The symbols of Her Majesty as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate are imprinted in the Medal of the Immaculate Conception (Miraculous Medal). Its history began in Eden. When, in the fullness of time, God created Adam out of the dust of the earth and placed him in the garden of Eden, he then created Eve out of his rib and gave her to him as “a companion” (Genesis 2:18). Our first mother, the first Eve, the “Mother of the living,” then brought death to her children and the world by her sin of disobedience and by wanting to be “like God.” She, and soon afterwards the first Adam, fell prey to “the father of lies,” the ancient serpent, once Lucifer, now Satan, who deceived them (Genesis 3:4-5).
It was then that God made his first promise to mankind when he said to Satan: “Because you have done this, I will put enmity between you and the woman; between your seed and her seed; (s)he will crush your head…” (Genesis 3:15). God was referring to a new Eve and a new Adam. It was to be Mary and Jesus in time to come. She was to defeat him through her seed, the second Adam. Eventually, in the fullness of time the new Eve was born. She was to be the mother of the man, the new Adam, who was to restore life and the friendship of God with mankind. She was to be the new “Mother of the living,” the Mother of Mankind.
St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, theologized that when man rebelled against God, God’s justice required that adequate reparation be made; justice meaning “giving to everyone his due.” But since God is infinite, an infinite insult was made to him when man rebelled against him, and if the reparation was to be adequate, that is, if justice was to be satisfied, such an insult required infinite reparation. Justice also required that the reparation be made by man, but man is a finite being and incapable of making infinite reparation. Left to himself, therefore, man would forever be separated from God. The only solution to the impasse was that the infinite God should become man, and as man offer reparation to God. Since the person offering the reparation would himself be infinite, the reparation would equal the crime and man would once more be united in friendship with God. And so, in his loving mercy, God sent his Son to make reparation for the sin of man: “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son…” (John 3:16).
Now, the first Adam and the first Eve were immaculate at birth. Sin had not entered the world as yet. The second Eve, too, in anticipation of the merits of her son, by a special privilege of God, was preserved from the stain of original sin and was immaculate at birth. She was the Immaculate Conception. She was to be the helpmate and “companion” of the Redeemer, who was the “sinless One.” The spiritual history of man was about to start all over again, this time not in Eden, but in Nazareth!
The first Adam gave birth to the first Eve. The second Eve gave birth to the second Adam. Indeed, she gave him the very instrument of redemption, his human body, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me” (Heb. 10:5-7). No human father was involved and scientifically speaking, therefore, his DNA was totally Marian! In the words of the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “Of course, Mary is the Coredemptrix. She gave Jesus his body, and it is his body which saved us.”
The first Eve was proud. The second Eve was humble. The first Eve was disobedient. The second Eve was obedient. The first Eve said yes to Satan and sin. The second Eve said yes to Gabriel and God. It was a fruit which hung from a tree in the garden of Eden which was the instrument which Satan used to bring death to the world. It was the “fruit of her womb” (Luke 1:42) who hung from a tree on Calvary and restored life to mankind. The first Eve brought death to the world. The second Eve brought life. The Eden tragedy was reversed on Calvary.
In sum, it was a man and a woman who had sinned and, therefore, it had to be a man and a woman to restore what was lost by sin. It is as logical as that! Anyone therefore who leaves the “woman” out of that redemptive act is only preaching half Genesis 3:15, half the gospel, half the truth—and half-truth is no truth! It was Jesus and Mary.
Redemption had to come from suffering. As Eve gave the fruit to Adam as the instrument for the fall of humanity, Mary gave a body to Jesus as the instrument for the redemption of humanity, the body in which he would live and suffer and die for us. And so, by virtue of giving flesh to the “Word made flesh” (John 1:14), who in turn redeemed humanity, the Virgin of Nazareth uniquely merits the title Coredemptrix. But the climax of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix was at the foot of the Cross where the total suffering of the mother’s heart, “pierced with a sword,” was obediently united with the suffering of the son’s heart in the fulfillment of the Father’s plan of redemption (cf. Gal. 4:4).
As Rev. Cyril Papali, O.D.C., in his book Mother of God, Mary in Scripture and Tradition, also said: “Hers was the most spiritual and the most pure, the most selfless, the most intense, incomprehensible suffering ever known. One solitary creature suffering with God and for God, suffering for all mankind and from them. That was the price of being the Coredemptrix. That is the meaning of being the second Eve.”
When therefore the Church calls Mary the “Coredemptrix,” she means that Mary uniquely participated in the redemption of humanity with her son, although in a completely subordinate and dependent manner. As Mark Miravalle, Professor of Theology and Mariology at Steubenville University, Ohio, wrote: “Mary participated in Jesus’ reconciliation of the human family with God like no other created person.
Mary’s unique participation in the redemption was scripturally foreshadowed in the prophecy of Simeon in the temple when he said to her: ‘A sword would pierce your own heart, too'” (Luke 2: 35).
Miravalle clearly explained that the term “Coredemptrix” if properly translated means “the Woman with the Redeemer.” Undoubtedly, God could have redeemed us on his own, but he willed otherwise. It would not have been perfect. The important point, however, is that Mary could never have redeemed us on her own. Her role was secondary and subordinate. She was the Coredemptrix, and “Co” comes from the Latin “cum” which means “with” and certainly does not mean “co-equal,” but “co-operating with.” I wish to make this abundantly clear because it is of major theological and ecumenical importance. The co-pilot, for example, is not equal but is subordinate to the pilot. Indeed, Mary always knew her cooperative role: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). But it was her “Immaculate Conception” which properly prepared her for and made her worthy of the intimate and unique role she had to play with the Redeemer in the work of salvation. And so, the title Coredemptrix should never be interpreted as Mary having an equal role in the salvation of the world with Jesus. Indeed, it was never at any time in Church history meant to be so interpreted.
We were redeemed on Calvary with the blood of the son and the tears of the mother. Redemption came from this suffering. It was a suffering which stemmed from “love.” Indeed, the Mother of the Redeemer was predestined to suffer with her son. Simeon only confirmed what she already understood before she gave her fiat to Gabriel: “And a sword would pierce thine own heart” (Luke 2:35).
This is not new doctrine. The earliest Christian writers and Fathers of the Church referred to Marian co-redemption with great profundity. For example, the fourth century Church Father, St. Jerome, said: “Death through Eve, life from Mary.” The seventh century Church writer, Modestus of Jerusalem, stated that through Mary, we “are redeemed from the tyranny of the devil.” St. John Damascene (eighth century) greeted her: “Hail thou, through whom we are redeemed from the curse,” and the twelfth century Marian lover St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) preached that “through her, man was redeemed.” He added: “One man and one woman harmed us grievously. Thanks to God, all things are restored by one man and one woman, and that with interest.”
It is true that Christ would have been adequate, since all our sufficiency comes from him, but it was not good for us that it should be a man alone. It was more appropriate that both sexes should take part in our reparation, since both had wrought our ruin. But her cooperation means much more than this. It implies the true dependence of the whole work of redemption on her free will because God himself willed it to be conditioned by her consent. Redemption in its entirety is her cooperative work also and for that reason alone she deserves to be called Coredemptrix.
Indeed, it is against this rich Christian foundation that twentieth century Popes and saints have used the title Coredemptrix for Mary’s unique role in human redemption. Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) in his 1918 apostolic letter wrote: “To such extent that she (Mary) suffered and almost died with her suffering and dying son, and to such extent that she surrendered her maternal rights over her son for man’s salvation, …we may rightly say that she together with Christ redeemed the human race.”
As Miravalle researched: “In a Papal Audience in 1933, Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) marked a Marian milestone when for the first time in Church history a Pope had personally and explicitly attributed the title ‘Coredemptrix’ to Mary (The author wishes to add here that her role as such was always recognized by the Church.) It was the single word ‘Coredemptrix’ which was used for the first time.” Pope Pius XI said:
companionship and cooperation from the crib to the Cross, the godliness of the God-Man, and manliness of the Man-God extended to his mother the privilege to distribute his graces to whomsoever requests them.
Pope Pius VII (1800-1823) referred to Mary as the “Dispensatrix of all Graces.” Pope Pius IX (1846-1878), the Marian Pope who defined Mary’s Immaculate Conception, wrote: “God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her is obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation.” Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) referred to Mary as the “treasurer of our peace with God and dispensatrix of heavenly graces.”
Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) strongly encouraged the spread of the doctrine of Mediatrix of all Graces by granting a special feast of “Mediatrix of all Graces” to any Bishop who desired to celebrate it in his diocese. It was Cardinal Desiree Mercier of Belgium who was the first to receive, through his intercession and petitioning to Pope Benedict XV, the Mass and Office of Mediatrix of all Graces. Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) also had his say: “And since,” as St. Bernard declared, “it is the will of God that we obtain all favors through Mary, let everyone hasten to have recourse to Mary… She teaches us all virtues; she gives us her son and with all the help we need, for ‘God wished us to have everything through Mary.'”
Finally, in 1989, in a Papal address, John Paul II referred to Mary as the Mediatrix of Graces: “Enlightened by the fullness of Christ’s light, Mary, Mediatrix of Graces, reflects him in order to give him to all her children.” So, in light of the fact that the doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix of all Graces has been universally taught throughout the Church by Popes of the last two hundred years, and in virtue of this universal teaching of the Church, the doctrine of Mediatrix of all Graces already possesses the nature of a defined doctrine of faith. In other words, Mary as Mediatrix of all Graces represents essential Catholic teaching through the order of the ordinary Magisterium.
The Church also teaches that Mary intercedes to God the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit, on behalf of humanity, as our Advocate, especially in times of danger and difficulty. As Mark Miravalle also wrote in his book Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, we can see an authentic foreshadowing of the role of the mother of Jesus as Advocate in the Old Testament role of the Queen Mother, the role and office held by the mothers of the great Davidic kings of Israel.
In the kingdom of Israel, the mother of the king held the exalted office of the Queen Mother. At times she even sat enthroned at the right side of the king. Indeed, the office and authority of the Queen Mother made her the strongest advocate to the king for the people of the kingdom, as exemplified in 1 Kings 2:19-20:
And the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a seat brought for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right. Then she said: “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, “Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.”
This Old Testament role of the Queen Mother as Advocate prophetically foreshadows the role of the great Queen Mother of the New Testament, for as the Mother of Christ, the King of all Nations, she is automatically Queen and Mother in the kingdom of God and Mother of all nations on earth. But this title of “Advocate” is ancient Church doctrine. Between 1000 and 1100 AD the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen) was composed, and it was the first Christian prayer recited in the New World by Columbus and his men on the island of San Salvador: “Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy… turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us…” And so, Her Majesty is not only Advocate but she is also the Queen of Heaven or more precisely the Queen Mother of Heaven—and Earth.
MARY is her name and one can argue a case for using it as a mnemonic where M is for Mediatrix, A for Advocate, R for Redemptrix (Co) and Y for the “Yes” she said to Gabriel and God when, as a consequence of her Immaculate Conception, she became Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate.
Dr. Courtenay Bartholomew, M.D., is a scientist from Trinidad who is considered a leading international AIDS researcher. He has authored a series of mariological studies from a scientific perspective entitled: A Scientist Researches Mary. The above article is an excerpt from his book, Her Majesty Mary, Queen of Peace: End Times Prophecies and Warnings of Mary, Queenship, 2002.
(1) December 8, 1973.