Queen Mother Mary

By Edgardo C. de Vera

Catholics revere Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. Many non-sectarians however think that this is the height of blasphemy. They accuse Catholics of worshiping Mary and of having elevated her to equal status with her Son, Jesus Christ. They find crowned images of Mary in queenly regalia and her place beside Jesus in the devotion to the Two Hearts most disconcerting.

It may come as a surprise to our Separated Christian Brethren descended from the 16th century Protestant Reformation that Luther was a devotee of Mary and believed in her celestial Queenship even after breaking away from Rome. Said he “…it is a true enough name and yet does not make her a goddess.” In a sermon preached on 2 July 1537 he extolled the Blessed Mother saying, “No woman is like unto thee. Thou art more than an empress or a queen… blessed above all in nobility, wisdom of saintliness.”

Pope Pius XII, in promulgating the liturgical Feast of Queenship of Mary on 31 May 1954, taught: “Jesus Christ alone, God and man, is King in the full, proper, and absolute sense of the term. Mary also in a restricted and only analogous way, shares in His royal dignity…”

That she is Queen stems from a 4th century tradition rooted in the Scriptures, Queen Mother because of her Divine Maternity: Mother of the Son of the Most High whose kingdom would have no end (cf Lk 1:31-35) in fulfillment of the prophetic message to David (2 Sam 7:12-13).

As kings of Judah, David and his son who succeeded him were Old Testament types of Christ. During their reign they set the salient elements that were to mark the Kingdom of Judah. David united the Twelve Tribes to establish a kingdom in Jerusalem that included other nations; Solomon built the temple and instituted the office of the gebirah – the queen mother, who reigned beside the king (1 Kgs 2:19).

Henceforth the gebirah became a prominent feature of the monarchy for close to five hundred years until the Babylonians toppled Judah in 587 BC. Of the twenty Judaic kings nineteen queen mothers are mentioned in the Bible; in 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, and two references to in Jeremiah (Jer 13:18; 29:2). After the United Kingdom split into Judah in the south and Israel in the north following Solomon’s death, the renegade Kingdom of Israel also adapted the office of gebirah.

The Queen Mother did not rule; hers was a maternal intercessory role: to bring to her son’s attention the needs of the royal subjects. Apart from this she also counselled the king on matters of the realm. Moreover she was the guaranty and assurance of continuity of succession in the kingdom.

Ante and post-exilic prophets spoke of the Davidic Kingdom with no end. The kingdom to last forever promised to Abraham and Davidic dynasty foretold by Nathan came to fulfilment in Jesus. Christ is the true Son of David is King foretold by the prophets; the monarch of the New Jerusalem founded, not on the Twelve Tribes but on the Twelve Apostles. In this Davidic Kingdom Mary is the Queen Mother. Patriarchs of the Early Church unanimously recognized Mary in that role. St. Athanasius expressed in thus, “If the Son is a King the Mother who begot Him is rightly and truly considered a Queen and Sovereign.”

The Early Church saw the woman crowned with twelve stars in Revelation as the Mother who brought fourth a male child, one who is to rule all nations (v 5). The verse connotes a dominion where the woman must necessarily be royalty. Twelve stars symbolise the Apostles prefigured by the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Stars also signify the angels, a cosmic realm, and the created heavens (cf Gen 1:16). To the Jews the number twelve is symbolic of completion. Christ is the Cosmic King in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Mary shares in her Son’s glory and majestic grandeur as the Cosmic Queen Mother, which clothes her in the radiance of the sun. She sits at the right of the King to bring to His attention the needs of the royal subjects, who by the way are her children.

As the Queen Mother, Mary is Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. A Co-Redemptrix (“co” not meaning “equal to” but “with” from the Latin “cum”) because in God’s plan of Redemption she willingly cooperated, not as an equal of the Redeemer – for being a creature she could never be – but rather a disciple, the first follower of Christ who immediately professed her disposal to the plan of God... I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.

A Mediatrix because she shares in the one mediation of Christ; as the late John Paul the Great put it, “Mary entered, in a way all her own, into the one mediation ‘between God and man’ which is the mediation of the man Christ Jesus.”

“Christ alone is the perfect mediator between God and man…but there is nothing to prevent others in a certain way from being called mediators between God and man insofar as they, by preparing or serving, cooperate in uniting men to God,” taught St. Thomas Aquinas. She is an Advocate not as the Holy Spirit is the Advocate, but as an instrument of the Spirit to aiding others, which she manifested at Cana.

Queen Mother Mary will never refuse to intercede for us, but it is up to her Son to grant what we pray for. In the Old Testament prototype, the Queen Mother, Bathsheba went to her son, Solomon to convey the request of Adonijah. And King Solomon said, “Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you” (1 Kgs 2:20). The fact that Adonijah did not get what he wanted was due to harboring insincere intentions. So when we go to our Blessed Mother for her intercession, remember that she first reminds us to do whatever He tells you.

We approach our Queen Mother Mary with a pure disposition for her maternal mediation is truly efficacious. It will be good to keep in mind that what she told Juan Diego at Tepeyac is addressed to all of us:

Am I not here, I who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the cause of your joy? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crook of my arms? Do you need anything else? Nothing should distress you.

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