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Queen, Mary as

Mary as Queen

– Answered by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: Why do we call Mary Queen?

A: Assumption and Coronation must be sharply distinguished. Whereas the assumption has been the object of dogmatic definition (1950), the coronation of Mary has never been more than a pious advocation (rosary), an iconographical motif (since the twelfth century) and a devotional custom (coronation of Mary statues known already in the early Middle Ages). However, the coronation points to a Marian title known in Christian tradition since from the beginning of the fourth century. Meant is the title of Queen. This title was given to Mary as an indication of her preeminence or excellence based primarily on her role as Mother of Jesus Christ, Theotokos and Panagia (all holy one). The title found its way into the liturgy of the hours (Hail, Holy Queen...) and popular piety (Litany of Loreto). Over time the attribution of this title to Mary became generally accepted so that Pius XII in 1954 instituted the liturgical feast of the Queenship of Mary. At the same time, the pope issued a major document about the queenship of Mary, the Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (Oct. 11, 1954).

Testimonies of the Church fathers on this title are almost innumerable, but there exists also a biblical foundation for it: Lk 1:32/33 making reference of Christ's everlasting reign, and Elisabeth's greeting to Mary as the "Mother of my Lord." These texts show that because of the Son's royal dignity, Mary possessed a greatness and excellence that set her apart. This is what we call her Queenship. Pius XII was well aware that this title should not be used in the manner of modern political life.

Mary's Queenship is one of love and service, not pomp and power, as is said about her son (Jn 18:36; Mt 20:20). It is thus pointed out that the roots of Mary's Queenship are to be found in the Paschal Mystery of Christ, which is a mystery of self-giving, death, and resurrection-ascension, the reaching of glory through humility (abasement-exaltation). Along these lines of theological reflection we see four reasons why Mary deserves to be Queen:

1) She is Queen because she is the Mother of the Lord, also called the Messianic King (see: Col 1:16; Lk 1:32; Lk 1:43).

2) She is Queen because she is wholeheartedly associated with her Son's salvific work (Rv 12:5).

3) She is Queen because she is the perfect disciple of Christ (Rv 2:10; 3:21).

4) She is the most excellent member of the Church, because of her mission and holiness.

All of these reasons show that Mary's Queenship can only be understood as a gift of her son to participate in his excellence of love. They also show that it is within the kingly status of the People of God that Mary-Queen fulfills her true vocation.

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