Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 21 November 1964.
Excerpts from CHAPTER VIII: OUR LADY, from sections 60-65.
Mary's Role in the Church
Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation
of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men
originates not in any inner necessity but in the disposition of God. It flows forth from
the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it
and draws all its power from it. It does not hinder in any way the immediate union of the
faithful with Christ but on the contrary fosters it.
The predestination of the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God was associated with the
incarnation of the divine word: in the designs of divine Providence she was the gracious
mother of the divine Redeemer here on earth, and above all others and in a singular way
the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth, and
nourished Christ, she presented him to the Father in the temple, shared her Son's
sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her
obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring
supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.
This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the
consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without
wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to
heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues
to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the
brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties,
until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the
Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. This,
however, is so understood that it neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to
the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.
No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just
as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the
faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his
creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives
rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.
The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary, which it
constantly experiences and recommends to the heartfelt attention of the faithful, so that
encouraged by this maternal help they may the more closely adhere to the Mediator and
Mary, type or figure of the Church
By reason of the gift and role of her divine motherhood, by which she is united with
her Son, the Redeemer, and with her unique graces and functions, the Blessed Virgin is
also intimately united to the Church. As St. Ambrose taught, the Mother of God is a type
of the Church in the order of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ. For in
the mystery of the Church, which is itself rightly called mother and virgin, the Blessed
Virgin stands out in eminent and singular fashion as exemplar both of virgin and
mother. Through her faith and obedience she gave birth on earth to the very Son of the
Father, not through the knowledge of man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, in
the manner of a new Eve who placed her faith, not in the serpent of old but in God's
messenger without waivering in doubt. The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed
as the first born among many brethren (Rom. 8:29), that is, the faithful, in whose
generation and formation she cooperates with a mother's love.
The Church indeed contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and
faithfully fulfilling the Father's will, by receiving the word of God in faith becomes
herself a mother. By preaching and baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived of the
Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who
keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse. Imitating the mother
of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she keeps intact faith, firm hope and
But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection
whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle (cf. Eph. 5:27), the faithful still strive to
conquer sin and increase in holiness. And so they turn their eyes to Mary who shines forth
to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues. Devoutly meditating on her
and contemplating her in the light of the Word made man, the Church reverently penetrates
more deeply into the great mystery of the Incarnation and becomes more and more like her
spouse. Having entered deeply into the history of salvation, Mary, in a way, unites in her
person and re-echoes the most important doctrines of the faith: and when she is the
subject of preaching and veneration she prompts the faithful to come to her Son, to his
sacrifice and to the love of the Father. Seeking after the glory of Christ, the Church
becomes more like her lofty type, and continually progresses in faith, hope and charity,
seeking and doing the will of God in all things. The Church, therefore, in her apostolic
work too, rightly looks to her who gave birth to Christ, who was thus conceived of the
Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, in order that through the Church he could be born and
increase in the hearts of the faithful. In her life the Virgin has been a model of that
motherly love with which all who join in the Church's apostolic mission for the
regeneration of mankind should be animated.
15. Cfr. Kleutgen, textus reformatus De mysterio Verbi incarnati, cap.
IV: Mansi 53, 290. Cfr. S. Andreas Cret., In nat. Mariae, sermo 4: PG 97, 865 A. -
S. Germanus Constantinop., In annunt. Deiparae: PG 98, 321 BC. In dorm. Deiparae,
III: col. 361 D.S. Io. Damascenus, In dorm. B. V. Mariae, Hom. 1, 8: PG 96, 712 BC
- 713 A.
16. Cfr. Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Adiutricem populi, 5 sept. 1895: ASS 15
(1895-96), P. 303. - S. Pius X, Litt. Encycl. Ad diem illum, 2 febr. 1904: Acta, I,
p. 154; Denz. 1978 a (3370). - Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Miserentissimus, 8 maii 1928:
AAS 20 (1928) P. 178. Pius XII, Nuntius Radioph., 13 maii 1946: AAS 38 (1946) P. 266.
17. S. Ambrosius, Epist. 63: PL 16, 1218.
18. S. Ambrosius, Expos. Lc. II, 7: PL 15, 1555.
19. Cfr. Ps.-Petrus Dam., Serm. 63: PL 144, 861 AB. - Godefridus a S. Victore. In
nat. B. M., Ms. Paris, Mazarine, 1002, fol. 109 r. - Gerhohus Reich., De gloria et
honore Filii hominis, 10: PL 194,1105AB.
20. S. Ambrosius, l. c. et Expos. Lc. X, 24-25: PL 15, 1810. - S. Augustinus, In
lo. Tr. 13, 12: PL 35, 1499. Cfr. Serm. 191, 2, 3: PL 38, 1010; etc. Cfr. etiam
Ven. Beda, In Lc. Expos. I, cap. 2: PL 92, 330. - Isaac de Stella, Serm. 51:
PL 194, 1863 A.
21. Sub tuum praesidium.
22. Conc. Nicaenum II, anno 787: Mansi 13, 378-379; Denz. 302 (600-601) .conc.
Trident., sess. 25: Mansi 33, 171-172.
23. Cfr. Pius XII, Nuntius radioph., 24 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) P. 679. Litt. Encycl. Ad
coeli Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) P. 637.
Excerpted from Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, 21
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