The following article is 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.

Marian mediation and its foundations have been the subject of extensive study, easily available in the published acts of congresses (1), anthologies (2), collections (3), monographs (4), and articles (5). The theme has been analyzed along biblical, patristic, liturgical, magisterial and dogmatic lines. If every published study on Marian mediation over the past one hundred years were to be cited, the mere listing of titles would probably fill a large book. An adequate, clear grasp of the status quaestionis, however, can be had by consulting the references just listed. With a few important exceptions, post-conciliar studies generally give greater attention to the sources, while those prior to the Council, though not neglecting the sources, place greater emphasis on the speculative aspects of this question.

The goal of this study is to strike a happy balance between sources and reflection on the sources so as to arrive at a concise and correct understanding of Catholic doctrine on Marian mediation here and now in the economy of salvation. Our point of departure will be an elaboration of the problematic in the formularies whereby it has been handed on in the Church. Thereafter, via a reflection on the sources of this doctrine, both remote and proximate, we will point out in a brief, summary conclusion how the traditional speculative questions arise and what is their significance for theology and for the life of the Church (6).

Although, as Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Italy, often shrewdly repeats, a good theologian should strive to say new things, demonstrating that they are old. For us, however, who do not believe ourselves able to say new things, it is enough to explain the old things with order and clarity, so demonstrating them to be forever new. For the truth never grows old and never passes out of style. This is especially the case with such venerable terms as maternal and mediation, especially at a time when so many of the feminist persuasion (not all women, nor always women) want to erase them from the human vocabulary. Such a project, were it ever to be successful, would bear consequences of immeasurably tragic proportions for everyone. Between the human family and such success of the serpent-dragon there stands only one secure bulwark: the Woman, the maternal Mediatrix.

The Problematic of Marian Mediation

In theology, the term mediation is employed in a variety of senses to designate basic dimensions of the economy of salvation. These various senses, though clearly denoting distinct aspects of the work of salvation, are all interrelated, whether we are speaking of the mediation of Christ, and therefore of Christ as Mediator, or of the mediation of his Virgin Mother and therefore of Mary as Mediatrix, or of the mediation of the Church and therefore of that found in the sacramental-hierarchical order (ministerial graces linked to a stable office in the Church), or of the mediation of members of the Church and therefore of their active cooperation in the work of salvation via the ministerial charisms or graces of all kinds bestowed on them (gratiae gratis datae).

The reason for this is very simple: in the eternal counsels of the Father (cf. Eph 1:3ff.) all these various dimensions of a single economy of salvation were willed in correlation to one another within the unity of the predestination of Christ to be Head of the new creation, a creation to be realized concretely or in the execution of the divine counsels in history via what from the days of St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus of Lyons has been called “recapitulation.” The absolute predestination of Christ as incarnate Son of God, to be Head and Savior of his body, the Church and of all his members, constitutes what is commonly known as “the order of the hypostatic union.” To that order, in a special way, belongs one of the saved, the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the Savior-Word incarnate, “pre-eminent member” of the Church according to Vatican II. This unique and non-repeatable relation to Christ as Head in the order of the hypostatic union arises from what is called by Bl. Pius IX and Pius XII “the joint predestination of the incarnate Word and Mother of God in one and the same decree” (7).

To understand Catholic doctrine on Marian mediation, it is necessary from the start to grasp this essential point: Mary, because Mother of God, belongs as no other creature to the order of the hypostatic union, foundation of all saving mediation, perfect or subordinate. Therefore, by the merits of Christ she is incomparably holy. Therefore, in a way unique to her (cf. Lumen Gentium, 56-58, 60-62) she is able to cooperate actively with Jesus, the one Mediator of God and man: as his Mother, as our Co-redemptrix, and as our Mediatrix and Advocate. Mary’s mediation is the divinely appointed means by which the whole of creation and in particular the human family is recapitulated in Christ the Head, and so enjoys the blessings willed by the Father and gained for us by Christ in his stupendous work consummated on Calvary. Or in the words of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, the mediation of Mary crystallized in her fiat is the high point where all the love of the Blessed Trinity appropriated to the Holy Spirit meets all the love of creation, a juncture which brings to pass the Incarnation and economy of salvation (8).

Evidently all these themes cannot be treated in a single chapter of a single volume devoted to the whole of Mariology. Nonetheless, to understand the specific theme of this chapter, one dealing with the maternal mediation of Mary here and now, a few general considerations are necessary. These bear on 1) Mary’s active role of intercession with Jesus (ascending mediation), and 2) her direct, active role in the distribution of all the graces of salvation (descending mediation). Both roles are extensions of her unique participation as Co-redemptrix in the sacrifice of Calvary in which she participated as Co-redemptrix, a sacrifice perpetuated in the mystery of the Eucharist (descending mediation). The first role is more properly called advocacy, and the second mediation in the restricted sense.

Sacred, Revealed Use of the Term

As a term with a very specific theological sense (and not merely ethical-political), mediator, or intermediary, is found five times in the New Testament, always in the Pauline corpus. These are the passages in question:

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one (Gal 3:19-20).

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself up as a ransom for all (1 Tim 2:5-6).

But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises (Heb 8:6).

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant (Heb 9:15).

… and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant … (Heb 12:24).

We may summarize the thought of St. Paul in these passages on the theological meaning of Mediator thus: It designates both 1) an office or responsibility rooted in and made possible by the Incarnation of the Son of God, not only in virtue of his divinity, but of his humanity as well (cf. 1 Tim 2:5), and 2) the major act of that office or ministry, viz., the redemptive sacrifice together with its fruit, the Church, the reconciliation of the saved with God in the one Body of Christ, the Head.

In all but one of these texts (Gal 3:19-20) the term mediator is ascribed expressly only to Christ. But in view of its ascription to Moses and to angels under the Old Covenant one can hardly affirm a priori that the presence of mediators other than Christ is excluded in affirming the unicity and sufficiency and excellence of the mediation of Christ, at least on biblical grounds. This is an observation crucial to any understanding of the traditional teaching of the Church on the mediation of Mary and of the Church itself. Deny the title Mediatrix to Mary as did Luther and the Protestant Reformation and nothing is left of the other mediations in the Church, that is, our active cooperation as “collaborators” in the distribution of the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice. Biblical grounds for the denial are claimed, but none are apparent, except on the assumption of extra-biblical premises of a theological or philosophical kind (individualism, combined with nominalism and voluntarism), not shared by the Tradition of the Church.

The texts just cited make clear that the title is that of an office, how the office is defined and what is the basis for the exercise of such an office in making one two who are not only separated, but in a condition of hostility (cf. Eph 2:11ff.). The creature alone, in particular man after the fall into original sin, cannot successfully resolve the problem of division between Creator and creation. But if the role of Mediator belongs radically to one all-sufficient person, this in itself is no necessary bar to the inclusion of others in a subordinate role, anymore than the existence of God excludes the possibility of a creation which does not compromise the all-sufficiency and transcendence of God.

At the level of theory the observation is perfectly valid. Unfortunately, it is not immediately effective in dealing with popular objections to the very concept of Marian mediation in theology, viz., that by definition participation in the one work of mediation compromises the uniqueness of Christ as one Mediator. Why this is so, but also what can be done to get beyond the impasse at the pastoral level, can be illustrated from a reflection on an analogy frequently used to justify the classic Protestant position: only Christ is Mediator in the proper sense. Mediation, in particular sacerdotal mediation, it is claimed, must be likened to bridge-building between earth and heaven. Indeed, the Latin version of Hebrews translates the Greek word for high priest (archiereus) as pontifex, or bridge builder. Perhaps a kindred Greek word, architect, or head builder, in addition to the title of the head priest: Pontifex, and also head-builder of bridges over the Tiber River in Rome, may have suggested the choice. In any case the objection to the Catholic doctrine about Mary goes like this: if two bridges are necessary to cross a stream, then neither by itself is sufficient. And if one is all-sufficient, then the second can hardly be described as functionally necessary to mediate the gap between the two sides of a single stream or abyss.

The answer very simply is to distinguish between two kinds of sharing in a single role or perfection: spiritual and material, qualitative and quantitative. It is perfectly true that sharing in a single patrimony by way of inheritance by several heirs requires a division of the patrimony with no one single heir being master of all. So, too, in the case of physical mediation represented by the example of the two bridges, neither bridge can be described as fully adequate, as Christ is described in the passage from 1 Timothy 2:5, if the work must be equally divided. Bridge building, political mediation, etc., because quantitative realities, cannot be absolutely perfect, shared or not shared.

Christ, on the other hand, is said to be perfect as one Mediator. This kind of unity is spiritual, and only spiritual mediation can reconcile God and man. The perfection of spiritual mediation, not being subject to division as in the case of sharing in a material good, is not affected by the number of other persons who participate in that perfection dependently on, or in subordination to, the one who possesses this absolutely. By way of example, neither the perfection of my thought nor that of my love is diminished by the fact that others share my thoughts and my love. And again, not every inheritance is material. The heavenly patrimony of those redeemed by Christ, is real, but spiritual, hence shared by many, yet not divided. Our Lord himself made this point in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard: the same denarius, God himself, undivided, is the wages of all. Failure to make this distinction is a sure sign of pride (cf. Mt 20:1-16). Why can there not be a “spiritual bridge,” viz., a mediation in which many are involved according to a certain order, yet leaving the mediation undivided?

There is a still more important observation crucial in the teaching of St. Paul: viz., that mediation involves not merely God, but someone who is also man, a creature. As St. Bonaventure so clearly saw (9), human nature by definition is mediatory, and hence that nature in its most perfect state, viz., in the God-man, is enhanced by the participation of others in this mediation, above all by Mary Immaculate. All this is foreshadowed by the formation of man as male and female. Human nature is first fully mediatory in Adam, and for that reason is also mediatory in Eve, who does not detract from, but underscores the nobility of God’s image (10).

Simply put, the reply to the objection drawn from the analogy of two bridges is simply to say that it is only a metaphor, and does not clarify the essential difference between Christ as one Mediator and those associated with him in the work of mediation. Each bridge is an insufficient means of mediating a distance before they are united as one. With Christ his mediation qua man is perfectly one before shared by others. With the participation of others there remains but one mediation, as the thought and love of Christ remain perfect, no matter how many share his thoughts and affection; but there are many persons active in that mediation according to a certain order in relation to Christ, the one Mediator. This is true of Mary in a unique and non-repeatable way because of her fullness of grace in view of the divine and spiritual maternity. And this is what Scotus means in calling Mary Immaculate qua Immaculate the most perfect fruit of the most perfect redemption by a most perfect Redeemer. Christ’s one mediation would not be perfect unless he could so save one of his members so as to cooperate actively in the work of salvation of all others, viz., as maternal Mediatrix (11).

Profane Usage

The term mediator, like its cognate pontifex (Latin translation for Christ as high priest in Hebrews), is not exclusive to the Bible. In ancient times both terms enjoyed a distinctive meaning in a profane or secular context, in the case of mediator one still familiar to most Western societies. This usage was hardly unknown to St. Paul and without doubt had some influence in his choice of terms to describe systematically the distinctive, perfect, all sufficient and absolutely necessary role of Christ in our salvation.

The classic Latin Lexicon, edited by Forcellini, defines the term mediator in the following words: “One who interposes himself, as a mean or point of convergence (intermediary) between dissidents in order to settle disputes.” A similar definition is found in the Lexicon of Grimm: “One who intervenes between two (others) in order to procure peace, establish or re-establish friendship, form a pact (covenant, or federation) or sanction an alliance.” In common language, a mediator is a person who performs the distinctively moral action of pacification with regard to two parties in opposition to or apart from one another by providing a common focus (univocal) for the unity of two entities once simply different, but not joined or analogous to one another within a single pact.

It is not hard to see why such a term should be employed by the Apostle Paul to explain the work of salvation and redemption. Christ’s work as priest and victim of the New Covenant is like that of a mediator who, as the old Roman pontifex threw up bridges across the Tiber River to unite or make one the two separated shores, bridges the gap between creature and Creator, between sinner and the heavenly Father, effectively making it possible for the distant creature, for the alienated sinner, to find himself not only reconciled with God or on God’s side of the great abyss (cf. Lk 16:26), but become himself active in the process of salvation as a subordinate cooperator. This is because as a genuine mediator Christ shares something with both parties: the godhead with the Father and manhood with the family of Adam. Hence, he is the mean or common ground where the parties to be reconciled can meet as friends rather than enemies or mere servants (cf. Jn 15:15).

There are, however, evident differences between the sacred and profane uses of this term and the concept standing behind it. As noted above, mediation involves an office and its exercise, the ethical-social dimension, and ontological or non-ethical basis of this office, the so-called mean.

First, the office of mediator and its exercise. In the profane order of the ancient world, as in modern secularized societies, mediation was and is a highly sophisticated and relatively successful activity when only temporal discord is involved. But wherever profound ethical and religious issues are at stake, e.g., in marriage-family discord, or in discord over religious activities or basic principles of right and social-political-economic philosophy, mediation can often be a dismal failure, if permanent resolution of discord and establishment of harmony is any criterion (12). Whereas, the mediation of Christ Jesus, according to Hebrews, is a raging and permanent success, not only in relation to the pagan religions, but to that of the mediators of the Old Testament dispensation.

Second, the mean or ontological platform for the exercise of a mediatory office. In the case of mere human mediation in the profane order, there is nothing particularly unique about the mediator in relation to each of the parties in dispute. He is a man, and so are they. What the human mediator shares with one party rather than another pertains to personal character and ability to persuade both parties within an already existing social polity. Where such a pre-existing polity, wherein the contending parties are already united at least in principle, if not in practice, does not exist, and must therefore be established, as especially is the case of man in the state of fallen nature, then no mere man can succeed in mediating between an offended Creator and a sinful creation.

With this we can readily see what the Incarnation introduces into our fallen world: a new and adequate platform or “ontological mean” where the offended and offenders can be fully reconciled, a solid rock on which to establish an order of peace (cf. Mt 7:24-27, conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount). In a sense specifically theological, that of a foundation for the economy of salvation, this rock is the order of the hypostatic union.

St. Thomas, therefore, in his classic definition of theological or religious mediation, clearly indicates two elements: the office (in the ethical-social order) and the mean (or foundation in the ontological order): “Properly speaking, the office of Mediator is to join together and unite those between whom he mediates; for extremes are united in the mean” (13). The “mean” in this case is the hypostatic union of man with the divine person of the Son: because incarnate, therefore Mediator. Because Mary uniquely belongs to the order of the hypostatic union because she is Mother of this divine Person, she therefore shares the one office of redemptive Mediator with her Son. Because Mother, therefore Mediatrix. Like her Mediator Son, their one work of mediation is consummate in redemptive sacrifice. And through her the Church and her members in varying ways can also exercise a genuine part in the mediation of grace won by the merits of the one Mediator of all, the man Christ Jesus (cf. 1 Tim 2:5-6).

Mary Mediatrix in the Proper, Theological Sense of Mediation

In addition to the commonly cited profane examples, which only foreshadow the perfection or essence of mediation in Christ Jesus, there is another example of mediation in the natural order, all but forgotten in modern times, but expressly cited by such a great of theology as is the Seraphic Doctor, St. Bonaventure (14). This example is drawn more from a metaphysical consideration of human nature as uniquely formed by the Creator on the sixth day; hence, it is not an example bearing primarily on the social order, but on the very character of any mediation as such within the order of creation.

Among all the various creatures, and grades of perfection among them, there are two basic categories of creatures: those purely material and hence prope nihil (near nothing), and those purely spiritual like the angels, hence prope Deum (near God). That both dimensions of creation be not distant and in opposition, but united to form a single universe, ultimately to be recapitulated by the incarnate Word, the Creator personally formed (hence not by an evolutionary process) a creature, part spiritual and so near God and part corporal and so near the material creation, or near nothing. The saint expressly says that there is such a created being, by nature mediatory. This creature, by nature mediatory, is man, or human nature. Thus at the ontological level, prior to any activity, man or Adam (formed from the virgin earth) is a mediator: indeed within the universe, but nonetheless in a religious as well as merely juridical sense as in all the previous examples drawn from the social-political-economic spheres.

But this is not all the Seraphic Doctor tells us. The Creator made man male and female. Each shares in a distinct way, yet fully, in a single mediatory nature: first Adam and then under, but also with Adam, Eve. The mediation of Adam, not as private person but head, is in the public order, drawing all dimensions of the universe, but in particular the human, to the love and service of the Creator. Further, Adam mediates between the private realm of the family and person and the public context wherein the human family is situated, thus being true center of the universe. In this sense Adam is a type of Christ, like Noah, Melchizedek, Moses, and so many others after him, the family of Adam being intended by the Creator to foreshadow the Holy Family.

But Eve is also a mediatrix, a type of Mary as mother of the new humanity, for no being can call itself human unless descended from Adam and incorporated into the human family through the maternal mediation of a woman, a mediation unique to her, in no wise detracting from the primary mediation in Adam, even though absolutely necessary for Adam to realize his headship over the human family. Not only St. Bonaventure, but St. Thomas as well insist that the formation of Adam and Eve in view of the divine institution of the “mystery-sacrament” of marriage was for the sake of Christ and the Church, Christ and Mary, even before sin, a point quite explicit in St. Paul, Ephesians 5:32 (15). Christ mediates between the Creator-Father and his creation, whereas Mary, in subordination to him, mediates between the new Head of the human family and the members incorporated into him. With that it becomes clear why the one mediation of the one Mediator, the (new) man Christ Jesus (cf. 1 Tim 2:5) does not exclude, but according to the divine counsels of salvation must include in an altogether unique way that of the (new) Eve who is also the (new) virgin earth, from whom and by whom is also formed the new Adam-Mediator of the new and everlasting Covenant. Mary is our Mediatrix with Christ, because wonder of wonders she is Mother of God (16).

St. Bonaventure provides us one other observation helpful in understanding why the mediation involved in the new and everlasting Covenant involves a Mediator, and under him a Mediatrix. The divine nature, being perfectly one, is not mediatory (cf. Gal 3:19-20). But one divine person of the three stands in relation to the other two as a “middle person”: i.e., one of the personal characteristics of the Son is to be “mediatory” (17). Hence, it is altogether appropriate that if the Incarnation of a divine person is for the sake of mediation, the second person should become incarnate. St. Paul (Gal 3:20) also seems to allude to the non-mediatory character of the divine nature. Hence, if the Word is to mediate between God (the Father) and the masterpiece of his creation, man, and so with the rest of creation (cf. St. Paul, Rom 8:18-25), the hypostatic assumption of a human nature becomes imperative—so that a divine person can mediate in a human way. But the way of assuming such a nature hypostatically is through the mediation of a mother, the only way of being a man like us, because such is only possible via descent from Adam in being born of a Virgin Mother (cf. Lk 3:23-38). The virginal conception and birth of Jesus from the Virgin Mother, the “new virgin earth,” assures both the divinity and humanity of the Child, hence his office of Mediator in our history. In virtue of her holiness and of this contribution to effecting the economy of salvation, Mary also belongs to the order of the hypostatic union and ipso facto shares the mediation of Jesus, distinctly, subordinately, but also properly, as no other of the saved. Here lies the importance of the Eve-Mary typology for the doctrine of Marian mediation.

With this it also becomes clear why in the Franciscan school the maternal mediation of Mary is first considered in the broad sense: neither vague nor metaphorical, but truly proper, in the same sense as it is understood first in the God-man. As he is unique Mediator, first because the mediatory or middle person of the Trinity, and second because he is the new man or Adam, fully capable of doing what the first Adam alone could only indistinctly foreshadow, so Mary is the unique Mediatrix, because she can do what the first Eve could also only indistinctly foreshadow: truly unite, incorporate into the New Adam all the dispersed children of Israel. The particular or more specialized aspects of Mary’s mediation in the economy of salvation, either in the types foreshadowing her, or in herself historically, all depend on this primordial fact, her fullness of grace in Christ as the Immaculate Virgin Mother, as Christ’s mediation rests uniquely on the grace of the Incarnation. The mediation of Mary is not apart from, outside of or independent of Christ, because she is also saved by him, redeemed preservatively to be Immaculate from conception. That unique sanctity permits her, under him, but also with him, to participate as no other person can, in the work of mediation proper to Christ. Thereby a new platform or basis for the exercise of diverse salutary activities by the redeemed (all in one way or another collaboration in the work of mediation) within the New Covenant is secured. Mary’s precise position and role is to provide the basis for our link with the New Adam, or New Head, and so our cooperation with him in the communion of saints. Therefore she is called “our Mediatrix with Christ, as he is our Mediator with the Father” (St. Bonaventure, III Sent., d 3, p 1, a 1, q 2).

The Difference between Mediator and Mediatrix in the One Work of Mediation

In this integral, moral and theological sense cited above, Mary is the Mediatrix of all creatures, angels and men, because God, in Christ, has assigned this function to her in order to reunite all creatures, above all the rational and free creatures, to Christ. In and through Christ the saved, qua members of his body formed by Mary, are recapitulated and so united to the Father (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). The saved are members of Christ’s body in being born spiritually of the Woman, just as all men naturally have Adam as their head and the origin of their humanity through a woman, and not otherwise. In herself Mary, without sin, possesses the human nature of Adam that unites her to sinful humanity, the spirit that unites her to the angels, and the fullness of grace that brings her into union with the God-man and so brings him into union, not with a generic humanity, but with that precisely first headed by Adam. Through Mary, Christ descends from Adam as well as Abraham (cf. Christ’s genealogy recorded by Luke 3:23-38). Therefore, through Mary, he is our Savior and Mediator. We go to him in the same way he comes to us, viz., through Mary. By reason of the integrity of her human nature and the fullness of grace she is superior to all men. She is superior also to the angels by the sole reason of her fullness of grace. She is inferior to God because of the finite manner in which she possesses both this grace and this nature. This Mediatrix brings the grace of God, viz., that of the redemptive Incarnation, to men and angels, and she brings the redeemed natures of angel and man to the incarnate Mediator, who brings them to the Father.

As for man, he is not only separated from God, but is also inimical toward him by reason of original and actual sin, which is an affront to God. The mediation that reconstructs the unity between God and man must, therefore, also merit in order to obtain the remission of fault and satisfy in order to remit the punishment. The angel must also consider himself redeemed, though in a more sublime manner in a certain sense, because the good angels have been granted perseverance in grace and the grace of being preserved from sin in view of the merits of Christ and Mary.

Now, while the merit of Christ in the order of mediation is absolute, that of Mary is relative, because it originates in Christ and is exercised in conjunction with his.

In this broad, all-inclusive sense, the title of Mary Mediatrix includes the coredemption, the distribution of all graces, and her infallible intercession. This is the sense intended by those cardinals, bishops and theologians who, when they were assembled in Fatima in 2005, signed a petition to the Pope asking for the dogmatic definition of Mary Mediatrix, Co-redemptrix, Dispensatrix of all graces, and Advocate (18).

That Mary’s mediation is said to be derived by participation and by analogy from the mediation of Christ is a doctrine clearly taught by St. Paul in his epistles (19). Based on this conclusion it is evident that Christ’s mediation, when consummated on Calvary, involves two aspects, the first ascending and the second descending: 1) redemption, continued in his intercession during the time of the Church, above all in the Eucharistic mystery as sacrifice (cf. Heb 9:23ff.; 1 Jn 2:1); and 2) the acquisition of grace, succeeded by its distribution in the time of the Church, especially in the Eucharist as communion (cf. Heb 12:18ff.; 13:9-15). The two moments are strictly tied to each other, because redemption is the basis for intercession and the acquisition of grace for its distribution. The same is true, servatis servandis, for Mary’s mediation.

Also from St. Paul’s doctrine is derived the Christocentric vision of the universe, which becomes, as a logical consequence, also Mariocentric. “All things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:16), but also through her and for her, as exemplary cause, because she is willed with Christ “uno eodemque decreto” by God (Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus). If Christ and Mary are the center of creation, they are even more so in the order of grace that they have acquired through the work of the redemptive sacrifice. Therefore all creatures, both earthly and heavenly, have their raison d’être in Christ and Mary, and they receive their sanctifying grace and beatific glory from Christ through Mary.

Mediatrix in the Restricted Sense of Distributrix of Graces After Calvary

St. Bonaventure identifies three moments in the maternal mediation of Mary, taken in the broad sense: the moment of begetting the price of our salvation, the moment of paying that price on Calvary, and the moment of distributing the price of salvation which she possesses in the time of the Church (20). It is to this last phase of her mediation that the title “Mary, Mediatrix of all graces,” is commonly referred. When recent popes (like Benedict XVI in his homily for the Annunciation, March 25, 2006) (21) refer to the Marian principle at the heart of the Church, they refer precisely to this third aspect of Mary’s work as Mediatrix in the economy of salvation, one realizing the final phase of her maternal vocation, that of spiritual Mother of the redeemed and of the Church.

As immediately consequent on the coredemption, as it were its continuation, this mediation has two aspects. The first is one of intercession whose high point is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. One need only reflect on the Communicantes prayer of the Roman canon to grasp that the intercession of all the saints united to that of Christ passes through and depends upon the unique intercession and presence of Mary in the sacrifice of Christ, as John Paul II makes so clear in his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, under the heading “Woman of the Eucharist” (22). Mary, as Immaculate Spouse of the Holy Spirit, is invoked in primis in every Eucharist, that is before and above all other saints, including the apostles. Because she is the Immaculate and so Spouse of the Holy Spirit, invoking her in this way is an aspect of the epiclesis of the Holy Spirit. Without Mary and the Holy Spirit, no Incarnation, and hence no Real Presence.

The other aspect is that of distribution of the graces acquired in the sacrifice of Calvary. This, too, has its highpoint in the Eucharist at Communion. In the worthy communicant is him who first dwelt in the immaculate womb of the Virgin Mother, so that like the Word incarnate the Christian might fully become a child of Mary and so child of the Father, on both counts perfectly conformed to Christ, perfectly incorporated into him. There is no grace, no charism, no aspect of sanctification which does not involve the maternal mediation of Mary here and now. This is perfectly logical when we recall that Mary is Spouse of the Holy Spirit at the Incarnation and at Pentecost, at the birth of the Savior and at the birth of the Church, that is, she is Spouse of him by whose working the whole Christ, Head and Body, comes to be. In other words she is Mediatrix par excellence.

Theological Meaning of the Title of Mediatrix: Sources of the Doctrine

The title of Mediatrix means that Mary possesses a dignity intermediate between that of all other creatures and that of the incarnate Son by reason of her fullness of grace. This intermediate dignity fits her to carry out the role of maternal intermediary entrusted to her by God the Father to reunite man to his Son, our Mediator with the Father, by means of the coredemption, the dispensation of all graces and intercession (23). Such mediation is carried out, not apart from, but in Christ, in dependence upon him. It is a necessary aspect of the economy of salvation, said to be hypothetical, not absolute necessity: necessary not because God could not have done otherwise, but because God has so willed, and has so willed because this is the most perfect, orderly or rational way to accomplish our salvation. It is this aspect of the saving counsels of God, implicitly present in such classic passages as Ephesians 1:3-14; Galatians 4:4-7; Philippians 2:5-10, and Hebrews 10:5-10, which is witnessed in Scripture without the title Mediatrix, and in Tradition with the title, and in modern times expressly incorporated into the ordinary magisterial teaching of the Church.

Sacred Scripture

As has been already noted, Scripture never explicitly attributes the title of Mediatrix to Mary (24). That is not surprising, because neither does it ascribe to her the titles of Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, or ever-Virgin, nor does it attribute the Assumption to her, all of which titles are defined dogmas. Nor, moreover, does the word Trinity, the most important dogma of our faith, appear in Scripture; the term consubstantial, which forms part of the dogmatic definition of Nicaea, is absent; the same is true of hypostatic union, real presence, transubstantiation, pontifical infallibility, etc. If we had to delete all of the words and their related concepts that do not explicitly appear in Sacred Scripture from Catholic dogma, we would first have to annul 2,000 years of Church history. Why, therefore, has God not revealed everything in an explicit manner in Scripture? Bl. Duns Scotus responds:

I say that it is more pleasing to understand something if it is hidden under some literal sense rather than if it were stated expressly. … Moreover, Origen, in his Homily on Noah’s Ark, affirmed: “It seems that Sacred Scripture has maintained an appropriate silence regarding those things whose discovery reason would show as consequences of those truths (directly revealed in Scripture). Therefore many necessary truths are not explicitly related in Scripture, although they are contained there virtually, as conclusions within the principles; the work of the Doctors and commentators was useful for defining these conclusions” (Ordinatio. Prologus, n. 122-123).

The very clear, although implicit, biblical basis for the mediation of Mary beside her Son is found in the association of Mary with Christ, central theme of the history spanning both Old and New Testaments, from the Protoevangelium (Gen 3:15) to the book of Revelation (Rev 12).

Regarding mediation in the restricted sense of dispensation of all graces, the biblical passages in which theologians have discovered the basis for the doctrine are the following:

a) Genesis 3:15: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; she shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for her heel.

The woman is Mary, by exclusion and by identification. By exclusion, because it cannot be Eve, as she could never appear as a victorious enemy of the serpent, but instead as his victim, first in the fault and then in the punishment. By identification, because Mary is the only woman who fully realizes enmity and victory over the serpent. Enmity and victory over Satan always signifies the work of the redemption, accomplished by Mary and by Christ, the firstborn of her offspring. Associated with Christ in the redemption in the first phase, Mary is associated also in the redemption in the second phase, that is, in the distribution of the acquired graces.

b) 1 Kings 18:44: And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising out of the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’”

This is the cloud that Elijah caught sight of on Mount Carmel which brought rain after a long drought. Here the cloud has been viewed as a symbol of Mary and the rain as a symbol of the graces Mary brings.

c) Luke 1:28: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.

If it is true that from his (Christ’s) fullness have we all received, grace upon grace (Jn 1:16), it is also true that we have received it by means of Mary’s fullness of grace. The passive participle kecharitomene (full of grace) is used to indicate a permanent fullness par excellence. This is what St. Francis had an intuition of when, in his Salute to the Virgin, he gave this description of her: “On you descended and in you still remains all the fullness of grace and every good.” Why has God filled the Virgin Mary with his grace if not in order for her to communicate this grace to others who, by their nature, are devoid of them?

d) Luke 1:38: And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”

Mary’s fiat is her free and personal assent to the redemptive Incarnation, of which she is defined as the “handmaid,” and the fulfillment of which is realized in the regeneration of men into the life of grace. It matches the fiat of her Son: I come to do your will (cf. Heb 10:5-10). Both are efficacious as acts of mediation, because each, though distinctively, is contained within the order of the hypostatic union as willed by the Father as the radical foundation for saving mediation. Through her fiat, Mary mediates to the world Jesus Christ, the Mediator, and the Author of all grace. The title, “Mediatrix of all graces,” is rightly and uniquely ascribed to Mary in virtue of her mediation of the Savior alone.

e) Luke 1:43-44: And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.

Here Mary’s physical presence brings the grace of Christ’s presence to Elizabeth, who prophesies, and to the Baptist, who exults with joy in his mother’s womb. The joy consequent on Mary’s mediation, a joy which is a foretaste of that of heaven, contrasts sharply with the sadness consequent on the mediation of the first Eve and the expulsion from paradise. As Eve in fact mediated tragedy for the human family, Mary mediates the presence of the Savior and salvation, even to those such as John enclosed in his mother’s womb. It is she who mediates the working of the Holy Spirit, and therefore it is she who at the most intimate reaches of the human heart guarantees faith, as it is she who is the prime evangelist and sign of the presence of the invisible Savior-God, she who is Mother of “the Lord” or Yahweh, who spoke to Moses from the burning bush as Christ speaks to us from Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant. The importance of Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth in the revelation of the mystery of Marian mediation, specifically the distribution of all the blessings of salvation, cannot be underestimated.

Further, the mediation of Jesus and Mary, inseparable and related to one another according to a typology established by the Creator in the formation of the first man and woman, is also shown here in its anti-types. It is the mediation of Mary which brings the Mediator to us and enables us to be united to him and so enabled by him to return to the Father’s house. The basis for a Mediator and Mediatrix within a single work of mediation is also clear: what the theologians have come to call the order of the hypostatic union embracing the incarnate Word and the divine maternity. It is this order which defines concretely the basis of the work of mediation or salvation.

f) Luke 2:35: And a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (cf. Lk 2:22-40) further clarifies the bases of this mediation: not only Mary’s vocation as Mother of God, but her role as Co-redemptrix in the realization of the redemptive sacrifice which secures the “salvation of his people.” Mary’s role as Advocate (intercessor) and Mediatrix (distributrix of the blessings won on Calvary) is a continuation of her role as Co-redemptrix outlined in the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: to the Father and to the Church (represented by Simeon and Anna).

g) John 2:3-5: When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Again Mary’s physical presence carries with it the physical presence of Christ with his divine power. The Lord’s words, which express a certain distance between him—who was about to perform an act as God—and his Mother (who always remained simply a creature), make us understand that, if it had not been for her, he would not have worked the miracle. Curiously, those who reject the concept of Marian mediation as revealed will affirm the difference between the Creator Son and created Mother. But they seemingly fail to realize that the difference and distance between the Word incarnate and the rest of us is even greater if Mary is not Mediatrix. From this comes the need of a Mediatrix between ourselves and our Savior, as well as a Mediator between ourselves and the Father. Mary by her physical presence as Mother of God enables us also to be present to him who is our Mediator with the Father. This is what is so clearly communicated by this event at the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry. He, the bridegroom, is Savior-Mediator of the Church, the bride represented by the newly wed couple. The role of his Mother at this marriage feast for the groom is that of one who arranges this great marriage covenant, that is to say, she is the Mediatrix. Cana reveals the Mother of Jesus as physical and moral (willed) Mediatrix between Jesus and humanity, in the midst of its wants and needs. As John Paul II explains, she acts as a “mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother” (25).

h) John 19:26-27: When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John’s presence at the feet of the crucified Redeemer engages the mediation of the Mother, from whom John receives the fruit of the redemption. In the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucaristia, John Paul II teaches that in every Mass the reality of Marian mediation is re-presented for the benefit of believers, of beloved disciples who, like John, assist at the sacrifice of the Redeemer and Co-redemptrix.

The radical structure of Marian mediation observed in all the foregoing texts is here proclaimed by our Savior himself, revealing precisely its immediate grounds in the unique part Mary played as Mother and Co-redemptrix in the redemptive sacrifice of Calvary. In effect, Jesus reveals and proclaims his Mother as maternal Mediatrix between himself and us: both the entire Church and each disciple personified here in John, and in a special way those who are successors of the apostles and their immediate associates, the priests. And he insists that we make use of her mediation, because by his will it is a necessary aspect of Christian life. Hence, our first obligation as disciples is to take Mary into our homes. Mary is our Mother in the order of grace; her spiritual maternity is the fruit of her love and suffering on Calvary. What is said here in principle, is shown in the next text from Acts to be operative from day one of the Church, and in Revelation 12:1ff. to be a raging success, for as Co-redemptrix Mary merited to be assumed and gloriously crowned as Queen of heaven and earth, precisely to act efficaciously on earth as maternal Mediatrix. The Woman of Revelation 12:1ff., who is first of all the Mother of the victorious Savior Jesus, swept up to heaven, must be pondered in conjunction with Revelation 21:1-4, where the woman is the heavenly Jerusalem descending from heaven on earth. The Church is the new and glorious Jerusalem or Daughter Zion descending from heaven, because in some unique way Mary Immaculate is the Church as its “pre-eminent” member. Through the dynamic presence of the Immaculate Mediatrix, the Church becomes the Immaculate Bride of her Savior and Head (cf. Eph 5:21-32) (26).

i) Acts 1:14: All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Here Mary is Mother of the infant Church. In the Apostolic Church she was the Mother of Jesus, almost a living sacrament of his presence. The intercession of the Church rises to God through Mary’s prayer, and the grace of the Holy Spirit descends upon men because of this prayer and this intercession. The ancient Church Tradition clearly confirms this understanding of the central role of Mary in the Church: that of intercession (ascending mediation) and that of distribution of graces (descending mediation), particularly that of sustaining and quietly guiding all Christians in the understanding and living of their faith. “And they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of the bread and in the prayers” (Acts 2:42), all this in the presence of Mary Mediatrix. For this is what above all the Pentecost scene illustrates: the permanent, “pre-eminent” place of Mary in the midst of the apostles and faithful as maternal Mediatrix.

From all these passages of Scripture there surfaces repeatedly a Marian mode according to which God works our redemption. St. Bonaventure tells us (Breviloquium, p. IV, ch. 3) that the mode of the Incarnation is Marian, viz., through the virginal maternity. The one whom Mary begets is our Mediator, the price of our ransom; hence the mode of our redemption is Marian. It is Mary, says the same Seraphic Doctor who begets that price in Nazareth, pays that price on Calvary, and now possesses that price as Mediatrix of all graces (cf. Collationes in septem donis Spiritus Sancti, c. 6). The two major features of this last, intercession or ascending mediation, and distribution of graces or descending mediation, are clearly indicated as fact, even if not expressly explained. Meditating on these passages, Bossuet rightly concludes that “Mary’s charity is the general instrument of the operations of grace” (27).

Teaching of the Church Fathers

The Eve-Mary parallelism, already put in evidence by St. Justin (+165), is the leitmotiv of patristic Mariology, as it developed during the course of the first eight centuries of the Christian era (28). Its foundation is in the economy of salvation established by God and implicitly revealed by him in Sacred Scripture. The first to single out the Marian characteristic of this salvific economy was St. Ignatius of Antioch (+110): “Our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan” (29). It is the first Marian fruit of patristic reflection on the biblical datum.

The Mariology of St. Irenaeus of Lyons (+202) is the wonderful result of the fruitful encounter between the Eastern tradition, from which he came, and that of the West, in which he exercised his episcopal ministry. He developed the antithetical Eve-Mary parallelism and was the first to attribute the title of “Eve’s advocate” to the Virgin (30). The concept of mediation is contained in the term Advocate because, according to St. Irenaeus, as Advocate, Mary performs the role of Mediatrix of reconciliation between the just divine Judge and the guilty Eve. The Devil, on the other hand, is the one who accuses Eve before God and requests her condemnation (31).

Origen (+254) interprets the episode of the Visitation as an example of the Virgin’s mediation. Her journey took place so “that she might communicate some of the power she derived from him (whom) she had conceived, to John, yet in his mother’s womb” (32). In a text attributed to Origen but not recognized as authentic by the critics, the title of Mediatrix appears for the first time: “All human creatures have been renewed through Mary … Mediatrix of life” (33).

The prayer Sub Tuum Praesidium, written in Egypt in the third century: “Under your mercy we take refuge, Mother of God, do not reject our supplications in necessity. But deliver us from danger. (You) alone chaste, alone blessed” (34). This ancient prayer, with minor variations, is found from time immemorial in the antiphonary of the Roman, Ambrosian, Byzantine and Coptic liturgies (35). The intercession ascending toward God (do not reject our supplications) and the descending mediation that brings God’s help to men (deliver us from danger) is clearly seen.

In the ancient Cimitero Maggiore (Main Cemetery) on the Via Nomantana in Rome, there is the depiction of the Virgin Mary in a position of prayer, of intercession, which dates back to the fourth century.

The doctrine of mediation recurs often in the authentic scripts of St. Ephraem (+373), the great Doctor of the Syriac Church, or in scripts simply attributed to him by tradition. He does not use the term itself, but equivalent expressions: “The human race … depends upon your patronage and has you alone as its refuge and defense. … Your prayer, in fact, is powerful with your Son” (36). She has received an unlimited power from God: “You are true Mother of God, and therefore you are powerful” (37).

In the celebrated hymn Akathistos, attributed to St. Romanos the Melodist (+560), Mary’s help is invoked in various ways: “By your invincible power, deliver me from every kind of danger” (38); “Deliver all from every evil, and save from future suffering all who cry to thee. Alleluia” (39).

Theoteknos, bishop of Livias (sixth century) is the first in the West to use the title Mediatrix: “She has departed for heaven as our Mediatrix … and because she is certainly accepted by God, she obtains spiritual graces for us. During her time on earth she watched over us; she was like a universal providence for all her subjects. Now in heaven, she remains an impregnable defense, interceding for us with her Son and God” (40). Except for the literature ascribed to pseudo-Ephraem, this is the first time that the title of Mediatrix is explicitly attributed to Mary in a text the author of which is known with certainty.

Patristic Mariology reached its zenith with the three great Eastern homilists of the eighth century. They are St. Germanus of Constantinople (+733), St. Andrew of Crete (+740), and St. John Damascene (+749). Besides using the term Mediatrix explicitly, they study the doctrine of her universal dispensation of graces in depth.

For St. Germanus the Most Blessed Virgin Mary is the “manifest Mediatrix of all goods” (41); “no one obtains a grace by mercy except through you, who were worthy to harbor God himself in your womb” (42). “You cannot not be answered from the time that it pleased God to dwell with you, like a son with his true and irreproachable Mother. … And because of this the Christian people, recognizing its miserable state, entrusts its prayers to you so that you may present them to God” (43).

St. Andrew of Crete appeals to Mary “Mediatrix of law and grace” (44). St. John Damascene illustrates the doctrine of Mary’s mediation with a splendid biblical image: “As Jacob saw the ladder uniting heaven to earth … so you also, fulfilling the role of mediatrix become a stairway for God who descends to us so that he might assume our weak nature and join and unite it to himself” (45); “You are the perennial source of the true light … the cause of all our goods … (from heaven) you bless the world, you sanctify the universe” (46).

Theological Development: Medieval, Post-Tridentine and Neo-Scholastic Epochs

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (+1153) stands out among the large group of writers who in the twelfth century affirm Mary’s mediation. His doctrine is clear and precise: “God has willed that we should have nothing that would not pass through the hands of Mary. … Do you also desire someone to intercede for you with him? Run to Mary” (47). Mary is defined by the Mellifluous Doctor as the “aqueduct” through which all graces flow from God to men. The works of St. Bernard influenced the entire subsequent Mariology during the Middle Ages.

Pseudo-Albertus Magnus asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary “is numerically full of all graces, which, numerically, pass through her hands” (48).

St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (O.Min., +1274) writes explicitly that “every grace comes to us through Mary’s intervention” (49).

St. Bernardine of Siena (O.Min., +1444) affirms that “all gifts, virtues and graces of the same Holy Spirit are administered by her hands to whomever she desires, when, in what manner, and to what degree she wishes” (50).

The universal mediation of all graces is common doctrine among the post-tridentine theologians: Francisco Suárez (S.J., +1617), St. Robert Bellarmine (S.J., +1621), Ven. James Olier (+1657), St. John Eudes (+1680), Henry Boudon (+1702), Jacques-Benigne Bossuet (+1704), Pierre de Berulle (+1629), to mention only a few. It is one of the major themes of the golden age of Spanish Mariology, the seventeenth century, notable not only for works of theological erudition, but also for one of the greatest and most influential works of Mariology in a contemplative key, The Mystical City of God, by the Ven. Mary of Jesus of Agreda (+1665) (51). St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (+1716), with his timeless work, True Devotion to Mary, is another outstanding figure in the history of this doctrine. In the seventeenth century the Jansenistic influences gave rise to a certain diffidence toward the Marian cult and everything in Mariology which seems to, in their opinion, overly exalt the Virgin’s excellence. The first major representative of this minimizing current was the Rhinelander Adam Widenfeld, with his Monita salutaria (1673), whose publication gave rise to violent polemics. In Italy the authoritative spokesman of this critical current was the famous historian Ludovico Antonio Muratori. St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori (+1787) responded to his anti-Marian theses so effectively, above all with his superb book The Glories of Mary, that they were not given credence again until our days.

In the twentieth century the doctrine of Mary’s universal mediation gained the universal consent of theologians. First-rate monographic studies demonstrate the inclusion of the doctrine on Mary’s mediation into the patrimony of Catholic faith and illustrate its wonderful conexio dogmatum. Among these the studies of Godts (52), Bittremieux (53) and Lepicier (54) stand out.

By initiative of Cardinal Desiré Mercier (+1926) (55), archbishop of Malines-Brussels, the international movement for the proclamation of the dogma of Mary Mediatrix of all graces was born. On January 12, 1922, in response to the Belgian Cardinal’s request, Benedict XV (+1922) granted to all dioceses of Belgium the Mass in honor of Mary Mediatrix of all graces, to be celebrated on May 31. In November 1922, Pius XI (+1939) instituted three commissions—one Roman, one Spanish and one Belgian—to study the definability of Marian mediation. The documents of the Spanish and Belgian commissions have been recently published in the periodical Marianum, both with a positive conclusion in support of the doctrine’s definability (56).


The final part of this article will appear in the next Mother of All Peoples Bi-Monthly Issue.



(1) Aa. Vv., Mary at the Foot of the Cross. Acts of the International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, 6 vv., Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2001-2007. The six volumes (together, over 3,000 pages) report the acts of the symposia held in England annually from 2000 to 2005, thereafter in Fatima. A seventh volume is in the course of publication. The symposia and the publication of their acts are under the direction of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA). The unique role of Mary as maternal Mediatrix in the Church rests proximately on her position as Immaculate Co-redemptrix on Calvary; hence the importance of these studies for our theme.

There are, in addition, two other events of great importance regarding studies on Marian coredemption:

1) Il Simposio internazionale sul mistero di Maria Corredentrice, Shrine of Castelpetroso (Italy), September 8-12, 1996, promoted by his excellency Msgr. Ettore Di Filippo (+2006), archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano (Italy) and president of the Bishop’s Conference of Abruzzo-Molise.

2) Il Simposio sul Mistero della Corredenzione Mariana, held at Fatima May 3-7, 2005, promoted and directed by the following cardinals: Telesphore Toppo, Luis Aponte Martínez, Varkey Vithayathil, Edouard Gagnon, Ricardo Vidal, Ernesto Corripio Ahumada. Acts: Maria: “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione” – Mary: “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption,” Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2005, 583 pp.

(2) M. Miravalle:

1) Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara (CA) 1993, pp. 80;

2) Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations. Towards a Papal Definition?, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 1995, 325 pp.

3) Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations II. Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 1997, 329 pp.

4) Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations III. Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 2000, 272 pp.

Mark Miravalle, Professor of Mariology at the University of Steubenville (Ohio), has also edited the volume Aa. Vv., Mary Co-redemptrix. Doctrinal Issues Today, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 2002, 274 pp. In addition, he is the author of two excellent monographs on this subject: The Dogma and the Triumph, Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara 1998, 152 pp.; “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Co-redemptrix, Queenship Publishing, Goleta, CA, 2003, 252 pp.

(3) Aa. Vv., Maria Corredentrice. Storia e Teologia, CME, Frigento 1998-2005, 7 vv. Of particular interest is the study on our specific theme in M. Hauke, La mediazione materna di Maria secondo papa Giovanni Paolo II, in op. cit., vol. VII, 2005, pp. 35-158.

(4) For example, A. Escudero Cabello, S.D.B., La cuestión de la mediación en la preparación del Vaticano II, LAS, Rome 1997, 422 pp.; B. Gherardini, La Corredentrice, ed. Vivere, Rome 1998, 408 pp.; M. Hauke, Maria “Mediatrice di tutte le grazie.” La mediazione universale di Maria nell’opera teologica e pastorale del Cardinale Mercier, Eupress FTL (Faculty of Theology of Lugano)—Reggiani SpA (Varese), Lugano, Switzerland—Varese, Italy 2005, 212 pp.; D. Lacourture, Marie Médiatrice de toutes les grâces, ed. des Béatitudes, Saint-Amand (France) 1997, 324 pp.; J. Ferrer Arellano, La Mediación Materna de la Inmaculada. Esperanza Ecuménica de la Iglesia, ed. Arca de la Alianza, Madrid 2006, 318 pp.; J.D. Miller, Marian Mediation: Is it True to Say that Mary is Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?, Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2004, 168 pp; J. Schug, O.F.M. Cap., Mary, Mother, St. Francis Chapel Press, Springfield, MA, 1992.

(5) For example, J. Galot, S.J., Maria: mediatrice o madre universale?, in La Civilità Cattolica, 147/1 (1996) 213-225; J. Galot, La mediazione di Maria: natura e limiti, ibid., 148 (1997) 13-25; P. Siano, F.I., Uno studio su Maria Santissima ‘Mediatrice di tutte le Grazie’ nel magistero pontificio fino al pontificato di Giovanni Paolo II, Immaculata Mediatrix, 6 (2006) 299-356. See also the articles of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner in the periodical Immaculata Mediatrix for the years 2001-2003; J. Schug, O.F.M. Cap. and M. Miravalle, Mary Coredemptrix: The Significance of Her Title in the Magisterium of the Church, in M. Miravalle, ed., Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Foundations. Towards a Papal Definition?, op. cit., pp. 215-246.

(6) Historically, the mystery of Mary, in one way or another, is at the very heart of many theological controversies since the foundation of the Church. That this is so is no reason to question the certainty of that mystery as an article of faith, for we believe, as do the apostles and their successors, in the Christ, the Son of the living God, born of the Virgin Mary. Rather, division over this mystery arises from the centrality of Mary with Jesus in the mystery of salvation, and the on-going struggle between the Woman and the serpent-dragon (cf. Gen 3:15 and Rev 12:1ff.) which accounts for the violence of the controversy at times. Today the controversy continues about the question of the Woman’s active role in the work of redemption, viz., the maternal role of Mary qua Mediatrix. A good introduction to these controversies can be found in Miravalle, “With Jesus”: The Story of Mary Coredemptrix, cit.; and to the type of atmosphere leading to denial of Marian mediation and the title Mediatrix cf. G. Morrissey, For the Love of Mary. Defending the Church from Anti-Marianism, Brooklyn NY 1999. On the historical background cf. M. Hauke, Mary, “Mediatress of Grace.” Mary’s Universal Mediation of Grace in the Theological and Pastoral Works of Cardinal Mercier: Supplement to Mary at the Foot of the Cross IV, New Bedford, MA, 2004. For the bearing of the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater on the problematic cf. J.F. Bifet, La mediación maternal de Maria. Aspectos especificos de la enciclica “Redemptoris Mater,” in Ephemerides Mariologicae 39 (1989) 237-254; E. Llamas, La mediación maternal de Maria en la enciclica “Redemptoris Mater,” in Estudios Marianos 61 (1995) 149-180.

We can be quite sure of her triumph, precisely because as maternal mediatrix Christ entrusted, consecrated, the entire Church and each member to his Mother, the Woman foretold in Genesis 3:15 and revealed in glory in Revelation 12:1ff. But we cannot be sure of our share in that victory, unless we understand clearly and accept in practice the universal mediation of Mary in the Church and in the lives of each and every member, actual and potential. In practice, this means we must engage in true devotion to the Virgin, as St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort calls our basic response to the mystery of Marian mediation here and now, or live total consecration to the Immaculate, as St. Maximilian M. Kolbe defines the same basic response.

(7) Pius IX, Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854; Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, November 1, 1950, in AAS 42 (1950).

(8) St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, Scritti d Massimiliano Kolbe, Rome 1997, n. 1318. This profound essay, an example of contemplative theology of the highest order, was dictated by the saint only hours before his final arrest by Gestapo, Feb. 17, 1941. Unfortunately, there exists no satisfactory English translation to date.

(9) St. Bonaventure, Breviloquium, p. II, in particular chapters 2 and 9.

(10) More technical discussion of this issue is carried out via use of the terms “transcendental” and “predicamental” participation, the first denoting sharing in a spiritual perfection, the second sharing in material goods. Mediation par excellence is a form of metaphysical analogy, in the first instance the reconciliation of like and unlike. Cf. J. Ferrer Arellano, Marian Coredemption in the Light of Christian Philosophy, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross II, New Bedford, MA, 2002, pp. 113-150. The effective recognition of the real difference between these two forms of predication requires a discussion of the relation between analogy and univocity in metaphysics, a point clearly recognized by Bl. John Duns Scotus, especially in regard to matters touching the will and the person, such as mediation. Analogy in order to mediate requires a mean or the “univocal.” Here are two key texts from his commentaries on Book I of the Sentences: “Teachers who speak of God and of God’s knowable attributes employ univocity in their manner of reasoning, even if they reject the word” (Rep. Par. I, d 3, q 1, n 7); and “Analogy would be useless if those truths that are evident in creatures were not attainable by the same reasoning as those which are attributed to God in an eminent degree” (Ord., d 8, p 1, q 3). Mediation is precisely one of these perfections classed by Scotus as “pure perfections” only accessible via “metaphysical univocity,” and therefore permitting participation without diminution of unity. On the difference between simple perfections and simply simple, or pure perfections cf. W. Hoeres, Die Wille als reine Vollkomenheit nach Duns Scotus, Munich 1962. Unfortunately there is nothing comparable in English. The classic Protestant position on Christ alone as Mediator rests on a wrongheaded denial of these basics of sound metaphysics, and leads straight to the monophysite theory of salvation excluding human cooperation in any form at any level, even of subordinate good works. Marian minimalism among Catholics in regard to the title universal Mediatrix heads in the same direction.

(11) For an introduction to the thought of Scotus on Marian mediation and its relation to the absolute predestination of Christ, cf. Maximilian M. Dean, F.I, A Primer on the Absolute Primacy of Christ. Blessed John Duns Scotus and the Franciscan Thesis, New Bedford, MA, 2006.

(12) Witness the quasi-universal practice of divorce today, a moral-religious plague if ever there was one. Modern forms of mediation, e.g., psychological therapy-counseling in many cases, are about as successful as the ancient Roman pontifices as religious mediators. Their bridges over the Tiber were masterpieces of engineering; but neither ancient nor modern technique suffices to resolve the problem of sin, social discord, and death.

(13) Summa theologiae, III, q 26, a 1.

(14) Breviloquium, p. II, chapter 9. On the contributions of St. Bonaventure to an understanding of the concept of Marian mediation cf. P.D. Fehlner, Immaculata Mediatrix—Toward a Dogmatic Definition of the Coredemption, in Mary Corredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate. Theological Foundations II, Santa Barbara, CA, 1997, pp. 259-329; Idem, Il Mistero della Corredenzione secondo il Dottore Serafico San Bonaventura, in Maria Corredentrice. Storia e Teologia, vol. II, Frigento 1999, 11-91.

(15) St. Bonaventure, III Sent., d 1, a 2, q 2; II Sent., d 23, dub 4; for a parallel text in St. Thomas, Summa Th., II, II, q 2, a 7. Cf. P.D. Fehlner, Redemption, Metaphysics and the Immaculate Conception, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross V, New Bedford, MA, 2005, pp. 186-262, here p. 234.

(16) St. Bonaventure writes: “Whether we speak of the (Word) becoming man, or of the Woman becoming Mother of God, we are speaking of realities beyond what is due to or comprehensible by a mere creature” (III Sent., d 4, a 2, q 2). The same mysterious character belongs to the titles Mediator and Mediatrix.

(17) St. Bonaventure, Collationes in Hexaemeron, col. 1, nn. 12-17. The middle position of the Word in the Trinity is the basis for his role in creation, and for the appropriateness of his Incarnation for the work of recreation and recapitulation, viz., a work of sacerdotal and sacrificial mediation. Inseparable from this at its every moment is the Virgin Mother Mediatrix. Cf. P.D. Fehlner, F.I., Immaculata Mediatrix—Toward a Dogmatic Definition of the Coredemption, in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate. Theological Foundations II, Santa Barbara, CA, 1997, pp. 259-329.

(18) Cf. Aa.Vv., Maria: “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione” – Mary: “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption,” New Bedford, MA, 2005.

(19) Cf. I. Bover, Pauli doctrina de Christi Mediatione Mariae mediationi applicata, in Marianum, 4 (1942) 81-90.

(20) St. Bonaventure, Collationes de septem Donis Spiritus Sancti, col. 6. Cf. P.D. Fehlner, Il mistero della Corredenzione secondo il Dottore Serafico San Bonaventura, in Maria Corredentrice. Storia e Teologia II , Frigento 1999, pp. 11-92.

(21) Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, homily at the ordinary public consistory for the creation of new cardinals, March 25, 2006.

(22) Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Ecclessia de Eucharistia, April 17, 2003, chapter six.

(23) It is in this all-inclusive sense that the title of Mediatrix is taken in the petition that the cardinals and bishops united at Fatima in 2005 addressed to the Pope. Cf. Aa.Vv., Maria: “Unica Cooperatrice alla Redenzione” – Mary: “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption,” op. cit. This delineation of the all-inclusive sense is essentially that of St. Bonaventure, Collationes in Hexaemeron, col. 6.

(24) For the biblical foundation of all of dogmatic Mariology, including the doctrine on Marian mediation, see S.M. Manelli, F.I., All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology, Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA, 2005, 442 pp.; I. De La Potterie, S.J., Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, New York, 1992; P.C. Landucci, Maria Santissima nel Vangelo, Ed. San Paolo, Rome 2000, 537 pp.

(25) Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, March 25, 1987, 21.

(26) On the patristic development of this point cf. H. Rahner, Our Lady and the Church, New York 1961. Within the context of a contemplative Mariology see Ven. Mary of Agreda, Mystical City of God, in particular The Coronation (part III, in the complete English version, vol. 4: a good introduction is available in E. Llamas, The Ven. Mary of Agreda and the Mariology of Vatican II, New Bedford, MA, 2006). The pattern of Marian mediation embedded in the Bible continues from the earliest days of the Church as a fixed context, within which from the sixth century the title Mediatrix will commonly be ascribed to the Virgin Mother. Further, the ecclesio-typical aspects of active Marian mediation are clearly shown to depend on the Christo-typical, in a proximate fashion on Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix.

(27) Bossuet, Homily III on the Conception of the Virgin.

(28) Cf. St. Justin, Dialogus cum Tryphone, n. 100, in PG 6, 709-711a. For the patristic foundation of Marian mediation, see L. Gambero, S.M., Maria nel pensiero dei Padri della Chiesa, Ed. Paoline, Alba (Cn) 1991 (English version: Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999); G. Roschini, O.S.M., Maria Santissima nella Storia della Salvezza, vol. II, Ed. Pisani, Isola del Liri (Fr), pp. 171-179, 209-222; L. Cignelli, O.F.M., Maria Nuova Eva nella patristica greca, Assisi 1966; Testi mariani deli primo millennio, ed. G. Gharib, E. Toniolo, L. Gambero, G. Di Nola, Roma 1988-1993, 4 vv.

(29) St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians, 18, 2, cit. by W.A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 1, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville (Minn.) 1970, p. 18 (n. 42).

(30) St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus haereses, V, 19, 1; Demonstratio praedicationis apostolicae, 31, 33, cit. by B. de Margerie, Mary Coredemptrix in the Light of Patristics, in Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations, op. cit., p. 9.

(31) Cf. G. Jouassard, Le rôle des chrétiennes comme intercesseurs auprès de Dieu dans la chrétienté lyonnaise au second siècle, in Revue des sciences religieuses, 30 (1956) 217-229; M. Jourion, Aux origines de la prière d’intercession de Marie, in Etudes Mariales, 23 (1966) 37-42.

(32) Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John, 6, 49, in GCS, IV-57, p. 27. (English cit. in A. Menzies, ed., Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 9, 4th ed., 1897, p. 375.)

(33) Pseudo-Origen, in Florilegium casinense, 2, p. 154, 2c.

(34) Translation from the original Greek. The papyrus that relates this prayer is property of the John Rylands Library of Manchester (England). Published in the critical edition of M.C.H. Roberts, Catalogue of the Greek and Latin Papyri in the John Rylands Library Manchester, vol. III, Manchester 1938, p. 46. See also La mariologia dei Padri. Età pre nicena, LAS, Roma; G. Giamberardini, O.F.M., La mediazione di Maria nella Chiesa Egiziana, Cairo 1952, 124 pp.; G. Giamberardini, Il culto mariano in Egitto, 3 vv., Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem 1974-1978. English translation cit. by J.D. Miller, Marian Mediation: Is It True to say that Mary is Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all Graces and Advocate?, op. cit., p. 58; Maria Francesca Perilla, F.I., Sub Tuum Praesiduum. Incomparable Marian Praeconium, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross IV, New Bedford, MA, 2004, pp. 138-169.

(35) Cf. P.F. Mercernier, L’antienne mariale la plus ancienne, in Le Museon, 53 (1939) 229-233; Mercernier, La plus ancienne prière à la Sainte Vierge, in Les Questions Liturgiques et Paroissales, 25 (1940) 33-36.

(36) St. Ephraem, Opera, Ed. Assemani, vol. III, p. 532-533.

(37) Ibid, p. 526.

(38) Hymn Akathistos. Cf. The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. I, Robert Appleton Co., 1907.

(39) Ibid.

(40) Theoteknos, Homily on the Assumption, n. 9, in A. Wenger, L’Assomption de la Très Sainte Vierge dans la Tradition Byzantine du VI au X siècle, Paris 1955, pp. 289, 291.

(41) St. Germanus of Constantinople, Homily 2 on the Dormition, in PG 98, 357.

(42) Idem, Homily on the Dedication of the Virgin to the Temple, in PG 98, 380-381.

(43) Idem, Homily 2 on the Dormition, in PG 98, 352b.

(44) St. Andrew of Crete, Sermon 4 On the Birth of Mary, PG 97, 865A. English cit. in “Appendix IV: English Translation of Chapter VIII of Lumen Gentium,” Marian Studies, Vol. XXXVII (1986), p. 248, note 15.

(45) St. John Damascene, Homily 1 On the Dormition of the B.V. Mary, 8, PG 96, 712bc–713a. Cf. “Appendix IV: English Translation of Chapter VIII of Lumen Gentium,” art. cit.

(46) Ibid., 716c. 717a.

(47) St. Bernard, In Vigilia Navitatis Domini Sermo 3, in PL 183, 100. Cf. P. Haffner, The Mystery of Mary (Wiltshire, England: Anthony Rowe Ltd. 2004), p. 258.

(48) Pseudo Albertus Magnus, Mariale, p. 164.

(49) St. Bonaventure, Opera omnia, vol. IX, p. 641a. On Marian mediation in St. Bonaventure cf. L. Di Fonzo, Doctrina Sancti Bonaventurae de Universali Mediatione B. Virginia Mariae, Rome 1938; P.D. Fehlner, Il mistero della Corredenzione…, cit. St. Bonaventure is rightly considered the “Doctor of Marian Mediation,” so profound and so many are his insights, so systematically thought out. Alone among the great Doctors of the thirteenth century, his teaching is at once a witness to the riches of the preceding tradition and a key to the subsequent development of Mariology in the West, particularly with Scotus. For the clinching argument for the Immaculate Conception in Scotus (and in the Bull of definition, Ineffabilis Deus, of Bl. Pius IX) rests on the concept of a most perfect redemption by a most perfect Redeemer. What makes that redemption most perfect is clearly expounded by St. Bonaventure in terms of Marian mediation, whence the need of a unique sanctity or fullness of grace in Mary as the ontological “mean” of her office between Christ and us.

(50) St. Bernardine of Siena, Homily on the Nativity of the B.V. Mary, chapter 8, cit. by M.J. Scheeben, Mariology, vol. II (New York: B. Herder Book Co., 1947), p. 271. St. Bernardine is another great “Doctor of Marian Mediation,” particularly as a foundation of Catholic spirituality. The substance of his teaching is doubtless what Scotus might have written, had he not died so young.

(51) By way of introduction to the theological value of this work and the significance of the golden age of Spanish Mariology in particular cf. E. Llamas, The Ven. Mary of Agreda and the Mariology of Vatican II, New Bedford, MA, 2006.

(52) F.X. Godts, C.Ss.R., De definibilitate Mediationis universalis Deiprarae, Brussels 1904, 451 pp.

(53) J. Bittremieux J., De mediatione universali B.M. Virginis quoad gratis, Brugis 1926.

(54) A. Lépicier, O.S.M. (Card.), L’Immacolata Corredentrice Mediatrice, Rome 1928.

(55) Cf. M. Hauke, Maria “Mediatrice di tutte le grazie.” La mediazione universale di Maria nell’opera teologica e pastorale di cardinale Mercier, op. cit.

(56) G. Besutti, O.S.M., La mediazione di Maria secondo gli studi di due Commissioni istituite da Pio XI, with introduction by I.M. Calabuig, O.S.M., Marianum, 47 (1985) 37-174. Dr. Manfred Hauke is presently conducting detailed archival research seeking to locate the mysterious, elusive report of the Roman Commission.

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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.


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.



(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.

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The concept of redemption in the Franciscan school, above all in the form given it by Bl. John Duns Scotus, cannot be grasped apart from the Scotistic thesis concerning the absolute primacy of the Word Incarnate and His Virgin Mother, jointly predestined in one and the same decree absolutely: this means prior to any consideration of creation or of redemption, not relative to or consequent on creation or on redemption. It is important to note that the Scotistic form of this thesis is not only opposed to the position of those who hold that the Incarnation was willed by God only consequently on the divine prevision of Adam’s sin, but also to the naturalist or Pelagian school (especially in its evolutionary version as promoted by many calling themselves “transcendental Thomists”), who hold that the Incarnation was willed consequently on creation as its perfection, rather than creation for the glory of Jesus and Mary.{footnote}On this point cf. St. Bonaventure, III Sent., d. 1, a. 2, q. 2.{/footnote}


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