“Mary is the Queen of heaven and earth by grace as Jesus is King by nature and by conquest.. So we may call Her, as the saints do, Queen of our hearts.”
– St Louis de Montfort, ‘Treatise On The True Devotion’
The notion of the Blessed Virgin Mary as ‘Queen’ is an ancient one. It dates back at least as far as the fourth century, when Saint Ephrem referred to Mary as both ‘Lady’ and ‘Queen’; however, a text from two centuries earlier, and attributed to Origen, calls Her ‘Domina’ or ‘Lady’. And from the Sixth Century onward, there are numerous references to Mary as ‘Queen’ in a variety of hymns and salutations. Much more recently, the Litany of Loreto, in use since at least 1558, has an entire section comprised of thirteen invocations addressing the Blessed Virgin as Queen.
It has also been the practice of a great many of the Saints to refer to the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin.
Very prominent amongst these is the seminal figure of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. A prolific writer on all things Marian, his great works include ‘The Secret Of The Rosary’, ‘The Secret Of Mary’ and ‘Treatise On The True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin Mary’.
In ‘The Secret Of Mary’ [SM], St Louis proposed that the Mother of God is the perfect way to go to Christ, since She is the way He chose to come to us; he then goes on to lay out the reasons for his proposition and the benefits of embracing what he suggests to us. In this book, he refers to Mary as our ‘Sovereign Queen’ (SM 52) and counsel us –
“Let us pray, then, to our dear Mother and Queen that having accepted our poor present, she may purify it, sanctify it, beautify it, and so make it worthy of God.” (SM 37)
The books contains his ‘Prayer To Jesus’, in which he refers to our “noble Queen” (SM 66); and it also has his ‘Prayer To Mary’, in which there are these lines –
“Hail, Mary, most beloved daughter of the eternal Father; hail, Mary, most admirable mother of the Son; hail, Mary, most faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit; hail, Mary, Mother most dear, Lady most loveable, Queen most powerful! Hail, Mary, my joy, my glory, my heart and soul.” (SM 68)
In his most famous work, Treatise On The True Devotion, Saint Louis lays out a detailed form of Marian devotion which consists of giving absolutely everything – both temporal and spiritual – to the Mother of God, that She might then perfect it and present it to Her Son. The devotion culminates in a Consecration which addresses the Mother of God with these words –
“Hail, O Queen of Heaven and Earth, to whose empire is subject everything that is under God!” (TD 274)
He tells us very explicitly that “God has made Her Queen of heaven and earth” (TD28) and goes on to elaborate on this, saying “Mary is the Queen of heaven and earth by grace as Jesus is King by nature and by conquest” (TD 38).
Writing about the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the great Marian Year of 1954, celebrating the centenary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Pius XII wrote his Encyclical; ‘Ad Caeli Reginam’ (‘Queen Of Heaven’), in which he established the feast of the Queenship of Mary. In the Encyclical, he wrote –
“..the Blessed Virgin Mary should be called Queen, not only because of Her Divine Motherhood, but also because God has willed Her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation. Let all Christians, therefore, glory in being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother’s love..”
At that time, and in the years since then, it has been reasonably common to see images of the Blessed Virgin being ‘crowned’. Indeed in this very Encyclical, Pope Pius reminded his readers of one such crowning –
“..It is particularly fitting to call to mind the radio message which We addressed to the people of Portugal, when the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary which is venerated at Fatima was being crowned with a golden diadem.. We Ourselves called this the heralding of the ‘sovereignty’ of Mary.”
Similar crownings were seen during the pontificates of St Paul VI, St John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
So now that we know a little about the history of calling Mary our Queen, what relevance does this have for us today?
Speaking at a General Audience on 23 July 1997, Pope John Paul II gave us the reason –
“Popular devotion invokes Mary as Queen. The Council, after recalling the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in “‘body and soul into heavenly glory’”, explains that She was ‘exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that She might be the more fully conformed to Her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Rv 19:16) and conqueror of sin and death’ (Lumen Gentium, n. 59). In fact, starting from the fifth century, almost in the same period in which the Council of Ephesus proclaims Her ‘Mother of God’, the title of Queen begins to be attributed to Her. With this further recognition of Her sublime dignity, the Christian people want to place Her above all creatures, exalting Her role and importance in the life of every person and of the whole world.”
The Holy Father went on to add this –
“In looking at the analogy between Christ’s Ascension and Mary’s Assumption, we can conclude that Mary, in dependence on Christ, is the Queen who possesses and exercises over the universe a sovereignty granted to Her by Her Son. The title of Queen does not of course replace that of Mother: Her queenship remains a corollary of Her particular maternal mission and simply expresses the power conferred on Her to carry out that mission.. Therefore Christians look with trust to Mary Queen and this not only does not diminish but indeed exalts their filial abandonment to her, who is mother in the order of grace.”
And so the various Holy Fathers and the Saints mentioned here agree that we venerate the Blessed Virgin as Queen for two broad reasons.
The first is because it is the express will of God, Who has so exalted Her in this way, that we do so; He has placed Her above all creation as Sovereign in the order of grace and He has given Her the rights and powers of Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The second reason is that by venerating the Blessed Virgin as our Queen, we explicitly place ourselves under Her dominion as Her subjects. We do this for all the reasons given by Saint Louis de Montfort and because, as Saint John Paul notes, it expresses our complete abandonment to Her in all things. To recognise ourselves as Her subjects gives Her not only rights over us, but responsibilities, too – and in particular, the responsibility to help us to reach Heaven safely.
The Schoenstatt family of Priests, nuns and laity have a beautiful tradition – every year, the image of the Blessed Virgin is solemnly crowned as a sign of Her reign over them. And we have seen the numerous examples of the Holy Fathers throughout the years also crowning images of the Mother of God. Similarly, various nations and their Conferences of Bishops – including Scotland (cf. A Nation Acclaims It’s Queen), just a couple of years ago – have explicitly and solemnly consecrated their nations to the Blessed Virgin.
Perhaps the lovely feast of Our Lady, Mother and Queen, might act as an impetus for us to set up in our homes a blessed image of the Mother of God and to solemnly crown Her there as Queen and Mother of the Family and of our lives.
“Queen of Heaven and Earth, and tender Mother of all people, in accordance with Your ardent wish, made known to the three children at Fatima, we consecrate to Your Immaculate Heart our beloved country of Scotland. We stand confidently before You today, O holy Mother of God. Inflame us with the same divine fire which inflamed Your own Immaculate Heart. Reign over us and teach us how to make the Heart of Jesus reign and triumph in us and around us, as It has reigned and triumphed in You. Make our country and it’s people, Your shrine, O holy Mother of God, so that we may be Yours in prosperity and adversity, in joy and sorrow, in health and sickness, in life and in death.”
– the Catholic Bishops of Scotland, September 2017