The following article by Edward Sri, S.T.D. 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.
Belief in Mary’s loving intercession was expressed in early Christian art, prayer and teaching. Whether it be in the many frescoes of the Roman catacombs depicting Mary in a prayerful position, or through early Church Fathers who portray Mary in heaven as praying for those on earth, or through other Fathers who address Mary and prayerfully seek her supplication, Mary’s intercessory role is clearly attested to in the first four centuries of the Church (1). As an example of how highly developed the understanding of Mary’s intercessory power could become in the early church, consider the prayer Sub Tuum Praesidium, which can be dated approximately to the mid-third century: “We fly to thy protection, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all danger, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin.” From this we see evidence of early Christians confidently turning to Mary for protection in the face of the trials and dangers in life and asking her to intercede for them. It is not surprising that the Church throughout the centuries would refer to Mary as our “Advocate,” indicating her unique power of intercession, taking petitions from God’s people on earth and presenting them before her Son in heaven.
Closely related to Mary’s advocacy is her role as Queen—another Marian title found in the early Church and developed in the Tradition throughout the centuries. In fact, many magisterial teachings will note how Mary exercises her royal office through her role as Advocate, interceding on our behalf. This article will examine Mary’s role as Advocate and Queen, first by exploring an important Biblical foundation for these two titles: the queen mother, who held a royal office in the kingdom of David, and exercised her office especially through her role as advocate, interceding for the people of the kingdom. Next, we will outline how the Church’s Tradition and magisterial teaching has developed the understanding of Mary’s advocacy and queenship throughout the centuries. And finally, some theological issues regarding Mary’s role as Advocate and Queen will be addressed.
The Queen Mother and Advocate in the Davidic Kingdom
The mother of a ruling monarch held an important position in many Ancient Near Eastern kingdoms. She is known to have influenced political, military, economic and cultic affairs in the royal court and played a key part in the process of dynastic succession. In fact, it was generally the king’s mother who ruled as queen, not the king’s wife. We see this in Hittite, Ugaritic, Egyptian and Assyrian kingdoms, as well as in ancient Israel (2).
The importance of the king’s mother may seem odd until we recall that most Ancient Near Eastern kings practiced polygamy and had large harems. While kings may have had many wives, they each had only one mother, and the queenship was given to her. This, in fact, is what one finds in ancient Israel, where the king’s mother was given preeminence over all the women in the kingdom of Judah, even over the king’s wives. She was given the title Gebirah—or “Great Lady”—and reigned as queen in her son’s kingdom.
We can see the importance of the queen mother expressed in many texts of the Old Testament. First, the succession narratives of 1 and 2 Kings present the mother of the king as having such importance that almost every time a n