Our Lady, who was granted the dignity of being the Mother of God, is
also the favoured daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy
Mary "is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother
of the Son of God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the
Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit" (Lumen gentium,
n. 53). With this quote from the Second Vatican Council, the Holy
Father expressed in concise form the Trinitarian dimension of Marian
doctrine, which was the subject of his catechesis at the General
Audience of Wednesday, 10 January. Here is a translation of his address,
which was the 11th in the series on the Blessed Virgin and was given in
1. The eighth chapter of the Constitution Lumen gentium shows
in the mystery of Christ the absolutely necessary reference to
Marian doctrine. In this regard, the first words of the Introduction are
significant: "Wishing in his supreme goodness and wisdom to effect
the redemption of the world, 'when the fullness of time came, God sent
his Son, born of a woman ... that we might receive the adoption of sons'
(Gal 4:4-5)" (Lumen gentium, n. 52). This son is the
Messiah awaited by the people of the Old Covenant, sent by the Father at
a decisive moment of history, the "fullness of time" (Gal
4:4), which coincides with his birth in our world from a woman. She who
brought the eternal Son of God to humanity can never be separated from
him who is found at the centre of the divine plan carried out in
The primacy of Christ is shown forth in the Church, his Mystical
Body: in her "the faithful are joined to Christ the Head and are in
communion with all his saints" (cf. Lumen gentium, n.
52). It is Christ who draws all men to himself. Since in her
maternal role she is closely united with her Son, Mary helps direct the
gaze and heart of believers towards him.
She is the way that leads to Christ: indeed, she who "at the
message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her
body" (Lumen gentium, n. 53) shows us how to receive
into our lives the Son come down from heaven, teaching us to make Jesus
the centre and the supreme "law" of our existence.
A unique bond between Mary and the Holy Spirit
2. Mary also helps us discover, at the origin of the whole work of
salvation, the sovereign action of the Father who calls men to
become sons in the one Son. Recalling the very beautiful expressions of
the Letter to the Ephesians: "God, who is rich in mercy, out of the
great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our
trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Eph 2:4), the
Council gives God the title "most merciful": the Son
"born of a woman" is thus seen as the fruit of the Father's
mercy and enables us to understand better how this Woman is the
"mother of mercy".
In the same context, the Council also calls God "most
wise", suggesting a particular attention to the close link between
Mary and the divine wisdom, which in its mysterious plan willed the
3. The Council's text also reminds us of the unique bond uniting Mary
with the Holy Spirit, using the words of the
Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed which we recite in the Eucharistic
liturgy: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from
heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary,
and became man".
In expressing the unchanging faith of the Church, the Council reminds
us that the marvellous incarnation of the Son took place in the Virgin
Mary's womb without man's co-operation, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Introduction to the eighth chapter of Lumen gentium thus
shows in a Trinitarian perspective an essential dimension of Marian
doctrine. Everything in fact comes from the will of the Father, who has
sent his Son into the world, revealing him to men and establishing him
as the Head of the Church and the centre of history. This is a plan that
was fulfilled by the Incarnation, the work of the Holy Spirit, but with
the essential co-operation of a woman, the Virgin Mary, who thus became
an integral part in the economy of communicating the Trinity to mankind.
4. Mary's threefold relationship with the divine Persons is confirmed
in precise words and with a description of the characteristic
relationship which links the Mother of the Lord to the Church: "She
is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of
God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and
the temple of the Holy Spirit" (Lumen gentium, n.
Mary's fundamental dignity is that of being "Mother of the
Son", which is expressed in Christian doctrine and devotion with
the title "Mother of God".
This is a surprising term, which shows the humility of God's
only-begotten Son in his Incarnation and, in connection with it, the
most high privilege granted a creature who was called to give him birth
in the flesh.
Mother of the Son, Mary is the "beloved daughter of the
Father" in a unique way. She has been granted an utterly special
likeness between her motherhood and the divine fatherhood.
And again: every Christian is a "temple of the Holy
Spirit", according to the Apostle Paul's expression (1 Cor 6:19).
But this assertion takes on an extraordinary meaning in Mary: in her the
relationship with the Holy Spirit is enriched with a spousal dimension.
I recalled this in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater: "The
Holy Spirit had already come down upon her, and she became his faithful
spouse at the Annunciation, welcoming the Word of the true God..."
Mary's dignity surpasses that of every creature
5. Mary's privileged relationship with the Trinity therefore confers
on her a dignity which far surpasses that of every other creature. The
Council recalls this explicitly: because of this "gift of sublime
grace" Mary "far surpasses all creatures" (Lumen
gentium, n. 53). However, this most high dignity does not hinder
Mary's solidarity with each of us. The Constitution Lumen gentium goes
on to say: "But, being of the race of Adam, she is at the same time
also united to all those who are to be saved" and she has been
"redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of
her Son" (ibid.).
Here we see the authentic meaning of Mary's privileges and of her
extraordinary relationship with the Trinity: their purpose is to enable
her to co-operate in the salvation of the human race. The immeasurable
greatness of the Lord's Mother therefore remains a gift of God's love
for all men. By proclaiming her "blessed" (Lk 1:48),
generations praise the "great things" (Lk 1:49) the Almighty
has done in her for humanity, "in remembrance of his mercy" (Lk