Mary’s queenship is not only founded on her divine motherhood but also
on her co-operation with her Son in the work of Redemption
"Mary is Queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also
because, associated as the new Eve with the new Adam, she co-operated in
the work of the redemption of the human race", the Holy Father said
at the General Audience of Wednesday, 23 July, as he reflected on Mary's
universal queenship. Here is a translation of his catechesis, which was
the 56th in the series on the Blessed Mother and was given in Italian.
1. Popular devotion invokes Mary as Queen. The Council, after
recalling the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in "body and soul
into heavenly glory", explains that she was "exalted by the
Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully
conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Rv 19:16) and conqueror of
sin and death" (Lumen gentium, n. 59).
In fact, starting from the fifth century, almost in the same period
in which the Council of Ephesus proclaims her "Mother of God",
the title of Queen begins to be attributed to her. With this further
recognition of her sublime dignity, the Christian people want to place
her above all creatures, exalting her role and importance in the life of
every person and of the whole world.
But already a fragment of a homily, attributed to Origen, contains
this comment on the words Elizabeth spoke at the Visitation "It is
I who should have come to visit you, because you are blessed above all
women, you are the Mother of my Lord, you are my Lady" (Fragment,
PG 13, 1902 D). The text passes spontaneously from the expression
"the Mother of my Lord" to the title, "my Lady",
anticipating what St John Damascene was later to say, attributing to
Mary the title of "Sovereign": "When she became Mother of
the Creator, she truly became queen of all creatures" (De fide
orthodoxa, 4, 14, PG94, 1157).
Mary's queenship does not replace her maternal role
2. My venerable Predecessor Pius XII, in his Encyclical Ad coeli
Reginam to which the text of the Constitution Lumen gentium
refers, indicates as the basis for Mary's queenship in addition to her
motherhood, her co-operation in the work of the Redemption. The
Encyclical recalls the liturgical text: "There was St Mary, Queen
of heaven and Sovereign of the world, sorrowing near the Cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ" (AAS 46  634). It then establishes
an analogy between Mary and Christ, which helps us understand the
significance of the Blessed Virgin's royal status. Christ is King not
only because he is Son of God, but also because he is the Redeemer; Mary
is Queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because,
associated as the new Eve with the new Adam, she co-operated in the work
of the redemption of the human race (AAS 46  635).
In Mark's Gospel, we read that on the day of the Ascension the Lord
Jesus "was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of
God" (16:19). In biblical language "to sit at the right hand
of God" means sharing his sovereign power. Sitting "at the
right hand of the Father", he establishes his kingdom, God's
kingdom. Taken up into heaven, Mary is associated with the power of her
Son and is dedicated to the extension of the Kingdom, sharing in the
diffusion of divine grace in the world.
In looking at the analogy between Christ's Ascension and Mary's
Assumption, we can conclude that Mary, in dependence on Christ, is the
Queen who possesses and exercises over the universe a sovereignty
granted to her by her Son.
3. The title of Queen does not of course replace that of Mother: her
queenship remains a corollary of her particular maternal mission and
simply expresses the power conferred on her to carry out that mission.
Citing Pius IX's Bull Ineffabilis Deus, the Supreme
Pontiff highlights this maternal dimension of the Blessed Virgin's
queenship: "Having a motherly affection for us and being concerned
for our salvation, she extends her care to the whole human race.
Appointed by the Lord as Queen of heaven and earth, raised above all the
choirs of angels and the whole celestial hierarchy of saints, sitting at
the right hand of her only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, she obtains with
great certainty what she asks with her motherly prayers; she obtains
what she seeks and it cannot be denied her" (cf. AAS
46  636-637).
Mary is a Queen who gives all she possesses
4. Therefore Christians look with trust to Mary Queen and this not
only does not diminish but indeed exalts their filial abandonment to
her, who is mother in the order of grace.
Indeed, the concern Mary Queen has for mankind can be fully effective
precisely by virtue of her glorious state which derives from the
Assumption. St Germanus I of Constantinople, highlights this very well.
He holds that this state guarantees Mary's intimate relationship with
her Son and enables her to intercede in our favour. Addressing Mary he
says: Christ wanted "to have, so to speak, the closeness of your
lips and your heart; thus he assents to all the desires you express to
him, when you suffer for your children, with his divine power he does
all that you ask of him" (Horn. 1, PG 98,
5. One can conclude that the Assumption favours Mary's full communion
not only with Christ, but with each one of us: she is beside us, because
her glorious state enables her to follow us in our daily earthly
journey. As we read again in St Germanus: "You dwell spiritually
with us and the greatness of your vigilance over us makes your communion
of life with us stand out" (Horn. 1, PG 98, 344).
Thus far from creating distance between her and us, Mary's glorious
state brings about a continuous and caring closeness. She knows
everything that happens in our life and supports us with maternal love
in life's trials.
Taken up into heavenly glory, Mary dedicates herself totally to the
work of salvation in order to communicate to every living person the
happiness granted to her. She is a Queen who gives all that she
possesses, participating above all in the life and love of Christ.