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All About Mary

Per Matrem ad Filium

– Answered by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: What is the origin of the expression Per Matrem ad Filium or Per Mariam ad Jesum?

A: Father Chaminade in Ecrits sur la Foi 454 states that this expression is the teaching of the Fathers, especially Ambrose, Augustine, Anselm, Bernard, and Bonaventure.

The earliest occurance of the actual phrase may be from Arnold of Bonneville († after 1156) in his Seven Words of Christ on the Cross (Tractatus de Septem Berbis Domini in Cruce). In the third treatise, dealing with the expression: "Mulier, ecce filious tuus" (PL 198, Col. 1697B) Bonneville speaks of a Quadriga to reach the Father in Heaven. The wayu heads from us to the mother (of God), from her to the Son = per matrem ad Filium, and from the Son to the Father.

Circumstances are found in Bernard of Clairvaus (1090–1133) (PL 183, sermo II). Per te (Marian) accessum habeanmus ad Filium. Similarly, we find in the Sermo about the twofold generation of Christ (PL 184, sermo II): Ducat nas Mater ad Filium.

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