The late British professor of linguistics and author, J.R.R. Tolkien has gifted to the world two epic tales: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. These two literary achievements have reshaped the trajectory of fiction since they were first printed in 1937 and 1954, respectively.
As a staunch Catholic, Tolkien quite naturally infused his Christian worldview using an oblique writing style. While he never mentions God, religion or a church, Tolkien references heaven, hell, the sacraments, and countless other customs of Christian piety within these magnificent texts. The author himself writes, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.”
During this Marian month of May—traditionally set aside for devotion to the Blessed Mother—it might be edifying to revisit these stories using a Mariological lens:
“Frodo gazed in wonder at this marvellous gift that he had so long carried, not guessing its full worth and potency. Seldom had he remembered it on the road, until they came to Morgul Vale, and never had he used it for fear of its revealing light. Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima! he cried, and knew not what he had spoken; for it seemed that another voice spoke through his, clear, untroubled by the foul air of the pit.” (The Two Towers)
As Frodo confronts Shelob, he furnishes the trinket that was gifted to him by the Elvin Queen, Lady Galadriel. As the fellowship departs from Lothlorien, Galadriel blesses Frodo and offers him a guiding light: “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” Later, in Shelob’s lair, Frodo raises the phial and cries out: “Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima!” which translates, “Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!” Similarly, the Blessed Mother, the Star of the Sea, has given to us the rosary as a light in dark places to direct our hearts toward her son, Jesus. Mary’s name in Hebrew is Miryam, meaning “drop of the sea.” The imagery suggests that the Mother of God is the interceding light to all Christians. We pray, “Hail Mary, full of grace!” (Luke 1:28)
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