The following article is the final part of an excerpt from a chapter in the recently published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book is now available from Queenship Publications. To obtain a copy, visit www.queenship.org.
–Asst. Ed.

Mary Mediatrix of all Graces in the Pontifical Magisterium: From Benedict XIV to Benedict XVI

Mary’s universal mediation has been the object of the unchanging ordinary Papal Magisterium for at least the past three centuries and therefore must be considered Catholic doctrine, definitive tenenda, not dogmatically defined, but certainly definable (57). Despite this fact, a certain debate exists among some Mariologists today concerning the legitimacy and significance of the title Mediatrix of all graces. Those who deny its legitimacy generally also deny Mary’s coredemption, thus witnessing the logical nexus linking these two truths (58).

Pope Benedict XIV (+1758) describes Our Blessed Lady as the “heavenly stream which brings to the hearts of wretched mortals all God’s gifts and graces” (59).

Pope Pius VII (+1823) calls Mary the “Dispensatrix of all graces (gratiarum omnium dispensatricem)” (60).

Bl. Pius IX (+1878) places his hopes in the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, she who “with her only-begotten Son, is the most powerful Mediatrix and Conciliatrix in the whole world. … (She) 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” (61).

Leo XIII (+1903) writes that “with equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ. Thus as no man goes to the Father but by the Son, so no man goes to Christ but by his Mother” (62).

In another encyclical, Leo XIII explains that in the vocal recitation of the Rosary we address first the Father who is in heaven and then the Virgin Mary. “Thus is confirmed that law of merciful meditation of which we have spoken, and which St. Bernardine of Siena thus expresses: ‘Every grace granted to man has three degrees in order; for by God it is communicated to Christ, from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and from the Virgin it descends to us’” (63). At the end of the encyclical the Holy Father, citing the authority of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, reaffirms that God has given us a “Mediatrix” in Mary, willing “that all good should come to us by the hands of Mary” (64).

In Leo’s Encyclical Adiutricem populi, we read that the Blessed Virgin Mary, “who was so intimately associated with the mystery of human salvation is just as closely associated with the distribution of the graces which for all time will flow from the redemption. … Among her many other titles we find her hailed as ‘Our Lady, our Mediatrix,’ ‘the Reparatrix of the whole world,’ ‘the Dispenser of all heavenly gifts’” (65).

And in his Encyclical Fidentem piumque we read:

Undoubtedly the name and attributes of the absolute Mediator belong to no other than to Christ, for being one person, and yet both man and God, he restored the human race to the favor of the heavenly Father: One Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all (1 Tim 2:5-6). And yet, as the Angelic Doctor teaches, there is no reason why certain others should not be called in a certain way mediators between God and man, that is to say, in so far as they co-operate by predisposing and ministering in the union of man with God (Summa, p. 3, q. 26., a. 1, 2). Such are the angels and saints, the prophets and priests of both Testaments; but especially has the Blessed Virgin a claim to the glory of this title. For no single individual can even be imagined who has ever contributed or ever will contribute so much towards reconciling man with God. She offered to mankind, hastening to eternal ruin, a Savior, at that moment when she received the announcement of the mystery of peace brought to this earth by the angel, with that admirable act of consent in the name of the whole human race (Summa. p. 3, q. 30., a. 1). She it is from whom is born Jesus; she is therefore truly his mother, and for this reason a worthy and acceptable “Mediatrix to the Mediator” (66).

St. Pius X (+1914), in the Encyclical Ad diem illum, writes:

It cannot, of course, be denied that the dispensation of these treasures is the particular and peculiar right of Jesus Christ, for they are the exclusive fruit of his death, who by his nature is the mediator between God and man. Nevertheless, by this companionship in sorrow and suffering already mentioned between the Mother and the Son, it has been allowed to the august Virgin to be the most powerful Mediatrix and Advocate of the whole world with her divine Son (totius terrarium orbis potentissima apud unigenitum Filium suum mediatrix et conciliatrix). The source, then, is Jesus Christ. … But Mary … is the channel, or, if you will, the connecting portion the function of which is to join the body to the head and to transmit to the body the influences and volitions of the head—we mean the neck. … We are then, it will be seen, very far from attributing to the Mother of God a productive power of grace—a power which belongs to God alone. Yet, since Mary carries it over all in holiness and union with Jesus Christ, and has been associated by Jesus Christ in the work of redemption … she is the supreme minister of the distribution of graces (princeps largiendarum gratiarum ministra) (67).

Pope Benedict XV (+1922), in the Apostolic Letter Inter sodalicia (March 22, 1918), affirms the role of Mary Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix at the foot of the Cross of her Son:

Mary suffered and, as it were, nearly died with her suffering Son; for the salvation of mankind she renounced her mother’s rights and, as far as it depended on her, offered her Son to placate divine justice; so we may well say that she with Christ redeemed mankind. Consequently … the graces which we receive from the treasury of the redemption are distributed, so to speak, by the hands of this sorrowful Virgin (68).

In the context of the canonization of St. Joan of Arc, Benedict XV observed that “every grace and blessing comes to us” by means of Our Blessed Lady. Therefore, besides the intercession of the saints, “one must include the influence of her whom the Holy Fathers greeted with the title, Mediatrix omnium gratiam” (69).

On January 12, 1921, the Holy See received the requests of Cardinal Mercier (archbishop primate of Belgium) and of the Belgian bishops, approving the Mass and Office of the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mediatrix of all graces, established on the date of May 31. The liturgical celebration of this feast was granted to the dioceses of Belgium and to all dioceses and religious orders requesting it (70).

With the Apostolic Letter Sodalitatem Nostrae Dominae, Benedict XV granted plenary and partial indulgences to the Sodalizio di Nostra Signora della buona morte (Association of Our Lady of a Happy Death); he also granted indulgences for the day of May 31, Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary “Mediatrix of all graces” (71).

Pius XI (+1939) calls the Virgin Mary the “Mediatrix of all graces with God” (72); he writes that Christ has associated Mary with himself as “minister and mediatress of grace” (73); he makes reference to the most efficacious patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary “Mediatrix of all graces” (74); he establishes the Blessed Virgin Mary of graces of Mount Philerimos as the principal patroness of the Archdiocese of Rhodes; and, in the related document, the Blessed Virgin is called “Mediatrix of all graces” (75).

Pius XII (+1958) very often makes use of the titles Mediatrix omnium gratiarum, gratiarum omnium apud Deum sequestra, and other similar expressions (76). In the Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, Pius XII wonderfully illustrates the doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s universal mediation:

Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as his associate in the redemption, in his struggle with his enemies and his final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in his royal dignity. For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature; from her union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the divine Redeemer’s kingdom; from her union with Christ finally comes the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and his Father. Hence it cannot be doubted that Mary most holy is far above all other creatures in dignity, and after her Son possesses primacy over all. …

For if through his humanity the divine Word performs miracles and gives graces, if he uses his sacraments and saints as instruments for the salvation of men, why should he not make use of the role and work of his most holy Mother in imparting to us the fruits of redemption? “With a heart that is truly a mother’s,” to quote again our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, “does she approach the problem of our salvation, and is solicitous for the whole human race; made Queen of heaven and earth by the Lord, exalted above all choirs of angels and saints, and standing at the right hand of her only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she intercedes powerfully for us with a mother’s prayers, obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused.” On this point another of our predecessors of happy memory, Leo XIII, has said that an “almost immeasurable” power has been given Mary in the distribution of graces; St. Pius X adds that she fills this office “as by the right of a mother” (77).

Bl. John XXIII (+1962) granted the title and privilege of minor basilica to the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary Mediatrix of All Graces, Sultana of Africa, located in the locality of Lodonga, in Uganda. In the text of the related apostolic letter there are three references to the “Mediatrix of all graces” (78).

The Mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Second Vatican Council

On November 21, 1964, after an editorial work of about four years (if we include the preparatory work before the Council), Paul VI promulgated the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, the eighth chapter of which is entirely dedicated to the Mother of God and of men (79). Before arriving at this definitive text, there was no shortage of lively discussions on the title of Mediatrix. Many bishops asked for its dogmatic definition, but others were opposed to it for various reasons, not the least of which were those of an ecumenical nature (80).

Among the Fathers of the Central Preparatory Commission of the Second Vatican Council, 16 expressed reservation with the Marian title of Mediatrix (81). The use of the title would damage the ecumenical dialogue with the Protestants (82). Archbishop Alter (Cincinnati, Ohio), with cardinals Koenig (Vienna, Austria) and Godfrey (Westminster), echoed these sentiments (83). Instead of mediation, Cardinal Montini preferred to speak of the Blessed Virgin’s spiritual maternity, her regality and her intercession (84).

Fr. Paolo Siano rightly observes in his above-cited article that there was, in this attitude, a kind of opposition to the pontifical thought, because, almost on the morrow of the conclusion of these discussions, July 23, 1962, Bl. John XXIII approved the new Missal which contained the Holy Mass to the Beata Maria Virgo omnium gratiarum Mediatrix (Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of all graces) (85).

During the Second Vatican Council, particularly in the third session held in 1964, there was a lively discussion on various Mariological themes, and there was also a discussion on the title of Mediatrix (86). Such a title was commonly accepted by everyone, but a few, including cardinals Alfrink, Léger and Bea, who preferred it to be omitted from the official documents of the Council in order to promote ecumenism toward Protestant Christians (the great majority of whom rejected the title then and continue to reject it presently) (87). There were, in fact, rumors that the Protestants were threatening to break off all ecumenical dialogue if the title of Mediatrix were to be inserted into the conciliar dogmatic constitution. Meanwhile, 310 Council Fathers desired an authoritative, extraordinary and dogmatic pronouncement by the Council in favor of Mary’s mediation-coredemption (88). To reconcile the two parties it was decided to insert the title of Mediatrix into the Marian document of the Council, but also to include adequate explanations to respond to Protestant objections and to omit all examination regarding the nature of this mediation.

The Protestant “observers” invited to the Council were not satisfied, but they did not break off the dialogue (89). The omission of the title, in fact, would have cast a shadow upon the preceding Ordinary Magisterium and could have perhaps diverted the ecumenical dialogue from the level of truth to the level of political ambiguity. It could have contributed to “maintaining rather than dissipating the ambiguous” at the service of a “mistaken ecumenism” (90).

Fr. Carlo Balić (O.F.M., +1977), one of the original drafters of chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium, provides a suitable response to those who wish to interpret the Council as the moment of departure from the preceding Mariological tradition: “The Council has not mitigated or deprived the concept of the mediation of the Virgin of its content in the sense in which in which it has been propagated by the theologians of our (twentieth) century” (91).

In examining the conciliar text of No. 62 of Lumen Gentium, we read the following:

Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued 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. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, 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 (92).

That is why, in the Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary is also invoked under the title of “Mediatrix.” The Council document cites other magisterial documents as proof of the complete catholicity of the title: Leo XIII, Adiutricem populi; St. Pius X, Ad diem illum; Pius XI, Miserentissimus Redemptor; Pius XII, Nuntius Radiophonicus (in AAS 38 (1946) 266).

In order to prevent an interpretation of Marian mediation as “mere” intercession, many Council Fathers proposed the Marian title of “Dispensatrix of all graces,” already fully accepted by the Magisterium and perfectly in conformity to common Catholic doctrine. The Doctrinal Commission replied that the Council text did not intend to deny this doctrine (93). Therefore, the Second Vatican Council does not at all repudiate the doctrine of Mary Mediatrix of all graces (94), a doctrine also clearly taught in the papal documents expressly cited by the Council text.

Paul VI (+1978): He preferred to speak of Mary as our intercessor (95) with Christ rather than as Dispensatrix of graces (96), but this is a question of a different emphasis, not of a denial. Still, Pope Paul VI was certainly less inclined to speak on these subjects than his predecessors, from Leo XIII to Pius XII.

By a faculty granted by Paul VI, Cardinal James Lercaro, assisted by the Secretary Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, approved and confirmed the “Proper” of the Masses of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, for use in the Italian provinces (97), in which is found the Mass of “Mary Most Holy Mediatrix of All Grace,” a feast of third class, on the date of May 8 (98).

In the Apostolic Exhortation Signum Magnum, Paul VI recalls that Mary, assumed into heaven, assists her still-pilgrim children:

She makes herself their Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix and Mediatrix. Of this intercession of hers for the People of God with the Son, the Church has been persuaded, ever since the first centuries, as testified to by this most ancient antiphon which, with some slight difference, forms part of the liturgical prayer in the East as well as in the West: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercies, Oh Mother of God; do not reject our supplication in need but save us from perdition, O you who alone are blessed.” … Therefore, as each one of us can repeat with St. Paul: “The Son of God loved me and gave himself up for me,” (Gal 2:29) so in all trust he can believe that the divine Savior has left to him also, in spiritual heritage, his Mother, with all the treasures of grace and virtues with which he had endowed her, that she may pour them over us through the influence of her powerful intercession and our willing imitation. This is why St. Bernard rightly affirms: “Coming to her the Holy Spirit filled her with grace for herself; when the same Spirit pervaded her again she became superabundant and redounding in grace for us also” (99).

At the end of the apostolic exhortation the Pope remembers the 25th anniversary of the “consecration” of the Church and of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and exhorts “all the sons of the Church to renew personally their consecration to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of the Church” (100).

In his letter to Cardinal Suenens, archbishop of Malines-Brussels, on the occasion of the Marian International Congress of May 13, 1975, Paul VI writes:

In confirmation of these reflections, we are happy to recall the testimony that also the Fathers and Doctors of the Eastern church, exemplary as they are in the faith and in worship of the Holy Spirit, have borne to ecclesial faith and the cult of the Mother of Christ, as the mediator of divine favors. Their affirmations, however surprising, should not disturb anyone, since it is understood and sometimes clearly mentioned in them that the source of the Virgin’s mediating action is dependent on the action of the Spirit of God. So, for example, St. Ephraem exalts Mary in these superlative tones: “Blessed is she who has been made the source for the whole world, emanating all goods” (S. Ephraem Syri hymni et serm., ed. Th. Lamy Malines, 1882-1902, II, p. 548); and again: “Most holy Lady … the only one that has been made the dwelling of all the graces of the Holy Spirit” (Assem. græc. III, 542). St. John Chrysostom sums up Mary’s salvific work in the following stupendous eulogy: “A virgin chased us out of paradise; thanks to the intervention of another virgin, we have found eternal life again. As we were condemned by the fault of a virgin, so we have been crowned by the merit of a virgin” (Expos. in ps. 44, 7: PG 55, 193). They are echoed, in the eighth century, by St. Germanus of Constantinople, who addresses the following moving invocations to Mary: “You, oh pure, excellent and most merciful Lady, comfort of Christians, … protect us with the wings of your kindness; guard us with your intercession, giving us eternal life; you who are the hope of Christians that does not deceive. … Your gifts are innumerable. For no one, unless through you, oh holy one, obtains salvation. No one, unless through you, is delivered from evil. Who like you, in agreement with your only Son, looks after mankind?” (Concio in sanctam Mariam: PG 98, 327).

This traditional faith, which is common both to the Eastern and to the Western Church, found authoritative confirmation in the teaching of our great predecessor Leo XIII, who, while he published numerous encyclical letters to promote the cult of the Mother of God, invoked especially under the title of Queen of the Holy Rosary, also dedicated a long document encyclical to the exaltation, even more excellent, of the Holy Spirit and promotion of his worship (Enc. Divinum illud munus, May 9, 1897; Acta Leonis, Vol. XVII, pp. 126-128) (101).

John Paul II (+2005) brought the title of Mary Mediatrix of all graces back into favor, despite the reticence of a few theologians who appealed to a restrictive interpretation of conciliar Mariology (102). Pope John Paul II used the title “Mediatrix of all graces” literally at least seven times in his addresses (homilies, discourses, angelus, etc.) (103), according to the research conducted by Msgr. Arthur Burton Calkins, Dr. Mark Miravalle, Don Manfred Hauke (104), and Fr. Paolo Siano, F.I. (105)

On other occasions John Paul II used the expressions “Universal Mediatrix of all grace” (106), “Mother of all graces” (107), “Dispensatrix of all grace” (108), giver of “all grace” (109), “Mediatrix of all grace” (110), and “Mediatrix of graces” (111).

In the Marian Encyclical Redemptoris Mater (March 25, 1989), the Pontiff of Totus Tuus illustrates in an in-depth manner the theology of Mary’s maternal mediation.

In the “Parish Priest’s Prayer to Mary Most Holy” contained in the appendix to the Instruction of the Congregation for the Clergy, The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community (August 4, 2002), Our Blessed Lady is also invoked with the title “Mediatrix of all graces” (112).

Contained in the Collectio missarum de beata Virgine, approved and promulgated by John Paul II on the occasion of the Marian Year (113) is a Mass of the Virgin Mary Mother and Mediatrix of grace; in the preface of this Mass, we read that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary carries out “a maternal role in the Church: of intercession, of pardon, of prayer and grace, of reconciliation and peace” (114). The Virgin Mary is “Mother of mercy and handmaid of grace” (115). The title of Dispensatrix of grace reappears in other eucological texts of the same Collectio Missarum (116).

As proof that the title of Mediatrix, in the broadest sense, includes that of Co-redemptrix, John Paul II did not hesitate to use the former as well as the latter term. In his article cited above, Fr. Siano has identified a seventh Woytylian text in which the title of Co-redemptrix appears (117), complementing the other six references previously “discovered” by Msgr. Calkins.

Pope Benedict XVI has recently continued the overall succession of papal writers on Our Lady’s role as Mediatrix of all graces. In his May 11, 2007, homily in which he canonized the Brazilian Franciscan, Fr. Antônio de Sant’ana Galvão, O.F.M., Benedict XVI uses the extraordinary foundation of the Marian mediation of every grace of the redemption in a generous manner somewhat reminiscent of St. Bernard, St. Louis-Marie and St. Maximilian: “There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady” (118).

Benedict reiterates the essence of Marian mediation as he continues: “Let us give thanks to God the Father, to God the Son, to God the Holy Spirit from whom, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we receive all the blessings of heaven” (119).

The Nature of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Influence in the Application of the Redemption

The fact of this mystery of the maternal mediation of Mary here and now, both as intercession and as spiritual begetting of Christ within the minds and hearts of all believers, since the golden age of scholastic theology (thirteenth century), has led to a great deal of speculation on the nature of this mediation and the type of causal influence exercised directly and immediately by a human person on the souls of other men, such as in fact is ascribed to the Virgin Mother as Mediatrix of all graces. Neither the terminology employed by the representatives of various schools of theology, such as the Thomistic and Scotistic, even within the same school is uniform, nor are the concepts behind the terminology uniformly defined. Hence for those not fully informed about these discussions the significance of the speculation is hard to grasp. Nor is it necessary for all to grasp it in order to appreciate the meaning and importance of the maternal mediation of Mary here and now.

Briefly, those who follow a Thomistic orientation tend to stress the importance of what is called “physical-instrumental” causality to appreciate in some way the mystery of this mediation and its relevance to many practical, spiritual, pastoral, missionary dimensions of Christian life. Those of the Scotistic persuasion tend to stress more the moral, exemplary, meritorious aspects of causal activity to illustrate not merely the intercession (advocacy) of Mary at the throne of grace in heaven where she is gloriously assumed, but also the unique personal, or voluntary, features of her direct action in the Church and on souls for the distribution of all graces. Without doubt valid points are made by both approaches, and neither exhausts the subject, nor can pretend to do so (120).

With Pope John Paul II, however, a certain impulse was given to reopening these speculative discussions, not only on the very nature of mediation in Christ and Mary as a unique form of causality (on which rests that of the sacramental order), but also of others, not much discussed in the speculative realm since the middle ages. I refer here to the role of Mary as Mediatrix in the sacramental order and the manner in which she directly and immediately touches the heart of every one of her spiritual children (121). Both Pope John Paul II and his successor, Benedict XVI, have spoken of the Marian principle of the Church and the unique place of Mary at the very heart of the Church (122). This is simply another way of talking about Marian mediation, but it is also a way of setting study of grace and free will, and still more the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in every believer in the state of grace, in a radically Marian context. St. Maximilian M. Kolbe does more than hint at all this in speaking of transubstantiation into the Immaculate, as she is transubstantiated into the Holy Spirit, in order to “mediate” in the order of conversion and sanctification (123).

That these discussions should continue is not something otiose. Not only do the metaphysical insights of Christian philosophers help us to enter more profoundly into the understanding of an extremely important feature of our faith, one in the thirteenth century described as the very foundation and primary character of the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi (124), and repeated again in our times by St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, this time however in reference to the spiritual and intellectual life of the Church: Mary, mother and teacher (125), but the very effort to undertake such speculations bears fruit in the form of a deepened appreciation of the basic themes of Christian philosophy. A medieval English Benedictine Abbot, Odo of Canterbury, an older contemporary of St. Francis, in a homily preached around the year 1200, called not Aristotle, but Mary our philosopher and added also our philosophy (126). For the love of wisdom cannot merely be an abstraction, but of that person who is Wisdom incarnate, the Way, the Truth and the Life, loved as only the Virgin Mother can know and love the Wisdom who became her Child.

Conclusion

With the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater (March 25, 1987) of John Paul II, a step forward has been taken in the theological comprehension of Mary’s mediation in the light of her maternity. The excellent theological intuition of the Pope is completely summarized in the simple and effective title of Mary as maternal Mediatrix. What is maternity if not an excellent form of mediation from every point of view, in particular the personal and spiritual? We could define it as the feminine mode of collaborating with God in the generation of the natural and supernatural life of persons. Since it puts the woman in an intermediary position between God, source of life, and the child, who receives it, in which she unites the two extremes (God and the child) to each other, this maternal collaboration is true mediation. Evidently, understanding of the maternal mediation of Mary which touches both heaven and earth is crucial not only in the spiritual order, but wherever fundamental questions of human existence arise, whether personal or social, familial or political. Without some essential reference to the mystery of Mary, attempted resolutions of such problems can only end in human tragedy, and betrayal of our dear Savior.

But while the mother is always a mediatrix, not every mediation is maternal. Christ, in fact, is Mediator but not mother; Mary, instead, was maternal Mediatrix before being physically mother, because her mediation was completely oriented and preordained, from the moment of conception, to the divine-human maternity. When the woman collaborates with God in procreation, she is always a mother. She is a natural mother if mother of a natural life, a supernatural mother if mother of a supernatural life, divine Mother if mother of the divine Life. And supernatural maternity is true maternity not only and not so much by analogy to natural maternity, but above all by its reference to the exemplar (or analogatum princeps—major analogue), or to Mary’s divine-human maternity, in which every maternity, natural and supernatural, finds its own incomparable perfection.

Reflection on the theological concept of mediation found in the Pauline corpus and serving as a kind of profound synthesis of all aspects of the mystery of salvation as this is grounded in the order of the hypostatic union, viz., of the joint predestination of Jesus and Mary, illumines the profound insights of the late Holy Father. In turn these enable us to see that there is nothing inherently contradictory in insisting on the unicity and sufficiency of Christ’s mediation and at the same time affirming his Mother as our maternal Mediatrix. And that seen, the mystery of Marian mediation appears everywhere in Scripture and Tradition, in the liturgy and in sacred art, sometimes with, sometimes without the title. Nor will we be inclined to underestimate the importance of this mystery, practically as well as speculatively. This is but another way of saying that the presence of Mary here and now is crucial to our understanding and love of Christ, to our sharing in the fruits of redemption. Mary is our Mediatrix with Christ as Christ is our Mediator with the Father. Put in the more humble language of the street: know Mary, know Jesus; no Mary, no Jesus. That is the bottom line making the difference between heaven and hell. That is why true devotion to Jesus means total consecration to the Immaculate Mediatrix, why we can never say enough about Mary, why we can never be too devoted to Mary (127). For she is our Mother, the Immaculate Mediatrix, ever sustaining us as disciples of her Son.

 

Notes

(57) We will follow the outline of the positive historical study of Fr. Paolo M. Siano, F.I., which may be consulted upon further inquiries. P. Siano, F.I., Uno studio su Maria Santissima “Mediatrice di tutte le Grazie” nel magistero pontificio fino al pontificato di Giovanni Paolo II, op. cit.

(58) Cf. A. Apollonio, F.I., Il “calvario teologico” della Corredenzione mariana, Presentation of Fr. Paolo M. Siano (pp. 3-6), Casa Mariana Editrice, Castelpetroso 1999, pp. 43. Standing out, unfortunately, among the voices contrary to the Marian title of “Co-redemptrix” and “Mediatrix of all Graces” is that of Salvatore Perella, O.S.M., Virgo Ecclesia facta. La Madre di Dio tra due millenni. Summa storico-teologica, Miles Immaculatae, Anno XXXVII, fasc. II, 2001, pp. 357-434. See in particular pp. 408-410.

(59) Benedict XIV, Bull Gloriosae Dominae, 1748, Op. Omnia, v. 16, ed. Prati, 1846, p. 428, cit. in Our Lady: Papal Teachings, trans. Daughters of St. Paul (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961), p. 26, n. 4.

(60) Pius VII, Ampliatio privilegiorum ecclesiae B.M. Virginis ab angelo salutatae in cenobio Fratrum Ordinis Servorum B.M.V. Florentiae, A.D., 1806, § 1, in J.J. Bourassé, Summa Aurea de laudibus Beatissimae Virginis Mariae, Dei Genitricis sine labe conceptae…, Tomus VII, Paris 1862, col. 546.

(61) Pius IX, Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854, in R. Spiazzi, O.P., ed., Maria Santissima nel Magistero della Chiesa. I documenti pontifici da Pio IX a Giovanni Paolo II, Massimo, Milano 1987, p. 38.

(62) Leo XIII, Encyclical on the Rosary Octobri mense, September 21, 1891, in H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum, bilingual edizione, ed. Peter Hünermann, EDB, Bologna 1996, n. 3274. Abbreviation: Denz. The entire text of the encyclical is in Acta Sanctae Sedis (ASS), 24 (1891-1892) 193-203.

(63) Leo XIII, Encyclical on the Rosary Iucunda semper, September 8, 1894, in ASS 27 (1894-1895) 179.

(64) Cf. ibid., pp. 183-184.

(65) Leo XIII, Encyclical Adiutricem populi, September 5, 1895, in ASS 28 (1895-1896) 130-131. in R. Spiazzi, ed., Maria Santissima nel Magistero della Chiesa. I documenti pontifici da Pio IX a Giovanni Paolo II, Massimo, Milano 1987, p. 60 (ASS 28 (1895-1896) 130-131).

(66) Leo XIII, Encyclical Fidentem piumque, September 20, 1896, in ASS 29 (1896-1897) 206 (Denz. 3320-3321).

(67) Pius X, Encyclical Ad diem illum, February 2, 1904, in ASS 36 (1903-1904) 449-462.

(68) Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Inter sodalicia, March 22, 1918, in R. Spiazzi, op. cit., p. 87 (Denz. 3370). English translation cit. in Papal Teachings: Our Lady, op. cit., p. 194, nn. 267-268.

(69) Benedict XV, Decree of April 6, 1919, cited by Hauke M., Maria “Mediatrice di tutte le grazie.” La mediazione universale di Maria nell’opera teologica e pastorale di cardinale Mercier, art. cit., p. 64. English translation cit. by M. Hauke, Mary, Mediatress of Grace: Mary’s Mediation of Grace in the Theological and Pastoral Works of Cardinal Mercier, Supplement to Mary at the Foot of the Cross IV, op. cit., p. 52.

(70) Cf. ibid., pp. 67-72.

(71) Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Sodalitatem Nostrae Dominae, May 31, 1921, Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS) 13 (1921) 345.

(72) Pius XI, Apostolic Letter Galliam, Ecclesiae filiam, March 2, 1922, AAS 14 (1922) 186.

(73) Pius XI, Encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, May 8, 1928, AAS 20 (1928) 178.

(74) Pius XI, Encyclical Caritate Christi compulsi, May 3, 1932, in AAS 24 (1932) 192.

(75) Pius XI, Apostolic Letter Rhodiensis archidioecesis, October 4, 1934, in AAS 26 (1934) 545-546.

(76) Pius XII, Apostolic Letter Claverenses dioecesis, August 5, 1942, in AAS 34 (1942) 364; idem, Apostolic Letter Beatissimae Virgini, August 15, 1942, in AAS 34 (1942) 365; idem, radio message Benedicite Deum caeli, October 31, 1942, AAS 34 (1942) 317; idem, radio message Bendito seja o Senor, May 13, 1946, AAS 38 (1946) 264; idem, Apostolic Letter Hungaricae gentis, March 25, 1948, AAS 40 (1948) 499; Id., Apostolic Letter Maximo Nos, October 10, 1949, AAS 44 (1952) 808; idem, Apostolic Letter Imaginem Beatae, July 31, 1950, AAS 43 (1951) 111; idem, Apostolic Letter Caelorum Reginae, July 31, 1950, AAS 43 (1951) 79; idem, Apostolic Letter Mirum sane, July 31, 1950, AAS 43 (1951) 156; idem, radio message Quando lasciate, December 8, 1953, AAS 45 (1953) 849-850; idem, Apostolic Letter Eadem ratione, June 30, 1954, AAS 47 (1955) 710; idem, radio message On the occasion of the fourth centenary of the foundation of the city of Sao Paolo, Brazil, September 7, 1954, AAS 46 (1954) 546; idem, Apostolic Constitution Sedes sapientiae, May 31, 1956, AAS 48 (1956) 354, in D. Bertetto, ed., Il Magistero mariano di Pio XII. Edizione italiana di tutti i documenti mariani di Pio XII, (Rome: Edizioni Paoline, 1960), p. 641; idem, Apostolic Letter In vitae huius, January 4, 1958, in AAS 51 (1959) 159.

The Latin feminine noun, sequestra, -ae, is equivalent to mediatrix. Cf. L. Castiglioni – S. Mariotti, Vocabolario della lingua latina. Latino-Italiano, Italiano-Latino, (Rome: Loescher Editore, 1990), p. 1040.

(77) Pius XII, Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, October 11, 1954, in AAS 46 (1954) 635-637.

(78) Cf. John XXIII, Apostolic Letter Beatissimam Virginem Mariam, May 26, 1961, in AAS 65 (1961) 150-151.

(79) Cf. G. Besutti, O.S.M., Lo schema mariano al Concilio Vaticano II. Documentazione e note di cronaca, (Rome: Edition Marianum—Libreria Desclée, 1966), pp. 183-185.

(80) For the story of Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium, see E. Toniolo, O.S.M., La beata Vergine nel Concilio Vaticano II, Centro di Cultura Mariana “Madre della Chiesa,” Rome 2004, 453 pp.

(81) Cf. G. Besutti, Lo schema mariano del Concilio Vaticano II, op. cit., p. 22. Among this group was the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal John Baptist Montini, who declared “inopportune, indeed, harmful” the presentation of the title of Mediatrix, since—as the illustrious cardinal explained—in the first place, “the term Mediator must be attributed solely and exclusively to Christ” according to St. Paul’s teaching (cf. 1 Tim 2:5).

(82) Cf. Acta et Documenta Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II apparando, Series II (Preparatoria), Volumen II: Acta pontificiae Commissionis Centralis praeparatoriae Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani, Pars IV: Sessio septima, 12-19 Iunii 1962, Vatican City 1968, p. 777, cited by A. Escudero Cabello, La cuestión de la mediación mariana en la preparación del Vaticano II, Libreria Ateneo Salesiano, Rome 1997, pp. 251-253.

(83) Cf. A. Escudero Cabello, op. cit., p. 251.

(84) Acta et Documenta Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II apparando, Series II (Preparatoria), Volumen II: Acta pontificiae Commissionis Centralis praeparatoriae Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani, Pars IV: Sessio septima, 12-19 Iunii 1962, Vatican City 1968, p. 777, cited by A. Escudero Cabello, op. cit., p. 260.

(85) Proprium Sanctorum pro aliquibus locis, 8 maii Beatae Mariae Virginis omnium gratiarum Mediatricis, in Missale Romanum ex decreto SS. Concilii Tridentini restitutum Summorum Pontificum cura recognitum, editio typica, Typis Plyglottis Vaticanis 1962, pp. (159)-(160).

(86) Cf. G. Besutti, Lo schema mariano del Concilio Vaticano II. Documentazione e note di cronaca, Rome: Marianum-Desclée, 1966; G. Roschini, O.S.M., Maria santissima nella storia della salvezza, vol. II, (Isola del Liri: Pisani, 1969), pp. 111-116; idem, La Mediazione mariana oggi, (Rome: Pontificia Facoltà Teologica “Marianum” – Istituto di Mariologia, Edizioni “Marianum,” 1971), pp. 47-49; A. Escudero Cabello, S.D.B., La cuestión de la mediación en la preparación del Vaticano II, LAS, Rome, 1997; E. Toniolo, O.S.M., La beata Maria Vergine nel Concilio Vaticano II, Centro di cultura mariana “Madre della Chiesa,” Rome, 2004, 453 pp.

(87) For a Protestant defense of Mediatrix, cf. J. Macquarrie, “Mary Co-redemptrix and Disputes over Justification and Grace: An Anglican View,” Mary Co-redemptrix. Doctrinal Issues Today, pp. 139-150, and C. Dickson, “Mary Mediatrix: A Protestant Response,” Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological foundations III. Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma, pp. 181-184.

(88) This is the number that results from the examination of the written requests preserved in the Council archive. Obviously an even greater number must be presumed, because, while everyone who submitted the written requests were in favor, not everyone who was in favor submitted a written request, as is always the case with contingent matters. Cf. A. Escudero Cabello, La cuestion de la mediación mariana…, op. cit., p. 88. According to Fr. Roschini, the written requests numbered about 400 (cf. Roschini G., La Mediazione mariana oggi, Pontificia Facoltà Teologica “Marianum” – Istituto di Mariologia, Edizioni “Marianum,” Rome 1971, p. 47).

(89) They could not reasonably justify the imposition of their Protestant beliefs upon an essentially Catholic ecumenical council.

(90) C. Journet, De la Vierge Marie et la Collegialité, in Nova et vetera, 2 (1965) 109.

(91) C. Balić, O.F.M., El Capitulo VIII de la Constitución “Lumen Gentium” Comparado con el Primer Esquema de la Beata Virgen Madre de la Iglesia, Estudios Marianos, 27 (1966) 169.

(92) Vatican II Council, Costituzione dogmatica Lumen gentium, November 21, 1964, n. 62.

(93) Cf. Roschini G., Maria Santissima nella storia della salvezza, vol. II, op. cit., p. 202.

(94) Besides the Protestants and Jansenists, included among those who deny this doctrine are a few modern ecumenists and all modernist ecumenists. Critical opposition is widespread: even some of the writings of Abbot Laurentin are infected by this criticism (cf. R. Laurentin, La Vergine Maria. Mariologia postconciliare, Rome: Edizione Paoline, 1973, pp. 302-304).

(95) Cf. Paul VI, Letter for the 750th Anniversary of the Indulgence of the Portiuncula, July 14, 1966, in Encicliche e discorsi di S.S. Paolo VI, vol. X, May-August 1966, (Rome: Edizioni Paoline, 1967), p. 256; idem, address to a group of Hungarian pilgrims, in Encicliche e discorsi di S.S. Paolo VI, vol. XXIII, January-December 1972, (Rome: Edizioni Paoline, 1973), p. 299; idem, Apostolic Letter Le Memorie apostoliche, May 2, 1974, in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. XII, 1974, p. 500; idem, general audience, May 14, 1975, in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. XIII, 1975, p. 502; idem allocution to the participants of the International Marian-Mariological Congress, May 16, 1975, in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. XIII, 1975, p. 522; idem, address to German-speaking pilgrims, August 15, 1975, in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. XIII, 1975, p. 854.

(96) Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Christi Matri, September 15, 1966, in Enchiridion Vaticanum. Omissa 1962-1987, Supplementum I, EDB, Bologna 2000, n. 94, p. 87; idem, General audience, May 30, 1974, in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. XI, 1973, (Vatican City: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1974), p. 475.

(97) Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutione de Sacra Liturgia, Prot. N. 3577/65, in Proprio dei Santi dell’Ordine dei Frati Minori Cappuccini, (Turin-Rome: Casa Editrice Marietti—Centro Nazionale T.O.F. Cappuccini, 1966), p. (2).

(98) Proprio dei Santi dell’Ordine dei Frati Minori Cappuccini May 8th (Mass of) “Maria SS. Mediatrice di ogni grazia,” in Messale Romano quotidiano, 1966, pp. (50)-(52).

(99) Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Signum magnum, May 13, 1967, 2.5, in Enchiridion Vaticanum, vol. II. 1963-1967, (Bologna, Italy: EDB, 1992), pp. 987, 999.

(100) Ibid., 8, in Enchiridion Vaticanum, vol. II, p. 1003.

(101) Paul VI, Lettera al Card. Leo Jozef Suenens in occasione del Congresso Mariano Internazionale – La Vergine Maria nell’opera dell’umana Redenzione, May 13, 1975, in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. XIII, 1975 (Vatican City: Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1976), pp. 495-496. English cit. by P. Siano, Mary ‘Mediatrix of All Graces’ in the Papal Magisterium up to the Pontificate of Paul VI, to be published in Mary at the Foot of the Cross VII: Coredemptrix, Therefore Mediatrix of all Graces. See note 1.

(102) Cf. S. Perrella, Maria Serva del Signore e della Redenzione. Tra richieste e approfondimenti, in Miles Immaculatae, fasc. 2, July-December 1998, pp. 262-263; T. Sennott, “Mary Mediatrix of All Graces, Vatican Council II and Ecumenism,” Miles Immaculatae, fasc. 1-2, 1988, pp. 151-167.

(103) John Paul II, Allocution, in L’Osservatore Romano, Monday-Tuesday, January 18-19, 1988, p. 1; idem, L’Osservatore Romano, Monday-Tuesday, April 11-12, 1988, Supplement n. 84, p. IV; idem, in L’Osservatore Romano, Monday-Tuesday, July 2-3, 1990, p. 5; idem, in L’Osservatore Romano, Saturday, June 29, 1996, p. 5; idem, Apostolic Letter Amor Noster, April 30, 1980, in AAS 72 (1980) 384-385; idem, Apostolic Letter Frequentissimae dioeceses, in AAS 79 (1987) 437.

(104) Cf. M. Hauke , La Mediazione materna di Maria secondo Papa Giovanni Paolo II, in Aa. Vv., Maria Corredentrice. Storia e Teologia. VII, Bibliotheca Corredemptionis B.V. Mariae, Casa Mariana Editrice, Frigento 2005, pp. 86-88. Concerning these passages of Pope John Paul II (in which he makes reference to the Mediatrix of all graces or other similar expressions), Don Hauke makes reference to Msgr. Calkins (cf. Hauke, op. cit., p. 86, note 107). On Mary “Co-redemptrix” and “Mediatrix” in the Marian Magisterium of John Paul II, see also Msgr. Calkins’ recent study, A.B. Calkins, ed., Totus Tuus. Il magistero mariano di Giovanni Paolo II, preface by Msgr. Carlo Caffana, archbishop of Bologna, (Siena, Italy: Edizioni Cantagalli, 2006), pp. 242-245, 306-319. (Msgr. Calkins has also recently presented the results of his study in English at the 7th Annual Symposium on Marian Coredemption: Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces in the Papal Magisterium of Pope John Paul II, to be published in Mary at the Foot of the Cross VII: Coredemptrix, Therefore Mediatrix of all Graces. See note 1.) In other pronouncements, Pope John Paul II has emphasized Mary’s singular cooperation in the Redemption (cf. ibid., pp. 217-227).

(105) Art. cit.

(106) John Paul II, Allocution, in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, vol. 1, 1978, (Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1979), p. 250.

(107) John Paul II, Allocution, in L’Osservatore Romano, Monday-Tuesday, September 19-20, 1994, pp. 6-7.

(108) John Paul II, Allocution, September 26, 1982.

(109) Cf. M. Hauke, La Mediazione materna di Maria secondo Papa Giovanni Paolo II, p. 86.

(110) John Paul II, Allocution, Wroclaw, Poland, June 21, 1983.

(111) John Paul II, Homily, in L’Osservatore Romano, Sunday, August 26, 2001, p. 5.

(112) Congregation for the Clergy, Il presbitero, pastore e guida della comunità parrocchiale, Istruzione del 4 agosto 2002, Figlie di San Paolo, Milano 2002, p. 82. (English: “Parish Priest’s Prayer to Mary Most Holy,” in (an appendix to) Congregation for the Clergy, The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community, Instruction of August 4, 2002 (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2002), pp. 53-55.)

(113) Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship, Decree, prot. N. 309/86, August 15, 1986, in Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, Messe della Beata Vergine Maria, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 1989 (3rd reprint), pp. X-XI.

(114) Messe della beata Vergine Maria, op. cit. p. 101. (English cit. by A.B. Calkins, “Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate in the Liturgy,” in Mary Coredemptrix Mediatrix Advocate: Theological Foundations. Towards a Papal Definition? ed. M. Miravalle (Santa Barbara, CA, Queenship, 1995), p. 89.)

(115) Ibid.

(116) Messa di Santa Maria Madre del Signore. Prefazio, in Messe della Beata Vergine Maria, op. cit., p. 66; Messa di Maria Vergine regina e madre della misericordia. Prefazio, in op. cit., p. 128; Messa di Maria Vergine Madre della Divina Provvidenza. Prefazio, in op. cit., p. 131.

(117) John Paul II, general audience, Saluto agli ammalati, December 10, 1980, in L’Osservatore Romano, Thursday, December 11, 1980, p. 2.

(118) Benedict XVI, homily at canonization Mass of Fr. Antônio de Sant’ana Galvão, O.F.M., May 11, 2007, n. 5.

(119) Ibid., n. 6.

(120) For general historical information on this question see J. Schug, Mary Mother, cit.; I. Gomá y Thomás, Estudios y escritos pastoralos sobre la Virgen, Barcelona 1947. For a classic exposition of the neo-Thomistic pre-conciliar Mariology cf. G. Roschini, De natura B.M. Virginis in applicatione redemptionis, in Maria et Ecclesia, vol. II, Rome 1959, pp. 223-295; also P. Parrotta, La Mariologia di Gabriele Roschini, Lugano 2002. For a recent approach from a Scotistic point of view, see P.D. Fehlner, F.I., Mater et Magistra Apostolorum, in Immaculata Mediatrix 1 (1/2001) 15-95; Idem, De Metaphysica Mariana Quaedam, in Immaculata Mediatrix 1 (2/2002) 13-42; Idem, Scientia et Pietas, in Immaculata Mediatrix 1 (3/2001) 11-48; Idem, Io sono L’Immacolata Concezione. Adhuc quaedam de Metaphysica Mariana, in Immaculata Mediatrix 2 (2002) 15-41. Significant contributions to a renewed Thomistic approach have been made by the Spanish metaphysical Mariologist, J. Ferrer Arellano, La Mediación Materna de la Immacolada. Esperienza Ecumenica de la Iglesia, Madrid 2006. See also his Marian Coredemption and Sacramental Mediation, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross III, New Bedford, MA, 2003, pp. 70-126; Idem, The Immaculate Conception as the Condition for the Possibility of the Coredemption, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross V New Bedford, MA, 2005, pp. 74-185.

(121) Cf. especially the Spanish Dominican, A. Bandera, La Virgen María y los Sacramentos (Madrid 1978), and above all the recent study of Serafino M. Lanzetta, F.I., Il sacerdozio di Maria nella teologia cattolica del XX seculo. Analizi storico-teologica, Rome 2006. In English, cf. J. Samaha, The Sacerdotal Quality of Mary’s Mission. Mother and Associate of Christ the Priest, in Immaculata Mediatrix 2 (2002) 197-207.

(122) Benedict XVI, Homily for the Solemnity of the Annunciation, 2006, insists on the central importance of the Marian principle of the Church, viz., the maternal mediation of Mary at the heart of the Church, and in particular its pastors, and affirms that this mystery was repeatedly underscored by his predecessor, John Paul II, in accord with his motto, Totus tuus.

(123) For texts of St. Maximilian on this subject, see P.D. Fehlner, F.I., St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity, Pneumatologist. His Theology of the Holy Spirit, New Bedford, MA, 2004.

(124) St. Bonaventure, III Sent., d 3, p 1, a 1, q 2 : “The Virgin Mother is our Mediatrix with Christ as Christ is our Mediator with the Father.”; Henry d’Avranches, Legenda versificata S. Francisci, in almost the same words describes the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi.: Analecta Franciscana, vol. X, Quaracchi 1941, pp. 405-491, here p. 445.

(125) See Fehlner, Mater et Magistra Apostolorum, op cit.

(126) Odo of Canterbury, Maria Christianorum Philosophia, ed. by J. Leclercq, in Mèlanges de science religieuse 13 (1956) 103-106.

(127) Cf. St. Bonaventure, III Sent., d 3, p 1, a 1, q 1, ad 4: Mariae nullus nimis potest esse devotus.