Why is she so called?—she who never had any blow, or wound, or other injury to her consecrated person. How can she be exalted over those whose bodies suffered the most ruthless violence and the keenest torments for our Lord’s sake? She is, indeed, Queen of all Saints, of those who “walk with Christ in white, for they are worthy”; but how of those “who were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held”?
To answer this question, it must be recollected that the pains of the soul may be as fierce as those of the body. Bad men who are now in hell, and the elect of God who are in purgatory, are suffering only in their souls, for their bodies are still in the dust; yet how severe is that suffering! And perhaps most people who have lived long can bear witness in their own persons to a sharpness of distress which was like a sword cutting them, to a weight and force of sorrow which seemed to throw them down, though bodily pain there was none.
What an overwhelming horror it must have been for the Blessed Mary to witness the Passion and the Crucifixion of her Son! Her anguish was, as holy Simeon had announced to her, at the time of her Son’s presentation in the Temple, a sword piercing her soul. If our Lord himself could not bear the prospect of what was before him, and was covered at the thought of it with a bloody sweat, his soul thus acting upon his body, does not this show how great mental pain can be? And would it have been a thing to wonder at if Mary’s head and heart had given way as she stood under his cross?
Thus is she most truly the Queen of Martyrs.
This article was excerpted from Meditations and Devotions, pp. 47-48, as found in Mystical Rose, ed. Joseph Regina, Scepter, 1996.