Mary, Blessed Virgin, Queenship of
MARY, BLESSED VIRGIN, QUEENSHIP OF
Christian piety knows few titles for the Virgin Mary older than queen, and such equivalents as empress, lady, and notre dame. "The mother of my Lord" in Elizabeth's greeting to Mary (Lk 1.43) is an Old Testament phrase for the queen-mother (g ebîrâ, e.g., 2 Kgs 10.13). In the Gospel it reflects the faith of the early Church that Jesus is the royal messiah.
"Queen" is applied to Mary both in the wide sense because of her excellence, her holiness, and in the strict sense, for her real dominion in Christ's kingdom of grace. Mary is queen both in the sense that she excels all other saints and in the sense that she shares in a subordinate and analogous way Christ's rule.
Our Lady's titles to queenship are principally two:(1) divine motherhood (see mother of god); (2) "right of conquest." Christ is king both as Son of God made man and as Redeemer. He had a native right to be king from the incarnation, but He won His crown also by the conquest of Calvary. Mary is queen because she is Mother of Christ and also because by God's will she played a unique part in the Savior's work of Redemption (Pius XII).
In extent, Mary's queenship is as vast as that of her Son and God, nothing is excluded from her dominion. "… like her Son before her, she conquered death and was raised body and soul to the glory of heaven, where as queen she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal king of the ages" [Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus; Acta Apostolicae Sedis 42 (1950) 768–769]. As "sovereign suppliant" she shares forever in the distribution of graces that flow from her Son's sacrifice.
Mary's power as queen has always been described in terms of mercy. In a perfect society the powers of government are legislative, judiciary, and executive. Theologians differ in their application of the threefold power to the queenship of Mary. All agree that Mary's queenly power is at least in the legislative category, that is, that the inner law of the kingdom of Christ is grace, and that she is the royal dispenser of grace. About her share in the executive and judiciary aspects there is no agreed opinion, except that punishment (coercive falls under executive) is not part of Mary's role. The voice of Christian tradition is that Mary rules with a mother's love.
The fact, titles, extent, and maternal character of Mary's queenship are all stated in documents of the Church, especially in Pius XII's Ad caeli reginam [Acta Apostolicae Sedis 46 (1954) 625–640]. The precise nature of the queenship is still discussed by theologians. Two approaches predominate. In the 1930s L. de Gruyter and C. Friethoff, OP, likened Mary's queenship to the kingship of Christ, because of her association in His redemptive work. M. J. Nicolas, OP, C. Dillenschneider, CSSR, and others reacted by emphasizing the intercessory nature of Mary's royal role, appealing to the feminine character of all queenship. Just as the consort of the king in an earthly monarchy can wield immense power, not by her presence in the council chamber, but by her influence over the heart of the king, so Our Lady has a comparable influence over her Son, and intercedes for the needs of all her spiritual children and subjects. The solution to the question of the nature of the queenship lies between the extremes of both views. The analogy of the queen's place in a monarchy is not enough, for the queenship of Mary has no earthly counterpart, no more than has her Son's kingdom. At the same time she must not appear as a royal figure on the same plane as Christ the Redeemer-King.
Our Lady's queenship has much in common with other Marian beliefs. The same person, the Virgin Mary, is associated with Christ the Mediator, with Christ head of His mystical body, and with Christ the King. Yet the doctrine that Mary is queen emphasizes the extent of her involvement in Christ's kingdom in a manner different from her other doctrinal titles of spiritual mother and mediatrix.
Pius XII affirmed strongly the queenship of Mary, inserting in the calendar for May 31 a new feast of Mary Queen, in place of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces. The 1969 reform of the liturgical calendar transferred the feast to August 22. The new liturgical feast of the queenship could be regarded as a sequel to the definition of the assumption, and as an implicit affirmation of Marian mediation. Pius XII consecrated thee world to the immaculate heart of mary, Mother and Queen, Oct. 31, 1942, as a public recognition of her queenship, just as consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus openly acknowledges the kingship of Christ. The consecration formula was as follows: "As the Church and the entire human race were consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus… so we in like manner consecrate ourselves forever also to you and your Immaculate Heart, our mother and queen of the world, that your love and patronage may hasten the triumph of the kingdom of God" [Acta Apostolicae Sedis 34 (1942) 318–319].
Bibliography: Souveraineté de Marie (Compte rendu du congrès marial Boulogne-sur-Mer; Paris 1938). a. luis, La realeza de Maria (Madrid 1942). Marian Studies, v. 4 (1953). Estudios Marianos, v. 17 (1956). La Royauté de l'Immaculée (Ottawa 1957), esp. e. lamirande, "Bibliographie sur la royauté universelle de Marie," 223–232. Mariae potestas regalis in Ecclesiam, v. 5 of Maria et Ecclesia (Lourdes Congress Proceedings of 1958 ; Rome 1959). s. g. mathews, ed., Queen of the Universe (St. Meinrad, Ind. 1957), an anthology on the Assumption and queenship of Mary.
[e. r. carroll/eds.]