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Why the Queenship of Mary matters

The Catholic Church annually celebrates the feast of the Queenship of Mary on Aug. 22. I would imagine that most people, upon hearing of this celebration, would think of it as something rather sweet and sentimental, a quaint devotion for grandmothers with a taste for saccharine spirituality.

But when we examine this feast as we should, through biblical eyes, a very different picture emerges.

The clearest scriptural indication that Mary of Nazareth is a queen is a remarkable passage in the 12th chapter of the Book of Revelation. The visionary author sees an extraordinary sign in the sky: a woman clothed with the sun, the moon at her feet, and a coronet of 12 stars on her head.

Twelve, of course, is a designation of the tribes of Israel, and the crown is a rather unambiguous indication that we are dealing with a royal figure. It soon becomes clear that this woman is not only a queen but, more precisely, a queen mother, for we hear that she is laboring to give birth to a king, one who is “destined to rule the nations with an iron rod.”

Both the queen mother and the infant king are involved in a terrible struggle. The visionary tells us that a fearsome dragon is poised to devour the baby as soon as it comes forth. But God sweeps the child up and brings him to the safety of the divine throne, while the mother flees to the desert where she finds refuge. In the wake of this, a war breaks out between “Michael and his angels” and the dragon and his angelic supporters. This image is, of course, symbolically rich and multivalent, but at the very least it indicates that the queen and her kingly son are protagonists in a spiritual warfare of some magnitude. They are, in a word, warriors.

Just before this passage, at the very end of Chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation (and remember that the chapter designations came many centuries after this text was originally composed), we find the vision of the heavenly temple. Amid flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, and a mighty hailstorm, the seer spies the Ark of the Covenant within the temple.

The ark, we recall, was the container of the remnants of the Ten Commandments, and hence the most sacred object for ancient Israel. Placed within the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple, the ark was understood to be the link between heaven and earth, the definitive bearer of the divine presence.

Read more at Catholic News Agency 

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