Understanding the Queenship of Mary

22 August 2007 Wednesday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time

The Memorial of the Queenship of Mary

I think it would be more helpful for us to think of “Queenship” in this feast of the Queenship of Mary in terms of the Queen Mother of the present day. The Queen Mother is the mother of the reigning monarch: as the Queen Mother Elizabeth Angela Margeurite Bowes-Lyon to her daughters Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth II. In Jewish history, it is said that the institution of the Queen Mother began with King Solomon. In the Old Testament, we find the passage, “King Solomon had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right” (1 Kings 2, 19). The mother of the king often began to be a trusted confidant and advisor. Their importance is seen in the Old Testament’s listing of their names in the succession records of the kings of Judah (1 Kings 14,21; 2 Kings 12, 1; 14,2; 15,2 etc.). In 2 Kings 11, 1-3, we find that when the king died, the queen mother ruled for some time.

Jesus was born of a royal family whose ancestors can be traced to King David (Matthew 1; Luke 3; Rev 3, 7; Rev 5,5; Rev 19,16 and Rev 22, 16). Revelations 19, 16 says, “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Since Jesus is king as a descendant of King David, the practice to put a throne on which the Queen Mother sits at the right hand stands. And since Jesus is King of Heaven and Earth, then His mother rightfully sits on the throne as the Queen Mother of all Creation. As the mother of Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, we then call the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Queen.

The veneration of Mary started around the 1st century during the Roman persecution of Christians. They would draw and paint the picture of the Virgin Mary in the catacombs, emphasizing her sanctity. Many saints like Ireneaus, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Ignatius, would stress her sinlessness. In 1854, these traditions were included in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which held that God exempted Mary from the stain of original sin by making her immaculate at the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother. This freedom from original sin is in anticipation of her role as the mother of Jesus Christ. And in 1950, Pius XII proclaim another dogma, the Assumption of Mary. Since death is a result of sin and she was sinless, then her body must be incorruptible and thus she was taken physically and spiritually into heaven. This makes her different from the rest of us: she was assumed into heaven body and soul. And from this, her “Queenship” comes as a consequence. However, the Queenship of Mary is a doctrine, and therefore does not demand absolute belief as a dogma. Perhaps it is because many of us Catholics might have the notion that she is equal with God. We affirm that Mary is superior to all other creatures, EXCEPT God himself. Jesus Christ is God and King. Mary participates in this Divine dignity.

That is why in October 11, 1954, Pope Pius XII proclaimed this feast through his encyclical, “Ad Caeli Reginam” (To the Queen of Heaven).

One of the greatest implications of this feast is the great regard Catholic faith has for women. It is acknowledging the role of women in the lives of rulers and commoners. Many cultures too have a deep regard for women like the Nubia in Egypt or the Royalties of Britain. Today, let us pray for our mothers who have influenced our faith and our lives. Let us pray too for all the women of our lives who have become our advisors, counselors, teachers, and friends. The central person who effected the coming of the Lord as a human being was a woman.

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