --"than that Christ is our King not
only by natural right, but also by an acquired right: that which He won by the redemption?
Would that all men, now forgetful of how much we cost Our Savior, might recall to mind the
words, 'You were redeemed, not with gold or silver which perishes, . . . but with the
precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb spotless and undefiled. We belong not to
ourselves now, since Christ has bought us 'at a great price'."/
Now, in the accomplishing of this work of redemption, the Blessed Virgin Mary was most
closely associated with Christ; and so it is fitting to sing in the sacred liturgy:
"Near the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ there stood, sorrowful, the Blessed Mary,
Queen of Heaven and Queen of the World." Hence, as the devout disciple of St.
Anselm (Eadmer, ed.) wrote in the Middle Ages: "just as . . . God, by making all
through His power, is Father and Lord of all, so the blessed Mary, by repairing all
through her merits, is Mother and Queen of all; for God is the Lord of all things, because
by His command He establishes each of them in its own nature, and Mary is the Queen of all
things, because she restores each to its original dignity through the grace which she
From these considerations, the proof develops on these lines: if Mary, in taking an
active part in the work of salvation, was, by God's design, associated with Jesus Christ,
the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated
with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation
was accomplished by a kind of "recapitulation," in which a virgin was
instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely
associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady
had been chosen Mother of Christ "in order that she might become a partner in the
redemption of the human race"; and if, in truth, "it was she who, free of
the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha
offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her
maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as
they were by his lamentable fall," then it may be legitimately concluded that as
Christ, the new Adam, must be called a King not merely because He is Son of God, but also
because He is our Redeemer, so, analogously, the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only
because she is Mother of God, but also because, as the new Eve, she was associated with
the new Adam.
Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man,
is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as His associate in the
redemption, in his struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share,
though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity. For from her union with
Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature; from her
union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine
Redeemer's Kingdom; from her union with Christ finally is derived the inexhaustible
efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father.
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. "You have surpassed every
creature," sings St. Sophronius. "What can be more sublime than your joy, O
Virgin Mother? What more noble than this grace, which you alone have received from
God"? To this St. Germanus adds: "Your honor and dignity surpass the whole
of creation; your greatness places you above the angels." And St. John Damascene
goes so far as to say: "Limitless is the difference between God's servants and His
5. Luc. 1, 32.
6. Isai. IX, 6.
7. Apoc. XIX, 16.
8. Cf. Luc. 1, 32, 33.
9. Luc. 1, 43.
10. S. Ephraem, Hymni de B Maria, ed. Th. J. Lamy, t. II, Mechliniae, 1886, hymn.
XIX, p. 624.
11. Idem, Oratio ad Ssmam Dei Matrem; Opera omnia, Ed. Assemani, t. III
(graece), Romae, 1747, pag. 546.
23. S. Ioannes Damascenus, Homilia I in Dormitionem B.M.V. : P.G. XCVI, 719 A.
24. Id., De fide orthodoxa, I, IV, c. 14: PG XLIV, 1158 B.
25. De laudibus Mariae (inter opera Venantii Fortunati): PL LXXXVIII, 282 B et 283
43. I Petr. 1, 18, 19.
44. I Cor. Vl, 20.
45. Pius XI, litt. enc. Quas primas: AAS XVII, 1925, p. 599.
46. Festum septem dolorum B. Mariae Virg., Tractus.
47. Eadmerus, De excellentia Virginis Mariae, c. 11: PL CLIX, 508 A B.
49. S. Irenaeus, Adv. haer. , V, 19, 1: PG VII, 1175 B.
50. Pius XI, epist. Auspicatus profecto: AAS XXV, 1933, p. 80.
51. Pius XII, litt. enc. Mystici Corporis: AAS XXXV, 1943, p. 247.
52. S. Sophronius, In annuntianone Beatae Mariae Virginis: PG LXXXVII, 3238 D; 3242
53. S. Germanus, Hom. II in dormitione Beatae Mariae Virginis: PG XCVIII, 354 B.
54. S. Ioannes Damascenus, Hom. I in Dormitionem Beatae Mariae Virginis: PG XCVI,
Excerpted from Pope Pius XII's encyclical letter on proclaiming the Queenship of Mary, Ad
caeli Reginam, 11 October 1954
View the complete text
of Ad caeli Reginam from the EWTN Online Services ftp site.
Electronic text (c) Copyright EWTN 1996. All rights reserved.