Skip to main content

Moon as a Symbol

Moon as a Symbol

Q: Is there a Marian symbolism related to the moon? Is the expression "pale moon rising" a Marian reference?

A: It would be interesting to see the exact reference, and whether the expression "pale moon rising" was a personal formulation of the author, or a quote of a theological author of the past. The moon is a well-known symbol of Our Lady. Two meanings especially have been popular.

In comparison with Christ, who is called sol invictus, Mary is the moon who receives grace and glory from Christ the eternal sun. She is thus completely dependent on her son: her vocation, mission, privileges, etc. In this particular context she is sometimes also compared to the dawn which announces the new day. The pale moon may highlight this stage of transition from night to daylight. The pale moon rising may also point to Mary as symbol of hope. When the sun disappears from the horizon and darkness covers the earth, that is when humanity remains oblivious of the reality and presence of Christ, there is always the "pale moon rising" to keep hope alive and to point to the new day and the end of night.

There exists a different kind of moon symbolism, which is related to Revelation 12:1. Mary is compared in this passage to the woman with twelve stars around her head, clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet. In this image the moon has a constrasting function. Waxing and waning, the moon is a sign of constant change. It symbolizes nature, its blind and driven forces, the passing and return of its seasons. Transposed into the human realm, this image pinpoints moral instability, the changing heart, the gullible mind, and our frequently vacillating resolve. Standing on the moon, Mary contrasts all of these attitudes of human weakness through her steadfastness, firm resolve, and loving faithfulness. Thus Mary transcends the natural cosmos and its laws thanks to her rootedness in God's grace, and his spiritual domain.

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