‘Our Lady is more Mother than Queen.’
– St. Therese of Lisieux
But she is Queen nonetheless.
Her very name tells us that. St. Jerome makes the following statement while offering various interpretations of Mary’s name: ‘We should realize that Mary means Lady in the Syrian Language.’ St. Chrysologus states more explicitly: ‘The Hebrew word Marymeans Domina. The Angel therefore addresses her as “Lady” to preclude all servile fear in the Lord’s Mother’: the Archangel Gabriel’s heavenly voice, then, is the first to proclaim Mary’s royal office.
From earliest times, the Christians of both East and West have acclaimed their Queen. Over the centuries, Christian artists have tried faithfully to interpret and express this aspect of devotion to the Virgin. Indeed, since the Council of Ephesus (431), Mary has been portrayed as Queen and Empress. In art works, she rules as one seated upon a throne adorned with royal insignia; surrounded by the heavenly host of angels and saints, the divine Redeemer crowns His mother with a resplendent diadem. She rules not only over nature, but also – and today it is good to be reminded of this – over Satan.
With devotion to the Queenship of Our Lady having such a long historical pedigree, it comes as a surprise to learn that the feast itself is of recent origin. The encyclical that instituted the feast, Ad Caeli Reginam, was given by Pope Pius XII at Rome on 11 October 1954. In it, the pope urged all Christians to glory in ‘being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother’s love’.
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