In every age Mary’s powerful intercession obtains for the Church an
ever fresh outpouring of the enlightening and strengthening gifts of the
"In contemplating Mary's powerful intercession as she waits for
the Holy Spirit, Christians of every age have frequently had recourse to
her intercession on the long and tiring journey to salvation, in order
to receive the gifts of the Paraclete in greater abundance", the
Holy Father said at the General Audience of Wednesday, 28 May, as he
reflected on Mary's presence in the Upper Room at Pentecost. Here is a
translation of the Pope's catechesis, which was the 52nd in the series
on the Blessed Mother and was given in Italian.
1. Retracing the course of the Virgin Mary's life, the Second Vatican
Council recalls her presence in the community waiting for Pentecost.
"But since it had pleased God not to manifest solemnly the mystery
of the salvation of the human race before he would pour forth the Spirit
promised by Christ, we see the Apostles before the day of Pentecost
'persevering with one mind in prayer with the women and Mary the Mother
of Jesus, and with his brethren' (Acts 1:14), and we also see Mary by
her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already
overshadowed her in the Annunciation" (Lumen gentium, n.
She helped the disciples prepare for Spirit's coming
The first community is the prelude to the birth of the Church; the
Blessed Virgin's presence helps to sketch her definitive features, a
fruit of the gift of Pentecost.
2. In the atmosphere of expectation that prevailed in the Upper Room
after the Ascension, what was Mary's position in relation to the descent
of the Holy Spirit?
The Council expressly underscores her prayerful presence while
waiting for the outpouring of the Paraclete: she prays, "imploring
the gift of the Spirit". This observation is particularly
significant since at the Annunciation the Holy Spirit had descended upon
her, "overshadowing" her and bringing about the Incarnation of
Having already had a unique experience of the effectiveness of such a
gift, the Blessed Virgin was in a condition to appreciate it more than
anyone; indeed, she owed her motherhood to the mysterious intervention
of the Spirit, who had made her the way by which the Saviour came into
Unlike those in the Upper Room who were waiting in fearful
expectation, she, fully aware of the importance of her Son's promise to
the disciples (cf. Jn 14:16), helped the community to be well disposed
to the coming of the "Paraclete".
Thus, while her unique experience made her ardently long for the
Spirit's coming, it also involved her in preparing the minds and hearts
of those around her.
3. During that prayer in the Upper Room, in an attitude of deep
communion with the Apostles, with some women and with Jesus'
"brethren", the Mother of the Lord prays for the gift of the
Spirit for herself and for the community.
It was appropriate that the first out pouring of the Spirit upon her,
which had happened in view of her divine motherhood, should be repeated
and reinforced. Indeed, at the foot of the Cross Mary was entrusted with
a new motherhood, which concerned Jesus' disciples. It was precisely
this mission that demanded a renewed gift of the Spirit. The Blessed
Virgin therefore wanted it for the fruitfulness of her spiritual
While at the moment of the Incarnation the Holy Spirit had descended
upon her as a person called to take part worthily in the great mystery,
every thing is now accomplished for the sake of the Church, whose image,
model and mother Mary is called to be.
In the Church and for the Church, mindful of Jesus' promise, she
waits for Pentecost and implores a multiplicity of gifts for everyone,
in accordance with each one's personality and mission.
4. Mary's prayer has particular significance in the Christian
community: it fosters the coming of the Spirit, imploring his action in
the hearts of the disciples and in the world. Just as in the Incarnation
the Spirit had formed the physical body of Christ in her virginal womb,
now in the Upper Room the same Spirit comes down to give life to the
Thus Pentecost is also a fruit of the Blessed Virgin's incessant
prayer, which is accepted by the Paraclete with special favour because
it is an expression of her motherly love for the Lord's disciples.
In contemplating Mary's powerful intercession as she waits for the
Holy Spirit, Christians of every age have frequently had recourse to her
intercession on the long and tiring journey to salvation, in order to
receive the gifts of the Paraclete in greater abundance.
Mary had a deep influence on the early community
5. Responding to the prayer of the Blessed Virgin and the community
gathered in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit
bestows the fullness of his gifts on the Blessed Virgin and those
present, working a deep transformation in them for the sake of spreading
the Good News. The Mother of Christ and his disciples are granted new
strength and new apostolic energy for the Church's growth. In
particular, the outpouring of the Spirit leads Mary to exercise her
spiritual motherhood in an exceptional way, through her presence imbued
with charity and her witness of faith.
In the nascent Church she passes on to the disciples her memories of
the Incarnation, the infancy, the hidden life and the mission of her
divine Son as a priceless treasure, thus helping to make him known and
to strengthen the faith of believers.
We have no information about Mary’s activity in the early Church,
but we may suppose that after Pentecost her life would have continued to
be hidden and discreet, watchful and effective. Since she was
enlightened and guided by the Spirit, she exercised a deep influence on
the community of the Lord's disciples.