It has rightly been written that “Pontifical doctrinal authority with the halo of sanctity constitutes the maximum guarantee, even charismatic, of the pure truth animated by the summit of charity.” (1) With St. Pius X we actually find ourselves at the school of a great Pope and Saint who taught and sustained the truth of Marian Coredemption, if not in a solemn form, still with the ordinary Magisterium which must, in any case, be accepted with “religious respect of will and of intelligence,” according to the teaching of Vatican II (L.G. 25).  In this mode Pope St. Pius X confirms the common and constant doctrine, but in a coherent and fixed way, thus creating a first-class vehicle for the title of Coredemptrix into the official vocabulary of the Holy See. (2)

In his encyclical letter Ad diem illum, written to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the dogmatic proclamation of the Immaculate Conception, Pope St. Pius X presents the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation as strictly, indissolubly bound to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s maternal and coredemptive mission, to her who, the Pope affirms, would have “the task of guarding and nourishing the Victim, and of placing Him on the altar.  From this is derived that communion of life and of sorrows between Mother and Son, sorrows to which, for both of Them in equal manner, can be applied the words of the Prophet:  ‘My life is consumed in sorrow, my years are passed in groaning’ (Ps 30:1).” (3)

Here the Pope speaks of the “communion of life and of sorrows” between Jesus and Mary for the entire stretch of the Son’s earthly existence, that is from the Annunciation to the Crucifixion, or, as St. Pius X says in his text, “from the house of Nazareth to the place of Calvary.” (4) On Calvary, then, at the foot of the Cross, that communion of sorrows reaches its peak and the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pope says, citing St. Bonaventure, “so participated in the (Son’s) sufferings that, if it were possible, she would have been most happy to suffer herself all the torments which were supported by the Son.” (5) In this teaching it is not difficult to understand that Mary’s coredemptive mission was ontologically united with the redemptive mission of Jesus, being always “under Him and with Him,” as Vatican II precisely states (L.G. 56). (6)

The Pope’s instruction then goes further, and he finds in that “communion of sorrows and of wills between Mary and Christ” the root of grace by which the Blessed Virgin Mary concretely “merited to become the most worthy Reparatrix of the sinful world (Eadmoro, Mons., De excellentia Virginis Mariae, c.9), and therefore the Dispensatrix of all the treasures which Jesus merited for us with His bloody death.” (7)  This is a brilliant and fundamental text.

It is important to note that Pope St. Pius X specifies the constitutive elements of the salvific mediation of Mary: namely “reparation,” equivalent to Coredemption, by which she paid the price in suffering and immolation to reacquire the grace lost by our first parents, and the “dispensation” of grace, equivalent to universal Mediation, the distribution of every grace to each and every redeemed person to be saved.  In the teaching of St. Pius X “the passage from Reparatrix to Dispensatrix,” so relates Fr. Stefano Miotto, FI, “follows along the lines of being a matter of consequence:  being made the Reparatrix of the human race, as a result (atque ideo) Mary Most Holy rightly becomes the Dispensatrix of all the gifts which work towards the salvation and the sanctification of each man.” (8)

With the same logic of consequence, therefore, St. Pius X links up orthodoxy and orthopraxy by inserting for the first time the term Coredemptrix into three official documents of the Holy See, of which the first was from the Congregation of Rites, while the other two were from the Holy Office (today called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).  In all three documents Our Lady is expressly called the “merciful Coredemptrix of the human race,” (9) “our Coredemptrix,” (10) and the “Coredemptrix of the human race.” (11) It is a fact which is certainly relevant because it indicates that the same Holy See did not find any difficulty in adopting a theological term which is very binding and expressive of a Marian soteriology; this could have lent itself to dispute, but in reality it presented itself as common doctrine peacefully accepted even in the highest ranks of the Church’s hierarchy and teaching.

In summary, the classic doctrine on Coredemption depicted in the ordinary Magisterium of Pope St. Pius X is complete.  Mary’s salvific mission has two phases of development:  the first as the Reparatrix who has coredeemed humanity with the Redeemer, the second as the Dispensatrix who gives each man the graces of salvation and sanctification.  The first was the historical, soteriological mission which went from Nazareth to Calvary; the second is the metahistorical mission which will continue even to the end of time.

What has been said here finds a confirmation and guarantee also in the conclusion of the doctoral thesis of L. Pillet on Marian Coredemption in the teaching of St. Pius X: “The various elements expressed by Pius X in his magisterial documents, whether directly (especially in the encyclical Ad diem illum), or by means of the Roman Congregation, manifest as seriously probable, if not indisputably certain, that he is to be placed among the supporters of Marian Coredemption as understood in the strict sense.  Mary, according to the Pope, through her union with the sorrows, sacrifice and salvific intentions of Christ, actively participated in the Redemption wrought by Him:  she was ‘our Coredemptrix,’ ‘she became with Him the Reparatrix of the fallen world,’ ‘she merited for us, with an inferior merit (de congruo), but on the same redemptive plane, the self-same graces which Christ merited for us de condigno.’” (12)

Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli, FI, is Founder and Minister General of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. He is internationally known for his distinguished preaching and biblical, Mariological scholarship. His biblical Mariology has recently appeared in English under the title: All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed.

Notes

(1) S.M. Miotto, La voce dei Santi e la “Corredentrice,” in Maria Corredentrice, Frigento, IT 2000, vol. III, p. 200

(2) It is important to note that already in 1951 there was published a specific doctoral thesis in Marian theology on the coredemptive doctrine of Pope St. Pius X:  L. Pillet, La Corredenzione mariana nel magistero del beato Pio X, Torino, IT 1951.

(3) AAS 36 (1903-1904) 453.

(4) Ibid., pp. 454-455.

(5) Ibid.

(6) Gherardini writes very well about this text of St. Pius X, speaking of  “A ‘communion’ so perfect that it reaches the limits of identifying itself in the ‘same suffering and will,’ joining together Christ to Mary in the production of the same salvific effect, having qualified Mary, as Mother of the Word Incarnate, and therefore in virtue of Him and subordinate to Him, to merit together with Him that infinite treasure of redemptive grace by which, as He is said to be Redeemer, so she can be said to be Coredemptrix.  With Him who repairs, she is the Reparatrix.  With Him who reconciles, she is the Reconciliatrix.  With Him who redeems, the Coredemptrix.” B. Gherardini, La Corredentrice in Cristo e nella Chiesa, Rome, IT 1998, p. 116).

(7) Ibid. pp. 453-454

(8) Work cited, p. 201.

(9) AAS 41 (1908) p. 409.

(10) AAS 5 (1913) p. 364.

(11) AAS 6 (1914) p. 108.

(12) L. Pilllet, work cited, p. 60.