Introduction to The Lady of All Nations

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, appeared to the Dutch visionary, Ida Peerdeman in Amsterdam, Holland under the title of the “Lady of All Nations” in 56 apparitions from March 25, 1945 to May 31, 1959. These apparitions were followed by a series of “Eucharistic Experiences” received by the visionary from July 1958 to May 1970.

The first years of these messages called for a return of the Cross of Jesus Christ into the center of human life and spirituality, along with a new coming of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of the world. These messages also contained a great number of prophecies concerning the Church and the world, including numerous social, economic and geo-political predictions, for example: an upcoming worldwide economic crisis; conflicts in the Middle East, specifically in Jerusalem and Cairo; a great increase in natural disasters; a global decline in morals, family life, and religious practice. Many of these prophecies have clearly already taken place. The fulfillment of these social, economic, and geo-political prophecies provides the credibility of supernatural authenticity for the two specific spiritual remedies offered by the Lady of All Nations for today’s unprecedented global crises.

On February 11, 1951, The Lady of All Nations revealed a prayer that should be prayed by all peoples for a new coming of the Holy Spirit through the intercession of Mary as Advocate:

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,
send now your Spirit over the earth.
Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations,
that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster, and war.
May the Lady of All Nations, the Blessed Virgin Mary*, be our Advocate. Amen.

The Lady gave these instructions regarding the prayer: “My child, this prayer is so short and simple, that each one can say it in his own tongue, before his own crucifix…Let all men cooperate in this great work for the world.”

This prayer is to prepare for the main spiritual remedy offered by the Lady of All Nations for the world’s many contemporary crises: the solemn proclamation by the Pope of the Catholic Church of the “dogma” of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. In many of her messages, the Lady explains that through the papal declaration of this dogma of Mary, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, Mary will then be able to intercede for a new coming of the Holy Spirit, which will bring a historic outpouring of grace, redemption, and peace for the entire world. As the Lady of All Nations revealed in her May 31, 1954 Message: “Work and ask for this dogma. You should petition the Holy Father for this dogma…When the dogma, the last dogma in Marian history has been proclaimed, the Lady of All Nations will give peace, true peace, to the world. The nations, however, must say my prayer in union with the Church.”

On May 31, 1996, Bishop Bomers of Haarlem gave local Church approval for acceptance and public devotion to the Lady of All Nations according to individual conscience. On May 31, 2002, Bishop Punt of Haarlem-Amsterdam gave local Church approval to the authenticity of the messages and apparitions of the Lady of All Nations, stating that they “consist essentially of a supernatural origin.”

*Original clause read, “who once was Mary” but was changed to “the Blessed Virgin Mary” to avoid any pastoral misunderstandings, and was approved by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 2006.

Between Condemned Army of Mary and Authentic Lady of All Nations: An Ocean of Separation

Recently, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued its official declaration of excommunication for various members of the “Army of Mary,” a schismatic movement in Canada. The Congregation declaration comes in confirmation of the previous rulings concerning the schismatic declaration of Cardinal Marc Ouelett, Archbishop of Quebec and Pontifical Commissioner, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., of Ottawa. It is precisely at times such as these that we must renew our appreciation for the Church’s hierarchy and its God-given charism of authority in service.

The Army of Mary, tragically, had accepted a number of heretical positions introduced by its foundress, Marie-Paule Giguère, as if they were allegedly supernatural messages from Our Lady. The obvious nature of these gravely erroneous teachings make clear the absence of any conceivable supernatural origin of these messages, for example, that the foundress is the reincarnation of Our Lady, and that the alleged seer and Our Lady make up the fourth person of the Trinity.

As is often the case in the history and precedence of private revelation, this false seer attempted to gain credibility by associating herself with an authentic private revelation, in this case, the apparitions of the Lady of All Nations to Ida Peerdeman in Amsterdam (1945-1958). In 1996, Bishop Bomers of Amsterdam gave permission for the personal acceptance of the devotion to the Lady of All Nation). In 2002, Bishop Punt of Amsterdam gave official recognition to the apparitions and its devotion. There are many bishops throughout the world who publicly support devotion to the Lady of All Nations.

At one point, Marie-Paule Giguère of Canada traveled to Amsterdam to meet Ida Peerdeman before knowledge and the ill-fruits of Mme. Giguère’s erroneous messages were known or promulgated. As Ida did not understand French, two translators were present for the one-time encounter. Primacy source testimonies from these two translators make clear that Ida sought to distance herself completely from the false seer from the event of this one meeting.

There is no evidence of any correspondence from the Dutch visionary Peerdeman to Giguère or concerning Giguère in the archives of the Diocese of Harlaam, the Foundation of the Lady of All Nations, nor in any of her own personal memoirs or correspondence. Any alleged reference to any correspondence from Ida Peerdeman to or concerning the false seer Giguère must be considered false.

Bishop Punt of Amsterdam, who rightly applauds the recent Vatican Congregation’s and Canadian bishops’ identification of the severe errors of the Army of Mary Association, has recently released an official statement from the Diocese of Harlaam/Amsterdam that reaffirms the following:

1. There is no connection between the Lady of All Nations apparitions and devotions of Amsterdam and the false movement of the Army of Mary in Canada;

2. There was no evidence of any correspondence in any form from Ida Peerdeman to the false seer, Marie-Paule Giguère. On the contrary, first-hand testimonies confirm Ida’s distancing of herself from Giguère after their single encounter.

3. In 2004, three years before the recent excommunication of Army of Mary members, Bishop Punt had communicated the complete separation of the Lady of All Nations devotions from the problematic Army of Mary movement in his correspondence to Cardinal Ouelett of Quebec.

Please find in the link below the official text of the letter of Bishop Punt of Amsterdam, in his authoritative clarification of the complete separation of the Lady of All Nations apparitions and devotion from the erroneous Army of Mary movement.

Official Letter of Bishop Punt

Let us pray for the conversion and final reconciliation of all those involved in this schismatic movement; in thanksgiving for the inspired clarity that only the Church’s hierarchy can authoritatively bring to these cases; and for the fulfillment of the authentic message of the Lady of all Nations and the fifth Marian dogma, from which true peace and the definitive triumph of our Mother’s Immaculate Heart will come.

Co-redemptrix Foretold: The Old Testament

It is one thing to define a term; it is quite another to believe it. That the Church defines the meaning of Co-redemptrix as Mary’s entirely unique sharing in the work of Redemption with Jesus is clear. But on what basis does she believe it to be true?

God’s perfect providence, dictated not by absolute necessity but by divine disposition, the Heart of God expressed to the heart of man, is revealed with a certain primacy through Sacred Scripture.

The Mother of Jesus is rightly understood not as a woman in Scripture, but as The Woman of Scripture. She is, as we shall see, the “woman” of Genesis (Gen. 3:15), the “woman” of Cana (Jn. 2:4), the “woman” of Calvary (Jn. 19:25), the “woman” of Revelation (Rev. 12:1), and the “woman” of Galatians (Gal. 4:4).

But here we must ponder the revelation of the Woman of Scripture specific to her role “with Jesus” in the work of Redemption. We commence with the ancient Covenant between God and man and its written Testament.

The Great Prophecy—Genesis 3:15 (1)
“I will put enmity between you and the woman”

We begin at the beginning, in the Book of Genesis with the protoevangelium, the “first gospel.” For the merciful love of the Father permits fallen humanity to be in despair without a redeemer for only a few verses.

After the human “sin of sins” takes place, God is quick to reveal his redemptive plan to reverse or “recapitulate,” as the early Fathers would say, the sin of Adam and Eve. The Creator in his omniscience makes known a plan to bring about the serpent’s complete defeat by using the same basic means, though in reverse, by which Satan effected the loss of grace for the human family. In doing so, God the Father of all mankind further reveals his omnipotent sovereignty over Satan.

God reveals his redemptive plan of a future woman and her future “seed” of victory: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he (she) shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for his (her) heel (Gen. 3:15).”

In this greatest of Old Testament prophecies, we see a struggle between a woman and her offspring, or “seed,” against Satan and his seed of evil and sin. With the revelation of the battle is the revelation of the eventual victory of the woman and her seed in the crushing of Satan’s head.

The “seed” who is ultimately victorious over Satan and his seed can refer only to Jesus Christ. No one else may lay claim to the redemptive victory of the crucified and resurrected Redeemer. The “woman” of the seed of victory must then also refer to Mary in the most essential and ultimate sense, who is alone the true and natural mother of Jesus Christ. Eve does not give physical birth to the Redeemer, nor does Israel, nor does the Church. Only Mary the “New Eve” does.

This Genesis passage is quintessentially prophetic, foretelling a definitive victory over Satan to take place in the future—”I will put.” So, too, must the two persons of the victory be in the future, so that through a woman yet to be born and her victorious seed, the loss of the first woman would be vindicated.

God places “enmity” between the woman and the serpent and their respective “seeds.” “Enmity” in scripture refers to a complete and radical opposition, (2) and it is precisely this enmity which separates the woman and her seed (Mother and Son) from Satan and his seed. It is within this divinely-established enmity that the nature and role of Mary Co-redemptrix is first foretold.

The woman shares with her seed in the struggle against the serpent and his seed. In the full light of salvation history, we understand that this passage foreshadows Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, who intimately shares in the identical struggle against Satan and evil as does Jesus the Redeemer. The Woman “with Jesus” participates in the great battle for buying back humanity, which is revealed by the Heavenly Father immediately after the first woman participates in the loss of humanity “with Adam.” Eve becomes the “co-peccatrix”—”with the sinner”; Mary is prophesied as the “Co-redemptrix”—”with the redeemer.” (3)

The “enmity” between the woman and the serpent also foretells the “Immaculate One,” who is both free from sin and full of grace. Only a person in total and complete opposition to the Evil One could be entirely immaculate or “stainless,” (macula meaning stain). In its positive meaning, this Woman will be “full of grace” (Lk. 1:28), for she positively bears the full fruits of Redemption applied to her in an exalted way, in a preservative way, through which she will never be touched by Satan and his sinful seed. (4)

The Heavenly Father’s “Immaculate One,” His Virgin Daughter full of grace, will represent humanity in the battle “with Jesus” for souls. She will be God’s greatest masterpiece, his greatest creature, fighting against his most heinous creature in this cosmic struggle. Only one free from sin could be an appropriate partner with the Redeemer in the work of Redemption. A sin-stained partner would be acting as a type of double agent, working with the Redeemer and with Satan at the same time. Mary will be the Co-redemptrix entirely and exclusively “with Jesus,” because she is first the Immaculate Conception. (5) Her freedom from sin from the moment of conception will be God’s gift to mankind, and her “fiat,” freely given, will represent mankind’s response. The necessity of this freedom, this total giving of self, is essential, for God respects absolutely the free cooperation of his creatures in the work of human salvation.

“She will crush your head.” The revelation of the Co-redemptrix in Genesis 3:15 does not depend upon the debated pronoun translation, whether “he” or “she,” of this second line of the prophecy. It is revealed first in the Eternal Father’s foretelling of the future battle in which Mary, woman of the “seed,” mother of the redeemer, will intrinsically participate with her Son against those with whom they have enmity, Satan and his seed.

It is nonetheless noteworthy that in the revealed text, it is the woman who must struggle directly against the serpent, while the seed of the woman is in parallel struggle against the seed of the serpent. If we are to properly respect the parallelism in the text, it is appropriate to conclude from the first “enmity” announced between the woman and the serpent, that the subsequent pronouns then logically refer to the first protagonist, the woman, and the first antagonist, the serpent. The pronoun “she” thereby refers to the woman-protagonist crushing the “head” of the serpent-antagonist. (6)

The traditional Vulgate which conveys the Genesis passage with the female pronoun, “ipsa” or “she” has been used by numerous popes in papal documents in referring to Mary. For example, Bl. Pius IX in the papal bull defining the Immaculate Conception, Ineffabilis Deus (Dec. 8, 1854), refers to the woman of Genesis 3:15 as Mary, who will crush the head of Satan “with her virginal foot” and clearly identifies the Mother’s sharing in the Son’s redemptive victory. This is but one of several examples from the papal magisterium that identify without question the woman of Genesis 3:15 as Mary:

The Fathers and ecclesiastical writers, enlightened by instruction from on high, taught that the divine prophecy: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed,” clearly and plainly foretold how there was to be a merciful Redeemer for mankind, namely, the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ. They also taught how the prophecy pointed to His Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and how it clearly expressed at the same time their common enmity toward the devil. Just as Christ, the Mediator between God and men, by taking our nature, cancelled the decree of condemnation against us, triumphantly nailing it to the cross, so too the most holy Virgin, intimately and indissolubly united to Christ, became with Him the everlasting enemy of the venomous serpent, and thus shared with Her Son His victory over the serpent, crushing as she did the serpent’s head with her virginal foot. (7)

It is telling that Our Lady herself does not appear to be hindered by a pronoun translation debate when in the Church-approved Miraculous Medal apparitions of Our Lady of Grace at Rue de Bac (Nov. 27, 1830), the vision and subsequent medal depict the Mediatrix of all graces as literally stepping on the head of the serpent with her foot. (8)

Mary Co-redemptrix is the Woman of Genesis 3:15. But she is also the Woman and the Virgin Mother of Isaiah, who in another great Old Testament prophecy is foretold in bringing forth the great sign of salvation predicted to Ahaz: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name, Immanuel” (Is. 7:14). She is further the Woman of Micah, who “in travail” brings forth the future ruler who will save Israel: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in travail has brought forth, then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel” (Mic. 5:2-3). The prophecy of the travail of the woman refers not to birth pains due to sin, inapplicable to the Immaculata conceived without original sin and its effects, but rather to the co-suffering that awaits the Mother of the Redeemer in giving spiritual birth to the many at the greatest of prices.

Old Testament Types and Symbols of the Co-redemptrix

And what of the many great women of the Old Testament, who in their very persons foretell of the Co-redemptrix to come?

Sarah, wife of Abraham, through a miraculous birth, gives birth to Isaac and becomes the “Mother of nations” (Gen. 17:15-17). Mary, through a miraculous birth, gives birth to the Redeemer and becomes the Mother of all peoples (cf. Lk. 1:38Jn. 19:25-27).

Rebecca dresses Jacob in the clothing of Esau to obtain the inheritance of the first born from his father, Isaac (cf. Gen. 25:1-40). Mary dresses Jesus in the clothing of humanity to obtain for the rest of the human family the inheritance of the Heavenly Father. Rachel gives birth to Joseph, the future savior for the tribe of Jacob, who is sold for twenty pieces of silver by his own brethren (cf. Gen. 37:28). Mary gives birth to Jesus, the future savior of all people, who is sold for thirty pieces of silver (cf. Mt. 26:15).

The prophetess Deborah is Barak’s active partner in the victory over Sisera (which leads to the crushing of Sisera’s head by Jael), for which Deborah later proclaims a hymn of exultation (cf. Judg. 4:5). Mary, Queen of Prophets is the active partner with Christ in the victory over sin and the crushing of Satan’s head, for which she proclaims the greatness of the Lord (cf. Lk. 1:46).

The valiant Judith battles against the enemy Holofernes, and triumphs over him with the cutting off of his head (cf. Jud. 8-16). The valiant Mary battles against Satan, and triumphs over him with the crushing of his head (cf. Gen. 3:15, Jn. 19:27).

Queen Esther finds favor with King Ahasuerus in risking her life to save her people from a decree of death. Mary Co-redemptrix finds favors with Christ the King in offering her life for the mission of Redemption in the saving of all people “with Jesus” from the decree of eternal death (Lk. 1:38).

A phenomenal Old Testament type of Mary Co-redemptrix is found in the noble “Mother of Maccabees” (cf. 2 Mac. 7). Under a persecution from the secular king, Antiochus, six sons, one after the other, are torturously murdered in the presence of their mother because of their fidelity to the fasting practices of the Covenant. Antiochus himself calls upon the mother to intervene with her seventh son to save himself by accepting the offers of wealth and power from the king, if the son will only turn away from the fasting disciplines of the Covenant. The mother instead takes the opportunity to appeal to her son with words of encouragement and exhortation, instructing him to, “accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again with your brothers” (2 Mac. 7:29).

How eloquently the Mother of Maccabees foreshadows the story of Mary Co-redemptrix! The seven swords of sorrow that will pierce the Mother s heart are predicted in the sufferings of the seven sons of Maccabees. The courageous glance, amidst the necessary tears, from the face of the Mother directed to the face of the crucified Son at Calvary convey in a message beyond words the imperative to persevere in the redemptive plan of the New and everlasting Covenant. The temptations of wealth, power, fame, or even the “futility” of the upcoming crucifixion whispered to the Son by the Prince of this world, are countered by the witness of humility, poverty, and obedience manifested by the faithful Virgin Mother, who herself wholly Immaculate, is the greatest and most worthy fruit of the Redemption wrought by her Son.

The scriptural account of the Mother of Maccabees and her seven sons ends with the words: “Last of all, the mother died, after her sons” (2 Mac. 7:41). So too, the popes tell us, does the Mother Co-redemptrix experience at Calvary a true “dying with Him in her heart, pierced by the sword of sorrow,” (9) where the Mother of the Redeemer is “crucified spiritually with her crucified son.” (10)

The Mother Co-redemptrix is moreover foretold in the greatest of all Marian symbols of the Old Testament, the “Ark of the Covenant.” The Ark is the place of “Gods presence,” bearing fragments of the tablet of the Ten Commandments, the staff of Aaron, and the mysterious manna from heaven, which together represent the law, the priesthood, and the sustaining food of the Covenant. As such the Ark is the concrete sign of the saving covenant between Yahweh and the people of Israel (cf. Deut 31:25; Ex. 16:4-36; Num. 17:1-13).

Likewise, the Mother of the Redeemer bears within herself Christ the New Law, Christ the High Priest, and Christ the Eucharist, which makes her the supreme Ark of the New Covenant. She is the divinely created and crafted bearer of the new and eternal covenant between divinity and humanity, the free and active Ark made of incorruptible wood, who both bears and suffers with the High Priest of the Everlasting Covenant. Every groaning of the Old Testament yearns forward to the Incarnation and to the fulfilled mission of Christ the Redeemer. And every longing for the redeeming Son is also, according to the saving plan of the Eternal Father, a longing for the co-redeeming Mother. For, as Blessed Pope Pius IX instructs in the dogmatic proclamation of the Immaculate Conception, both the Redeemer and the Co-redemptrix were indissolubly willed by the Father of all mankind to partake in the mission of human Redemption in “one and the same decree.” (11)

 

The above article is from the second chapter of “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix, Queenship Publications, 2003. The book is available from Queenship for the price of $3.00 U.S.

 

Notes

(1) For extended commentaries, cf. T. Callus, S.J., Interpretatio mariologica Protoevangelii, vol. 1, Tempore post-patristico ad Concilium Tridentinum, Rome, 1949; vol. 2, A Concilio Tridentino usque ad annum 1660, Rome, 1953; vol. 3 Ab anno 1661 usque ad definitionem dogmaticum Immaculatae Conceptionis (1854), Rome, 1954; cf. D. Unger, O.F.M.Cap., “Patristic Interpretation of the Protoevangelium,” Marian Studies, vol. 12, 1961, pp. 111-164; cf. A. Bea, S.J., “II Protoevangelio (Gen. 3:15) nella tradizione esegetica,” L’Osservatore Romano, Oct. 30, 1954, p. 1; “Maria SS. Nel Protovangelo (Gen. 3:15),” Marianum, vol. 15, 1953, pp. 1-21; cf. S. Manelli, F.F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995; “Mary Co-redemptrix in Sacred Scripture,” Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations II, Queenship, 1996, pp. 71-80.

(2) For other examples of “enmity” in Scripture, cf. Num. 35:21-22, Deut. 4:42, Deut. 19:4, 6.

(3) Cf. Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler, Maria: Mitterloserin, Salzburg, Dec. 9, 1990, Informationsblatt der Priesterbruderschaft St. Petrus, n. 12, Wigratzbad, Jahrgang, 1991.

(4) Bl. Pius IX, Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, 1854.

(5) Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, Homily on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1973; cf. John Paul II, General Audience, Dec. 7, 1983, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, December 12, 1983, p. 2; General Audience, Jan. 24, 1996, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, January 31, 1996, p. 11; cf. also H. M. Manteau-Bonamy, O.P., Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: The Marian Teachings of St. Maximilian Kolbe, trans. by R. Arnandez, F.S.C., Franciscan Marytown Press, 1977, chs. 2, 7.

(6) For an extended discussion of the parallelism of the Genesis 3:15 text, and a defense of the ipsa, “she,” pronoun from historical and medieval commentaries, particularly Cornelius à Lapide, cf. Bro. Thomas Sennott, M.I.C.M., “Mary Co-redemptrix,” Mary at the Foot of the Cross II: Acts of the International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, Academy of the Immaculate, 2002, pp. 49-63. The author offers the following initial explanation in support of ipsa and quotes Cornelius a Lapide in support:

“In Hebrew hu is ‘he,’ and he ‘she’ . . . There is no ‘it’ in Hebrew, both hu and he can be translated ‘it’ depending on the context.

In Greek ‘he’ is autos, ‘she’ aute, and ‘it’ auto.

In Latin ‘he’ is ipse, ‘she’ ipsa, and ‘it’ ipsum

Cornelius à Lapide in his great Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram says that the underlying mystery is even reflected in the Hebrew grammar. ‘Also hu is often used instead of he especially when there is some emphasis on action and something manly is predicated of the woman, as is the case here with the crushing of the serpent’s head … It makes no difference that the verb is masculine yasuph, that is “(he) shall crush,” for it often happens in Hebrew that the masculine is used instead of the feminine and vice versa, especially when there is an underlying reason or mystery, as I have just said’ (C. a Lapide, Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram, Larousse, Paris, 1848, p. 105). The ‘underlying mystery’ is, of course, that Our Lady crushes the head of the serpent by the power of Our Lord.”

(7) Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus; For other papal magisterial or conciliar references citing Mary’s unique role in Redemption as revealed in the Genesis 3:15 passage, cf. Leo XIII, Encyclical Augustissimae Virginis, 1897; ASS 30, p. 129; St. Pius X, Encyclical Ad Diem Ilium, Feb. 2,1904; ASS 36, p. 462; Pius XI, Encyclical Divini Redemptoris, 1937; AAS 29, p. 96; Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, 1937; AAS 42, p. 768; Encyclical Fulgens Corona, 1953; AAS 45, p. 579; Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 55; Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Signum Magnum, May 13, 1967; John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, March 25, 1987.

(8) See the descriptions of the apparitions found in R. Laurentin, Catherine Labouré et la Medaille Miraculeuse, Paris, 1976.

(9) Leo XIII, Encyclical Jucunda Semper, Sept. 8, 1894; ASS 27, 1894-1895, p. 178.

(10) John Paul II, in an Address at the Marian shrine in Guayaquil, Ecuador on January 31, 1985, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, March 11, 1985, p. 7.

(11) Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus.

Co-redemptrix Fulfilled

Calvary is the summit of human history, where the drama of God’s salvation of man reaches its climax. Every human experience and expression, every action, every thought, every exercise of free will, finds its meaning and fulfillment only through the Cross.

It is at Calvary that we see enacted the fulfillment of the Mother Co-redemptrix, but in a category of human experience that transcends the dignity and efficacy of any other human vocation. At Calvary, the Mother partakes in the very act of Redemption, which in turn gives Christian meaning, purpose, and value to every other human act throughout the course of history. For it is by the objective measure of salvation, according to the ultimate meaning of love and truth, that all acts will be weighed.

Jn. 19:25-27: “Woman, behold, your son! . . . Behold , your mother”

Here, the prophecy of Simeon is fulfilled by a sword of sorrow so painful that no other human heart could bear it and live. Only the Immaculate Heart is granted the graces by the Eternal Father to endure the immolation of her Son as Victim for her other spiritual sons and daughters to-be. “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother . . . When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home” (Jn. 19:25-27).

Jesus, Mary, the tree of the Cross. How entirely supernatural is the Heavenly Father’s reversal of Satan’s initial victory in the original fall of man (Gen. 3:1-6). At Eden, the original human sin is committed by the First Adam through the intercession of the First Eve at the tree of the forbidden fruit. At Calvary, the original human sin is reversed and redeemed by Jesus, the New Adam (1) through the intercession of Mary, the New Eve at the tree of the Cross. The prophecy of Genesis 3:15 is supernaturally fulfilled at Calvary with the “Woman” and her “seed of victory” crushing the head of Satan and his seed of sin.

This is why the Church’s Liturgy sings to God the Father the praises of the New Eve in the mission of the Redemption:

In your divine wisdom, you planned the Redemption of the human race and decreed that the new Eve should stand by the cross of the new Adam: as she became his mother by the power of the Holy Spirit, so, by a new gift of your love, she was to be a partner in his passion, and she who had given him birth without the pains of childbirth was to endure the greatest of pains in bringing forth to new life the family of your Church. (2)

“Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn. 19:26). Woman of Genesis, Woman of Cana, and now, near the end of your maternal crucifixion of heart, you, Woman of Calvary, behold, your son. And behold as well your universal office as Spiritual Mother to all those redeemed here at Calvary, represented by your “new son,” the beloved disciple. For you, Mary Co-redemptrix, have suffered “with Jesus” for their ransom, and therefore you shall spiritually nourish and protect them with Jesus, the Redeemer of all peoples, as the new Mother of all peoples.

John Paul II eloquently notes of the Mother’s share in the “redemptive love” of her Son and its universal, spiritual fecundity for humanity:

The Mother of Christ, who stands at the very center of this mystery—a mystery which embraces each individual and all humanity—is given as mother to every single individual and all mankind. The man at the foot of the Cross is John, “the disciple whom he loved.” But it is not he alone. Following tradition, the Council does not hesitate to call Mary “the Mother of Christ and mother of mankind”: since she “belongs to the offspring of Adam she is one with all human beings . . . Indeed she is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ . . . since she cooperated out of love so that there might be born in the Church the faithful.'”

And so this “new motherhood of Mary,” generated by faith, is the fruit of the “new” love which came to definitive maturity in her at the foot of the Cross, through her sharing in the redemptive love of her Son. (3)

But what was the actual price of suffering for Mary Co-redemptrix in order to partake “with Jesus” in the Redemption of the human race and, as a result, to become the spiritual Mother of all peoples?

No human mind or heart can fully comprehend the depth and breadth of this suffering. Popes and poets, musicians and artists have sought to convey the Mother’s pain in various creative mediums, from the Stabat Mater to the Pieta. But all human efforts fail, and the humble are quick to acknowledge the inability to grasp fully the genus of suffering “with Jesus” experienced by Our Lady of Sorrows in order to buy back an entire human race.

The Mother stands near the cross of Jesus amidst the litanies of blasphemies intoned by the onlookers, some recited by the ecclesiastically trained who have condemned him by using a rationalistic exegesis of the Father’s Law. Other blasphemies are hurled by common people who ignorantly follow their misguided shepherds. Still more contempt is heaped on her son by those who habitually condemn because of their own fallenness. The Mother hears each and every insult individually. She receives her own direct insults as the condemned’s mother, as is still the practice today when someone seeks to inflict pain by directing their insult at a person’s mother. Such blasphemies are unintended testimonies to the Co-redemptrix’s unity of mission with Jesus.

On the cross Jesus bleeds, but his Mother cannot stop his bleeding and care for his wounds. On the cross, Jesus cannot find a place to rest his head due to the crown of thorns, but his Mother cannot direct his head. On the cross, Jesus “thirsts” (Jn. 19:28), but the Mother cannot give him drink. On the cross, Jesus confesses in human kenosis, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34), but the Mother cannot console her Son.

The Mother shares in the Heart of her Son when he utters from the new tree of the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). The Mother also forgives and joins in the petition for the Father’s forgiveness, as such is the very purpose of Redemption and Coredemption. And the Mother finds a drop of consolation amidst the ocean of desolation (and a confirmation of their redeeming mission) when she hears the Son declaring to the good thief: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43).

Finally, with a paradoxical bittersweetness of heart, the Mother hears the words of the Son that he is now departing. He is at the moment of death. He will be taken from her, but their lifelong mission of Redemption has been eternally successful in buying back humanity: “It is consummated” (Jn. 19:30). It is not only finished but fulfilled.

John Paul II describes the intensity of the Immaculate Mother’s suffering at this moment as “unimaginable”:

In her, the many and intense sufferings were amassed in such an interconnected way that they were not only a proof of her unshakable faith, but also a contribution to the Redemption of all . . . .It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached such an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view, but which was mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son. (4)

Rev. 12 : The Woman Clothed “With the Sun” (5) and the Dragon

A final scriptural revelation of the Co-redemptrix is given in the mystical language of the Apocalypse.

The vision of the “woman clothed with the sun” of Revelation 12:1 is introduced by the vision of the Ark of the Covenant within the Temple in Revelation 11:19: “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple . . . And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev. 12:1).

Mary is the New Ark who bears within herself Jesus the Redeemer, who is the New Covenant between divinity and humanity. (6) It is of utmost significance that the Marian image of the New Ark ushers in the last great revelation of the Woman of Scripture in all her glory. She is the Woman of solar and celestial brightness, the Woman who is clothed “with the Sun” in brilliant light and surrounded “with Jesus,” the true Son and Light of the world.

The Fathers of the Church and later ecclesiastical writers (7) taught that the Woman of Revelation 12 depicts both Mary and the Church in various ways. But in its first sense, the Woman of Revelation 12 must reveal Mary, for the Immaculate Virgin of Nazareth “brings forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with an iron rod” (Rev. 12:5). Jesus is that ruler and Mary alone is his true and natural mother.

The Immaculate alone is the Woman placed in enmity with the serpent in the great parallel texts of Genesis 3:15 and Revelation 12, an enmity that leads to and culminates in the cosmic battle for souls depicted in Revelation 12: 13, 17: “And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had born the male child . . . then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.” The spiritual battle between God’s greatest creature and his most evil creature comprises the “bookends” of Sacred Scripture, and depicts a struggle for souls that not only extends through the breadth of the Written Word of God but also the entire course of human history, inclusive of our present hour.

The Co-redemptrix, “with Jesus,” battles against the Dragon who wars upon the rest of the Woman’s offspring, which is redeemed humanity. With his seed of sin in all its forms, including its contemporary manifestations of abortion, communism, pornography, freemasonry, materialism, secularism, cloning, nuclear war and the like, the Dragon seeks to lure her offspring eternally away from the Woman and her Seed of victory.

The Woman of Revelation 12 is, in diverse though complementary ways, both a “Woman of glory” and a “Woman of suffering.” (8) She is a woman of glory in so far as she is the woman clothed with the sun and crowned by twelve stars (v. 1), who gives birth to the male-child, ruler of all nations (v. 5). She is a woman of suffering in so far as she is the woman with child that “cries out in the pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery” (v. 2) and is at war with the Dragon for “the rest of her offspring” (v. 17).

Both the Woman of glory and the Woman of suffering are in the first sense a revelation of Mary Co-redemptrix. The Virgin Mary is the Woman of glory, clothed with the fullness of grace coming from the Son; crowned with twelve stars as Queen of the Apostles and all creation; and who alone gives birth to Jesus, the male-child, King of all nations. She is also the Woman of Suffering, who on Calvary “cries out in the pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery” in giving mystical birth to us all as spiritual “sons” (Jn. 19:25-27). Her glorification in heaven is not merely a decorative honor in acknowledgment of her human role as the mother of the Savior. It is the fruit of her lifelong sharing in his saving mission, her partaking in his suffering, for glory and suffering are inextricably united in the mission of Redemption (Jn. 13:3).

Mary Co-redemptrix continues to this day to battle the Dragon for souls, a mystical battle that sometimes causes her to weep (9) over the loss of so many of her offspring in our times. She is the Woman of Revelation who “cries out in the pangs of birth, in anguish of delivery” and the Woman of Calvary called to “behold, your son.” Both passages are parallel revelations of the same co-redeeming Mother who continues to suffer intensely in order to bring forth disciples in Christ Jesus. (10)

When we scripturally examine the Mother’s participation in the accomplishment of Redemption by Jesus Christ, the Word of God elicits a simple and obvious conclusion: the Woman and Mother “with Jesus” from the Annunciation to Calvary uniquely shares in the work of Redemption through which the salvation of the human family is obtained, and at the price of the greatest human suffering imaginable.

The Immaculate Mother, in a way that is shared by no other creature, participates in the “Redemption accomplished” as the Co-redemptrix, and therefore becomes the Mediatrix of all graces, (11) in the order of the “Redemption received.” (12) Her acquisition of grace leads to her distribution of grace—from the “Mother to us in the order of grace” (Lumen Gentium, 61).

The Testaments of Scripture, Old and New, reveal that a man and a woman “sold” humanity to Satan through sin, and a Man and a Woman “bought back” humanity through suffering. The price paid by the Woman “with Jesus” for our eternal ransom is perhaps best poetically conveyed in the classic verses of the Stabat Mater:

At the Cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O sweet Mother! Font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you His pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the Cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In His very Blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.
Amen. (Alleluia.) (13)

 

The above article is from the fourth chapter of “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix, Queenship Publications, 2003. The book is available from Queenship for the price of $3.00 U.S.

Notes

(1) Cf. 1 Cor. 15:22, 45.

(2) Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin, vol. 1, Sacramentary, Catholic Book Publishing, 1992, p. 117; original Latin text in Collectio Missarum de Beata Maria Virgine I, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1987, p. 49.

(3) John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 23.

(4) John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, 25.

(5) For an extended commentary on Mary as the Woman of Revelation 12, cf. Matthias J. Scheeben, Mariology, Herders, 1947, vol. 1, p. 15; Bernard Le Frois, The Woman Clothed With The Sun: Individual or Collective, Orbis Catholicus, Rome, 1954; Pope Paul VI, Signum Magnum.

(6) Cf. Chapter II, “Co-redemptrix Foretold.”

(7) Cf. Le Frois, The Woman Clothed with the Sun, ch. 1, arts. 1, 2, 3; de La Potterie, Maria nel mistero dell’ Alleanza, p. 258.

(8) Manelli, Mary Coredemptrix In Sacred Scripture, p. 99.

(9) For example, the documented weeping Madonna statue at the Church approved apparitions of Our Lady of Akita in Japan, where a wooden statue carved in the image of the Lady of All Nations from Amsterdam wept lacrimations on one hundred and one occasions, cf. T. Yasuda, “The Message of Mary Coredemptrix at Akita and Its Complementarity with the Dogma Movement,” Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma, Queenship, 2000, pp. 235-249.

(10) Cf. R. Laurentin, La Vergine Maria, Rome, 1984, pp. 51-52.

(11) For references to Our Lady’s title and function as Mediatrix of all graces, cf. Pius VII, Ampliatio privilegiorum ecclesiae B.M. Virginis ab agnelo salutatae in coenobio Fratrum Ordinis Servorum B.M.V., Florentiae, A.D., 1806 in J. Bourasse, Summa aurea . . . , vol. 7, Paris, 1862, col. 546; Pius IX, Encyclical Ubi Primum, 1849; Leo XIII, Supremi Apostolatus, 1883 and Octobri Mense, 1891; St. Pius X, Ad Diem Illum; Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Inter Sodalicia, March 22, 1918, AAS 10, 1918, and Mass and Office of Mediatrix of all Graces approved in 1921; Pius XI, Apostolic Letter Cognitum Sane, AAS 18, p. 213 and Encyclical Ingravescentibus Malis, AAS 29, 1937, p. 380; Pope Pius XII, Superiore Anno, AAS 32, 1940, p. 145; Pius XII, cf. AAS 45, 1953 and Mediator Dei, 1947; John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, ch. 3, “Maternal Mediation” and in a Papal Address, Rome, October 1, 1997, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, October 8, 1997, p. 11; cf. also A. Robichaud, S.M., “Mary, Dispensatrix of all Graces,” Mariology, vol. 2, pp. 426-460 and Michael O’Carroll, C.S.Sp., “Still Mediatress of All Graces?,” Miles Immaculatæ vol. 24, 1988, pp. 121-122. Usages of the Mediatrix of all graces title during the pontificate of John Paul II number seven and are here included (courtesy of the research of Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins):

1. December 1, 1978, Address to the General Council, Provincial Superiors and Directors of the Italian Institutes of the Congregation of St. Joseph (Giuseppini of St. Leonard Murialdo), n. 3:

We cannot conclude without addressing the Blessed Virgin, so loved and venerated by Murialdo, who had recourse to her as the Universal Mediatrix of all grace. The thought of Mary returned continually in his letters. In them he inculcated the recitation of the rosary, entrusted his sons with spreading devotion to the Holy Virgin, and stated: “If one wishes to do a little good among the young, one must instill love for Mary in them.” The beneficial work carried out by your Founder is the best confirmation of this. So follow his example in this matter too (Inseg I (1978) 250; Talks 370).

2. August 30, 1980, Address to Young People at Our Lady’s Shrine on Mount Roio, n. 3:

I conclude by entrusting you to the Virgin Mary, to whom St. Bernardine was extremely devoted and whom, it can be said, he went proclaiming all over Italy every day. Having lost his own mother, he chose Our Lady as his mother and always lavished his affection on her and trusted completely in her. He became the singer of Mary’s beauty, it can be affirmed, and preaching her mediation with inspired love, he was not afraid to state: “Every grace that is given to men proceeds from a triple ordained cause: from God it passes to Christ, from Christ it passes to the Virgin, from the Virgin it is given to us.”

Turn to her every day with confidence and with love, and ask her for the grace of the beauty of your soul and of your life, of what alone can make you happy (Inseg III/2 (1980) 495; ORE 648:3).

3. January 17, 1988, Angelus Address, n. 2:

Another center of Marian devotion worthy of mention is the Church dedicated to Our Lady in Meadi, on the outskirts of Cairo, on the banks of the Nile. The Church seems to have been built in the fifth century, even if, in the course of the centuries and in modern times, it has been modified and restored. It is entrusted to the Coptic-Orthodox Christians, and many pilgrims continuously come to this sanctuary to entrust their intentions to the Mediatrix of all graces (Inseg XI/1 (1988) 119; ORE 1023:5).

4. April 10, 1988, Homily for Octave of Easter in the Roman parish of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, n. 7:

In this Marian Year, your parish, which is placed under the patronage of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, Redemptoris Mater, has an extra reason for renewing and strengthening its own devotion towards her, the Mediatrix of all graces, our Advocate with her Son Jesus and the Help of Christians. Call upon her, honor her, draw close to her. She will hear you and will obtain for you whatever good you desire (Inseg XI/1 (1988) 863; ORE 1036:11).

5. July 2, 1990, Reflection Made at the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces in Benevento, n. 1:

With loving intuition from ancient times you have been able to grasp the mystery of Mary, as Mediatrix of all graces, because she is the Mother of the very Author of Grace, Jesus Christ. That is why the people of Benevento throughout the ages have turned and continue to turn to her, invoking her not only as “Our Lady of Graces,” but often also as “Our Lady of Grace” (Inseg XIII/2 (1990) 17; ORE 1148:2).

6. September 18, 1994, Angelus Address in Lecce, nn. 1, 3:

From the city of Lecce, honored by the name of Civitas mariana, I raise my prayer to you today, Most Holy Virgin. I do so among this beloved people of Apulia, who venerate you with deep devotion and hail you as the Mother of all Graces. You who go before us on the pilgrimage of faith, accompany the Successor of Peter on today’s visit, which is a further step in the “Great Prayer for Italy . . . .”

Watch over each with assiduous care, and pour an abundance of your gifts on all, O Queen without the stain of sin, O Mother of all Graces, O Virgin Mary! (Inseg XVII/2 (1994) 344-345; ORE 1358:8-9).

7. June 28, 1996, Address to the General Chapter of the Mercedarian Sisters of Charity, n. 4:

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, invoked with the title “de las Mercedes,” assist you and lead you to frequent encounters with her divine Son in the Eucharistic mystery. May she, true Ark of the New Covenant and Mediatrix of all graces, teach you to love him as she loved him. May she also support you with her intercession in the various apostolic works in which you are involved. (Inseg XIX/1 (1996) 1638; ORE 1451:5).

(12) Theologians seek to categorize both the nature of the Redemption and the precise nature of the Mother’s participation in the Redemption with terms such as Redemption “in actu primo” or participation in “objective redemption,” which refer to the obtaining of the graces of Redemption. This is distinguished from Redemption “in actu secundo” or “subjective redemption,” which identifies the distribution of the graces of Redemption to humanity.

And yet both the historical act of Redemption by Jesus and Mary at Calvary is an “objective” event, and also the reception of these redemptive graces by members of the human family is likewise “objective,” in the sense that it is free from a merely relativistic concept of personal Redemption. Perhaps more true to classical terminology of in actu primo and in actu secundo and yet more compatible for contemporary understanding would be the terms of “Redemption accomplished” to designate the historical acquisition of grace by Christ and Mary, and “Redemption received” to designate its personal salvific reception by the human family.

(13) Roman Missal, Lectionary for Mass, Catholic Book Publishing, 1970, pp. 801-802.

The Sufferings of Mary

Mary, “With Christ in her womb, with Jesus Christ in her arms, with Christ at Nazareth and in his public life…(and) with Jesus Christ …(on the) hill of Calvary…suffered and agonized with Him, receiving into her Immaculate Heart the last sufferings of Christ.” (1) This article focuses on Mary and the suffering She endures, with Her Son, Jesus Christ. We begin by looking at the “the fall,” the origin of all suffering. Quickly we discover how and why God chooses Mary to assist in the restoration of humanity. Next, we explore Mary’s life of suffering and come to understand how all the sorrowful events in Our Lady’s life prepare Her for the climax of Her suffering, the Passion and death of Her Son, Jesus. These events also prepare the Blessed Virgin for Her role as the Mother of Mercy. Finally, we learn the different ways in which Our Lady, the Mother of Mercy, continues to pour forth Her Mercy upon the world and Her children.

To understand the origin of Mary’s suffering we must turn to the creation account in the book of Genesis. Here we read how God creates Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, by giving them existence with a body, soul, sanctifying grace, and preternatural gifts. These gifts given to man by God find perfection and harmony as long as man remains in union with his Creator. This union is dependent upon man’s will, the faculty responsible for loving and deciding. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve abuse this gift of free will and disobey God. Eve first acquiesces to Satan’s temptations, later Adam follows suit, and together, the rebellious pair break the precious union they have with their Heavenly Father. God, in justice, punishes Adam and Eve by taking away the gift of sanctifying grace as well as the preternatural gifts, which are not “supernatural but rather perfections of the natural—guarding…against destruction or damage. Notable among these were immunity from suffering and death.” (2)

When all seems lost, God offers hope to the human race:

The Creator in his omniscience makes known a plan to bring about the serpent’s complete defeat by using the same basic means, though in reverse, by which Satan effected the loss of grace for the human family. (3)

God presents this plan in Genesis 3:15, known as the “Protoevangeleium.” Here the Heavenly Father promises that, “a ‘woman,’ with her ‘seed,’ (will) do battle against the serpent and crush its head.” (4) This unprecedented salvific prophecy explains how God plans to redeem creation in an act of recapitulation. This means that our Heavenly Father intends to use the same instruments responsible for the fall of Creation to bring about its restoration. Therefore, in its essence, this prophecy foretells the coming of Christ, the “New Adam” and Mary, the “New Eve.”

Mary, the “New Eve,” is the “woman” in Genesis 3:15 because She alone is the Mother of Jesus, the “seed.” This fact finds confirmation when God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman.” (5) The word “enmity” alludes to Mary’s Immaculate Conception, the miraculous event which renders Our Lady free from all sin and grants Her fullness of grace. The “enmity between the ‘woman’ and the serpent cannot be reconciled with sin in the woman” as in the case of Eve, for “(any) sin at all would constitute a victory for the enemy.” (6) The freedom from sin, given Mary at Her Immaculate Conception, establishes a total and complete opposition between Her and Satan and grants Her the ability to be the “woman” who is victorious in the battle of Redemption.

One may wonder what this victory of redemption entails. In the case of the Blessed Virgin, it would require a lifetime of redemptive suffering. We should recall that suffering is a result of sin/evil entering the world and sin is the source of disunion between God and man. Perhaps an analogy may help us understand the connection between sin entering into Creation and Mary’s life of redemptive suffering. Let us imagine that God takes on the role of a tailor during Creation, as he “sews” together man in His image and likeness. Original sin enters the picture and tears man apart, leaving human nature in frayed pieces, suffering, destined for the scrap pile of eternal death. Therefore, our Heavenly Father in His eternal wisdom provides the “Needle,” Jesus, and the “Thread,” Mary, who alone may mend the rent committed by Adam and Eve. However, the Needle and Thread must work and weave their way precisely through the tattered edges of suffering and woe, caused by Adam and Eve, in order to repair and restore man to eternal life.

In summary, Adam and Eve open the door to sin and suffering by committing acts of disobedience toward God. Our Heavenly Father responds by promising to send a “New Adam” and a “New Eve” (i.e. Jesus and Mary), to bring about the Redemption of man. However, just as Adam and Eve opened the door to suffering and death, Our Lord and His Blessed Mother must go through suffering and death to close the door originally opened by our rebellious first parents.

The next section of this article will look at specific events in Our Lady’s life in which She experiences suffering. Rather than engaging in systematic examination of the seven well-known and sorrowful events of Our Lady’s life, we shall expand our exploration to include a broader and more diverse perspective on the sorrows and sufferings of Mary.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (7) This appointed time occurs at the Incarnation and is proceeded by the Annunciation whereby Mary, the chosen and predestined “Thread” of the Father, is invited by St. Gabriel the Archangel to become the Mother of the Son of God. In St. Gabriel’s invitation, one finds several allusions to the life of suffering which awaits Mary. For example, when the archangel tells Mary “the Lord is with you,” he is promising the young virgin divine assistance in the task at hand:

In sacred Scripture, such an expression is relatively rare and is only addressed either to the people of God, in need of special assistance, or to an individual person called to carry out a demanding task. Regarding Mary, then the angel makes clear that to her is entrusted an important and difficult mission, the divine and coredemptive maternity to be accomplished with the special help of the Lord, for the salvation of the people of God, whom she now represents at the inception of the New Covenant. (8)

Gabriel proceeds with God’s divine invitation. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” (9) Mary recognizes that Gabriel is referring to the prophecy in the book of Isaiah, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.” (10) Later when the angel says, “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (11) Mary realizes the prophecy finds fulfillment in Her and begins “to understand the immensity of what is upon her…(She is) to become the mother of the ‘Son of the Most High’…Mother of Emmanuel.” (12)

Mary responds to the angel’s invitation by saying, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word,” and thus makes a heroic act of faith to the Father. (13) One can imagine the immense joy that floods the heart of Mary as She says yes to the Divine Will; however, we must not overlook the bitter-sweetness of Our Lady’s fiat. When the young Virgin says, “handmaid of the Lord” She “explicitly recalls the celebrated passage of Isaiah concerning the Messiah, the ‘servant of Yahweh'”: (14)

This reference establishes two important truths: first, the close union of the “handmaid of the Lord” with the “servant of Yahweh” in the unique work of the “suffering servant”; and second, the sharing of the painful events of the “suffering servant,” immolated for the redemption of men. The Virgin Mary, in using (this) expression, did not so much accept as give her all to the redemptive work, as the humble associate of the “man of sorrows pierced for our offenses, bruised for our iniquities.” (15)

Mary’s response therefore shows that Our Lady clearly understands God’s invitation to be the mother of the “suffering servant” and to co-suffer with Him in the salvific mission of Redemption.

Mary receives confirmation regarding Her mission of co-suffering at the Presentation of the Christ Child in the temple. Here the prophet Simeon foretells to Mary the sorrowful journey She is to undergo with Her Son. However, before we explore the nature of this prophecy let us first remember,

Suffering is everyone’s lot in this valley of tears, and all of us must put up with the evils and miseries that are a daily occurrence. Yet how much more vexatious life would be if we knew what was in store for us! “Unhappy would that man be…who knew what the future would bring and would have to suffer all the more by anticipation.” (16)

The Blessed Virgin is an example of such an individual. In regards to Our Lady, God “willed that she should be queen of sorrows and in all things like his son” and therefore, “Mary is obliged to have continually before her eyes all the torments that awaited her, especially her participation in the sufferings of the Passion and death of her beloved Jesus.” (17)

Mary’s awareness of the suffering which She and Her Son must endure comes when Simeon the prophet proclaims, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” (18) “Simeon could have announced Christ’s future suffering without reference to Mary, but in directly addressing her he makes the announcement significant.” (19) It shows that Jesus’ Mother and not St. Joseph, His foster Father, is destined to share in His Passion and death. Mary alone is to share in “the feelings of darkness and abandonment that Jesus would experience on His way to Calvary; she was to suffer along the road that would take her Son to His salvific death.” (20) Jean Galot, a Jesuit priest and theologian, poses that the prophecy of Simeon, “unites Mary and her child so closely that it reveals the Passion of Jesus to us through the sword of sorrow that will pierce the soul of His mother.” (21)

What exactly is the sword that is to pierce the heart of Mary?

Some have suggested that the sword is the grief to be caused by the contradiction of which Jesus will be the object. Mary will suffer from the trial that will affect her Son to whom she is inseparably united. In this view, the sword is an integral part of the prophetic picture, because it will play a major role in the drama of salvation. (22)

Again we turn to Galot, who speaks of Mary and this future sword, “Under the effect of this revelation, Mary, lives in the constant perspective of sacrifice, and she holds herself ready to share in her heart the tragic fate of the Messiah.” (23) The majority of Scripture exegetes agree, and summarize Galot’s interpretation by simply saying “the sword refers to Mary’s act of offering her Son on Calvary.” (24)

Mary, who had previously experienced sweetness upon becoming the Mother of the Son of God, now experiences the bitterness that belongs to the Associate of the “suffering servant.” Therefore, one may easily understand why this “prophecy overwhelms (Mary) utterly—or rather, fills her to the brim with bitterness.” (25) Our Lady reveals this bitter state to St. Bridget of Sweden and says that She,

…thought of the gall and vinegar when she suckled him; of the cords that would bind him when she swathed him; of the cross to which he would be nailed when she carried him in her arms; of his death when he slept. (26)

To St. Bridget, Mary adds, “my eyes filled with tears, and my heart was tortured with grief.” (27) Yet Mary refused to give in to this sorrow and from

…the very depth of her bitterness the first ray of an ineffable dawn shines out. From now she has the certitude that she is divinely associated in the suffering of her Son. She has the assurance that to soften the cruel edge of the Son’s Passion there will be the tender Compassion of the Mother. Sustained by this sublime hope, she abides in expectation of the sword which shall pierce her heart in the very act of piercing His. (28)

Mary must soon draw upon this hope, as the prophecy of Simeon becomes a physical reality. One night an angel of the Lord wakes St. Joseph and tells him to take Mary and the child Jesus to Egypt because Herod, the power-hungry and bloodthirsty king, is seeking the life of Christ. Mary accompanies St. Joseph and together they flee to Egypt in order to protect Jesus’ life. This journey probably took around ten to twelve days of difficult traveling. Not to mention that this was the “fourth time in one year that our Lady is faced with a long journey” and “with this one…all is dark, sad, (and) uncertain.” (29) “Terror and hardship, the wilderness and heathendom, were before her; and she confronted all with the calm anguish of an already broken heart.” (30)

Unimaginable was her dereliction in those days and nights of desert journeying. Surely God would work some miracle for the Child which is His! Incredible that the Child, a tiny frail thing that suffered and said no word, should be His. Incredible that if it were so, God should thus seem to abandon It, in the midst of enemies, to the pitifully inadequate protection of a poor man and his poor wife. So much mystery tested not only their courage, but their faith: not that their faith ever wavered under the trial: rather was it strengthened and purified. (31)

Despite the sufferings, hardships, and lessons of the journey, the holy family reaches their destination safely. Through it all, Our Lady learns that “to be His Mother mean(s) to suffer with Him”: (32)

St. Mathew’s description of the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod most assuredly brought Mary sorrow. But it is in the conclusion of Luke’s infancy narrative that we again find specific reference to the psychological pain experienced by the Virgin. (33)

After some time in Egypt, the holy family returns from their exile and settles in Nazareth. The Christ Child grows and reaches the age where He may accompany His parents to Jerusalem in order to celebrate Jewish feasts and festivals. One year, Jesus accompanies Mary and Joseph to the feast of Passover and stays behind in Jerusalem when it is time for the holy family to return to Nazareth. Our Lady and St. Joseph do not realize that Jesus is not with them until they have traveled a day’s journey. “It is impossible to form an idea of the suffering of Mary and Joseph upon the loss of Jesus; one would have to be able to measure the love they had for him”: (34)

Not all the sorrows suffered by all the martyrs ever reached the height of the sorrows of most holy Mary in this trial; nor will the patience, resignation and tolerance of this Lady ever be equaled, nor can they; for the loss of Jesus was greater to Her than the loss of anything created, while her love and appreciation of Him exceeded all that can be conceived by any other creature. (35)

Upon finding Jesus in the temple the Blessed Mother says, “Son why have you treated us so.” (36) This question of Our Lady is not one of reprimand but one of wonder:

Ever since the Annunciation our Lady had known that the Child Jesus was God. This faith continuously generated an attitude of generous fidelity throughout the course of her entire life, but there was no reason why it should include detailed knowledge of all the sacrifices that God would have asked of her, nor how Christ would go about His redemptive mission. (37)

Therefore, Mary did not immediately understand Jesus’ response to Her question, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (38) In humility, Our Lady does not respond to Jesus. Instead Mary, in a state of wonder and acceptance, takes Our Lord home to Nazareth, all the while keeping “all these things in her heart.” (39) It was there “in the small house of Nazareth, dwelling place, one might say, of the earthly Trinity that in prayer and work the great public mission of the Son of Mary was readied.” (40)

Jesus’ public ministry and Mary’s life of co-suffering, with and under Her Son, officially begins at the wedding feast of Cana. It is at this joyful event that Jesus manifests His glory and thus publicly reveals His identity and mission. Mary assists in Christ’s theophany when She realizes the newly married couple has run out of wine and presents this information to Jesus in the hopes that He will perform a miracle. If Our Lord agrees this will be His first public miracle. Bishop Fulton Sheen offers a beautiful speculation of Jesus’ response to His Blessed Mother:

My dear Mother, do you realize that you are asking me to proclaim my Divinity—to appear before the world as the Son of God and to prove my Divinity by my works and my miracles? The moment I do this, I begin the royal road to the Cross. When I am no longer known among men as the son of the carpenter, but as the Son of God, that will be my first step toward Calvary. My hour is not yet come; but would you have me anticipate it? Is it your will that I go to the Cross? If I do this, your relationship to me changes. You are now my mother…(b)ut if I appear now as the Savior of men and begin the work of redemption, your role will change, too. Once I undertake the salvation of mankind, you will not only be my mother, but you will also be the mother of everyone who I redeem….You will then be the universal Mother, the new Eve, as I am the new Adam. (41)

According to Sheen, Jesus is asking Mary if She is ready to begin the road to Calvary, because She, as Mother of the Redeemer, the “New Eve,” must accompany Her Son, the “New Adam,” on this road of dereliction.

Mary responds with simplicity and courage as She says, “Do whatever he tells you.” (42) “The answer of Mary was one of complete co-operation in the redemption with Our Blessed Lord.” (43) For as “Our Blessed Lord had said that he had come on earth to do His Father’s will, so Mary bade us do the will of her Divine Son.” (44) Therefore, upon listening to Mary’s instruction, the servants obey the Lord’s command and fill the stone jars with water. Jesus then performs His first miracle and changes the water in the jars into wine. In summary, Mary asks Jesus to perform His first public miracle. Jesus, responds by asking the Blessed Virgin if She is ready to begin the road to Calvary. Mary says yes by summoning the servants to do the will of Her Son. His holiness, Pope John Paul II, succinctly summarizes the events when he writes, “At Cana, thanks to the intercession of Mary and the obedience of the servants, Jesus begins ‘his hour.'” (45)

Mary’s whole life has been preparation for this “hour.” Each sorrow the Blessed Virgin endured fell “upon greater love…upon love that (had) suffered more.” (46) This means that in Mary’s life, every act of suffering expands Our Lady’s heart, thereby enabling Her to love more deeply, more fully. Therefore, one may say, the degree to which Mary suffers determines the degree in which She loves. This theory becomes a reality as Our Lady meets Her Son on the road to Calvary:

Now Jesus has come up to her. He halts for a moment. He lifts the one hand that is free, and clears the blood from His eyes. Is it to see? Rather, that she may see Him, His look of sadness, His look of love. She approaches to embrace Him. The soldiers thrust her rudely back. Oh, misery! And she is His Mother too! For a moment she reeled with the push, and then again was still, her eyes fixed on His, His eyes fixed on hers; such a link, such an embrace, such an outpouring of love, such an overflow of sorrow! (47)

If Mary’s heart had not been expanded and prepared for such a meeting surely She would have fainted or collapsed from the sight of Her Son in such a pitiable state. However, through suffering already endured Mary’s heart withstands this sorrowful event. In fact, Our Lady recognizes it as the “advent of a long-dreaded evil. It was the fulfillment of a vision which had been before her, sleeping and waking, for years”: (48)

Her sorrows, when they lay unborn in her mind, were hard to bear; but when they sprang to life, and leaped from her mind, and with Simeon’s sword clove her heart asunder, they were different things, as different as waking is from sleeping, or life from death. (49)

Nevertheless, Mary accepts the sorrowful events of Christ’s Passion and uniquely participates in it.

“So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him.” (50) “Standing by the cross of Jesus (was) his mother.” (51) In a private revelation to St. Bridget of Sweden, Our Blessed Mother describes Her experiences during the crucifixion of Christ:

…I was very close to Him during His Passion and did not allow myself to be separated from Him, for I stood right next to His Cross, and because the nearer something is to the heart the keener is its stab, so His suffering was more painful to me than to others. And when He looked down at me from the Cross, and I looked up at Him, tears streamed from my eyes like blood from veins. And when He saw me so overwhelmed with grief, my sorrow made Him suffer so much that all the pains which he felt from His wounds were surpassed by the sight of the grief in which He beheld me. Therefore I boldly assert that His suffering became my suffering, because His heart was mine. And just as Adam and Eve sold the world for an apple, so in a certain sense my Son and I redeemed the world with one Heart. (52)

In summary, the events of the Annunciation, Presentation, Flight into Egypt, Loss of the Child Jesus, and the Wedding Feast of Cana were the splinters of suffering which prepared Our Lady for the Cross in its entirety. However, it was all of these episodes of suffering that enabled Mary to fully assume Her role as the Mother of Mercy.

The last section of this article examines Mary’s role as the Mother of Mercy. Let us begin by defining mercy. Simply stated, mercy is compassionate love. Compassion comes from the Latin word “compassio,” which means “to bear” or “suffer with.” Therefore, mercy means to “suffer with” someone for the sake of love. In order to extend mercy to others one must first posses love because love is the foundation and source of mercy. This principle becomes real in the person of Mary.

Our Lady possesses love, the foundation for mercy, in two ways. First, in Her nature and second, due to Her role as the “God bearer.” Mary possesses love in Her nature as a result of Her Immaculate Conception. The Heavenly Father, at this awesome event, bestows sanctifying grace upon Mary the moment She comes into existence. This special gift of grace allows Mary to participate in the very nature of the Trinity, which, in its essence, is love. Therefore, one may say Mary’s Immaculate Conception, and all that it entails, enables Mary to receive the love of the Triune God.

The Incarnation is a prime example of Mary’s ability to receive Her Creator’s love. Here the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, comes to Our Lady as Her Divine Spouse. The Spirit pours forth His love, upon the young Virgin, which results in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. One may even go as far as to say, Mary receives Love in the flesh. In summary, Mary possesses love by participating in the nature of the Trinity and by being the Mother of Christ, who is Love incarnate.

One may wonder how Mary manifests this love She possesses. She does so simply by performing acts of mercy, specifically as a mother. When Our Lady becomes the Theotokos, an intimate and indissoluble bond between Her and Our Lord occurs and continues throughout their lives. This bond is a natural occurrence in motherhood and one that includes certain rights. It is precisely these maternal rights which enable a mother to uniquely participate in the life of her child. Mary, as Jesus’ mother, draws upon these rights and accompanies Our Lord throughout His life of redemptive suffering.

“No one has experienced, to the same degree as the Mother of the crucified One, the mystery of the Cross.” (53) Only our Lord’s Mother was by His side throughout His life and during His death. Only Our Lady, due to her maternal rights, had access to the very depths of Her Son’s sufferings. This explains why Mary’s compassion,

…was not the gradual result of long meditation. It was not a sorrow felt in the calm seclusion of the undistracted cloister, or a pious emotion roused by the marvelous ceremonial of a believing Church. It did not come from literature, or ritual, or history, or private revelation, or mysticism, or art, or poetry, but from the sights and sounds (of Jesus’ life and)…Passion… (54)

Therefore, Mary’s compassion is a result of Her motherly participation in the life and death of Her Son and is the reason behind Her title, “Mother of Mercy.” Ironically, this blessed role was bestowed upon Mary during Her darkest hour—during the Passion and death of Her dearly beloved Son Jesus.

Jesus and Mary, during this dark hour, pour forth mercy by suffering with one another for the sake of love. They suffer first for the love of God and in reparation for all the sins by which He is offended, and second, for the love of sinners and in reparation for all of their sins, past, present, and future. Jesus and Mary’s sufferings become the perfection of mercy when together they accomplish the one sacrifice of Calvary:

The world was redeemed by the Passion of our Lord. But there never was, in the ordinance of God, such a thing as a Passion of Jesus disjoined from the Compassion of Mary. The two things were one simultaneous oblation, interwoven each moment through the thickly-crowded mysteries of that dread time, unto the Eternal Father, out of two sinless Hearts, that were the Hearts of Son and Mother, for the sins of a guilty world which fell on them contrary to their merits, but according to their own free will. Never was any sanctified sorrow of creatures so confused and commingled with the world-redeeming sorrow of Jesus as was the Compassion of His Mother. (55)

Therefore, it is precisely when Mary sacrifices Her Son, and Her very self, at Calvary that She fully assumes the role of Mother of Mercy, because only here does Our Lady completely empty Herself in suffering for love of God and for the love of all men.

In summary, Mary receives Her role as the Mother of Mercy from Her life of suffering with Christ and especially by participating in the supreme sacrifice of Calvary. Let us conclude by discovering how Our Lady, in this role, remains active in the lives of Her children.

Mary has in the past, and continues even now, to make Herself known as the Mother of Mercy by being the,

“…Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, Help of Christians.” The gradation of titles here is very beautiful. It shows that Mary is merciful to those who are sick of body in order to benefit their souls, and that afterwards she consoles them in their afflictions and strengthens them in the midst of all the difficulties they have to overcome. (56)

Mary is the “Health of the Sick” by the numerous and miraculous cures She obtains for us through Her intercession to the Father. In fact, there have been so many cures attributed to the Blessed Mother that it has been said “Mary is a fathomless ocean of miraculous healing.” (57) What is interesting is that Our Lady only seems to cure bodily ailments in order to heal infirmities of the soul. This means “she heals us of the wounds which we bear as a result of original sin” in order to bring us back into union with God. (58) Our Lady, the channel for this union, is also the “Refuge of Sinners” because She is the Immaculate Conception, the safe harbor, where Satan cannot trespass:

Detesting sin, which does so much harm to souls, she welcomes sinners and wishes to bring them to repentance. She frees them from the bonds of sinful habits by the power of her intercession; she obtains their reconciliation with God by the merits of her Son…Once converted to penance, she protects them from Satan, against everything which could lead to fresh falls. She helps them to learn of the sweetness of penance. (59)

Therefore, Mary welcomes all sinners to the safety of Her Immaculate Heart.

Mary, upon receiving all men and sinners into Her heart, pours forth upon them Her wisdom and maternal love. It is precisely in this role as “Consoler of the Afflicted,” that “consoled Jesus by her presence on Calvary (and)…consoled the Apostles in the difficulties they encountered in the conversion of the pagan world.” (60) The love of Our Lady, along with the wisdom gained in Her own trials and tribulations, allows Mary to assist those suffering in various ways. Lastly, Mary is the “Help of Christians”:

Help is an effect of love, and Mary has now consummated fullness of love. She loves the souls redeemed by Jesus’ blood. She helps them in their difficulties and assists them in the practice of virtues. (61)

In summary, Mary is the Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Consoler of the Afflicted, and Help of Christians, because She is first the Mother of Mercy:

The Church sings that she is our hope: Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy! Hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope! She is our hope in that she has merited, with her Son, all that we need of help from God, and in that she transmits it to us now by her intercession. She is therefore the living expression and the instrument of God’s helping Mercy, which is the formal motive of our hope. (62)

In conclusion, we have discovered that evil and sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve and this sinful act opened the door to suffering and death. God, in His love and mercy, wanted to save the human race and therefore promises to send a New Adam and a New Eve, who, through their obedience and suffering, will redeem the world. It is precisely in their lives of suffering and obedience to the Divine Will, that Mary and Jesus fulfill the Father’s promise. Lastly, in fulfilling this promise, Mary becomes the “Mother of Mercy” and continues even now to distribute Her mercy to Her children throughout the world.

Notes

(1) Sister Lucia, “Calls” From the Message of Fatima, trans. by the Sisters of Mosteiro de Santa Maria (Fatima: Coimbra Carmel & Fatima Shrine, 2000), 137.

(2) F.J. Sheed, Theology for Beginners (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1981), 77.

(3) Mark Miravalle, “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix (Goleta: Queenship Publishing, 2003), 18.

(4) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 22.

(5) Gen 3:15, RSV (emphasis my own).

(6) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 31.

(7) Gal 4:4.

(8) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 133.

(9) Luke 1:31.

(10) Isaiah 7:14.

(11) Luke 1:35.

(12) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 137.

(13) Luke 1:38.

(14) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 148.

(15) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 148.

(16) St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary (Liguori: Liguori Publications, 2000), 294.

(17) Ibid., 294.

(18) Luke 2:34.

(19) Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundation III, Dr. Mark Miravalle, S.T.D., Editor, (Goleta: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 85.

(20) Ibid.

(21) Ibid.

(22) Ibid., 86.

(23) Ibid.

(24) Ibid.

(25) Charles Journet, Our Lady of Sorrows, trans. F. J. Sheed (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1938), 20.

(26) St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary (Liguori: Liguori Publications, 2000), 296.

(27) Ibid.

(28) Charles Journet, Our Lady of Sorrows, trans. F. J. Sheed (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1938), 20.

(29) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 261.

(30) Father Frederick William Faber, D.D., The Foot of the Cross: or the Sorrows of Mary (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978), 109.

(31) Charles Journet, Our Lady of Sorrows, trans. F. J. Sheed (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1938), 22.

(32) Fulton J. Sheen, The World’s First Love: Mary the Mother of God (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996), 246.

(33) Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma: Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundation III, Dr. Mark Miravalle, S.T.D., Editor, (Goleta: Queenship Publishing Company, 2000), 86.

(34) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 278.

(35) Venerable Mary of Agreda, The Mystical City of God, trans. Fiscar Marison (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978), 390.

(36) Luke 2:48.

(37) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 281.

(38) Luke 2:49.

(39) Luke 2:51.

(40) Stefano M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, trans. Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), 290.

(41) Fulton J. Sheen, The World’s First Love: Mary the Mother of God (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996), 114.

(42) John 2:5.

(43) Fulton J. Sheen, The World’s First Love: Mary the Mother of God (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996), 115.

(44) Ibid.

(45) Pope John Paul II, Mother of the Redeemer: On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1987), 31. Note: The reference to the Lord’s “hour,” in the Gospel of John, refers to Christ’s Passion and the revelation of the Father’s glory.

(46) Father Fredrick William Faber, D.D., The Foot of the Cross or The Sorrows of Mary (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978), 203.

(47) Ibid., 208.

(48) Ibid.

(49) Ibid., 210.

(50) John 19:17.

(51) John 19:25.

(52) The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics: From Revelations of St. Elizabeth of Schoenau, St. Bridget of Sweden, Ven. Mother Mary of Agreda, and Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich, compiled by Raphael Brown (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1991), 213.

(53) Pope John Paul II, The Mercy of God: Dives in Misericordia (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1981), 30.

(54) Father Fredrick William Faber, D.D., The Foot of the Cross or The Sorrows of Mary (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978), 382.

(55) Ibid., 384.

(56) Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Mother of the Savior and Our Interior Life, trans. Bernard J. Kelly, C.S.Sp., D.D. (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1993), 225.

(57) Ibid.

(58) Ibid., 226.

(59) Ibid., 227.

(60) Ibid., 228.

(61) Ibid., 229.

(62) Ibid., 230.

The Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate in the Eastern Church

Introduction

It is truly proper to glorify you, who have borne God, the Ever-blessed, Immaculate, and the Mother of our God. More honorable then the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who, a virgin, gave birth to God the Word, you, truly the Mother of God, we magnify. (1)

Our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter, Orientale Lumen, speaks of the light of Christ, which shone first in the East. He reminds us that the Eastern Churches continue to illumine the world today, and it is important to appreciate and retain the fullness of the Catholic Church’s rich Eastern heritage. One of the most brilliant rays of light from the Eastern Church shines from the honor and love given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom they refer to as “Theotokos,” or “God-Bearer.” Within the Eastern liturgy and iconography, one finds clearly set forth all the truths about the Blessed Mother’s roles as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, and a clear explanation of why She is given the special praise of hyperdulia above all other created beings.

A closer look at the Divine Office of the Eastern Church, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the Akathist Hymn, and Church iconography will provide abundant evidence of how the Eastern Church honors the Holy Theotokos, and enables her to fill the Church with the light of Christ.

The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is very well known and common in the Eastern Churches today, both those in union with Rome and those that are not. St. John Chrysostom (345-407 AD), Bishop of Constantinople and an eloquent preacher and Father of the Church, formulated this liturgy, which probably received its present form after the ninth century. The liturgical prayers of the East have nourished the Christian Church throughout the centuries in their understanding and love for the Mother of God. Since we express our beliefs within our prayers (lex orandi lex est credendi), one must look to the liturgical prayers of the Byzantine Rite in order to understand the Eastern Church’s beliefs regarding the Holy Mother of God. These liturgical prayers make clear that Mary is honored in the Eastern Churches as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate for the people of God.

The Divine Office of the East

Throughout the Eastern Church Divine Office, the Blessed Mother is spoken of in terms of Old Testament references, showing Her divine fore-ordination to be the Mother of God and how the history of salvation culminates in Her. Thus, in the matins prayers for the Birth of the Holy Theotokos, the Church sings:

The bush on the mountain that was not consumed by fire, and the Chaldean furnace that brought refreshment as the dew, plainly prefigured thee, O Bride of God. For in a material womb, unconsumed thou hast received the divine and immaterial fire.

Again, in the matins prayers for the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos the Church links the Blessed Mother to Old Testament images, singing:

Let us praise in faith Mary the Child of God, whom long ago the assembly of prophets foretold, speaking of her as jar of manna and Aaron’s rod, tablet of the Law and uncut mountain.

In addition, the prophecies of David in the psalms are seen as fulfilled by Mary’s entry into the temple, for the Church sings:

Let David prophecy, who said in the spirit: “virgins shall be brought after thee; they shall be brought into the temple to the queen and Mother.” (2)

Furthermore, the Church sings of St. Ann, regarding the Blessed Mother’s fore-ordination:

Today Ann the Barren gives birth to the Child of God, foreordained from all generations to be the habitation of the King of all and Maker, Christ our God, in fulfillment of the divine dispensation. (3)

Immaculate Conception

The Divine Office goes on to set forth the truth that the Blessed Mother’s freedom from the stain of sin from the time of her conception enables Her to take part in the redemption of mankind. Because She is Immaculate, She is able to reverse the curse of Eden and take part in the salvation of all. In Her a new Eve is born, who, through Her obedience, reverses the curse brought about by Eve’s disobedience. For the Feast of the Birth of the Holy Theotokos, the Church sings:

O Adam and Eve . . . rejoice with us today: for if by your transgression ye closed the gate of Paradise to those of old, we have now been given a glorious fruit, Mary the Child of God, who opens its entrance to us all. (4)

She is further extolled for reversing the curse of Eden in these words:

She is the restoration of Adam and the recalling of Eve, the fountain of incorruption and the release from corruption: through her we have been made godlike and delivered from death. (5)

The Church recognizes that while Eve’s sin brought death, the Immaculate Mother’s obedience brings life and deliverance, and thus Eve rejoices in her own salvation and the restoration of all which comes through her offspring. In the words of Eve from the Great Vespers of The Birth of the Holy Theotokos: “Unto me is born deliverance, through which I shall be set free from the bonds of hell.” Further extolling this mystery the Church sings:

Adam is set free and Eve dances for joy, and in spirit they cry aloud to thee, O Theotokos: “By thee, through Christ’s appearance, we have been delivered from Adam’s ancient curse.” (6)

The Blessed Mother is clearly seen in the Divine Office of the Eastern Church as the pure and undefiled one, who “alone among women is pure and blessed” and thus is able to give flesh to the God-man. (7) At Her birth the Church rejoices that a worthy vessel for the Word has been born:

In thee, O Undefiled, is the mystery of the Trinity praised and glorified. For the Father was well pleased with thee, and in thee the Word made His tabernacle among us, and the Holy Spirit overshadowed thee. (8)

Gabriel’s words at the Annunciation also clearly set forth the Blessed Mother as the Immaculate One. The archangel greets Her as, “O all-holy Lady, utterly without spot.” (9)

Within the Divine Office, the Church affirms the Blessed Mother’s freedom of choice, demonstrating that She was not a passive vessel, but an active participant, who cooperated, out of freedom, in God’s saving work. This is made clear within the Divine Office of the Annunciation in the form of a conversation between Mary and Gabriel, in which:

Mary’s doubts are set forth with the utmost directness, we see all her incredulity and her embarrassment; and this is done in order to make clear that she acted in full freedom, consciously and deliberately accepting the will of God. When, on this and other feasts, the . . . Church shows honor to the Mother of God, it is not just because God chose her but also because she herself chose aright. (10)

Mary Co-Redemptrix

In addition to glorifying the Immaculate One’s freedom from sin, the Divine Office of the Eastern Church also sets forth her special bond with Christ and her Co-Redemptive role of suffering with Her Son, which provides the basis for Her further roles as Mediatrix of all grace and Advocate. One beautiful aspect of the Office that identifies Mary with the redemptive role of Her Son is seen in the Feast of the Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the temple. Just as She and Joseph would later offer the infant Jesus in the temple, Mary’s parents brought Her to the temple as a young child, making clear the fact that She, like Christ, was immolated to God for the plan of salvation. Thus the Church sings:

Having received the fruit of the promise come from the Lord, today in the temple Joachim and Ann offered the Mother of God as an acceptable sacrifice; and Zacharias the great High Priest received her with his blessing. Into the holy places the Holy of Holies is fittingly brought to dwell, as a sacrifice acceptable to God. (11)

The Church also shows us the unique and intimate bond between Christ and Mary, which justifies Her role as Co-Redemptrix, in the fact that She gives Jesus His most Holy Body; the Church sings:

From thy virgin womb the Light that was before the sun, even God who has come forth upon us, took flesh ineffably, coming to dwell among us in the body. Thee, then, O blessed and all-holy Theotokos, do we magnify. (12)

Many other aspects of Mary’s intimate sharing in the sufferings of Christ throughout His earthly life are highlighted in the Divine Office, making clear the understanding that She participated in a unique way with Christ in His saving work for the salvation of men. The Church honors the suffering She underwent in the flight to Egypt, putting these words into the mouth of the Mother: “O Son . . . as I behold thee fleeing from Herod with his sword of sorrow, I am torn in soul. But do Thou live and save those that honor Thee.” (13)

Additionally, the Church sets forth Her Co-Redemptive role when it lauds Her co-suffering at the Passion, showing the depth of Her suffering with Jesus, suffering in a way that only a Mother could. The Church sings:

When the pure Virgin, His Mother, beheld Him upon the Cross, she cried out in pain: “Woe is me, my Child: why hast Thou done this? Thou, whose beauty was fairer than that of all mortal men, dost appear without life and form, having neither shape nor comeliness. Woe is me, O my Light. I cannot bear to look upon Thee sleeping, and I am wounded in my innermost self, a harsh sword pierces my heart.” (14)

Clearly, the liturgy shows the Eastern Church’s understanding of the Blessed Mother’s most intimate sharing in the sufferings of Her Son, and thus Her unique cooperation in His Redemptive work, which merits Her the title of Co-Redemptrix.

Mary Mediatrix and Advocate

The Mother’s ongoing role as Mediatrix of all grace and Advocate for all people is also set forth within the Byzantine liturgy as the Church recognizes that She was given at Calvary to John and to all the children of God as a Mother, and that She is now in heaven with Jesus where Her motherly care continues. In the liturgy of the Dormition the Church plainly shows the belief that She is taken up to heaven where She continues Her powerful role of intercession for the redemption of Her children. While the Roman Catholic Church calls this event the Assumption of Mary, the Eastern Church entitles this Her “Dormition.” The Church tells of Her place at the right hand of Her Son where She intercedes for us. Calling Her the “Gate of God” and the “Palace of the King,” the Church sings of Her Who, even in death, did not know corruption, and was taken straight to heaven:

What songs filled with awe did all the apostles of the Word then offer thee, O Virgin, as they stood round thy deathbed and cried aloud in wonder: “The Palace of the King withdraws; the Ark of holiness is raised on high. Let the gates be opened wide that the Gate of God may enter into abundant joy, she who asks without ceasing for great mercy on the world.” (15)

Within the liturgical text the Church manifestly sees that the Blessed Mother is now with Her Son, where She is able to intercede most effectively on our behalf. The Church asks for the powerful prayers of She Who dwells with Her Son:

Therefore, O most pure Theotokos, who livest for ever with thy Son, the King who brings life, pray without ceasing that thy newborn people be guarded on every side and saved from all adverse assault; for we are under thy protection. (16)

Again and again throughout the liturgy, the Church recognizes the significance of Her being taken up into heaven, and that in Her role as Advocate, the Blessed Mother continues to pray for Her children without ceasing:

O pure and most holy Virgin, the multitude of angels in heaven and mankind on earth extol and venerate thy Dormition; for thou art the Mother of Christ, our God and the Creator of all. Never cease, we entreat thee, to intercede with Him on our behalf; for next to God we have put our hope in thee, O far-famed and unwedded Theotokos. (17)

The Church sings of the saving power of Her prayers from Her place in heaven:

In giving birth, O Theotokos, thou hast retained thy virginity, and in falling asleep thou hast not forsaken the world. Thou who art the Mother of Life hast passed over into life, and by thy prayers thou dost deliver our souls from death. (18)

Once again the Church, after Her Dormition, emphasizes her role as Advocate in heaven, pleading for us, and as Mediatrix of all grace, pouring out salvation for the faithful:

Come, O ye faithful, let us approach the tomb of the Mother of God, and let us embrace it, touching it sincerely with the lips and eyes and foreheads of the heart. Let us draw abundant gifts of healing grace from this ever-flowing fount. (19)

In another beautiful prayer from the Office of the Feast of the Dormition, the Church asks that She, who now reigns with Her Son and continues Her cooperative work with Christ in our salvation, pray for us. The Church on earth echoes the prayers of the apostles, singing: “As thou departest to the heavenly mansions unto thy Son, do thou ever save thine inheritance.” (20)

In addition to describing Her roles of Advocate and Mediatrix, the Church also uses these specific titles within the liturgy. For example, as Mary enters the temple herself as a young child, the Church cries:

Make this feast to be held in honor throughout all the world by those who cry: The Theotokos is come among us, mediator of salvation. (21)

Again she is hailed as Mediatrix in the Liturgy for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the seventh Ecumenical Council:

O gentle Protectress of Christians, unfailing Mediatrix before the Creator, do not despise the prayerful voices of sinners; but in your goodness hasten to assist those who cry out to you; “Inspire us to prayer, and hasten to hear our supplication, intercede always, Mother of God, in behalf of those who honor you.”

Once again, a specific title is used when Mary is called Advocate in the liturgy for the deceased: “We have in You a defense and a refuge and an advocate acceptable to God to Whom you gave birth, O Virgin Mother of God, the salvation of the faithful.” (22)

The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God

In addition to the abundance of liturgical evidence of the honor that the Eastern Church gives to Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, evidence of the Eastern Church’s recognition of Her unique roles can also be found in the Eastern Church hymn to the Mother of God, known as the Akathist Hymn. This hymn contains abundant examples of the Eastern Church’s praises of Mary for Her unique participation in the work of Her Son. While the hymn does not use the explicit titles of Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, the fact that She is honored for these roles is clear. As Luigi Gambero states in his description of the Akathist hymn: “The Akathist is a convincing example of how the theology of the Greek Fathers could create titles indicative of fervid admiration for the divine mystery, in which Mary was involved in a unique way.” (23) This beautiful hymn serves as another shining example of the Eastern Church’s beliefs regarding the Holy Theotokos, once again relying on the principle, lex orandi est lex credendi (what we pray is what we believe). Truly, the words that the Church prays set forth the beliefs of the Church; the prayer of the Akathist clearly shows us the Eastern Church’s belief in Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate.

Looking more closely at the descriptions used in the Akathist clearly shows the Blessed Mother’s various roles. Within the text of the Akathist She is set forth as the Co-Redemptrix, worthy to take part in an intimate and unique way in the Redemptive work of Her Son. Due to the extraordinary union She achieved with God through the Incarnation, based on Her Immaculate Conception, She is able to take part in reversing the curse of Adam and Eve and suffering all with Her Son to become the Co-Redemptrix, and thus the joy of our race. Let us look at some of the lines within the hymn in which She is praised for Her Co-Redemptive role:

Hail, O Restoration of the fallen Adam (first chant)
Hail, O Redemption of the tears of Eve (first chant)
Hail, O you through whom creation is renewed (first chant)
Hail, O you through whom the Creator becomes a Babe (first chant)
Hail, Expiation of the whole universe (third chant)
Hail, O you through whom death was despoiled (fourth chant)
Hail, O you who unthroned the enemy of men (fifth chant)
Hail, O you who cleansed us from the stain of pagan worship (fifth chant)
Hail, O you who saved us from the mire of evil deeds (fifth chant)
Hail, O Resurrection of mankind (sixth chant)
Hail, O Downfall of the demons (sixth chant)
Hail, O you through whom transgression was erased (eighth chant)
Hail, O you through whom paradise was opened (eighth chant)
Hail, O Retriever from the abyss of ignorance (ninth chant)
Hail, O Ship for those who seek salvation (ninth chant)
Hail, O you who erased the stain of sin (eleventh chant)
Hail, O you through whom the enemies are routed (twelfth chant)
Hail, O Healing of my body (twelfth chant)
Hail, O Salvation of my soul (twelfth chant)

In addition to the lines within the Akathist that set forth the Blessed Mother’s Co-Redemptive role, we also see many lines that show Her role as Mediatrix of all graces. The lines of the hymn make it clear that the Church sees the Blessed Virgin Mary as enthroned with Her Son in heaven, where She dispenses to us all the graces that we need. For example, She is depicted as a “holy Vessel,” and a “fruitful Tree,” in order to show that She is the one from whom all the graces of heaven come down to believers. We can see Her role as Mediatrix of all graces set forth in the following lines of the Akathist:

Hail, celestial Ladder by whom God came down (second chant)
Hail, O you who enlighten faithful minds (second chant)
Hail, O you through whom we were clothed with glory (fourth chant)
Hail, O Rock who quenched those who thirst for life (sixth chant)
Hail, O Pillar of fire who guided those in darkness (sixth chant)
Hail, O fruitful Tree from whom believers feed (seventh chant)
Hail, O Message unsure to men without faith (eighth chant)
Hail, O Dispenser of God’s bounties (tenth chant)
Hail, O you who gave sense to those who had lost it (tenth chant)
Hail, O Beam of the mystical Sun (eleventh chant)
Hail, holy Vessel overflowing with joy (eleventh chant)

The Akathist also describes the Blessed Mother’s role as Advocate. The hymn beautifully describes how the Holy Theotokos receives all of the Church’s prayers and continues to intercede for the Church unceasingly before the throne of God. Because it is through Her advocacy that believers enter heaven, She is called such titles as the Door, the Key, the Voice, and the Hope of the Church. Her intercessory role as Advocate is made evident within the following lines of the hymn:

Hail, O Bridge leading earthly ones to heaven (second chant)
Hail, O Trust of mortals before God (third chant)
Hail, O Key to the doors of Paradise (fourth chant)
Hail, O you who guide the faithful toward Wisdom (fifth chant)
Hail, O you who unsettled even the just judge (seventh chant)
Hail, O Stole for those who lack freedom to speak (seventh chant)
Hail, O Gate of the sublime Mystery (eighth chant)
Hail, O Key to the Kingdom of Christ (eighth chant)
Hail, O Hope for the ages of bliss (eighth chant)
Hail, O Gateway of salvation (tenth chant)
Hail, O you who join the faithful with God (tenth chant)

While scholars suggest several different authors of the Akathist, including George of Pisidia, Germanus of Constantinople, Sergius of Constantinople, and Romanos the Melodist, these names remain hypotheses. The most recent studies date the composition of the hymn to the late fifth or early sixth century. Regardless of the identity of the author, Luigi Gambero notes, one can agree with the conclusion of Father Ermanno Toniolo, from his book, Acatisto: Canto di lode a Maria, fonte di luce, when he states:

Undoubtedly, its author was a great poet, an outstanding theologian, a consummate contemplative; he was great enough to be able to translate the Church’s faith into a prayerful synthesis, yet humble enough to disappear into anonymity. God knows his name; the world does not. It is just as well; in this way, the hymn belongs to everyone, because it belongs to the Church. (24)

That the Catholic Church clearly embraces the beliefs set forth in this hymn to the Mother of God is clear from the plenary indulgence the Church grants to all Catholics who pray the Akathist to the Mother of God and fulfill the other requirements for a plenary indulgence.

The Theotokos in Iconography

In addition to the praise that the Eastern Church gives to the Blessed Mother through sacred hymns, the Church also praises and venerates the Holy Theotokos through the use of icons. The icon expresses the glorious truths of Our Lady without using words, in a way that reaches not only the head, but also the heart of the believer. Iconography in the Eastern Church sets forth the Church’s beliefs about Our Lady, and at the same time expresses the love and devotion the Church feels for the Mother Who is our Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate before God. Let us look at specific icons to learn the truths of the Blessed Mother which are set forth in these images.

The Annunciation Icon

Details of this icon are drawn from the Gospel of St. Luke, and from the Protoevangelium of James. In this account we are told of the meaning of the thread and spindle which Mary holds in almost every icon of the Annunciation:

we are . . . told that at the time of the Annunciation Mary was engaged in drawing out purple thread that was to be used for making a veil for the Temple. This latter detail is almost always included in icons of the Annunciation, often with the thread falling away to the ground: Mary turns away from the external work with the thread for a veil in the Jerusalem Temple, to attend to the vocation to become the temple and dwelling place of the Incarnate Lord. (25)

This detail of the thread points out the truth that Mary is the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament Temple.

The posture of the Blessed Mother represents a questioning of the angel’s message, but also a free choice and willingness to cooperate in God’s plan of salvation. Once again, by Her free choice to obey, the Blessed Mother can be seen as the New Eve who reverses Eve’s disobedience and brings the New Adam into the world. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, overshadowing the Virgin, depicts the truth of the Virgin birth of Christ and Mary’s role as Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

The Nativity Icon

The icon of the Nativity of Christ sets forth for believers several truths about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Throughout the Eastern Church, this icon is brought out in the Christmas season, and worshippers who pray in front of the image learn the truths about the Blessed Virgin Mary as they gaze on the details of this scene. At the center of the icon is the Blessed Mother, set forth as the New Eve and the Mother of the new creation born through Her Divine Son. As one author tells us: “The Virgin Mother lies in the centre of the icon, as the second Eve. Just as the first Eve was the ‘mother of all living’ (Gen 3:20), so the Virgin Mother of God is the Mother of the new humanity restored and deified through the Incarnation of the Eternal Son.” (26)

Below the Mother, two midwives wash and care for the newborn infant Jesus: “their function in the icon is to stress the true humanity of the Incarnate God, against the heretical teaching that Christ only appeared to be human.” (27) In the lower left corner of the icon, Saint Joseph sits with a troubled expression on his face, and the Blessed Mother is turned toward him with solicitude. Here is set forth the doctrine of the Virgin birth of Christ, for Joseph looks troubled, as “one who is not the father of the child, and who represents those who cannot comprehend the wonder of this event which is beyond the natural order of things.” (28) Mary’s maternal care is shown by the fact that, “the face of the Virgin is turned towards Joseph—a symbol of compassion for those beset by doubts and difficulties in believing.” (29)

Thus, we have within the Nativity icon, the doctrine of Mary as the New Eve and Mother of the new humanity, an affirmation of the true humanity of Christ, the true virginity of the Blessed Mother, and the role of Mary as the compassionate Mother of those in trial.

The Presentation Icon

In the icon of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is set forth a seed of the Blessed Mother’s role as Co-Redemptrix, for She offers the infant Messiah to the Lord, and into the hands of Simeon, a “representative of the old covenant community of Israel,” (30) reminding us that “the Mother of God offers Her Son to all who will receive Him with faith and love—those very qualities expressed in the outstretched arms of Simeon as he receives the Christ child.” (31) The Blessed Mother, aware of the future sufferings of the Son, nonetheless obediently brings Him to the Temple, showing Her readiness to cooperate in God’s saving plan, even at the cost of Her own suffering and sacrifice. Believers who pray before this icon can meditate on the Co-Redemptrix’s self-sacrificing cooperation in God’s work of salvation, springing forth from Her love of God and love for all the spiritual children who will be born to Her through Her Son’s saving work.

The Mother of God of the Way Icon

There are various depictions of the Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child. The “Hodogitria” is the name given to the style of icon in which “the right hand of the Virgin points to the Incarnate Son of God who sits enthroned on her left arm, facing out from the icon with a scroll in his left hand and the right hand raised in blessing.” (32) This icon shows little tenderness between Mother and Child, for Christ is portrayed as “pre-eternal God and incarnate Wisdom who has come into the world, and who has the divine authority to bless and instruct,” (33) while the Mother shows us the way, pointing away from Herself and toward Her Son. The fact that Mary is seen with Her Divine Child as the “Theotokos” stresses “the reality of the Incarnation: the divinity as well as the humanity of the Incarnate Son.” (34) While this icon portrays these truths about the Incarnation, it also expresses the truth that the Blessed Mother stands as a “symbol and type of the Church and the Christian vocation: to point away from self to Christ, and yet to have an inner awareness of his presence in ourselves through the life of prayer and worship.” (35)

Mother of God of the Passion Icon

In this icon, the Blessed Mother holds the Christ Child, while in the upper corners are two angels who are holding the instruments of the Passion of the Lord. The Christ Child looks up at one of the angels, and the “expression of the Mother and Child show that they are well aware of the meaning of the instruments.” (36) Also known as “Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” this icon sets forth Our Lady’s role as Co-Redemptrix, suffering with Her Son in His Passion for the Redemption of mankind. We see the immensity of Our Lady’s suffering in the fact that Our Lady realized the future sufferings of Her Son even from the time of His birth.

Eastern Church iconography shows the exalted role of the Mother of God, and history bears witness to the devotion which believers from the Eastern Church give to the Holy Virgin. A short story from one Russian Orthodox writer during World War I exemplifies the love that the people show to the Blessed Mother through iconography, and the fact that She carries out the roles of Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate for the people:

In late August, prayer services for a victorious end to the war were held throughout the country. Under the impact of anxiety, the attendance in our village was unusually large and the mood of the congregation very fervent . . . . The church was crammed. Everyone joined in singing the prayer to the Holy Virgin. At the words, “We have no other recourse, no other hope,” many wept, and the whole crowd prostrated itself at the Virgin’s feet. I had never before heard a large congregation put so much feeling into these words. All these peasants had seen the refugees and were thinking of their own possible destitution, death from famine, the horrors of winter flight. No doubt they felt that without the Virgin’s protection they would surely perish. (37)

After looking at the liturgy, devotion, and iconography of the Eastern Church, the strong faith and love of the Eastern Church for the Holy Mother of God in her roles as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate become clear. Even when these titles for Mary are not explicitly used, the words of the Divine Liturgy and the Divine Office make it obvious that the Eastern Church understands that Mary fulfills the roles of participating with Her Son in our redemption (Co-Redemptrix), mediating all graces to God’s children (Mediatrix), and praying for us unceasingly from Her exalted place in heaven (Advocate). In addition, the iconography of the East makes clear the doctrines of Our Lady, and allows believers to meditate upon the truths of Her exalted roles.

Just as Mary serves as a bridge between Her Son and the world, she can also serve as a strong unifying factor between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches. Our late Holy Father, John Paul II, the Totus Tuus Pope, recognized the heartfelt devotion of the Eastern Churches to Our Lady, and saw Her as a key to unity between the East and the West. Our beloved John Paul II spoke of his joy at the Eastern Church’s expressions of love for Mary through their liturgy and devotions in his encyclical, Redemptoris Mater. He summarizes the importance of the Eastern Churches in the development of Church dogma, and the unity that can come about within the Church through our common praise of Our Lady:

I wish to emphasize how profoundly the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the ancient Churches of the East feel united by love and praise of the Theotokos. Not only “basic dogmas of the Christian faith concerning the Trinity and God’s Word made flesh of the Virgin Mary were defined in Ecumenical Councils held in the East,” but also in their liturgical worship “the Orientals pay high tribute, in very beautiful hymns, to Mary ever Virgin . . . God’s Most Holy Mother” . . . . Such a wealth of praise, built up by the different forms of the Church’s great tradition, could help us to hasten the day when the Church can begin once more to breathe fully with her “two lungs,” the East and the West. As I have often said, this is more than ever necessary today.

As many theologians have pointed out with regards to the formal definition of the Fifth Marian Dogma, Mary Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, the nature of truth is to heal, rather than separate. Clearly the Eastern Churches already have the truths of Mary deeply embedded within their minds and hearts, as can be seen from a closer study of their liturgy and devotions. Thus, the Eastern Churches can lend support for the definition of the Fifth Marian Dogma. And, in return, the definition of the Dogma will help to draw together the Eastern and Western Churches as we recognize the unity of our beliefs regarding the Most Holy Theotokos. May She once again bear for the Church the light of truth so that the East and West can recognize the truth of our unity.

 

Notes

(1) Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

(2) Matins, Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos.

(3) Great Vespers, The Birth of the Holy Theotokos.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ibid.

(6) Matins, The Birth of the Holy Theotokos.

(7) Great Vespers, Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos.

(8) Matins, The Birth of the Holy Theotokos.

(9) Great Vespers, Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos.

(10) Ware, Archimandrite Kallistos, The Festal Menaion, London: Faber, 1969, 61.

(11) Small Vespers, The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.

(12) Matins, The Birth of Our Most Holy Lady.

(13) Compline, The Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ.

(14) Matins, The Universal Exaltation.

(15) Small Vespers, The Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

(16) Great Vespers, Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady.

(17) Ibid.

(18) Ibid.

(19) Matins, Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady.

(20) Ibid.

(21) Matins, Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos.

(22) Bohorodicen, Liturgy for the Deceased.

(23) Gambero, Luigi, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1999, 341.

(24) Ibid., 338.

(25) Baggley, John, Doors of Perception: icons and their spiritual significance, Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1988, 128.

(26) Ibid., 142.

(27) Loc.cit.

(28) Loc.cit.

(29) Loc.cit.

(30) Ibid., 126

(31) Loc.cit.

(32) Ibid., 106.

(33) Loc.cit.

(34) Loc.cit.

(35) Loc.cit.

(36) Popp, Bishop Nathaniel, Holy Icons, Jackson, MI: Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, 1969, 27.

(37) Trubetskoi, Eugene, Icons: Theology in Color, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1973, 35.

St. Bridget, Our Lady Co-redemptrix, and the Fifteen Revealed Prayers

“Birgitta looked to Mary as her model and support in the various moments of her life. She spoke energetically about the divine privilege of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. She contemplated her astonishing mission as Mother of the Savior. She invoked her as the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Coredemptrix, exalting Mary’s singular role in the history of salvation and the life of the Christian people.” (1)

Pope John Paul II used the occasion of the sixth centenary of the canonization of St. Bridget of Sweden (October 6, 1991) to highlight this great fourteenth century mystic’s intimate union with Our Lady, and to refer to her particular contribution to the development of the Co-redemptrix doctrine, both through her use of this sublime Marian title, and through the direct revelations she received from Our Lord and Our Mother who specifically reveal her unparalleled coredemptive role with Jesus.

Our Lord Jesus tells Bridget: “My Mother and I saved man as with one Heart only, I by suffering in My Heart and My Flesh, she by the sorrow and love of her Heart.” (2) Our Mother confirms in another revelation: “My son and I redeemed the world as with one heart.” (3)

These direct messages from Jesus and Mary to the great Swedish mystic bear supernatural testimony to the fact that the Father and the Son chose and predestined the Mother to cooperate as the Co-redemptrix, like no other creature, in the historic accomplishment of human redemption. Note also the “oneness of heart” spoken of by the Redeemer and the Co-redemptrix: one mission, one sacrifice, achieved by two persons acting with one heart.

The further revealed prayers from Our Lord to St. Bridget, which have become traditionally known as the “Fifteen Prayers of St. Bridget” merit a renewed appreciation in our own day, when oftentimes the “Crucified Jesus” has been replaced solely by the “Resurrected Jesus,” in what is sometimes contemporary humanity’s effort to flee from the reality of the Cross in our own daily lives.

St. Bridget repeatedly pleaded with Our Lord to reveal to her the number of blows He received during the Passion. After considerable time had passed, Our Lord appeared to St. Bridget and revealed to her: “I received 5480 blows on my body. If you wish to honor them in some way, say fifteen Our Fathers and fifteen Hail Marys with the following prayers for a whole year. When the year is up, you will have honored each of my wounds.”

The Prayers of St. Bridget have received repeated papal approval. (4) Due to the supernatural origin of these prayers and meditations, there should no question as to the extraordinary graces and blessings that will come to those of generous heart who offer this year-long daily bouquet of love and thanksgiving for our Divine Redeemer and Incarnate Lover who spared no human suffering in order to redeem us and lead us to our eternal home with God, the Father of all mankind. As St. Bridget exclaims: “What is there that You could have done for us that You have not done!” (Twelfth Prayer).

The Fifteen Prayers

First Prayer

Say one Our Father, then one Hail Mary

O Jesus Christ! Eternal Sweetness to those who love You, joy surpassing all joy and all desire, Salvation and Hope of all sinners, Who have proved that You have no greater desire than to be among men, even assuming human nature at the fullness of time for the love of men, recall all the sufferings You have endured from the instant of Your conception, and especially during Your Passion, as it was decreed and ordained from all eternity in the Divine plan.

Remember, O Lord, that during the Last Supper with Your disciples, having washed their feet, You gave them Your Most Precious Body and Blood, and while at the same time You sweetly consoled them, You foretold to them Your coming Passion.

Remember the sadness and bitterness which You experienced in Your soul as You Yourself bore witness saying: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.”

Remember all the fear, anguish and pain that You suffered in Your delicate body before the torment of the Crucifixion, when, after having prayed three times, bathed in a sweat of blood, You were betrayed by Judas, Your disciple, arrested by the people of a nation You had chosen and elevated, accused by false witnesses, unjustly judged by three judges during the flower of Your youth and during the solemn Paschal season.

Remember that You were despoiled of Your garments and clothed in those of derision; that Your face and eyes were veiled, that You were buffeted, crowned with thorns, a reed placed in Your hands, that You were crushed with blows and overwhelmed with affronts and outrages.

In memory of these pains and sufferings which You endured before Your Passion on the Cross, grant me before my death true contrition, a sincere and entire confession, worthy satisfaction and the remission of all my sins.

Second Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! True liberty of angels, Paradise of delights, remember the horror and sadness which You endured when Your enemies, like furious lions, surrounded You, and by thousands of insults, spits, blows, lacerations and other unheard-of-cruelties, tormented You at will. In consideration of these torments and insulting words, I beseech You, O my Savior, to deliver me from all my enemies, visible and invisible, and to bring me, under Your protection, to the perfection of eternal salvation.

Third Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Creator of Heaven and earth Whom nothing can encompass or limit, You Who enfold and hold all under Your loving power, remember the very bitter pain You suffered when the Jews nailed Your sacred hands and feet to the Cross by blow after blow with big blunt nails, and not finding You in a pitiable enough state to satisfy their rage, they enlarged Your wounds, and added pain to pain, and with indescribable cruelty stretched Your body on the Cross and pulled You from all sides, thus dislocating Your limbs.

I beg of You, O Jesus, by the memory of this most loving suffering of the Cross, to grant me the grace to fear You and to love You.

Fourth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Heavenly Physician, raised aloft on the Cross to heal our wounds with Yours, remember the bruises which You suffered and the weakness of all Your members which were distended to such a degree that never was there pain like Yours. From the crown of Your head to the soles of Your feet there was not one spot of Your body that was not in torment, and yet, forgetting all Your sufferings, You did not cease to pray to Your Heavenly Father for Your enemies, saying: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Through this great Mercy, and in memory of this suffering, grant that remembrance of Your Most Bitter Passion may effect in us a perfect contrition and the remission of all our sins.

Fifth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Mirror of eternal splendor, remember the sadness which You experienced when, contemplating in the light of Your Divinity the predestination of those who would be saved by the merits of Your sacred Passion, You saw at the same time the great multitude of reprobates who would be damned for their sins, and You complained bitterly of those hopeless lost and unfortunate sinners.

Through this abyss of compassion and pity, and especially through the goodness which You displayed to the good thief when You said to him: “This day, you will be with Me in Paradise,” I beg of You, O Sweet Jesus, that at the hour of my death, You will show me mercy.

Sixth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Beloved and most desirable King, remember the grief You suffered when, naked and like a common criminal, You were fastened and raised on the Cross, when all Your relatives and friends abandoned You, except Your Beloved Mother, who remained close to You during Your agony and whom You entrusted to Your faithful disciple when You said to Mary: “Woman, behold thy son!” and to St. John: “Son, behold thy Mother!”

I beg of You O my Savior, by the sword of sorrow which pierced the soul of Your holy Mother, to have compassion on me in all my affliction and tribulations, both corporal and spiritual, and to assist me in all my trials, and especially at the hour of my death.

Seventh Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Inexhaustible Fountain of compassion, Who by a profound gesture of Love said from the Cross: “I thirst!” suffered from the thirst for the salvation of the human race. I beg of You O my Savior, to inflame in our hearts the desire to tend toward perfection in all our acts and to extinguish in us the concupiscence of the flesh and the ardor of worldly desires.

Eighth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Sweetness of hearts, delight of the spirit, by the bitterness of the vinegar and gall which You tasted on the Cross for love of us, grant us the grace to receive worthily Your Precious Body and Blood during our life and at the hour of our death, that they may serve as a remedy and consolation for our souls.

Ninth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Royal virtue, joy of the mind, recall the pain You endured when, plunged in an ocean of bitterness at the approach of death, insulted, outraged by the Jews, You cried out in a loud voice that You were abandoned by Your Father, saying: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Through this anguish, I beg of You, O my Savior, not to abandon me in the terrors and pains of my death.

Tenth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Who are the beginning and end of all things, life and virtue, remember that for our sakes You were plunged in an abyss of suffering from the soles of Your feet to the crown of Your head. In consideration of the enormity of Your wounds, teach me to keep, through pure love, Your commandments, whose way is wide and easy for those who love You.

Eleventh Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Deep abyss of mercy, I beg of You, in memory of Your wounds which penetrated to the very marrow of Your bones and to the depth of Your being, to draw me, a miserable sinner, overwhelmed by my offenses, away from sin and to hide me from Your face justly irritated against me, hide me in Your wounds, until Your anger and just indignation will have passed away.

Twelfth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Mirror of Truth, symbol of unity, link of Charity, remember the multitude of wounds with which You were covered from head to foot, torn and reddened by the spilling of Your adorable Blood. O great and universal pain which You suffered in Your virginal flesh for love of us! Sweetest Jesus! What is there that You could have done for us which You have not done! May the fruit of Your sufferings be renewed in my soul by the faithful remembrance of Your Passion, and may Your love increase in my heart each day, until I see You in eternity, You Who are the treasury of every real good and every joy, which I beg You to grant me, O Sweetest Jesus, in Heaven.

Thirteenth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Strong Lion, Immortal and Invincible King, remember the pain which You endured; when all Your strength, both moral and physical, was entirely exhausted, You bowed Your head, saying: “It is consummated!”

Through this anguish and grief, I beg of You Lord Jesus, to have mercy on me at the hour of my death when my mind will be greatly troubled and my soul will be in anguish.

Fourteenth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! Only Son of the Father, Splendor and Figure of His Substance, remember the simple and humble recommendation You made of Your soul to Your Eternal Father, saying: “Father, into Your hands I commend my Spirit!” And with Your body all torn, and Your Heart broken, and the bowels of Your mercy open to redeem us, You expired. By this Precious death, I beg of You O King of Saints, comfort me and help me to resist the devil, the flesh and the world, so that being dead to the world I may live for You alone. I beg of You at the hour of my death to receive me, a pilgrim and an exile returning to You.

Fifteenth Prayer

Our Father, then Hail Mary

O Jesus! True and fruitful Vine. Remember the abundant outpouring of Blood which You so generously shed from Your sacred body as juice from grapes in a wine press.

From Your side, pierced with a lance by a soldier, blood and water issued forth until there was not left in Your body a single drop, and finally, like a bundle of myrrh lifted to the top of the Cross, Your delicate flesh was destroyed, the very Substance of Your body withered, and the marrow of Your bones dried up.

Through this bitter Passion and through the outpouring of Your Precious Blood, I beg of You, O Sweet Jesus, to receive my soul when I am in my death agony.

Conclusion

O Sweet Jesus! Pierce my heart so that my tears of penitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to You, may my heart be Your perpetual habitation, may my conversion be pleasing to You, and may the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit Heaven and there with Your saints praise You forever. Amen.

 

Notes

(1) John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, October 14, 1991, p. 4.

(2) St. Bridget, Revelationes, IX, c. 3.

(3) St. Bridget, Revelationes, I, c. 35.

(4) The prayers were approved for publication by Decree on November 18, 1966, AAS 58, n. 16. Pope Benedict XV approved these prayers and other revelations given to St. Bridget, cf. Bollandistes, vol. 12, and Pius IX approved the prayers on May 31, 1862.

The Lady of All Nations, the CDF, and “Who Once Was Mary”

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,
send now Your Spirit over the earth.
Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations,
that they may be preserved
from degeneration, disaster, and war.
May the Lady of All Nations, (who once was Mary)
be our Advocate. Amen.

In response to a letter of inquiry from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Doctrinal Commission, Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated the following in a letter of 20 May, 2005 in reference to Devotion to the Lady of All Nations and the brief clause “who once was Mary,” which is contained in the “Prayer of the Lady of All Nations”:

With regard to the devotion known as “Lady of All Nations” and the Marian apparitions experienced by the late visionary Ida Peerdeman, I wish to advise Your Excellency that although the said apparitions have received approval from His Excellency, the Most Rev. Joseph Maria Punt, Bishop of Haarlem (Holland), in his Communications of 31 May 2002, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has expressed concern regarding one particular aspect of that devotion whereby official prayers invoke the Blessed Virgin as Lady of All Nations “who was once Mary.”

In fact, this Dicastery, in a letter to His Excellency, The Most Rev. Francois Bacque, Apostolic Nuncio to the Netherlands, has indicated that Marian devotion must be nourished and developed in accordance with the indications given by the Holy Father in “Redemptoris Mater” and “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” and not according to private apparitions nor according to a “new” name of Mary, such as Lady of All Nations “who was once Mary.”

…Therefore, Your Excellency is requested to take into consideration the above mentioned advisory and inform the members of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith does not permit any Catholic community of Christ’s Faithful to pray to the Mother of God under the title of “Lady of All Nations” with the added expression “who was once Mary.”

The following points of fact must be kept in mind for a proper understanding of Archbishop Amato’s letter.

1. The letter begins with the direct acknowledgement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) that the Lady of All Nations apparitions have received local ecclesiastical approval from the local bishop, Bishop Josef Maria Punt. The CDF consistently instructs that the responsibility of discernment and judgement concerning the supernatural quality of any reported private revelation lies with the authority of the local bishop.

2. The CDF has concern only with “one particular aspect of the devotion” where the Blessed Virgin is invoked with the clause “who once was Mary.” The devotion to the Lady of All Nations remains approved by the local bishop, and the overall prayer, excepting this clause, which petitions the Lord Jesus Christ to send the Holy Spirit down upon the earth in prevention of “degeneration, disaster, and war” likewise remains approved.

3. The CDF specifically prohibits any “Catholic Community of Christ’s faithful” from praying to the Mother of God under the title of “Lady of All Nations” with the added title “who once was Mary.” This refers to public or community prayer by a body of Christ’s faithful. The CDF does not specifically refer to the private praying of the prayer.

4. The CDF Secretary’s apparent doctrinal concern regarding the brief clause “who once was Mary” lies in contrast to the fact that the Lady of All Nations prayer has been granted the official “Imprimatur” (which testifies to Catholic doctrinal orthodoxy) by approximately seventy cardinals and bishops throughout the world. No specific rationale, theological nor pastoral, was given in the letter for the prohibition of the clause.

5. The clause “who once was Mary” is understandable in a simple and straightforward manner. “The Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary” refers to the historical beginnings of the spiritual Mother of all nations and peoples, who was first the humble Virgin of Nazareth. Mary’s “yes” at Nazareth led to her eventual role with Jesus at Calvary, where she was given by her Crucified Son as spiritual mother to all nations and peoples, as conveyed in the words, “Woman, behold your son…behold, your Mother” (Jn. 19:25-27). The phrase, therefore, refers to the new dignity that Mary now deserves in light of her role of coredemption with and under Jesus Christ, the divine Redeemer, as conveyed in the title, “Lady of All Nations,” but is also mindful of her humble historical beginnings as Mary of Nazareth, who was called to daily cooperate with the saving work of her Son.

We could use the simple analogies, “Pope John Paul II, who once was Karol” or “Pope Benedict XVI, who once was Joseph,” or even the scriptural examples, “St. Peter, who once was Simon,” or “St. Paul who once was Saul.” Another analogous example would be the following. Ann, a young woman, marries John Smith, and becomes a wife and mother of many children with the new title of “Mrs. Smith.” In this case, you would have a new title with a new role of wife and mother of many, but the same woman. So it is with the “Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary”—new title, new role, same woman.

The reference to the earlier name identifies the historical beginnings of the individual, but the second name properly acknowledges the new respect and dignity that the person now deserves in light of their cooperation with God’s grace. The clause’s meaning can also be clarified with the insertion of the word, “Lady of All Nations, who once was (known) as Mary” (for an extended explanation of the clause, see article, Clarification of Topics Relating to the Apparitions of the Lady of All Nations, Amsterdam, 2004, n. 2).

Nonetheless, obedience must be our response, as obedience to legitimate Church authority is always most pleasing to Our Lord and to the Lady of All Nations herself, even at times of confusion and conviction. The call to obedience is also the message of Bishop Punt of Haarlem/Amsterdam, who originally granted ecclesiastical approval to the apparitions. Through his Advisory Commission Regarding the Lady of All Nations, Bishop Punt has requested “the authorities of this devotion to respect the pastoral concern of the Congregation by leaving out or praying silently the clause during public prayer until further notice” (see article below, The Lady of All Nations … Who Once Was Mary? Position of the Bishop of Haarlem, August 8, 2005). Along with the call for obedience, the Bishop also encourages legitimate dialogue, which can provide positive and fruitful input concerning the devotion in specific and the overall ongoing Marian dialogue in general. This Marian dialogue launched by this issue should also include the valuable contributions of bishops, clergy, theologians and the “sensus fidelium,” the common consensus of the faithful, which should be offered to the CDF in their ongoing evaluation.

As stated in the Advisory Commission Statement from the Diocese of Haarlem/Amsterdam, Bishop Punt has contacted Archbishop Amato and requested further clarification from the Holy See on this issue. Until further clarification from the Holy See is given, let us proceed in peace and in obedience, united in prayer for a positive outcome for this God-given devotion to the Lady of All Nations, its supernaturally revealed prayer, and the fulfillment of its petition for the descent of the Holy Spirit to prevent the ever-increasing “degeneration, disaster, and war” that has come to identify our present times. As the statement from the Advisory Commission of Amsterdam concludes: “In all this, the Bishop also sees a positive side. With this discussion, a deeper dialogue is launched. Behind this clause, given after the proclamation of the Dogma of Our Lady’s Assumption, lies a fundamental question: Who truly is Mary in God’s plan of salvation? What is Her role in the coming of the Holy Spirit? Who is She to be for this time and for this world?…”

Clarification of Topics Relating to the Apparitions of the Lady of All Nations, Amsterdam, 2004

On May 31, 2002, Bishop Joseph Punt of the Diocese of Haarlem/Amsterdam, gave official recognition to the Apparitions of Our Lady of All Nations, declaring it to “consist of a supernatural origin” (Statement of Approval, May 31, 2002). Since the approval of supernatural authenticity by Bishop Punt, various questions have resurfaced regarding aspects of the apparitions and their messages. In the following article, the Foundation of the Lady of All Nations has identified and responded to twelve topics around which various questions have arisen in an effort for greater clarification in light of the Bishop’s statement of authenticity.

The Apparitions of the Lady of All Nations, which occurred in Amsterdam from 1945 to 1959, have enjoyed international devotion for many years since their origin. Indeed, there appears to be a special relevance to the message and mission of the Lady of All Nations Apparitions for our contemporary times.

The crucial need for unity in the Holy Spirit between all nations and the prevention of “degeneration, disaster, and war” through the advocacy of Our Lady, as prayed for in the Prayer of the Lady of All Nations, seems to be a growing imperative for today’s world under present threat of war, famine, and moral crisis. As explained by Bishop Josef Maria Punt in his Declaration of May 31, 2002: “Unlike Holy Scripture, private revelations are never binding upon the conscience of the faithful. They are a help in understanding the signs of the times and to help live more fully the Gospel (cf. Lk. 12:56, Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 67). And the signs of our times are dramatic. The devotion of the Lady of All Nations can help us, in my sincere conviction, in guiding us on the right path during the present serious drama of our times, the path to a new and special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who alone can heal the great wounds of our times” (In Response to Inquiries Concerning the Lady of All Nations Apparitions, May 31, 2002).

It is to be expected that due to the very nature of private revelation, certain questions regarding various topics pertaining to the apparitions would naturally arise.

We distinguish two categories regarding questions pertaining to the apparitions.

On the one hand, there have been questions fostered by mistranslation, misinterpretation, erroneous information, and even incidental falsification. This category of questions has already been documented and submitted for the evaluation and judgment of the Advisory Commission, other experts, and finally the Bishop himself. Up to this time, there have been no new questions beyond those already documented, evaluated, and judged.

On the other hand, there are questions regarding this devotion that indeed call for a greater insight into its meaning. Therefore for the purpose of greater clarification, we here provide some of the principal themes concerning the Apparitions of the Lady of All Nations which belong to the latter category. These themes have evoked questions concerning the historical and theological aspects of the apparitions themselves, and also concerning the proper Church criteria and process for their evaluation.

1. Apparitions of the Lady of All Nations: Meaning and Purpose

Why does the Blessed Virgin Mary appear as the “Lady of All Nations?” Why is there a need for a new title in light of the rich Marian Tradition which the Church already possesses? Is this apparition detrimental to other Marian apparitions, such as Rue de Bac, Lourdes and Fatima?

The apparitions commence within the historical context of the post-world war years when optimism was predominant, particularly in Europe. The Church in general was experiencing strength and confidence, and optimism in Holland during this period was depicted in the expression, “the Rich Roman Life.” Yet the Mother of God envisions upcoming dangers that threatened the Church and world, and warns in urgent language: “Do you realize the gravity of the times? Join your hands in prayer. Go and plant the Cross in the midst of the world. You are all responsible for the task that falls to you in this present time. Resist the influence of the wrong spirit. Pray every day that the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, may send the Holy Spirit over the earth and the Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary, will be your Advocate” (April 6, 1952 message); “You do not know the great danger threatening you…There is a spirit out to undermine you….” (August 15, 1950 message).

Our Lady shows herself standing before the cross, clothed with the sun. Her feet are planted on the globe. Three rays flow from her hands, which symbolize “Grace, Redemption, and Peace,” which God grants her to be distributed to humanity. She addresses herself to the Church and to the world with admonitions and warnings, and yet her words are also full of hope and bring the promise of salvation (cf. Lumen Gentium, 62).

The Mother of humanity enters this serious historical time in order to assist humanity and to point out the way to her Son and to salvation (cf. Jn. 2:5). This historical moment is when Mary, humble handmaid of the Lord (cf. Lk. 1:38) wishes to be known as the universal Mother of all nations and all peoples: “Prepare yourself for the fight – the spiritual fight. The Lady of All Nations wishes to be brought among everyone, no matter who or what they are. This is why she received this title from her Lord and Master” (December 31, 1951 message). Her maternal mission is to unify all peoples “in the true Holy Spirit” (March 20, 1953 message), and time after time she directs the world to her Son: “through the Lady of All Nations to the Lord of All Nations. . .” (May 31, 1958 message).

This spiritual remedy for contemporary humanity as developed in the messages highlights three central themes:

1. A new prayer: In addition to the repeated references by the Lady to the great value of the Rosary, on February 11, 1951, she gives a new prayer, addressed to the Lord Jesus:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,
send now Your Spirit over the earth.
Let the Holy Spirit live
in the hearts of all nations,
that they may be preserved
from degeneration, disaster, and war.
May the Lady of All Nations,
who once was Mary,
be our Advocate.
Amen.

Our Lady says regarding this prayer that “you cannot estimate the great value this will have” (April 15, 1951 message), and promises that “all who pray before the picture and ask the help of Mary, the ‘Lady of All Nations,’ will be given grace for the soul and body, in the measure that the Son wishes” (May 31, 1951 message).

2. A new Marian dogma: She asks for the dogma of “Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate” to be papally defined so that her mediating role for the Church and world can be exercised fully in order to obtain a “true peace for humanity” (May 31, 1954 message). The messages speak in great depth and explanation about the new dogma, its meaning and origin. Mary, the messages emphasize, is the “Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate” because she is the “Immaculate Conception” (April 4, 1954 message).

3. Renewed devotion to the Holy Eucharist: Repeatedly, the Lady emphasizes the great importance of the Holy Eucharist for this time. Here we find the deepest meaning of Eucharistic devotion through the Lady: She wants to gather the Church and the nations around Christ in the Holy Eucharist and around Mary, the Lady of All Nations, to prepare the way for a renewed presence of the Holy Spirit in our time, leading to renewed Christian life for the Church and the world.

The title of “The Lady of All Nations” does not conflict with or duplicate other Marian titles, but rather emphasizes the universality of the Mother of all nations and peoples under a single title, which also points to the unity of all peoples as one single family under her whom John Paul II calls, “our Common Mother” (Redemptoris Mater, 30). At the present time when the world is experiencing a globalization, Mary wants to be the mother of all peoples, which also includes non-Christians.

As all authentic apparitions show a slightly different “face” of the Mother of all peoples, the appearances of the Lady of All Nations are not detrimental to other authentic apparitions, but instead serve as further development of the messages of Rue de Bac, Lourdes and Fatima. In fact, the Amsterdam apparitions can rightly be seen as a continuation of the Marian message to the modern world, which eventually will reach its fulfillment in the “Triumph” of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as prophesied at Fatima (July 13, 1917).

2. The Prayer of the Lady of All Nations: “Who Once Was Mary”

The Prayer ends with the expression, “May the Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary, be our Advocate.” Does this infer that Our Lady is “no longer” Mary? Are we no longer to invoke her as Mary, for example in the praying of the Rosary?

The expression “who once was Mary,” which can appear somewhat awkward to the first-time observer, refers to the historical grounding of Our Lady’s universal spiritual motherhood in the historical Mary of Nazareth. The phrase further expresses a proper appreciation and veneration to the ongoing human cooperation of the humble Virgin to God’s continual invitation of faith and suffering that ultimately led to her coredemptive participation with Jesus at Calvary, where she is given as spiritual mother to all peoples (cf. Jn. 19:25-27).

The visionary herself found the words strange, and the first local Church authorities to whom she had to go to obtain approval of the prayer initially gave permission only with the words “who once was Mary” omitted. This led Our Lady to insist on March 28 and July 2, 1951, and again on February 17 and April 6, 1952, that permission should be given for the publication of the prayer in its entirety. This was finally conceded and on October 5, 1952, Our Lady told the visionary, Ida Peerdeman, to tell the Bishop that she was satisfied.

On July 2, 1951 (then observed as the Feast of the Visitation), Our Lady herself explained:

The words “who once was Mary” mean: many people have known Mary just as Mary. Now, however, in this new era which is beginning I want to be the Lady of All Nations. Everybody will understand this.

On April 6 of the following year she further explained that she became the Lady of All Nations at the foot of the cross when Jesus asked her to accept John as her son (cf. Jn. 19:26): “At the departure of the Lord Jesus Christ, He gave Miriam, or Mary, to the nations in one act, giving her as ‘The Lady of All Nations.’ For he spoke those words, ‘Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother.’ One act, and by this Miriam, or Mary, received this new title” (October 5, 1952 message); it is “at the Sacrifice of the Cross that the change came about” (March 19, 1952 message). The wording of the prayer in no way denies that Mary is always Mary, but appropriately underscores the universal motherhood conferred on her by Jesus.

The expression does not infer that the Lady of All Nations is not still the historical Mary, nor does it eliminate the legitimate use of invoking the Mother of Jesus as “Mary,” as in the case of the praying of the Rosary. The name of Mary is repeatedly used for Our Lady in the messages themselves (cf. October 5, 1952; December 8, 1952; May 10, 1953 messages, etc.). But it does give proper dignity and honor to Our Lady’s unique human cooperation with the Redeemer and to the salvific roles granted her by God (cf. Lumen Gentium, 57-62). In light of her unique cooperation in the work of Redemption (Lumen Gentium, 57, 58, 61) the Church rightly invokes the Mother of Jesus as “Mediatrix,” “Advocate,” and “mother to us in the order of grace,” who as spiritual mother of all peoples “intercedes for the gifts of eternal life” (Lumen Gentium, 61, 62).

As an example to illustrate the meaning of “The Lady of all nations, who once was Mary” we can use the case of the present pope. We could appropriately say, “Pope John Paul II who once was Karol Wojtyla.” The sentence identifies both the original historical identity of John Paul II as Karol Wojtyla, and at the same time refers to the higher honor and dignity due to him in light of his eventual papal office and title as Vicar of Christ on earth. So too, the expression, “The Lady of all nations, who once was Mary” identifies the original historical identity of Mary of Nazareth, but also honors the new office and title of the “Lady of All Nations,” which is granted to her by the Divine Redeemer at Calvary.

Thus the general meaning of the expression, “The Lady of all nations, who once was Mary” is: The woman who first was known as Mary (and still is), is now to be universally recognized and venerated as the Lady of All Nations.

3. The Image of The Lady of All Nations: Mary before the Cross

The picture of the Lady of All Nations depicts the Blessed Virgin in front of the cross. Does this not suggest that she is taking the place of Our Lord Jesus on the Cross? Does this infer that Mary is somehow “parallel” with Jesus in our Redemption?

The depiction of the Blessed Virgin Mary in front of the cross does not place her on a level of equality with Jesus Christ in the Redemption of humanity. Mary is not “on the cross,” but before the cross, which symbolizes her unique suffering with and under Jesus at Calvary for the world’s Redemption. She is the Mother of the Son and therefore is also the Advocate and bearer of this message to humanity: “I stand as the Lady before the Cross, as the Mother before my Son, who through the Father entered into me. And this is why I stand before my Son, as the Advocate and bearer of this message to this modern world” (March 28, 1951 message).

The Second Vatican Council teaches Mary’s unique sharing in the Redemption accomplished by Christ when it states: “She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ, she presented him to the Father in the temple, shared her son’s sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls” (Lumen Gentium, 61).

But the Council adds that this subordinate sharing of Mary in the Redemption accomplished by Christ does not place her on a parallel or competitive level with the one divine Redeemer:

No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.

The Church does not hesitate to profess the subordinate role of Mary, which it constantly experiences and recommends to the heartfelt attention of the faithful, so that encouraged by this maternal help they may the more closely adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer (Lumen Gentium, 62).

Jesus does not hesitate to call all his followers to “take up his cross and follow me” (Mk. 8:34). Here Our Lady becomes a model for the People of God (Lumen Gentium, 63-65), who are all called to become “co-workers with God” (1 Cor. 3:9) or co-redeemers with Christ in carrying our daily crosses in patient endurance in order to release the redemptive graces of Christ for others. St. Paul calls all Christians to “make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of his body, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24). No one exemplifies this Pauline summons to redemptive suffering better than the Immaculate Mother of Sorrows, who was “standing by the cross of Jesus” (Jn. 19:25) and who “enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which was born of her” (Lumen Gentium, 58). The image is a visual rendering of her co-suffering role, and can be properly understood when we see the Church’s doctrinal teachings of Mary’s coredemptive role with and under Jesus.

It is noteworthy that the Prayer of the Lady of All Nations, which constitutes a cornerstone of the entire message, does not place the predominant focus on Mary herself, but rather on a Christocentric and Trinitarian process of divine intercession. It is formally directed to Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, who in turn sends down the Holy Spirit for a renewal of all nations through the human intercessory role of the Virgin Mary as Advocate (her ancient Church title first used by St. Irenaeus in the second century).

4. The Prophecy of the Fifth Marian Dogma: Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate

How can a private revelation call for a Dogma when dogmas are not based on private revelations, but rather on Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium? Can we legitimately call Mary a “Co-redemptrix”? Did the message not predict that Pope Pius XII would declare this dogma when in fact he did not? Doesn’t a petition for a Marian Dogma infringe upon the proper authority of the Church in such matters?

We must distinguish between a prophetic call for a Marian dogma of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate from Marian private revelation, and the theological foundations for a Marian dogma itself. The Church has experienced several prophetic calls stemming from private revelation for the accomplishment of certain ecclesiastical actions, such as the Fatima call for the collegial consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or the prophetic call for the institution of a Feast of Divine Mercy through the visions of Jesus to St. Faustina Kowalska, both of which were ecclesiastically enacted by Pope John Paul II. But the theological foundation for any ecclesiastical act associated with Christian faith must have its basis in the sources of divine revelation: Scripture and Tradition, as safeguarded by the Church’s Magisterium (cf. Dei Verbum, 9, 10).

In matter of fact, the contemporary theological discussion on a potential solemn definition of Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate is not only a legitimate dialogue among theologians, but constitutes one of the most significant international Mariological studies within the Church. Its theological and historical foundations trace back to scriptural and apostolic times, with documented development throughout every principal phrase of the Church’s rich Mariological tradition.

The Marian roles and titles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate already constitute the official teachings of the papal Magisterium. Pope John Paul II, for example, has repeatedly used all three titles in official addresses of the papal Magisterium, and has called Our Lady the “Co-redemptrix” on numerous occasions. The doctrines of Marian Coredemption, Mediation, and Advocacy are also the expressed teachings of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Lumen Gentium, 56, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62). It is also noteworthy that all three Mariological titles, “Co-redemptrix,” Mediatrix,” and “Advocate,” appear in the Consecration of the Netherlands to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Dutch Hierarchy (October 3, 1943) which occurred two years before the beginning of the Our Lady of All Nations Apparitions.

Our Lady has been called the “Co-redemptrix” by Popes Pius XI (three occasions) and John Paul II (six occasions), as well as by a long list of saints, doctors, and theologians of the Church. The Co-redemptrix title, which refers to Mary’s unique participation with Jesus Christ in the Redemption of humanity, has been used for over six hundred years in the Church’s tradition. The title was first used in the fourteenth to fifteenth century as a medieval development of the New Eve patristic tradition, and gradually matured into more widespread theological and popular usage by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Numerous contemporary saints and blesseds including St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Jose Maria Escrivà, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Blessed Bartolo Longo, and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta have invoked the Mother of Jesus under the title of Co-redemptrix. The Fatima visionary, Sr. Lucia, used and explained the title of Co-redemptrix on six occasions in her recent book, “Calls” from the Message of Fatima. In sum, the Co-redemptrix title has been an authentic part of Catholic tradition for over half a millennium.

A deeper study into the messages regarding the proclamation of the Dogma makes it clear that we must distinguish between the wish of Our Lady that the Dogma be proclaimed by Pius XII from the actual prediction that the Dogma will in fact be proclaimed. On the one hand, the messages express the wish of the Lady that the Dogma should be proclaimed during the pontificate of Pius XII. On the other hand, it becomes more and more clear during his pontificate that the Dogma will not be pronounced by Pius XII, but by another Pope. In other words, when Our Lady does wish to specify a pope, then she mentions Pope Pius XII by name (for example, in the message prophesying the death of Pius XII, February 19, 1958) or indeed the visionary recognizes Pius XII. And when she does not wish to specify, she uses the more general reference of “the Holy Father” or “the Pope,” and often the visionary then sees a Pope who is unknown to her. In prophetic language where free human cooperation could determine the specific fulfillment of certain prophesied events or the lack thereof, general references to the “Holy Father” leaves possibility for its fulfillment by either present or later Holy Fathers.

The repeated petition for the papal proclamation of the Dogma does not usurp the proper authority of the Church. Our Lady presents the call to pray and petition for the Dogma and even provides astute scriptural and theological explanations for the Marian titles of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. But she always does so with an explicit respect for the Church’s hierarchy and its decisions.

The ecclesiastical right of the faithful to petition the pastors of the Church for something the Christian faithful believe is for the good of the Church is protected under canonical law (cf. Canon 212:2, 3). Petition movements by the Christian faithful to encourage the papal proclamations of Marian dogmas were successfully conducted prior to the solemn definitions of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and the Assumption of Our Lady in 1950. Both petition campaigns received papal praise and gratitude from Pius IX and XII respectively in the documents which defined the Marian dogmas.

5. Theological Expressions in the Messages: Conformity with the Church

Certain theological expressions found in the messages appear doctrinally questionable. For example, Our Lady says: “For the same… Father… is the same Son…The same…Father and Son…is the same… Holy Spirit (May 31, 1955 message).” And another example: “Through the Lord to the Lady; through the Lady of All Nations, to the Lord of All Nations” (May 31, 1958 message). Can these theological expressions be reconciled with Catholic teaching?

Catholic doctrine on the mystery of the Trinity confesses one God in three divine persons. The persons of the Trinity are distinct from each other, and at the same time each person is God in full possession of a divine nature. The Father shares in common everything that is his except his uniqueness as Father. The Son shares with the Father everything except what is uniquely his as Son. The Holy Spirit shares with the Father and the Son everything except what is uniquely his as Spirit of the Father and the Son.

The words of Our Lady indicate this Trinitarian mystery when she says that “the same Father is the same Son” and “the same Father and Son is the same Holy Spirit.” While distinguishing their persons identified by name, the message speaks of the unity in divine nature and substance between the persons of the Trinity. The Eleventh Council of Toledo uses a similar formulation: “The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, that is, by nature one God” (Council of Toledo XI, (675), DS 530:26).

The Fourth Lateran Council confirms: “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, namely, the divine substance, essence, or nature” (Lateran Council IV (1215), DS 804).

The expression, “Through the Lord to the Lady; through the Lady of All Nations, to the Lord of All Nations” can refer to the scriptural revelation that it is Jesus who first gives us his mother. As our crucified Lord on Calvary, he gives to the world his own mother as the Lady of all nations, the spiritual mother of all peoples: “Behold, your mother” (Jn. 19:26). Then, as a result, the Lady of all Nations exercises her intercessory role to bring all humanity back to her Son in recognition of Jesus as the Lord of all nations.

Moreover, the phrase reflects the traditional Catholic maxim articulated in different ways by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. John Eudes, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort and St. Maximilian Kolbe: “Through Jesus to Mary, through Mary to Jesus.” Love of Jesus leads to a greater love of Mary, and love of Mary leads to a greater love of Jesus. John Paul II reflects this maxim in his papal consecration of Zaire to the Mother of the Church: “To consecrate itself to Christ through you! To consecrate itself to you for Christ!” (Inseg. III: I (1980); 1069). St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort expresses the same truth in these formulations: “They (Jesus and Mary) are so intimately united that the one is altogether in the other. Jesus is altogether in Mary and Mary is altogether in Jesus; or rather, she exists no more, but Jesus alone is in her, and it were easier to separate the light from the sun than Mary from Jesus; so that we might call Our Lord, ‘Jesus of Mary,’ and our Blessed Lady, ‘Mary of Jesus'” (True Devotion to Mary, n. 247).

6. Progressive Themes: Church Reform and Social Outlook

The messages call for change in certain Church disciplines such as fasting practices and seminary instruction, and also emphasize a more “social” dimension to the Church. Can such a progressive call for Church reform be justified in a private revelation?

It must be remembered that these messages for disciplinary reforms such as fasting and seminary formation were addressed to the Church in the 1950’s to fortify the Church for upcoming challenges, and have in fact been incorporated by the Church since that time. For example on March 19, 1957, Pope Pius XII issued a change in the fasting practice before reception of Holy Communion that greatly mitigated the previous discipline, which allowed more of the Christian faithful to receive Eucharistic communion. The Second Vatican Council issued several disciplinary changes in the formation of priests (Optatam Totius, or the Decree on the Training of Priests) and of religious life (Perfectae Caritatis, or the Decree on the Up-To-Date Renewal of Religious Life), precisely with the intention of making priests and religious more capable of pursuing Christian holiness and bringing Christ to the world in our present day.

An authentic private revelation can certainly call the Church to re-examine its present disciplinary practices for the greater benefit of the People of God in ways that could, for example, assist its ministers and faithful in participating in the new evangelization with greater effectiveness, and in partaking of the Eucharist with greater frequency for the sanctification of God’s people.

The importance of greater social awareness is emphasized in the Second Vatican Council’s “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (Gaudium et Spes), where it states:

Today there is an inescapable duty to make ourselves the neighbor of every man, no matter who he is, and if we meet him, to come to his aid in a positive way, whether he is an aged person abandoned by all, a foreign worker despised without reason, a refugee, an illegitimate child wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a starving human being who awakens our conscience by calling to mind the words of Christ: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:40) (Gaudium et Spes, 27).

In one regard, Our Lady speaks of the dangers of modern movements of “humanism, socialism, and communism” (March 20, 1953 message). In another sense, Our Lady’s call for a greater social outlook for the Church was not only incorporated by Vatican II, but also her concern for the need for socially oriented movements to be as much as possible brought “under the guidance of the Church” (August 29, 1945 message) that also finds its parallel in the words of the Council: “Socialization, as it is called, is not without its dangers, but brings with it many advantages for the strengthening and betterment of human qualities and for the protection of human rights” (Gaudium et Spes, 25).

7. Political and Economic Dimensions of the Messages: Supernatural Concern

The messages get very specific about political and economic topics, for example, prophecies of future difficulties for the Royal Family in England, wars in the Balkans and the Middle East, and even warnings to the United States not to “push their politics too far” (December 10, 1950, February 11, 1951 messages). Is this political-economic specificity a legitimate aspect of a heavenly apparition from the Blessed Virgin Mary? Does Heaven truly concern itself with matters of earthly politics and economics?

The messages in general can be divided into two different categories concerning their discussion of political and economic topics. Before 1950, the messages repeatedly warn of upcoming political and economic problems; after 1950, the messages focus rather on spiritual remedies offered by Our Lady to assist her children through these and other spiritual difficulties.

The Church herself mirrors the concern of Our Lady for the economic and political circumstances which can threaten the general well-being of humanity. John Paul II has been outspoken throughout his pontificate against political and economic injustice that violates the rights of man and which in turn leads to grave spiritual crises for the human family, including war, starvation, oppression, terrorism, abortion, sterilization, and family breakdown.

Again, the Second Vatican Council shares the concern for international political and economic justice when it states, for example:

The present solidarity of mankind calls for greater international cooperation in economic matters. Indeed, although nearly all peoples have achieved political independence, they are far from being free of excessive inequalities and from every form of undue dependency and far from being immune to serious internal difficulties…” (Gaudium et Spes, 85).

Many of the upcoming political and economic events prophesied in the messages have indeed come to pass in our own day, for example the wars in the Balkans and the Middle East; the difficulties with the Royal family in England; the uprise of Communism and its effects; and the world concern over present U.S. political policies. At Fatima, Our Lady prophesied political and economic events such as the spreading of Communism, a conditional second world war, and the annihilation of nations. Is Our Lady concerned with earthly politics and economics? Certainly she is when it can result in widespread suffering and death for a significant number of her earthly children.

8. Absence of Public Sign: Condition for Authenticity

At apparitions sites such as Lourdes and Fatima, the Blessed Virgin granted a public sign as an indication of authenticity for the apparitions, but at Amsterdam Our Lady responded to the request for a public sign with the words: “My signs are contained in my words” (May 31, 1957 message). Is a public sign a necessary criterion for the authenticity of a Marian apparition according to the guidelines of Church investigation?

The criteria for the evaluation of a reported private revelation, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and sent to diocesan commissions, do not refer to the requirement of a public miracle as a condition for a conclusion of supernatural authenticity of an apparition. Nevertheless, public signs of a remarkable nature have been recorded and can be attributed to the Amsterdam apparitions.

One example of a truly remarkable sign is contained in the Amsterdam message of February 19, 1958, which predicted the death of Pope Pius XII in October of the same year. The message was kept secret and was written and sealed in an envelope which was given to the visionary’s spiritual director. After the unexpected death of Pius XII on October 9, 1958, the envelope was opened and the prediction was confirmed. In fact, Our Lady’s sign was contained in her words.

Numerous other prophecies which foretold future events have been fulfilled in our own times and in themselves constitute true signs of authenticity. From prophecies concerning a “landing on the moon” (February 7, 1946 message), to wars in the Balkans (October 1, 1949 message) and in the Middle East (December 26, 1947 message), to the convocation of a great Church council (Vatican II, in February 11, 1951 message), to modern forms of chemical and biological weapons (December 26, 1947), the signs of supernatural authenticity have been repeatedly manifested and fulfilled in the “words” of the Lady of All Nations.

Moreover, the weeping statue of the Lady of All Nations located in Akita, Japan constitutes a miraculous public sign which is documented and confirmed. A wooden statue of The Lady of All Nations venerated in a Japanese convent wept numerous lacrimations, which were witnessed and documented by several hundred people including the local bishop, Most Rev. John Shorijo Ito, Bishop of Niigata (local ordinary during the time of the apparitions). The tears were scientifically examined at the University of Akita and concluded to be of the nature of human tears. This public phenomenon accompanied apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to a Japanese religious, Sr. Agnes Sasagawa with a message emphasizing Our Lady’s role as Co-redemptrix. Several supernatural healings were documented, scientifically confirmed, and personally examined by Bishop Ito. Bishop Ito issued a pastoral letter declaring the events of Akita to be supernatural (April 22, 1984).

Bishop Ito has publicly testified to the essential interconnectedness of the apparitions of Our Lady of Akita with the Amsterdam apparitions of the Lady of All Nations, and has twice taken pilgrimages to the site of the Amsterdam apparitions.

9. The Tone of the Messages: Our Lady’s “Forcefulness”

Aspects of the message give the impression that Our Lady is “angry,” with the pounding of her fist or manifesting other signs of forcefulness. Can this be reconciled with the scriptural and traditional portrayal of the Mother of Jesus?

The Pauline admonition to “be angry and sin not” (Eph. 4:26) reminds us that the human emotion of anger is not in itself sinful, but only when such anger leads to sinful acts against the Gospel. Jesus himself manifests anger in the temple when he drove out the moneychangers, turning over their tables and seats (cf. Mt. 21:12). Is it not possible for the Mother of Jesus also to speak with strength and conviction when she points out and warns the Church and her children about the seriousness of the time and the great dangers which they will soon face?

Our Lady is also foreshadowed in the Old Testament figures of Judith, who triumphs over the enemy Holofernes with the cutting off of his head (cf. Jud. 8-16); and the prophetess Deborah, who is Barak’s active partner in the victory over Sisera, which leads to the crushing of Sisera’s head by Jael (cf. Judg. 4:5). These Old Testament models convey in type the ongoing spiritual battle courageously fought by Our Lady, between the “woman” and the “serpent” (cf. Gen. 3:15), which continues in our present day.

But an examination of some of the particular messages reportedly manifesting the “forcefulness” of Our Lady actually reveal her efforts to depict anger or battling between others, and not expressions of her own anger. For example, she refers to an indifference and a battle in the Church symbolized by a gesture, as if she bangs her fist on the table, but then immediately shakes her head in an emphatic “no” against this battle (December 10, 1950 message). In another message, Mary refers to a battle between the East and West which she symbolically conveys through the striking of her fists three times together. This does not relay her own anger or forcefulness, but rather warns of grave international confrontations between the East and the West. It must also be kept in mind that such passages are rare and must be understood in context of the overall message tone which conveys peace, gentleness, and a loving maternal concern for humanity.

10. The Expressions, “Church” and “Community”: Consistency in Meaning

The term, Church, is not used in a uniform fashion throughout the messages. Sometimes it seems to be used as interchangeable with “Community.” Does the Church permit others terms to express its unique essence and role?

The term, “Church” (Latin, ecclesia; Greek, ekkalein), refers to an assembly or convocation. In Christian usage, the word designates the liturgical assembly, the local community, or the whole universal community of believers (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 751, 752). The Second Vatican Council states that the “sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic…subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the Successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him” (Lumen Gentium, 8). The Council also refers to the Church by using different expressions, for example as the “People of God” (Lumen Gentium, 13) and as a “visible society and spiritual community” (Lumen Gentium, 8).

The call of the Lady of all Nations, for example, to “Build one community for all the nations” (May 31, 1958 message), does not undermine the unique subsistence of the sole Church of Christ in the Catholic Church, but rather refers to the imperative for all peoples to come together in assembly under the Holy Spirit and under the successor of Peter. This particular message also refers to the geographical location designated by the Lady for the building of a church (place of assembly) where believers from all nations could come together in Christian worship.

The Second Vatican Council speaks in general about the appropriateness of one community of believers from all nations, one “People of God” united in communion by the Holy Spirit: “The one People of God is accordingly present in all the nations of the earth, since its citizens, who are taken from all nations, are of a kingdom whose nature is not earthly but heavenly. All the faithful scattered throughout the world are in communion with each other in the Holy Spirit so that ‘he who dwells in Rome knows those in most distant parts to be his member,’ ‘qui Roma sedet, Indos scit membrum suum esse'” (Lumen Gentium, 13).

Moreover, the term “community” may be understood in an analogical sense just as the term “Church,” may be. In its fullest and truest sense, the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church and it is realized in individual local churches. Each parish church and gathering of the faithful is a further “assembly” of this reality. In a further analogical sense, the Church is realized, but not in its fullness, in those bodies which have maintained Apostolic Succession and the Sacraments. It is realized to an ever lesser extent in those ecclesial bodies in which we recognize a bond of Christian union by virtue of our common Baptism. These general distinctions regarding the nature of the Church and related terminology is well articulated in the messages of the Lady of All Nations, even though the messages were revealed before the significant ecclesiological developments of the Second Vatican Council.

11. The Visionary, Ida Peerdeman: Obedience and Spiritual Attacks

Was the visionary of sound psychological and emotional state? Were there ever occasions of disobedience? How are we to interpret the demonic attacks experienced by Ida Peerdeman?

Preceding the declaration regarding the authenticity of the apparitions, Bishop J. M. Punt sought the advice of theologians and psychologists. Moreover, each of his four predecessors who were in office during the experience of the apparitions and the remainder of the visionary’s life knew Miss Ida Peerdeman personally, and never expressed any opinion or statement against her psychological well-being and emotional stability. On the contrary, as testified to by the Most Reverend Hendrik Bomers, Bishop of Haarlem during his homily at the funeral mass of Miss Peerdeman:

I have known the visionary Ida Peerdeman for many years…I believe we can all easily confirm that Ida, with all the experiences that she had, never became something similar to a hypocrite. She was entirely “down to earth” up until her last day, and she would hold in great abhorrence any glorification of her own person. To her, this was out of the question. Both (of these qualities) are good and positive signs that are of major importance. What to me is indisputable without any doubt is that she was absolutely honest and told the truth about all she experienced (Homily of Bishop H.J.A. Bomers, June 20, 1996, Archives of the Diocese of Haarlem).

All this led Bishop Punt to the conclusion that there was no psychological impediment concerning the sound emotional and psychological condition of the visionary.

The obedience of the visionary to her own spiritual directors and to Church authorities was exceptional and without failure. At times, she obeyed her spiritual director in preference to obeying the specific requests of the Lady, for which she was commended by the Lady herself: “You have acted well. Obedience was your first duty – so be it! This is what the Lord wanted of you” (message of May 31, 1956).

The visionary did report occurrences of satanic attacks, but similar demonic attacks have been experienced by numerous canonized saints, such as St. John Vianney and St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Spiritual attacks such as these can give positive indication of Satan’s dissatisfaction with the spiritual fruitfulness of the person’s cooperation with God and the individual’s contribution to the Mystical Body of Christ (cf. Col. 1:24), rather than being indicative of any negative quality.

12. Previous Church Prohibitions on the Apparitions: Present Status

Has the local bishop ever condemned the apparitions as “constat de non supernaturalitate”? Did the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ever declare the apparitions false? Is it appropriate for the local bishop to make a declaration of authenticity before Rome makes a statement?

In principle and according to the guidelines of the Church, it is primarily the task of the local bishop to come to a judgment regarding the authenticity of a private revelation in his diocese. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may then confirm this judgment, but this is not necessary. Three classifications are used to express the level of authenticity of a reported private revelation. “Constat de supernaturalitate” denotes that the apparitions are of supernatural origin; “Non constat de supernaturalitate” indicates that a supernatural origin has not been defined; and “Constat de non supernaturalitate” signifies that there is no supernatural origin to the reported apparitions.

The Apparitions of the Lady of All Nations have never been condemned as “constat de non supernaturalitate,” either by any local bishop of Haarlem or by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has commonly confirmed the decisions of the local ordinary regarding the apparitions. For example, on March 13, 1957, the Holy Office confirmed disciplinary restrictions which were taken after investigation by Bishop Huibers, but added that it did not rule out the presentation of new information in the future. In May, 1974, the same Congregation confirmed that the status on the apparitions was “non constat de supernaturalitate.”

In the decades that followed, much new information was added to the documentation. With greater awareness of the apparitions worldwide and greater maturity of its international devotion over time, Bishop H. Bomers undertook a new step which marked the beginning of a new phase. In 1996, after consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Bomers in conjunction with his Auxiliary Bishop, Joseph Maria Punt, declared the approval of public devotion of the Lady of All Nations (May 31, 1996), but without making a formal statement regarding authenticity.

After over fifty years of the development of this devotion (inclusive of two major investigations), and over the period of six subsequent years following a careful and prayerful discernment of authenticity according to the appropriate theological, psychological, and spiritual criteria, Bishop J. M. Punt came to the conclusion that the Apparitions of the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam consist of a “supernatural origin” (Declaration, May 31, 2002). In the declaration itself and the accompanying pastoral letter, he makes the following notes:

· The recognition refers to the apparitions of Mary as the Lady of All Nations, during the years 1945 to 1959. These occurred in the presence of others and were immediately documented.

· The bishop recognizes these apparitions as essentially authentic, as essentially of a supernatural origin. But he adds that the influence of the human factor remains, that the abilities and limitations of the visionary can have their own impact.

· The bishop recalls that a private revelation is never binding for the conscience of the faithful. Everyone has the freedom to give this devotion a place in his or her religious life or not.

Numerous resources are available concerning the messages of the Lady of All Nations, the theological foundations for the doctrine and potential dogma of Mary, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, and the historical development of the position of the Church regarding the apparitions.

The Lady of All Nations Foundation
Amsterdam, 2004

The Golden Age of Mary Co-redemptrix

The extraordinary testimonies to Mary Co-redemptrix previously offered by the likes of St. Bernard, Arnold of Chartres, Pseudo-Albert, John Tauler, and Alphonsus Salmerón became the ordinary and “common opinion of theologians” (1) in the seventeenth century, which can legitimately be referred to as the “Golden Age of Marian Coredemption.”

In the 1600’s alone, references to the Immaculate Mother’s unique and active participation “with Jesus” in the Redemption number well over three hundred. Within these references are numerous explanations and defenses of the titles of Redemptrix and Co-redemptrix, coupled with learned theological defenses of the sound doctrine which the titles convey. (2)

So generous and penetrating is the theological treatment of the Mother Co-redemptrix throughout this Golden Age that its contribution lays the theological foundation for the systematic treatment of the doctrine in later centuries. Under the classic categories of Christian soteriology (theology of salvation) in which Our Lord’s Redemption is considered, that is, merit, satisfaction, sacrifice, and redemptive ransom, the Mother’s Coredemption is fundamentally treated under these categories by the theological minds and hearts of this age. (3) So many in number were they, we can offer only a sampling of the theological laud and love to Mary Co-redemptrix that this era provides. (4)

Of utmost importance to the story of Mary Co-redemptrix is its organic progression through this critical phase of the Church’s theological history, for the doctrine of Coredemption and its “theological foundations” are firmly embedded in Tradition, and will, in future centuries, receive their magisterial sanctions directly from the popes.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi († 1619), Franciscan Doctor of the Church, uses the concept of Mary’s “spiritual priesthood” (in a mode analogous to the priesthood of the laity as discussed at the Second Vatican Council) (5) to illustrate Mary’s participation in the Redemption in the category of sacrifice. Sacrifice soteriologically refers to Christ’s free immolation and offering of himself to the Eternal Father in a truly priestly action for humanity’s sins. Mary in her “spiritual priesthood,” as St. Lawrence explains, shares in the offering of the one redemptive sacrifice at Calvary with Jesus, the “Principal Priest”:

Did not Mary put her life in danger for us, when she stood by the cross of Christ truly sacrificing Him to God in spirit, as full, abundantly full of the spirit of Abraham, and offering Him in true charity for the salvation of the world? . . . The spirit of Mary was a spiritual priest, as the cross was the altar and Christ the sacrifice; although the spirit of Christ was the principal priest, the spirit of Mary was there together with the spirit of Christ; indeed it was one spirit with Him as one soul in two bodies. Hence the spirit of Mary together with the spirit of Christ performed the priestly office at the altar of the cross and offered the sacrifice of the cross for the salvation of the world to the Eternal God…. For of her, as of God to Whom she was most similar in spirit, we can truly say that she so loved the world as to give her only-begotten Son so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but will have life eternal. (6)

Mary is not a “priest” in the formal sense, since she is not ordained, and therefore cannot offer a formal sacrifice. Rather, she possesses a spiritual priesthood true of all the baptized, but in the highest possible degree due to her singular dignity. In view of her fullness of grace and her coredemptive mission with the Redeemer, it is clear that her spiritual sacrifice in subordinate participation “with Jesus” the High Priest, exceeds in spiritual fruitfulness the sacrifice of any ministerial priest, excepting only her own Son. (7)

Another Doctor of the Church and revered counter-reformational cardinal and theologian, St. Robert Bellarmine († 1621), teaches the uniqueness of the Mother’s co-operation in his metaphor of spiritual creation:

Even if Mary was not present at the creation of the material heavens, nevertheless she was present at the creation of the spiritual heavens—the Apostles; and although she was not present at the founding of the material earth, nevertheless she was present at the founding of the spiritual earth—the Church. For she alone co-operated in the mystery of the Incarnation; she alone co-operated in the mystery of the Passion, standing before the cross, and offering her Son for the salvation of the world. (8)

The Jesuit theologian, de Salazar († 1646) puts forward a theological defense of the Immaculate Virgin’s direct, immediate, and formal cooperation in Redemption. (9) De Salazar justifies the titles of Redemptrix, Reparatrix, and Mediatrix among others, and in a later work refers to the Mother as the “Co-redemptrix.” (10)

The theological concept of “ransom” refers to the “payment of a price,” and the price of Redemption is precisely the merits and satisfactions of the Redeemer offered to the Eternal Father for our salvation, freeing us from Satan’s bondage. To what degree, then, does the Mother participate in the ransom of “buying back” the human race together with Christ?

The testimony of this Golden Age gives witness to two ways in which the Immaculate One participates in the ransom obtained by her Son: firstly, that Mary paid the same price (although subordinately) which her Son paid in offering the merits and satisfaction of her Son to the Eternal Father; secondly, that Mary offered her own merits and satisfactions in union with her Son’s for man’s Redemption.

The French author, Fr. Raphael of the Discalced Augustinians († 1639), illustrates the Mother’s subordinate “servant” role in the buying back of humanity as Co-redemptrix:

Her Son shares with her and conveys to her in some way the glory of our ransom, an act which she truly did not perform, nor was able to carry out in order to satisfy the Father by the rigor of justice . . . But we can say that she cooperated in our ransom in that she gave the Redeemer flesh and blood, substance and price of our ransom. She did so just as a servant cooperated in the buying back of a slave if she lent the money to her master for the deliverance. Also, she cooperated because she willingly consented to see Him die and she generously condemned herself to the same torture . . . which rightly gives her the quality of coredemptrix of man although her Son is the principal and formal cause of our salvation. (11)

The Franciscan Mariologist, Angelo Vulpes († 1647), explains the capacity of the Co-redemptrix to pay the “death-debt” of sinners: “Mary died in imitation of her Son in order that she, in her capacity as Co-redemptrix, might with full merit pay the death-debt of others.” (12) In addition, Vulpes points out that it was God’s decree that man would be redeemed by the “united merits” of Jesus and Mary: “God decreed to redeem all men from the servitude of sin . . . through their merits (i.e., the merits of Christ and Mary) . . . He decreed the passibility of the future Christ, and likewise that of His Mother, so that she too might become the Co-redemptrix of the entire human race. (13)

The Merits of Christ and Mary

How do we understand the Catholic concept of supernatural merit, and in what dimension of this can humanity participate? Jesus Christ, through his passion and death, merited “reward” for humanity, namely our justification. (14) But human creatures may also “merit” in the sense that God has placed a supernatural value on certain human acts, and if freely performed by man, God rewards his sons and daughters with an increase of his grace and divine goodness for themselves and for others. (15) How, then, does the Immaculate Mother uniquely share in the merits of Christ for the Redemption of the world?

During this period, the specific nature of Our Lady’s merits is theologically discussed (16) for the first time since its introduction by Eadmer of Canterbury. The Spaniard, P. M. Frangipane († 1638), identifies the object of merit for the Immaculate Co-redemptrix as the same as that merited by Christ, but on the substantially different level of “de congruo” or “fittingness” compared to the “de condigno” level of “justice” merited by the divine Redeemer alone: “… Everything which Christ merited for us de condigno was merited for us de congruo by Mary…. This title, Co-redemptrix requires innocence on her part; for how could she cleanse the world from sin, if she herself were subject to sin?” (17)

The thesis that Mary merited for us de congruo that which Jesus merited for us de condigno became a common teaching of the period and was later given papal approval by St. Pius X. (18) In essence, Mary merited in the order of fittingness that which Jesus merited in the order of justice and equality between himself and the Father. (19)

The same notion of Our Lady’s merit is repeated by numerous authors during the century, for example by the Jesuit, George de Rhodes († 1661):

We must state first of all that Mary can be called Redemptrix of mankind in a certain true and proper sense, although not as primary and proper as Christ…. Mary merited de congruo through her co-passion and prayers everything which Christ merited for us de condigno through His death … She merited, first of all, that we should be liberated from all sin, both original and personal, that is, all graces which precede and cause our justification…. (20)

The Franciscan Roderick de Portillo, O.F.M. (c. 1630), also confirms that Jesus and Mary obtained the same object of merit for humanity, albeit in their respective degrees: “There is no doubt that the Blessed Virgin (at Calvary) merited the same thing which her Son merited.” (21) The contemplative author, Novati († 1648), affirms the unified meritorious offering of Jesus and Mary for human Redemption: “Just as Christ de condigno merited sufficiently for all men the remission of sins, sanctifying grace and all the other goods that follow from it … so it must be said that the Blessed Virgin de congruo merited the same things for all men.” (22) In addition, Novati re-affirms: “I say first that the Virgin, by co-suffering with Christ, did co-operate in human Redemption. I say secondly that she most greatly co-operated in the Redemption of the human race by offering the life and blood of her Son to the Eternal Father for men’s salvation…. The will of Christ and Mary was one, and there was one holocaust.” (23)

The saving action of the Redeemer results in a suprabundant compensation for the sins of humanity. This compensation constitutes the theological concept of “satisfaction,” the appeasing of the guilt of humanity’s sin whereby the justice of God is satisfied, which results in the restoration of the saving communion between man and God. In this, too, the Mother shares, and thus the seventeenth century theologians voice their assent to the satisfactory participation of the Co-redemptrix. Numerous authors speak of Mary’s satisfaction in a de congruo degree at Calvary, in a manner similar though distinct from her meritorious participation. (24)

With the prophetic revelations of Venerable Mary of Agreda († 1665) contained in the Mystical City of God, Christian mysticism once again assists the development of the Co-redemptrix story. In this prophetic work, the Spanish mystic calls Our Lady the “Redemptrix” and speaks of her consequential role of distributing the fruits of Redemption in light of her primary role as a participant in the Redemption:

Just as she cooperated with the passion and gave her Son to take part in the human lineage, so the same Lord made her participant of the dignity of Redemptrix, having given her the merits and the fruits of Redemption so that she can distribute them and with one hand communicate all this to those redeemed. (25)

In the later part of the century, a tract against the Co-redemptrix title and doctrine was penned by the German author, Adam Widenfeld, and received significant distribution. (26) But within two years, approximately forty theological defenses were written to counter Widenfeld’s objection to calling Mary the “Co-redemptrix.” (27) One excellent example is the response of the Prague professor, Maximillian Reichenberger (c. 1677), who vindicates the role and the merits of Mary Co-redemptrix in context of the New Eve model:

We most freely admit that Christ did not need the help of His Mother in redeeming the human race; but we deny that the merits and prayers of His Mother were not joined, per modum meriti de congruo, with the merits de condigno of her Son. It is evident that the Fathers could term the Blessed Virgin Coredemptrix of the human race with much more reason than they could term Eve … the cause of our ruin…. For Eve co-operated in our ruin only remotely and accidentally…. while Mary co-operated in the Redemption of the human race proximately and immediately, not only communicating to Christ the price of our Redemption from her own blood, but also aiding Him and assisting Him, and suffering with Him up to the consummation of the redemptive work on the cross. (28)

The tract of Widenfeld attacking Co-redemptrix was later placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Holy See. (29)

Unambiguous in its theological praises and defenses of the Immaculate Co-redemptrix, the seventeenth century Golden Age provides dogmatic foundations for future centuries to penetrate more deeply the mystery of the Woman at Calvary with theological precision and with heartfelt piety. The providential combination of theology and devotion, of “head and heart,” dedicated to the coredemptive Mother during this century, is perhaps best represented in a theological meditation by the Doctor of the Church and great apostle of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, (30) St. John Eudes († 1680), who quotes the Fathers and the mystics in his theological laud of the “Co-redemptrix with Christ”:

The salvation of immortal souls is also the great work of the Mother of God. Why did Almighty God choose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God? Why did He preserve her from original sin and make her holy from the very first moment of her life? Why did He shower upon her so many privileges, ornamenting her with grace and virtue? Why did He confer upon her so much wisdom, goodness, meekness and such great power in heaven, hell, and on earth? It was simply that she might be worthy to cooperate with her Divine Son in man’s redemption. All the Fathers of the Church say clearly that she is Co-redemptrix with Christ in the work of our salvation. I hear Our Lord and His Blessed Mother saying to St. Bridget, whose revelations are approved by the Church, that Adam and Eve lost the world by eating an apple, but that they saved it by a heart: quasi uno Corde mundum salvavimus (Revel. Extravag. Cap. 3), that is Our Lord and His Mother had but one heart, one love, one sentiment, one mind and one will with each other. As the Sacred Heart of Jesus was a furnace of love for men, so the heart of His loving Mother was inflamed with charity and zeal for souls. Christ immolated Himself upon the cross for the redemption of mankind and Mary made a similar sacrifice in undergoing untold sufferings and sorrows. (31)

 

The above article is from the ninth chapter of “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix, Queenship Publications, 2003. The book is available from Queenship for the price of $3.00 U.S.

 

Notes

(1) F. de Guerra, O.F.M., Majestas gratiarum ac virtutum omnium Deiparae Virginis Mariae, vol. 2, Hispali, 1659, lib. 3, disc. 4, fragm. 10, n. 36.

(2) Cf. Carol, J. B. Carol, De Corredemptione Beatae Mariae Virginis, Rome, Vaticana, 1950, pp. 198-480. According to the valuable (though limited) study by Laurentin, from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century the term Redemptrix was gradually replaced with that of Co-redemptrix. Before the seventeenth century Redemptrix is used by ten authors and Co-redemptrix by three authors. During the seventeenth century Redemptrix is still preferred fifty-one times to Co-redemptrix’s twenty-seven times. By the eighteenth century, Co-redemptrix is being used more than Redemptrix by a twenty-four to sixteen margin, and by the nineteenth century Redemptrix virtually disappears, with some exceptions. Cf. R. Laurentin, Le Titre de Corédemptrice, Etude Historique, Paris, Nouvelles Editions Latines, 1951, p. 19.

Note: Along with these valuable statistics, Laurentin offers some strong conclusions of his own regarding the titles of Redemptrix and Co-redemptrix, which do not appear substantiated by his and other sources. For example, the author states: “But when in the twelfth century, the passage from causa causae (Mary, cause of the Redeemer) developed into the expression of causa causati (cause of Redemption),… the term Redemptrix could not without serious ambiguity translate these realities.” But the concept of Mary’s participation in the Redemption as a sharing in the “causa causati” in reference to Redemption was intrinsic to the most ancient testimonies of the New Eve as the woman who played an active and instrumental role in salvation, and was gradually brought to its natural development in the explicit teachings of Mary’s active role in Redemption at Calvary as articulated by St. Bernard, Arnold of Chartres, St. Albert, and John Tauler.

Moreover, the title Redemptrix was used in the Church in an orthodox and balanced manner for five centuries after the twelfth century, and without any “serious ambiguity,” but precisely the same way “Mediatrix” is used in relation to “Mediator” today— subordinate, dependent, and totally relying upon the primacy of the divine Redeemer. That Co-redemptrix as a title eventually phased out the use of Redemptrix can be seen as a positive development without casting dispersion on the legitimacy of Redemptrix, which was used in the Church for over seven hundred years in a balanced fashion by doctors, theologians, mystics, and saints.

The author goes on to refer to the titles of Redemptrix and Co-redemptrix as “somewhat disturbing” during this time of historical development, and concludes: “we have the impression that co-redemptrix and, even more so, redemptrix, have slowed down the development of the following thesis of Mary’s cooperation in Redemption.” In fact, the historical evidence appears to support the opposite conclusion, that the terms in fact have assisted in the process of the historical development of doctrine. The greater frequency of both terms from the twelfth century to the eighteenth centuries parallels the time of greatest theological development of the doctrine of Mary’s cooperation in Redemption, as is particularly the case in the seventeenth century Golden Age, during which the terms are used in greatest quantity and the theology of the role receives its greatest historical treatment.

In addition, the terms Co-redemptrix and Redemptrix truly capture the full meaning of the doctrine of Mary’s unique participation with the Redeemer in the historic victory over Satan and sin. Rather than some minimized or vague concept of the doctrine, the Co-redemptrix title envelops the full dynamism of the role of being Christ’s unique partner in Redemption, and therefore contributed to an honest discussion of its intrinsic meaning and development. This remains true whether one be “pro” or “con” to the Coredemption doctrine, and hence the Co-redemptrix title has historically served, and continues to serve, as an authentic component of the doctrinal development of Mary’s cooperation in Redemption.

(3) For extended treatments of Coredemption under the same four classic soteriological categories, cf. Gregory Alastruey, The Blessed Virgin Mary, English translation of the original by Sr. M. J. La Giglia, O.P., Herder, 1964, ch. 2; Friethoff, O.P., A Complete Mariology, Blackfriars, 1958, English translation of Dutch original, Part III, ch. I-V; specifically during this seventeenth century period in its four traditional categories; J. B. Carol, “Our Lady’s Coredemption,” Mariology vol. 2, Bruce, 1957, pp. 400-409.

(4) For a fuller explanation of the seventeenth century references to Coredemption, cf. Carol, De Corredemptione, pp. 198-480.

(5) Cf. Lumen Gentium, 10; cf. 1. Pet. 2:9-10.

(6) St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Mariale; Opera Omnia, Patavii, 1928, vol. 1, pp. 183-184.

(7) Cf. Carol, “Our Lady’s Coredemption,” vol. 2, p. 418; M. O’Carroll, C.S.Sp., Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Michael Glazier, 1982, pp. 293-296.

(8) St. Robert Bellarmine, Cod. Vat. Lat. Ottob. 2424, f. 193, cited by C. Dillenschneider, Marie au service de notre Redemption, p. 208. Bellarmine’s contemporary and brother Jesuit, Suarez (f 1617), known as the Father of Modern systematic Mariology, also contributes to the Coredemption discussion in De Incarn., disp. 23.

(9) F. Chirino de Salazar, S.J., In Proverbiis, VIII, 19, n. 222, Cologne ed., ap. J. Kinchium, 1621,1.1, 627; for another use of Redemptrix by Salazar, cf. Pro Immaculata conceptione defensio, Compluti, of J. Graciani, 1618, CXXI, § I, pp. 132 b-133 a.

(10) Cf. de Salazar, In Canticum, Lyon, Prost, 1643, t. 1, p. 128.

(11) Father Raphael, Les sacrifices de la Vierge et de la France, speech given in Aix, February 2, 1639, 2nd ed. Avignon, I. Piot (s.d.), pp. 32-34.

(12) A. Vulpes, Sacrae Theologiae Summa Joannis D. Scoti, Doctoris Subtilissimus, et Commentaria, Neapoli, 1646, vol. 3, pars 4, pp. 498-499.

(13) Ibid., pp. 290-291.

(14) Cf. Council of Trent, D 799.

(15) Cf. Council of Trent (1547):DS 1546; 1548; Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 3, ch. 3, art. 2, sec. 3, nn. 2006-2011.

(16) Perhaps the first author treating Mary’s de congruo merit is de Salazar; cf. Carol, “Our Lady’s Coredemption,” p. 401, note 94.

(17) P. M. Frangipane, Blasones de la Virgen Madre de Dios y Senora nuestra, Zaragoza, 1635, pp. 65-66.

(18) St. Pius X, Ad Diem Illum; ASS 36, p. 453; The magisterial statement by Pope St. Pius X regarding Mary’s merit de congruo should serve as an authoritative aurea media in veritate (golden mean in truth) in the debates over the nature and degree of Mary’s merit as Co-redemptrix. Without saying the last word on whether or not Mary also merited de digno, de supercongruo, or de condigno ex mera condignitate (just as the dogma of the Assumption did not say the last word concerning the debate over the “Death” of Mary), St. Pius X’s statement should serve as an authoritative confirmation that Mary at least merited de congruo as Christ merited de condigno, and as such should serve as a consensus doctrinal statement regarding the question of Mary’s coredemptive merit.

(19) Cf. Chapter XI for a further discussion of the nature and levels of supernatural merit and its relation to the Blessed Virgin.

(20) G. de Rhodes, S.J., Disputationes Theologicae Scholasticae, Lugduni, 1676, vol. 2, tract. 8: De Deipara Virgine Maria, disp. Unica, quaest. 5, sect. 3, p. 265.

(21) R. de Portillo, O.F.M., Libra de los tratados de Cristo Señor nuestro, y de su santisima Madre, y de los beneficios y Mercedes que goza el mundo par su medio, Tauri, 1630, p. 41.

(22) J. Novati, De Eminentia Deiparae, Bononiae, 1639, vol. 2, p. 236.

(23) Ibid., vol. 1, ch. 18, q. 14, p. 379-380.

(24) Cf. Carol, “Our Lady’s Coredemption,” p. 403; cf. D. Gonzalez Matheo, O.F.M., Mystica Civitas Dei vindicata . . . , Matriti, 1747, p. 124, nn. 368-371; cf. A. Peralta, S.J., Dissertationes Scholasticae de Sacratissima Virgine Maria, Mexici, 1726, p. 264; cf. Th. de Almeyda, La compassion aux douleurs de Marie, ed. Braine-le-Compte, 1902, pp. 161-163; cf. G. Federici, O.S.B., Tractatus polemicus de Matre Dei, vol. 1, Neapoli, 1777, p. 106; cf. G. A. Nasi, Le grandezze di Maria Verging . . . ,Venezia, 1717, p. 197.

(25) Ven. Mary of Agreda, Mystical City of God, ed. Amberes, H. and C. Verdussen, 1696, P. I, L. I, c. 18, n. 274, p. 86b.

(26) A. von Widenfeld, Manila salutaria Beatae Virginis Mariae ..., Ghent, 1673, moniyum 10.

(27) Cf. Carol, De Coredemptione, pp. 302-318.

(28) M. Reichenberger, Mariani cultus vindiciae, sive nonnullae animadversions in libellum cui titulus: Monita Salutaria B . V. Mariae ad cultures suos indiscretos, pro vindicanda contra auctorem anonymum Deiparae Gloria, secundum orthodoxae fidei dogmata, Sanctorum Patrum testimonia, rectae rationis dictamina et theologorum principia, Pragae, 1677, p. 120.

(29) Pope Alexander VIII condemned the phrase: “the praise which is given to Mary qua Maria is vain”; DH 2326; cf. A. M. Calero, La Vergine Maria nel mistero di Cristo e della Chiesa. Saggio di mariologia, Turin, 1995, p. 284.

(30) Cf. Pius XI, Decree of Canonization of Bl. John Eudes, May 31, 1925.

(31) St. John Eudes, The Priest, His Dignity and Obligations, P. J, Kenedy & Sons, 1947, pp. 134-135. This quoted passage was originally published in a work entitled, The Good Confessor in 1666.