While the gospels do not mention Jesus appearing to Our Lady after the
Resurrection, it was fitting that she should be the first to experience
"Lastly, the unique and special character of the Blessed
Virgin's presence at Calvary and her perfect union with the Son in his
suffering on the Cross seem to postulate a very particular sharing on
her part in the mystery of the Resurrection", the Holy Father said
at the General Audience of Wednesday, 21 May, as he reflected on the
question of whether the Lord appeared to Mary after his Resurrection.
Here is a translation of the Pope's catechesis, which was the 51st in
the series on the Blessed Mother and was given in Italian.
1. After Jesus had been laid in the tomb, Mary "alone remains to
keep alive the flame of faith, preparing to receive the joyful and
astonishing announcement of the Resurrection" (Address at the
General Audience, 3 April 1996; L'Osservatore Romano English
edition, 10 April 1996, p. 7). The expectation felt on Holy
Saturday is one of the loftiest moments of faith for the Mother of the
Lord: in the darkness that envelops the world, she entrusts herself
fully to the God of life, and thinking back to the words of her Son, she
hopes in the fulfilment of the divine promises.
The Gospels mention various appearances of the risen Christ, but not
a meeting between Jesus and his Mother. This silence must not lead to
the conclusion that after the Resurrection Christ did not appear to
Mary; rather it invites us to seek the reasons why the Evangelists made
such a choice.
How could Mary not be among those who met the risen Lord?
On the supposition of an "omission", this silence could be
attributed to the fact that what is necessary for our saving knowledge
was entrusted to the word of those "chosen by God as
witnesses" (Acts 10:41), that is, the Apostles, who gave their
testimony of the Lord Jesus' Resurrection "with great power"
(cf. Acts 4:33). Before appearing to them, the Risen One had appeared to
several faithful women because of their ecclesial function: "Go and
tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me" (Mt
If the authors of the New Testament do not speak of the Mother's
encounter with her risen Son, this can perhaps be attributed to the fact
that such a witness would have been considered too biased by those who
denied the Lord's Resurrection, and therefore not worthy of belief.
2. Furthermore, the Gospels report a small number of
appearances by the risen Jesus and certainly not a complete summary of
all that happened during the 40 days after Easter. St Paid recalls that
he appeared "to more than 500 brethren at one time" (1 Cor
15:6). How do we explain the fact that an exceptional event known to so
many is not mentioned by the Evangelists? It is an obvious sign that
other appearances of the Risen One were not recorded, although they were
among the well-known events that occurred.
How could the Blessed Virgin, present in the first community of
disciples (cf. Acts 1: 14), be excluded from those who met her divine
Son after he had risen from the dead?
3. Indeed, it is legitimate to think that the Mother was probably the
first person to whom the risen Jesus appeared. Could not Mary's absence
from the group of women who went to the tomb at dawn (cf. Mk 16: 1; Mt
28: 1) indicate that she had already met Jesus? This inference would
also be confirmed by the fact that the first witnesses of the
Resurrection, by Jesus' will, were the women who had remained faithful
at the foot of the Cross and therefore were more steadfast in faith.
Indeed, the Risen One entrusts to one of them, Mary Magdalene, the
message to be passed on to the Apostles (cf. Jn 20:17-18). Perhaps
this fact too allows us to think that Jesus showed himself first to his
Mother, who had been the most faithful and had kept her faith intact
when put to the test.
Lastly, the unique and special character of the Blessed Virgin's
presence at Calvary and her perfect union with the Son in his suffering
on the Cross seem to postulate a very particular sharing on her part in
the mystery of the Resurrection.
A fifth-century author, Sedulius, maintains that in the splendour of
his risen life Christ first showed himself to his mother. In fact, she,
who at the Annunciation was the way he entered the world, was called to
spread the marvellous news of the Resurrection in order to become the
herald of his glorious coming. Thus bathed in the glory of the Risen
One, she anticipates the Church's splendour (cf. Sedulius, Paschale
carmen, 5, 357-364, CSEL 10, 140f).
4. It seems reasonable to think that Mary, as the image and model of
the Church which waits for the Risen One and meets him in the group of
disciples during his Easter appearances, had had a personal contact with
her risen Son, so that she too could delight in the fullness of paschal
Mother of the Lord is 'cause of joy' for all people
Present at Calvary on Good Friday (cf. Jn 19:25) and in the Upper
Room on Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:14), the Blessed Virgin too was probably a
privileged witness of Christ's Resurrection, completing in this way her
participation in all the essential moments of the paschal mystery.
Welcoming the risen Jesus, Mary is also a sign and an anticipation of
humanity, which hopes to achieve its fulfilment through the resurrection
of the dead.
In the Easter season, the Christian community addresses the Mother of
the Lord and invites her to rejoice: "Regina Caeli, laetare.
Alleluia!". "Queen of heaven, rejoice. Alleluia!". Thus
it recalls Mary's joy at Jesus' Resurrection, prolonging in time the
"rejoice" that the Angel addressed to her at the Annunciation,
so that she might become a cause of "great joy" for all