Skip to main content

Magisterial Documents: Dominum et Vivificantem

Magisterial Documents: Dominum et Vivificantem

Encyclical Letter on the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World Pope John Paul II
18 May 1986

The full document is available on the internet.

Brief History

Of the sixty-seven multi-paragraph articles in Dominum et Vivificantem, ten contain references to Mary. The Marian doctrine generally repeats Lumen Gentium. Most of these references are in the creedal context, that is, the mystery of the union of the divine nature and the human nature, and in reference to the gathering of the Church in the Upper Room.

There are precious gems in Dominum et Vivificantem which can assist Marian teaching. For example:

The Virgin Mary, who "had conceived by the Holy Spirit," (cf. Lk 1:35) sensed [the interior availability which comes from faith] even more clearly, when she pondered in her heart the "mysteries" of the Messiah, with whom she was associated. (Cf. Lk 2:19, 51) (DeV 16) Also regarding faith: Mary entered the history of the salvation of the world through the obedience of faith. And faith, in its deepest essence, is the openness of the human heart to the gift: to God's self-communication in the Holy Spirit. (DeV 51)

While it is an historical fact that the Church came forth from the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, in a certain sense one can say that she has never left it. Spiritually the event of Pentecost does not belong only to the past: the Church is always in the Upper Room that she bears in her heart. The Church perseveres in prayer, like the Apostles together with Mary, the Mother of Christ, and with those who in Jerusalem were the first seed of the Christian community and who awaited in prayer the coming of the Holy Spirit. (DeV 51)

The study of the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit's role on Mary in the Incarnation, and the Spirit's continued action on the Church from the Upper Room –together with Mary–indicates: where the Holy Spirit is Mary/Church will be found; where Mary/Church is there the Holy Spirit will be.


Introduction 1-2

I. The Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Given to the Church 3-26
II. The Spirit Who Convinces the World Concerning Sin 27-48
III. The Spirit Who Gives Life 49-66

Conclusion 67

Core Marian Passages

The Church perseveres in prayer with Mary. This union of the praying Church with the Mother of Christ has been part of the mystery of the Church from the beginning: we see her present in this mystery as she is present in the mystery of her Son. It is the Council that says to us: "The Blessed Virgin...overshadowed by the Holy Spirit... brought forth...the Son..., he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren (cf. Rom 8:29), namely the faithful. In their birth and development she cooperates with a maternal love"; she is through "his singular graces and offices...intimately united with the Church.... [She] is a model of the Church."285 "The Church, moreover, contemplating Mary's mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity,...becomes herself a mother" and "herself is a virgin, who keeps...the fidelity she has pledged to her Spouse. Imitating the Mother of The Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she preserves with virginal purity an integral faith, a firm hope, and a sincere charity."286

Thus one can understand the profound reason why the Church, united with the Virgin Mother, prays unceasingly as the Bride to her divine Spouse, as the words of the Book of Revelation, quoted by the Council, attest: "The Spirit and the bride say to the Lord Jesus Christ: Come!"287 The Church's prayer is this unceasing invocation, in which "the Spirit himself intercedes for us": in a certain sense, the Spirit himself utters it with the Church and in the Church. For the Spirit is given to the Church in order that through his power the whole community of the People of God, however widely scattered and diverse, may persevere in hope: that hope in which "we have been saved."288 It is the eschatological hope, the hope of definitive fulfillment in God, the hope of the eternal Kingdom, that is brought about by participation in the life of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit, given to the Apostles as the Counselor, is the guardian and animator of this hope in the heart of the Church.

In the time leading up to the third Millennium after Christ, while "the Spirit and the bride say to the Lord Jesus: Come!" this prayer of theirs is filled, as always, with an eschatological significance, which is also destined to give fullness of meaning to the celebration of the great Jubilee. It is a prayer concerned with the salvific destinies toward which the Holy Spirit by his action opens hearts throughout the history of man on earth. But at the same time this prayer is directed toward a precise moment of history which highlights the "fullness of time" marked by the year 2000. The Church wishes to prepare for this Jubilee in the Holy Spirit, just as the Virgin of Nazareth in whom the Word was made flesh was prepared by the Holy Spirit. 66


AAS 78 (1986): 809-900
St. Paul Editions, 1986

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk and Danielle M. Peters, S.T.D.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2018.

All About Mary includes a variety of content, much of which reflects the expertise, interpretations and opinions of the individual authors and not necessarily of the Marian Library or the University of Dayton. Please share feedback or suggestions with


Marian Library

Roesch Library
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1390

Study Mary

Study the theology and history of Mary at the University of Dayton.

Learn More

Keyword Search

Would you like to begin a new keyword search?

Get Started