Magisterial Documents: Mense Maio

Encyclical Letter Pope Paul VI 
29 April 1965 

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Brief History

Mense Maio is a call to pray for peace in the world during the month of May. The document was published five months after the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution, Lumen Gentium. The pastoral urgency in the political struggle with communism was the underlying cause for writing the letter. It is a short document, and may appear to have only immediate pastoral significance. In addition, the text is not in all cases Marian, but the recommendation to call upon Mary's intercession is woven throughout.

Not taking into account the council documents, Mense Maio is the first magisterial document after the council to contain Marian teaching. The text includes the title given to Mary by Paul VI on November 21, 1964, (the day of Lumen Gentium's promulgation, Mother of the Church. "[M]ost holy Mary Mother of the Church, that is of the whole Christian people, both faithful and pastors, who call her a most loving Mother we decree that henceforth the whole Christian people should, by this most sweet name, give still greater honor to the Mother of God and address prayers to her." [1]

Mense Maio refers to the council by stating that Mary had assisted it: "from the beginning of the Council she [Mary] has been unstinting in her loving help and will certainly not fail to continue her assistance to the final stage of the work." (MM 7)

Mary's intercession is explained in Mense Maio in relation to Jesus Christ who has appointed her to be "steward and generous bestower" (MM 10) of his treasures. Christ, the Father of mercies, shows mercy through Mary. From her throne, the gifts of God's mercy come down to us (MM 5). We may confide in her who is Mother of the Church "to obtain God's light and blessings." (MM 7)

[1] Pope Paul VI, "Discourse of 21 November 1964," AAS 56 (1964): 1015. See: Michael O'Carroll, C.S.Sp., "Mother of the Church," Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, Inc. , 1982, 251-252 [extensive bibliography]; Anthony T. Padovano, "Mary, Mother of the Church," Marian Studies 26 (1966): 27-45; George W. O'Shea, "Pope Paul VI and the 'Mother of the Church,'" Marian Studies 16 (1965): 21-28.

Source

AAS 57 (1965) 354-358;
St Paul Editions, 1965.


© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2005.

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