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This title for Mary was also foreshadowed in the story of the Annunciation. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he promised her that her son would reign forever as the Messiah:

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end (Lk 1:32-33).

Now, if Mary’s son was to inherit an everlasting Kingdom, this implies that Mary was literally to be the “Queen Mother” of His Kingdom, for we know for a fact that in ancient Israel, the mother of a king usually received the role and title of “Queen Mother.” As Catholic theologian Dr. Mark Miravalle points out:

In the Old Testament, Our Lady’s role as Advocate is foreshadowed in the office of the “Queen Mother.” …[T]he Queen Mother tradition refers to the tradition among the Davidic Kings to appoint their mothers as their queens of the kingdom, and who then became the principle advocates for the people of Israel to their kingly sons (cf. 1 Kings 2:19). The Queen-Mother was referred to as the “Gebirah” or “Great Lady” of the Kingdom, who gave the people of the kingdom their greatest intercession to the king. The Queen Mother, the “Great Lady” was therefore the principle advocate and intercessor for the people of the kingdom.

In the New Testament, with the establishment of Jesus Christ as the new and eternal King in the universal Kingdom of God (cf. Lk 1:32ff), we also have the establishment of a new Queen Mother and Advocate, who is the Mother of the King. The Virgin of Nazareth becomes the new “Great Lady” of all nations contained within the Kingdom of God, as well as becomes the new Advocate for all the peoples within the universal Kingdom (Introduction to Mary, third edition, p. 115).

In fact, this may also be a reason why her cousin Elizabeth greeted Mary with the expression, “Mother of my Lord” in Luke 1:43: It was a form of address used for the Queen Mother in the language of the ancient Semitic courts.

Mediatrix Advocate

If Mary has been exalted by God’s grace to the role of Queen of Heaven, then this has tremendous implications for her relationship with the whole People of God. Let’s go back again to the days of the early Christians and see the central role she played in their lives as heavenly Queen Mother of the Church. Dr. Miravalle writes:

The first historic indications of the existing veneration of Mary carried on from the Apostolic Church is manifested in the Roman catacombs. As early as the end of the first century to the first half of the second century, Mary is depicted in frescoes in the Roman catacombs both with and without her divine Son. Mary is depicted as a model of virginity with her Son; at the Annunciation; at the adoration of the Magi; and as the “orans” (“the praying one”), the woman of prayer.

A very significant fresco found in the catacombs of St. Agnes depicts Mary situated between St. Peter and St. Paul with her arms outstretched to both. This fresco reflects, in the language of Christian frescoes, the earliest symbol of Mary as “Mother of the Church.” Whenever St. Peter and St. Paul are shown together, it is symbolic of the one Church of Christ, a Church of authority and evangelization, a Church for both Jew and Gentile. Mary’s prominent position between Sts. Peter and Paul illustrates the recognition by the Apostolic Church of the maternal centrality of the Savior’s Mother in his young Church (Introduction to Mary, pp. 41-42).

It is easy to see what was happening here: Mary was evidently seen by the early Christians as carrying out her role in heaven as Mother of the Church, which is the beginning of the Kingdom of God on earth (Mt 13:1-52, 16:17-19; Lk 12:32). As “Gebirah” of this Kingdom she fulfills her role by acting as loving intercessor with her son for all the needs of the People of God (represented in the fresco by the two figures of Peter and Paul).

For these reasons, Catholics down through the ages have referred to Mary as their heavenly Queen, “Advocate” for the people of God, and even as “Mediatrix” of all the graces that Christ pours out upon the world. The logic is simple: Jesus is the source of all saving grace, and He came into the world through Mary’s faithful “yes” to the angel Gabriel; she was therefore the vessel, the Mediatrix chosen by God to bring His saving grace to all mankind. Also, as by the Holy Spirit she participated in a unique way in the reception of grace by the world, it is only fitting that she participate in a unique way in the distribution of saving grace throughout the world. Again, we see this foreshadowed at the Annunciation, when she was implicitly named the Queen Mother of the Messianic Kingdom of her son, and as we have seen, one of the roles of a Queen Mother was to be an advocate for the needs of the people to her son, the king. But it is also foreshadowed in the story of the Wedding Feast at Cana, according to St. John, the story of the first public miracle that Jesus performed at the very beginning of His public ministry, a ministry that would ultimately lead to His saving death on the cross (His “hour,” as Jesus called it, Jn 2:4). This miracle at Cana happened in response to Mary’s personal mediation and intercession with Jesus on behalf of the wedding couple (“They have no more wine,” Jn 2:3-5). After the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the book of Acts tells us that when the disciples were waiting and praying for nine days for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift that alone could empower them for carrying out their mission, it was Mary who was there with them praying at the heart of the Church. It was Mary, Mother of the King, and therefore Queen Mother and Advocate for His People (Acts 1:14).

The saints of the Church have always been struck with awe and wonder at this special role given to Mary of Queen Mother, Advocate, and Mediatrix. St. Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373) once wrote, “After the Mediator [Jesus Christ], you [Mary] are Mediatrix of the whole world.” Moreover, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153) was especially devoted to this title for Mary, calling her the “aqueduct” of all the graces that flow to us from Jesus Christ and insisting, “It is the will of God that we should have nothing which has not passed through the hands of Mary.” St. Bernard noted that the angel Gabriel came to deliver his message to one who was “full of grace,” and yet he also declared that the Holy Spirit would “overshadow” her again: “To what purpose if it be not to fill her to overflowing? To what purpose, I repeat, except that, being filled in herself by His first coming, she might be made to superabound and overflow unto us by the second?” (cited in Orozco, Mother of God and our Mother, p. 65). St. Maximillian Kolbe, the martyr of Auschwitz (1894-1941), taught that divine grace flows to the world from the Father through His Son, in the Holy Spirit, and through the intercession of Mary, who was full to overflowing with the same Holy Spirit.

Pope John Paul II calls attention to another aspect of Mary’s “queenship” in his Letter to Women (section 10), namely, that her reign is one of service and of love:

Putting herself at God’s service, she also put herself at the service of others: a service of love. Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious but authentic “reign.” It is not by chance that she is invoked as “Queen of heaven and earth.” The entire community of believers thus invokes her; many nations and peoples call upon her as their “Queen.” For her, “to reign” is to serve! Her service is “to reign”!

Confusions , Objections

Sadly, Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven, Advocate, and Mediatrix of All Graces has sometimes been misunderstood. Our Protestant, Evangelical brothers and sisters worry that this teaching violates the clear words of Scripture that there is only one Mediator with the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, on the basis of the precious blood He shed for us on the Cross. Pope John Paul II responds to this concern in his Wednesday Audience address of October 1, 1997:

In proclaiming Christ the one mediator (cf. I Tim 2:5-6), the text of St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy excludes any other parallel mediation, but not subordinate mediation. In fact, before emphasizing the one exclusive mediation of Christ, the author urges “that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men” (2:1). Are not prayers a form of mediation? Indeed, according to St. Paul the unique mediation of Christ is meant to encourage other, dependent, ministerial forms of mediation (Theotokos [Pauline Books and Media, 2000], p. 242).

Moreover, the Greek word used for “one” that St. Paul used here in the phrase “one mediator” is not monos, which would mean “sole,” but eis, which can mean “one” in the sense of “principal” or “first in a series.” Jesus is the principal Mediator who enables many other sub-mediators to transmit the grace of God to others. Faithful Christians act as sub-mediators in Christ when they pray for their neighbors, share the gospel with the lost, and serve the suffering and the oppressed. The merciful love of Christ thereby passes from Jesus Christ, through his faithful disciples, to those in need.

Protestant Christians also argue that there is no explicit indication in Scripture that we can pray to Mary as Queen, Advocate, or Mediatrix or to any of the saints and angels in heaven. In Scripture, prayers are always addressed to God alone. The practice of addressing prayers to other heavenly beings must have been borrowed from the pagans of the Roman Empire, who addressed prayers to gods and goddesses of all kinds.

Catholics cannot agree. There are several indications right in the New Testament itself that the saints in heaven know of our struggles and prayers on earth and join their powerful intercessory prayers with our own. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [that is, by all the heroes and martyrs of the Faith mentioned in chapter 11], let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” So, the early Christians believed that the martyrs and heroes of faith from the past are a good example for us, and they surround us like a crowd cheering for the runners at an Olympic race! James 5:16 tells us that “the prayer of a good man has powerful effects,” and he gives as an example the powerful intercessions of the prophet Elijah. This reminds us that the most powerful intercessors in the Church are those most advanced in holiness. In Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, we are told that in heaven, the elders and the angels offer up the prayers of the saints (on earth) as incense before the throne of God. This implies that the angels and the elders (that is, holy Christian leaders of the past) know of our prayers on earth and join their prayers with ours now.

Put the implications of these Scripture passages together, and we can surely say that it is probable that since the angels and saints can see us, since they care about us, and since they can and do pray for us, we can ask them to do so even more, and they will be heard. This is as far as the Bible alone can take us, but at least it surely establishes that the invocation of the angels and saints is consonant with Scripture.

The first surviving written record of a prayer addressed specifically to Mary is dated sometime around 250 A.D.:

We fly to your patronage

O holy Mother of God.

Despise not our petitions

in our necessities,

but deliver us from all dangers,

O ever glorious and blessed Virgin.

Notice here that in the middle of the third century, Mary is already referred to as “Mother of God,” a title for her that will not be formally decreed by the Church for another two centuries. By the fourth century, the public invocation of the angels and saints was universally present in the life of the Church, both east and west, and there is no evidence at all of any division or dispute about this practice in the early Christian community. Many of the early Fathers were quite adamant about rejecting pagan influences on the life of the Church — why did none of them claim that this universal custom of invoking the angels and saints was a pagan corruption of the Faith? Evidently, they did not believe it was a pagan practice at all; rather, they saw the prayer-partnership of struggling Christians on earth with the angels and saints in heaven as a clear expression of the truth that in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, death has no dominion, and that we are One Body in Christ in His Spirit, whether we are on earth, in heaven, or in purgatory.

Besides, the invocation of Mary, the angels, and the saints fits well with the wider pattern of Christian doctrine (the analogy of faith). The Bible says that our growth in faith and holiness is aided by the intercessions of the other members of the Body of Christ (Eph 6:18; I Thess 3:11-13; I Tim 2: 1-4), and the Church on earth and heaven are evidently closely united (Heb 12: 22-24). It is hard to see how asking the angels and saints to pray for us amounts to pagan idolatry, while asking one’s family members and friends for their prayers is not. Both acts seem to be based on similar principles of charity and intercession. Idolatry would only occur if one believed that a saint or angel would give you something that our Lord would not (as if praying to an alternate god!). But most Catholics believe no such thing. They know that authentic prayers addressed to the angels and saints are no more than requests made to them to pray for us to Jesus Christ. The final address of our prayers is still the same, just as in the “Hail Mary” we say: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

Finally, some Protestants worry that Catholic belief in their heavenly Queen as Mediatrix of All Graces might imply that only those who explicitly ask for Mary’s intercession every time they pray will actually have their prayers heard in heaven. Dr. Miravalle responds:

Does this mean that the graces of Jesus will not be distributed unless we pray to the Blessed Virgin? No. It does, however, express the truth that whether we call directly upon the name of Mary or not, we nonetheless receive all graces through her actual and personally willed intercession (Introduction to Mary, p. 105).

In short, like any good and loving Mother, Mary is caring for the needs of her children in ways we do not see and never even asked for. Only in heaven will we begin to appreciate how Mary’s loving care follows us every step of our life as we journey onward toward the eternal Kingdom of her Son.

In Thanksgiving to Marians of The Immaculate Conception They have put together a wonderful app http://www.marian.org/app
*Information provided by Marian.org*