Ad Coeli Reginam

Source: District of Asia

Sixty-two years ago Pope Pius XII issued an important encyclical in the field of Mariology.  It is to crown the celebration of the Marian Year (1954), the Holy Father wrote the encyclical Ad Coeli Reginam (Dated 11, October 1954).  Here he proposed the traditional doctrine regarding the queenship of Mary and established for the universal church the liturgical feast of Mary, the Queen.

The encyclical started by recalling how, from the early beginning of the Catholic Church, the faithful had recourse to the queen of heaven especially in the time of sorrow.  So do we in our own day, especially marked with calamities.  62 years later the conditions have gone from worse to worst.  And it is why this feast & the doctrine behind the feast is rather important for us.  The Pope gratefully recalled some of his own acts in honor of Our Lady: dogmatic definition of the Assumption, declaration of the Marian Year for the centenary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, allocution and broadcasts exhorting the faithful to honor Mary. He especially refers to the Fatima broadcast of 1946 which he himself termed the broadcast “of Mary's Queenship”. To comply with many requests received, he decided to erect the ‘new feast’ and on this occasion recalled the traditional doctrine of Mary's royal dignity.


Mary's Queenship in the Tradition


Christians have always acknowledged the royal excellence of the Mother of God whose Son “will reign in the house of Jacob forever” (Lk. 1, 32), “Prince of Peace” (Is. 9, 6), “King of kings arid Lord of lords” (Apoc. 19, 16). Ecclesiastical writers, basing themselves on the words of the angel Gabriel (Lk.1,32f.) and of Elisabeth (Lk.1, 43), called Mary Mother of the King Mother of the Lord.      And then, the Holy Father quotes extensively the Fathers of the Church to show that this doctrine is truly ‘traditional’.


“Majestic and Heavenly Maid” … (St. Ephrem)

“Mary is the Mother of the King of the Universe” (St Gregory Nanzianzen)

“Queen of all Mankind” … (St. Andrew of Crete)

“Thou art a queen and glorious above all kings”. (St. Germanus)

“She is the queen of every creature” (St. John Damascene)

“O my lady, my sovereign, you who rule over me…” (St. Idephonse of Toledo)



From these testimonies of the Fathers, theologians concluded that the Blessed Virgin is Queen of all creation, Sovereign Mistress of all men. The Popes themselves preached devotion to our heavenly Mother and Queen. Not to mention the recent ones, St Martin I (+653/55) calls her “Our glorious Lady ever Virgin”; St Agatho (+681) “Our Lady, truly Mother of God "; and Gregory II (+731 ), “Sovereign Mistress of all Christians” Later Xystus IV (+1484) praises our “Queen who vigilantly intercedes with the King her Son”; and Benedict XIV ( +1758 ), “the Queen of heaven and earth”. Accordingly, St Alphonsus of Liguori could sum up the Tradition by saying, “Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of 'Queen'.”


The sacred liturgy, both of the Oriental and the Latin Church, sings the praises of our heavenly Queen. We find these praises in the liturgy of the Armenians, in the Byzantine rite (the hymn Akatistos: “Queen of the world), in the Ethiopian missal “Mary, center of the entire world. No less in the Latin Church: ‘Salve Regin’, ‘Ave Regina coelorum’, ‘Regina coeli’ etc. To this must be added the invocations to Mary the Queen in the litany of Loreto, and the fifth glorious mystery of the Rosary.


Finally, Christian art, ever since the definition of Mary's divine Motherhood at Ephesus (431), has loved to represent Mary as Queen and Empress, with royal crown and heavenly court. And the Roman Pontiffs have fostered Christian piety to Mary by crowning images of the Virgin Mother of God.


The Foundations and Meaning of Mary's Queenship.

The encyclical Quas primas of Pius XI indicated a twofold foundation of Christ's Kingship: the hypostatic union and the Redemption. The teaching of the present encyclical is parallel to that of Pius XI.  Mary's Queenship is founded first of all on her divine Motherhood. For her Son, even as man, was King and Lord of all things from the very moment of His conception, by reason of the hypostatic union. In the words of St John Damascene, “she truly became Mistress of all creation when she be-came Mother of the Creator”.  But just as Christ is King, not only because of the Incarnation but also by right of conquest because of the Redemption, so also is Mary Queen because of her intimate association with Christ in the work of our Redemption. She is, according to Eadmer, Mother and Mistress of all things by repairing all things through her merits, by restoring grace to all.  She provides for it of her own substance which she offers freely for us, she desires, asks, obtains our salvation. She was united with Christ in our Redemption as the new Eve, by a kind of recapitulation; she was chosen as the Mother of Christ in order to “become associate in redeeming mankind” she offered her Son to the eternal Father on Calvary; hence we may say: as Christ is King also because He is our Redeemer, so by analogy the blessed Virgin is our Queen because she was the new Eve, associated with the new Adam.


What does this Queenship imply?


“Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as His associate in the redemption, in his struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity. For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature; from her union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer's Kingdom; from her union with Christ finally is derived the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father.”


Mary's Queenship, therefore, means first that “she is exalted in dignity above all things created and after her Son holds the primacy over all”. This appears from the ancient testimonies of the Oriental Fathers, St Sophronius, St Germanus, St John Damascene. To understand that dignity we must bear in mind the fullness of grace and holiness, given her with the Immaculate Conception, “than which no greater is conceivable under God”.  It means also that she shares the tower by which her Son reigns over the minds and wills of men; she does so by her powerful intercession in heaven where she is exalted above angels and Saints; she obtains by her motherly prayer whatever she asks; her power is “almost limitless”, and rests on her “maternal authority”. It is a glory for Christians to be subjects to the Virgin Mother of God, to her queenly power and motherly love.


Here the Holy Father sounds a note of warning to Mariologists:


“Theologians and preachers, however, when treating these and like questions concerning the Blessed Virgin, must avoid straying from the correct course, with a twofold error to guard against: that is to say, they must beware of unfounded opinions and exaggerated expressions which go beyond the truth, on the other hand, they must watch out for excessive narrowness of mind in weighing that exceptional, sublime, indeed all but divine dignity of the Mother of God, which the Angelic Doctor teaches must be attributed to her "because of the infinite goodness that is God.”( S. Thomas, Summa Theol., I, q. 25, a. 6, ad 4.)


Here as in other matters that concern the revelation, the prox­imate rule of truth is the living magisterium of the Church. (Pius XII, encyclical Humani generis:)


Veneration of Mary's Queenship

It is to give more splendor to this firmly established tradi­tional doctrine of Mary's Queenship, celebrated all along the Christian centuries and throughout the Church, that the Holy Father, by virtue of His apostolic authority, erects the feast of Mary the Queen, to be kept the world over on May 31. And - as Pius XI decreed the yearly renewal of the act of consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart on the feast of the King - he ordains that on this feast the consecration of man­kind to the Immaculate Heart be repeated, as a promise of an era of happiness and Christian peace.


Let all then have recourse to our Queen and Mother with in­creased trust. Let them honor her queenly power by fleeing from sin. Let the faithful celebrate her feasts, and practice her rosary on every occasion and in every need. Let them venerate her name and never abuse it.


Let all imitate her virtues and so be united in social brother­hood and effective mutual help.


In some countries of the world there are people who are unjustly persecuted for professing their Christian faith and who are deprived of their divine and human rights to freedom; up till now reasonable demands and repeated protests have availed nothing to remove these evils. May the powerful Queen of creation, whose radiant glance banishes storms and tempests and brings back cloudless skies, look upon these her innocent and tormented children with eyes of mercy. Is it too difficult to make connection this with our own country where the persecution is unleashed? Are we not in greater need of this queen’s intercession?


The feast of Mary the Queen can and should contribute greatly to the peace among the nations, if all honor her who, as the rainbow, is a divine pledge of peace (cf. Gen. 9, 13; Eccli. 43, 12f.); if they follow her gentle and maternal author­ity and while invoking the Queen of peace, practice what makes for peace according to her maternal commands.


May the Queen and Mother of Christendom grant joy and peace to our world torn by hatred, and show us after this exile her Jesus who will be our peace and joy forever.


Fr. Therasian Babu