The following selection is taken from Mary at the Foot of the Cross – IX, Mary: Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Coredemptrix, and Mother of the Church. Parts III – VI will be published in upcoming issues. – Asst. Ed.

Part I. Preliminary Considerations

The topic which has been assigned to me is a rather daunting one, precisely because of its vast scope. The modern papal magisterium is usually considered to begin with Pope Benedict XIV whose papacy extended from 1740 to 1758. Hence, we are looking at a period of over 220 years before the Council and almost 45 years since its conclusion. Further, this period is beyond doubt the most fruitful which the Church has ever experienced in the ongoing penetration into the mystery of the Mother of God and of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Roman Church.



The documents of the papal magisterium stretching over this vast period are numerous, but not always easily available nor published in one, convenient collection. Indeed, it would be an enormous benefit for scholars and researchers if there were a uniform collection of the Marian magisterium of the popes from Benedict XIV to Benedict XVI. In any case, the range and complexity of this theme could provide grist for more than one doctoral thesis. I can only hope, within the course of this cursory treatment and the limitations imposed by time and space, to try to do some justice to the subject by choosing among the best and most important texts and, thus, demonstrate the continuity and development of the papal magisterium on this subject for those who will hear or read this conference.
Many postconciliar writers insist that Mariology, as a theological discipline, should not be envisioned as an airtight theological compartment and that it cannot be separated from Christology on the one side and ecclesiology on the other, since Our Lady must always be considered in relation to her Divine Son as well as in relation to the role which she has been given to exercise in His Church. In fact, this reality has led to considering in what ways the Mother of God bears a certain likeness to Jesus Christ and in what ways she bears a likeness to the Church which He founded. In language which has become standard since the Second Vatican Council, the first of these approaches to Mary is characterized as christotypical, while the second is referred to as ecclesiotypical.{footnote}Cf. GIOVANNI PAOLO II, TOTUS TUUS. II Magistero Mariano di Giovanni Paolo II acura di Arthur Burton Calkins (Siena: Edizioni Cantagalli, 2006) 12-22.{/footnote} From a certain perspective, these two approaches to the mystery of Mary met on the floor of the Second Vatican Council and, despite all of the attempted manipulation, moves, and countermoves behind the scenes, the Holy Spirit prevailed in drawing out of this situation of confrontation and tension, a remarkably balanced document which is known as chapter 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. Its precise title is in fact “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church.” In a sense, one might say that the Council produced a new synthesis on Our Lady in that the Church’s perennial Marian doctrine was presented in a salvation historical context. With all due respect, however, this is not to say what the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, said:

The achievements of Vatican II have been called a watershed. The chapter on Mary in the Constitution on the Church seemed to mark the end of an isolated, maximizing Mariology, and the inclusion of Mary in the theology of the Church.{footnote}AVERY CARDINAL DULLES, SJ, Mary Since Vatican II: Decline and Recovery, inMarian Studies L.III (2002) {/footnote}

As we shall see, such a statement departs notably from all of the commentaries on the Mariology of Vatican II offered by the Servant of God Pope John Paul II in the course of his long pontificate, and constitutes what I refer to as “Vatican II triumphalism.”
“Vatican II triumphalism” is virtually always a partial and one-sided interpretation of the council documents which favors a position espoused by one party at the time of the council and studiously avoids mention of any conciliar statements which would counterbalance the “favored” position. In the case of chapter eight of Lumen Gentium on “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church,” the position “favored” heavily by the great majority of postconciliar mariologists emphasizes Mary’s role as model of the Church. This reflects the rediscovered insights of ecclesiotypical Mariology (which sees an analogy between Mary and the Church) which were emerging again at the time of the Council while very largely ignoring christotypical Mariology (which sees an analogy between Christ and Mary) and dismissing it as deductive and “privilege-centered.”{footnote}Cf. the comments by Fathers GEORGE F. KIRWIN, OMI, and THOMAS THOMPSON, SM, in Donald W. Buggert, O.Carm., Louis P. Rogge, O.Carm., Michael J. Wastag, O.Carm. (eds.), Mother, Behold Your Son: Essays in Honor of Eamon R. Carroll, O.Carm. (Washington, DC: The Carmelite Institute, 2001), 17 & 202{/footnote}
What I hope becomes apparent in the course of this presentation is that, while the Marian magisterium of the Popes offers various orientations and perspectives in the course of the centuries, these are complementary and harmonious and need to be seen as such. This is because:

The Tradition that comes from the Apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts (cf. Lk 2:19 and 51). It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And, it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth. Thus, as the centuries go by, the Church is always advancing towards the plenitude of divine truth until, eventually, the words of God are fulfilled in her.{footnote}The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum #8. Austin Flannery, OP, General Editor, Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Collegeville, MN:Liturgical Press, 1975) 754{/footnote}

Part II. The Papal Magisterium on Mary and the Church Prior to the Second Vatican Council

A. Benedict XIV (1740-1758)
Let us take, as our point of departure, the Apostolic Constitution Gloriosa Domina of September 27, 1748 known as the “Golden Bull” of the great theologian and canonist Pope Benedict XIV:{footnote}Cf. MICHAEL O’CARROLL, CSSp, Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, Inc.; Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1982) [ = Theotokos] 74-75{/footnote}

The Catholic Church, formed and nourished in the school of the Holy Spirit, has always professed to render humble tribute to her [Mary] as the Mother of her Lord and Redeemer, as the Queen of heaven and earth. The Church has encompassed this most loving of Mothers, entrusted to her by the last words of her dying Spouse, with expressions of filial homage and devotion.
She is accustomed, in the midst of public calamities and the storms stirred up by the powers of hell, to seek refuge in her help as in a port, safe and secure. The Church knows that it is especially due to Mary that heresies have engaged in battle and have been overcome all over the world. Mary is the gracious Esther, so beloved of the Supreme King of kings that He grants her, for her people’s salvation, not only half of His kingdom, but nearly all His empire and power. She is that courageous Judith, the valiant woman to whom the God of Israel granted victory over all the enemies of her Land.
The Church, through the words of all the Fathers, recommends her sons to have recourse in all their difficulties and dangers to Mary, the mystical Ark of the Covenant. In her, the secret mysteries of our reconciliation have been accomplished, and the sight of her reminds God of his covenant and causes him to be mindful of his mercy. Mary is that heavenly stream which brings to the hearts of wretched mortals all God’s gifts and graces.{footnote}GABRIEL M. ROSCHINI, OSM, Mariologia, Tomus II (Rome; Belardetti, 1947,2nd ed.) 204, 398; Our Lady: Papal Teachings] trans. Daughters of St. Paul(Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961) [= OL] #2-4; for #2{/footnote}

A first important point to be noted is that the first two sentences of the above Apostolic Constitution were reproduced in the last sentence of Lumen Gentium #53 with the original Latin text being abridged and slightly modified but clearly identifiable.{footnote}Cf. ERMANNO M. TONIOLO, OSM, La Beats Maria Vergine nei Concilio Vaticano II (Rome: Centra di Cultura Mariana “Madre della Chiesa,” 2004) [=Toniolo] 261-262{/footnote} Unfortunately, there is no footnote in the text to call one’s attention to this fact. Secondly, while this text does not speak explicitly of Mary as Mother of the Church, it does so in equivalent terms: the Church has been entrusted to this most loving of Mothers by the last words of her dying Spouse. Thirdly, the Church has recourse to Mary in all of her needs and finds refuge in her, a theme that hearkens back to the earliest known Marian prayer, the Sub Tuum Praesidium{footnote}Cf. M. MARIA FRANCESCA PERILLO, FI, Soft Tuum Prassidium: Incomparable MarianPrasconium, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – IV: Mater Viventium (Gen.3:20). Acts of the Fourth International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004) 138-169{/footnote}
Like Queen Esther, Mary intercedes for the Church and her power is virtually unlimited.{footnote}Cf. Esther 5{/footnote} Like Judith, she wins the victory in the Lord’s name precisely because she participated as the “New Eve” in achieving the primordial victory on Calvary.{footnote}Cf. Judith 12.{/footnote} Fourthly, Benedict XIV teaches clearly that Mary is not the source, but the channel by which all God’s gifts and graces come to the Church. This, of course, derives from her role as the “New Eve.” Interestingly, the third and fourth points were confirmed again by Benedict XVI on May 11, 2007 in his homily at the canonization of Frei Antonio de Sant’Ana Galvao at Campo de Marte, Sao Paulo, Brazil when he said that “through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we receive all the blessings of heaven” and that “there is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady.”{footnote}Insegnamenti di Benedetto XVI [= Inseg B] HI/1 (2007) 820-821; L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in English [= ORE. First number = cumulative edition number; second number = page] 1994:14{/footnote}

The Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come (cf. Pet 3:10), a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God.

True, the concept of Mary as “image and beginning of the Church” is an instance of ecclesiotypical terminology absent, but not far removed, from the thought of Pius IX who juxtaposed the figures of the “most holy Virgin” and “Our Holy Mother the Catholic Church” with the latter clearly subordinate to the former.

B. Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878)
We find similar sentiments based on the experience of the centuries expressed in Blessed Pius IX’s Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of December 8, 1854 in which he solemnly defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception:

All our hope do We repose in the most Blessed Virgin- in the all fair and immaculate one who has crushed the poisonous head of the most cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world; … in her who, with her only-begotten Son, is the most powerful Mediatrix and Conciliatrix in the whole world; in her who is the most excellent glory, ornament, and impregnable stronghold of the holy Church; in her who has destroyed all heresies and snatched the faithful people and nations from all kinds of direst calamities; in her do We hope who has delivered Us from so many threatening dangers. We have, therefore, a very certain hope and complete confidence that this most blessed Virgin will ensure, by her most powerful patronage, that all difficulties be removed and all errors dissipated so that Our Holy Mother, the Catholic Church, may flourish daily more and more throughout all the nations.{footnote}Pii IX Pontificis Maxim! Acta I (Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck – u.Verlagsanstelt, 1971) 617; OL #64. {/footnote}

First of all, it should be noted that this passage occurs immediately after the solemn formula of the dogmatic definition. The pontificate of Pius IX was turbulent as the foundations of the old order were being shaken in Europe. He had already been forced to flee the Papal States and was to loose them in 1870. Despite the loss of the temporal power and the many indignities he was to suffer, the Church was to grow and prosper remarkably during his long reign, and he was far-sighted about the fruitful effects of the dogmatic definition.{footnote}Cf. ARTHUR BURTON CALKINS, The Immaculate Coredemptrix in the Life andTeaching of Blessed Pius IX, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – V: Redemption and Coredemption under the Sign of the Immaculate Conception, Acts ofthe Fifth International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford,MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005) 508-541{/footnote}
Secondly, his references to Mary as the one who crushes the head of the serpent according to theprotoevangelium (Gen 3:15),{footnote}Cf. SETTIMIO M. MANELLI, FI, Genesis 3:15and the Immaculate Coredemptrix, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – V: Redemption and Coredemption under the Sign of the Immaculate Conception. Acts of the Fifth International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2005) 263-322{/footnote} which are numerous in the Apostolic Constitution, indicate the classical understanding of the Church that in union with Jesus, but in a secondary and subordinate way which is totally dependent on Him, Mary is victorious in the battle against Satan. Thirdly, Mary is described as the “stronghold of the Church,” a graphic way of describing her patronage and protection. Fourthly, she protects the faith of the Church and destroys all heresies, according to the antiphon in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.{footnote}Gaude, Maria Virgo, cunctas haeses sola interem/sti in universe mundo.Matins, Third Nocturn on Mondays and Fridays{/footnote}This concept of Mary’s role in preserving the Church in truth would be thusly expressed in Lumen Gentium #65:

Having entered deeply into the history of salvation, Mary, in a way, unites in her person and re-echoes the most important doctrines of the Faith; and when she is the subject of preaching and veneration, she calls the faithful to come to her Son, to his sacrifice, and to the love of the Father.

Finally the note of trust in the Virgin’s patronage for the Church’s flourishing is also echoed in Lumen Gentium #68:

The Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come, (cf Pet 3:10) a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God.

True, the concept of Mary as “image and beginning of the Church” is an instance of ecclesiotypical terminology absent, but not far removed, from the thought of Pius IX who juxtaposed the figures of the “most holy Virgin and Our Holy Mother the Catholic Church” with the lattter clearly subordinate to the former.



C. Leo XIII (1878-1903)
Leo XIII has a particular right to be referred to as a Marian pope and especially as the “Pope of the Rosary,” because of his annual Encyclical Letters on the Rosary from 1883 to 1897, along with his other Apostolic Letters and exhortations. In the course of these, he presented many insights on the relationship between Mary and the Church. Let us listen to how he exposes his theme in the first of his Rosary encyclicals, Supremi Apostolatus, of September 1, 1883:

It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in arduous times to fly to Mary for refuge and to seek peace in her maternal goodness, which shows that the Catholic Church has always, and with justice, put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God. She who is associated with Him in the work of man’s salvation has greater favor and power with her Son than any other human or angelic creature has ever obtained or ever can obtain. And, as it is her greatest pleasure to grant her help and comfort to those who seek her, it cannot be doubted that she will deign, even anxiously, to receive the aspirations of the universal Church.
This devotion, so great and so confident, to the august Queen of Heaven, has never shone forth with such brilliance as when the militant Church of God has seemed to be endangered by the violence of widespread heresy, by intolerable moral corruption, or by the attacks of powerful enemies. Ancient and modern history, and the more sacred annals of the Church, bear witness to public and private supplications addressed to the Mother of God, to the help she has granted in return, and to the peace and tranquility which she has obtained from God.{footnote}Acts Sanctae Sedis [= ASS] 16 (1883) 114; OL #82-83. {/footnote}

Here, I limit myself to making two points. First, Leo hearkens back to the Sub Tuum Presidium: “The Catholic Church has always, and with justice, put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God.” Secondly, he states unequivocally that the power of the Mother of God derives from the fact that “she was associated with Him in the work of man’s salvation” [et hoc ipso servandi hominum generis consors facto].
The late Father Michael O’Carroll opined that the Encyclical Letter, Adiutricem Populi, September 5, 1895, was Leo XIII’s greatest Marian encyclical and I am fully in agreement. Its doctrinal content is remarkably rich and, in it, Mary’s intercession is related “to the cause of Christian unity, especially with the Eastern Christians, whose early contribution to Marian theology and devotion is acknowledged.”{footnote}Cf. Theotokos 218-219{/footnote}Here is a very important passage which magnificently highlights the relationship between Mary and the Church:

With generous heart, Mary undertook and discharged the duties of her high but laborious office, the beginnings of which were consecrated in the Cenacle. With wonderful care, she nurtured the first Christians by her holy example, her authoritative counsel, her sweet consolation, her fruitful prayers. She was, in very truth, the Mother of the Church, the Teacher and Queen of the Apostles to whom, besides, she confided no small part of the divine mysteries “which she kept in her heart” (Lk 2:19, 51)…
It is impossible to measure the power and scope of her offices since the day she was taken up to that height of heavenly glory in the company of her Son, to which the dignity and luster of her merits entitle her. From her heavenly abode, she began, by God’s decree, to watch over the Church, to assist and befriend us as our Mother; so that she, who was so intimately associated with the mystery of human salvation, is just as closely associated with the distribution of the graces which, from all time, will flow from the Redemption.{footnote}ASS 28 (1895-1896) 130, 131; OL #168, 169{/footnote}

Without dealing directly here with the mandate that Our Lady had received from Jesus on Calvary (Jn 19:25-26), Leo occupies himself with pointing out that Mary’s first exercise of her Motherhood was carried out in the Upper Room on the days before Pentecost (Acts 1:14) and he does so with evocative language: “With wonderful care, she nurtured the first Christians by her holy example, her authoritative counsel, her sweet consolation, her fruitful prayers” [Christiana gentis primulas iam turn sanctimonia exempli, auctoritate consilii, solatii suavitate, efficacitate sanctarum precum admirabiliter fovit}. This theme was taken up more succinctly in Lumen Gentium #59 which cites the text from the Acts of the Apostles and then comments that “by her prayers Mary, too, was imploring the gift of the Holy Spirit who had already overshadowed her at the Annunciation.” Secondly and very importantly for us, let us note Leo’s conclusion: “She was, in very truth, the Mother of the Church, the Teacher and Queen of the Apostles to whom she confided, besides, no small part of the divine mysteries “which she kept in her heart” (Lk 2:19, 51). Here, he draws the explicit conclusion that Benedict XIV had alluded to: Mary was “in very truth, the Mother of the Church” yerissime quidem mater Ecclesia}. This is the first appearance of the term Mater Ecclesia in the papal magisterium. Leo then adds that she was also “the Teacher and Queen of the Apostles,” a theme which Father Peter Damian Fehlner has developed with magisterial eloquence.{footnote}Cf. PETER DAMIAN M. FEHLNER, FI, Mater et Magistra Apostolorum, in Immaculata Mediatrix, 1:1 (2001) 15-54. 20 {/footnote}
Next let us note how Leo XIII develops his theme: Taken up into heavenly glory, Mary has continued to exercise her Motherhood of the Church. This concept would be taken up in
Lumen Gentium #62 which states that:

Taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside this saving role (salutiferum hoc munus non deposuit) but, by her constant intercession, she continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son who still journey on earth, surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home.

Unfortunately Lumen Gentium #62 continues with what I consider to be the chapter’s weakest and most manipulated text on the role of Our Lady in the work of our salvation,{footnote}Cf. Theotokos 242-245{/footnote}by stating simply that:

The Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.

Leo, on the other hand, boldly provides the rationale for Mary’s Motherhood of the Church: “She who was so intimately associated with the mystery of human salvation is just as closely associated with the distribution of the graces which from all time will flow from the Redemption” [qua sacmmenti humana redemptionis patmndi administra fuerat eademque gratia ex illo in omne tempus derivanda essepariter administra}. In effect, without using either term, he states that because Mary was Coredemptrix, she is also Mediatrix of all graces. Now I must clarify that Lumen Gentium #62 is not in any way materially wrong but, rather, that it sidestepped the issue which Pope Leo XIII presented so clearly out of “ecumenical political correctness” and in order to placate Marian minimalists.{footnote}Cf. RALPH M. WILTGEN, SVD, The Rhine Flows into the Tiber: A History of Vatican II (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1985) [= Wiltgen] 91-94, 155-159.{/footnote}

D. Saint Pius X (1903-1914)
In this brief survey, we next come to consider the great Marian Encyclical Letter of Saint Pius X, Ad Diem Ilium of February 2, 1904, written to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception. In the following passage, while the great Pontiff does not mention the word “Church,” the members of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, are clearly indicated:

In the same holy womb of His most chaste Mother, Christ took to Himself flesh, and united to Himself the spiritual body formed by those who were to believe in Him. Hence, Mary, carrying the Savior within her, may be said to have also carried all those whose lives were contained in the life of the Savior. Therefore, we who are all united to Christ, and as the Apostle says, “are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Eph 5:30), have issued from the womb of Mary like a body united to His head. Hence, in a spiritual and mystical fashion, we are all children of Mary, and she is Mother of us all, “the Mother spiritually, indeed, but truly the Mother of the members of Christ who we are.{footnote}ASS 36 (1903-1904) 453; OL #230{/footnote}

Mystically, but really, then, Pius X says that all of us who are members of the Body of Christ were carried with Him in Mary’s womb. Specifically, following from the Pauline theology of the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4-5, etc.), the Pope is stating that Mary’s spiritual Motherhood of the Church begins at the moment of the Incarnation because she conceives the whole Christ, Head and members since Christ cannot be separated from the members of His Body.{footnote}Cf. JEAN-MARIE SALGADO, OMI, La maternite spiritue/le de la Tres Sainte Vierge Marie (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1990) 192-195.{/footnote}
The Saint develops this analogy further on in this same encyclical:

“A great sign,” the Apostle St. John thus describes a vision divinely sent him, that appeared in die heavens, “a Woman clothed with the Sun and the Moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). Everyone knows that this woman signified the Virgin Mary, the Stainless one who brought forth our Savior.
The Apostle continues: “And being with child, she cried, travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered” (Rev 12:2).
John, therefore, saw the most holy Mother of God, already in eternal happiness, yet travailing in a mysterious childbirth. What birth was it? Surely it was the birth of us who, still in exile, are yet to be generated to the perfect charity of God, and to eternal happiness. And the birth pains show the love and desire with which the Virgin watches over us from heaven above and strives, with unwearying prayer, to bring about the completion of the number of the elect.{footnote}ASS 36 (1903-1904) 458-459; OL #247{/footnote}

As is well known, many Catholic exegetes see, in the “Woman clothed with the Sun” in chapter twelve of the Book of Revelation, the figure of Mary and also of the Church.{footnote}Cf. Theotokos 375-377{/footnote} Already in the high Middle Ages, there are interpretations about the birth pangs of the “Woman” indicating that, while Mary gave birth to Jesus in a wholly miraculous way, her suffering, in union with Jesus on Calvary, was extremely painful and this, because of her giving birth to the sons and daughters of the Church.{footnote}Cf. JOHN SAWARD, Cradle of Redeeming Love: The Theology of the Christmas Mystery (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002) 216-217 where he cites St.
John Damascene to this effect {/footnote}This is beautifully expressed in the Preface of the Second Mass of Mary at the Foot of the Cross in the Collection of Marian Masses:

In your divine wisdom, you planned the redemption of the human race and decreed that the “New Eve” should stand by the Cross of the New Adam: as she became His Mother by the power of the Holy Spirit, so, by a new gift of your love, she was to be a partner in His passion, and she who had given Him birth without the pains of childbirth was to endure the greatest of pains in bringing forth to new life the family of your Church.{footnote}Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Vol. 1: Sacramentary (NY:Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1992) 117{/footnote}

This is clearly the background that Saint Pius X would have us understand as the context of this passage of Ad Diem Ilium. Mary is the Mother who generated the children of the Church in her great travail on Calvary. She is now in eternal happiness, but when we were born at the baptismal font, we were born from the sufferings of her painful childbirth beneath the Cross. In the theology of the mystics, there is no opposition between the image of the Church being born from the pierced side of Christ and the children of the Church being born from the sufferings of Mary on Calvary, which cannot be separated from the suffering of Christ.

E. The Servant of God Pius XII
In this brief overview, we must pass in silence over the pontificates of Popes Benedict XV (1914-1922) and Pius XI (1922-1939) in order to allow space for the Servant of God Pope Pius XII who left an extraordinarily rich legacy of Marian teaching to the Church-and even here we can only highlight a few key items that touch on our theme. While we will see a more developed sketch of the “Marian profile of the Church” in the pontificates of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, we find a fascinating prefiguring of it early in the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. It occurs in an address to pilgrims from Genoa on April 21, 1940, and compares Our Lady’s role in the Church to that of Peter and his successors:

More exalted than St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Mother of our Lord Jesus, has yet in common with Peter a dignity, an authority, a power in a manner all her own, that associates her with the Apostolic College as its Queen. When Jesus entrusted to her – who loved Him more than did Peter-in the person of John beneath His saving Cross, all men as sons, both the sheep and the lambs of a flock in part united, in part dispersed-He designated her the heavenly Shepherdess and the common Mother of all believers, and so likened her to Peter, their common father and shepherd upon earth.
She is the august Queen of the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant-
While Peter has the keys of heaven, Mary has the key to God’s heart; while Peter binds and looses, Mary also binds with the chain of love and looses with the gift of pardon. While Peter is the guardian and minister of indulgences, Mary is the generous and wise Treasurer of God’s favors. “He who desires grace and does not have recourse to Mary, desires to fly without wings” (Dante, Paradiso, 33, 13- 15).{footnote}Il Magistero Mariano di Pio XII a cura di DOMENICO BERTETTO, SDB (Rome: Edizioni Paoline, 1956) #47; OL #363-365{/footnote}

Mary, although not a member of the hierarchy, is higher than the hierarchy as the “common Mother of all believers.”

Perhaps Pius XIFs single most important dogmatic statement on the relationship between Mary and the Church occurs in his great Encyclical Letter on the Mystical Body of Christ, Mystici Corporis, of June 29, 1943:

It was she [Mary] who gave miraculous birth to Christ our Lord, adorned already in her virginal womb with the dignity of Head of the Church, and so brought forth the source of all heavenly life…
She it was who, immune from all sin, personal or inherited, and ever most closely united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and motherly love, like a New Eve, for all the children of Adam contaminated through this unhappy fall; and, thus, she who was the Mother of our Head according to the flesh became, by a new title of sorrow and glory, me spiritual Mother of all His members.
She too, it was, who, by her most powerful intercession, obtained for the new-born Church the prodigious Pentecostal outpouring of that Spirit of the divine Redeemer who had already been given on the Cross. She, finally, true Queen of Martyrs, by bearing with courageous and confident heart her immense weight of sorrows, more than all Christians, “filled up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ for His Body, which is the Church” (Col 1:24); and upon the mystical body of Christ, born of the broken Heart of the Savior, she bestowed that same motherly care and fervent love with which she fostered and nurtured the suckling Infant Jesus in the cradle.
May she, therefore, most holy Mother of all the members of Christ, to whose Immaculate Heart We have trustingly consecrated all men, may she who now, resplendent with glory in body and soul, reigns in heaven with her Son, use her intercession with Him so that from that august Head, abundance of grace may flow with steady stream into all the members of His mystical body. May she now, as in times past, keep watch and ward over the Church with her most powerful patronage and, at length, obtain times more peaceful for her and for the whole family of men.{footnote}Acts Apostolicae Sedis [= AAS] 35 (1943) 247-248; OL #382-385{/footnote}

Let us follow the logical and theological steps which he makes in this carefully crafted text which was published during the harrowing hours of World War II. In the first two paragraphs, we note that Mary is consistently referred to as the “Mother of the Head of the Church.” Pius XII does not draw out the implications as St. Pius X had done in Ad Diem Ilium, but her Motherhood of the members from the first moment of the Incarnation is clearly implicit from what he says next. In the next paragraph he specifically affirms that by Mary’s union with Jesus on Golgotha “she, who was the Mother of our Head according to the flesh became, by a new title of sorrow and glory, the spiritual Mother of all His members” [ita quidem, ut qua corpore erat nostri Capitis mater, spiritu facto, esset, ob novum etiam doloris glori&que titulum, eius membrorum omnium mater]. Thus, Mary was confirmed in her spiritual Motherhood of the members of the Body of Christ “by a new title of sorrow and glory” on Calvary. Next, he states that, just as she had lavished her motherly care on the newborn Head of the Body at Bethlehem, so she lavished the same motherly care on the newborn members of the Body in the Cenacle. In the final paragraph, he calls Mary the “most holy Mother of all the members of Christ,” refers to the consecration of the world to her Immaculate Heart which he had made on October 31, 1942, prays that through her intercession “grace may flow with steady stream into all the members of His Mystical Body” and that she may keep watch “over the Church with her most powerful patronage.” This is truly a magisterial text of great value on Mary’s Motherhood of the members of the Body of Christ.