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The First Marian Schema of Vatican II



It must be stated immediately and emphatically that this English publication of the first “schema” or draft intended for the Second Vatican Council’s treatment of the Blessed Virgin Mary is in no way intended to imply that this original draft should have been the final draft, that is, to speak against the Council’s final draft which became Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium. An ecumenical council such as Vatican II which is confirmed by the Roman Pontiff is infallibly protected from error by the power of the Holy Spirit, and this key Catholic truth applies directly to the final and fruitful formulation of the Council’s Lumen Gentium Chapter 8 treatment on the Mother of God.


What then is the purpose of publishing a new English translation of the original Latin schema on Mary during this 50th year anniversary celebration of the Second Vatican Council? It is precisely to manifest the rich mariological understanding and acceptance of Our Lady’s roles in redemption and mediation which were standardly accepted, universally taught, and papally approved within the Church at the time of the Council.


This original Marian schema was prepared by theologians under the guidance of the Holy Office (now the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith) and was submitted to Bl. Pope John XXIII for his approval before it would then be circulated among the Fathers of Vatican II. Bl. John XXIII granted his direct papal approval of this Marian schema on November 10, 1962. The schema was then distributed to the Council Fathers on November 23, 1962.


Due to the historic conciliar vote of October 29, 1963, where it was decided by 17 votes to include the treatment on Mary into the document on the Church rather than an independent document on Mary, this Marian schema was then re-written from the form of an independent document into that of a chapter of another document, as well as receiving significant content changes in the process by a theological committee. After its eventual re-issuing to the Council Fathers, and receiving more revisions, both by theological committees and due to interventions by Council Fathers, the final draft of what became Chapter 8I of Lumen Gentium was approved on October 29, 1964.

Attached to the original distribution of the First Schema to the Council Fathers on November 23, 1962, was a “Praenotanda” notice, or notes of preliminary explanation that had been added to the first Marian schema by a subcommittee of theologians.

The Praenotanda stated unequivocally that there are no opinions contained in this first Marian schema which have not already been proposed by the Supreme Pontiffs in previous papal statements.II Everything, therefore, contained in the following schema is already a mariological truth proposed as doctrinally accurate by the papal magisterium. The generous number of footnotes from papal documents throughout the first schema further confirms its ordinary magisterial character.


The schema’s teaching on Mary’s participation in the Redemption, as well as her subsequent role in the distribution of graces as Mediatrix of all graces, is extremely rich. Apart from the profound teaching of Marian coredemption and mediation in the body of the schema itself, two footnotes are of particular interest to the titles of Mary as “Co-redemptrix” and “Mediatrix of all graces.”


Footnote 16, which offers extended explanation for the legitimate titles of Mary as used by the Church and by the Roman pontiffs, offers the following historical and theological defense of the Co-redemptrix title:


In Christian antiquity it was customary to refer to Mary as Eve, a title which seems to be taken from the principle of “re-circulation” or parallelism between Mary and Eve. Witness in this regard is found already in St. Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho: “And since we read that he is the Son of God… and made man from the Virgin, so that in the way that the disobedience spawned by the serpent took its beginning, it would receive its dissolution in the say way … .” Based on the same principle, St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies) explicitly calls Mary the cause of salvation for the entire human race. After the Council of Ephesus, the very title of Mediatrix, or as the Greeks say, Mesites or Mesetria, is attributed to Mary. In a work of a quite ancient author (some say of the 5th century but certainly before the 8th century) we read: “For she is the Mediatrix of heaven and earth, who naturally accomplishes their union.” This title became more common day by day, as can be seen in the writings of St. Andrew of Crete, St. Germanus of Constantinople, St. John Damascene, etc. Nor are there lacking Fathers who greet Mary as “Helper of the Redeemer” or “Mother of the living” in reference to Gn 3:15.


All these have been further developed by theologians and Supreme Pontiffs, and a nomenclature was created in which Mary is at different times called the Spiritual Mother of Men. the Queen of Heaven and Earth, and at other times the New Eve, the Mediatrix and Dispenser of All Graces, and even, in fact, the Co-redemptrix. With regard to the title “Queen”, cf. Note 14; with regard to the title Spiritual Mother, cf. Note 12. With regard to the title, Co-redemptrix”, and “Companion of Christ the Redeemer”, some explanations need to be added here:


The title Redemptrix occurs already in the 10th century: “Holy Redemptrix of the world, pray for us.” When this title came into use in the 15th and 16th centuries and the immediate co-operation of the Blessed Virgin in the work of our redemption was already perceived, “con” [cum] was added to “redemptrix,” so that the Mother of God was called “corredemptrix,” [Co-redemptrix] whereas Christ continued to be called “Redemptor” [Redeemer]. Accordingly, from the 17th century onward, the title of “Co-redemptrix” was in common use not only in works geared to piety and devotion, but also in very many theological treatises [cf. Carol J., The Co-redemption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Rome, 1950, p. 482]


With regard to the Roman Pontiffs, the word occurs in certain texts of St. Pius X and Pius XI in contexts of lesser importance. Pius XII purposely wished to avoid this expression by frequently using formulas such as “Companion of the Redeemer,” “Eminent companion of the Redeemer,” “Loving companion of the Redeemer,” “Companion in the work of the Divine Redeemer.”


The cooperation of Mary with Jesus in the economy of our salvation is very, very often extolled by Supreme Pontiffs. Leo XIII: “the great Mother of God and likewise the companion in repairing the human race.” Pius XI: “The Redeemer was not able, due to the necessity of the work, to not associate his Mother with his work, and that is the reason why we invoke her with the title of Co-redemptrix.” Pius XII: “Mary, in procuring spiritual salvation with Jesus Christ, from the very beginning of salvation, was associated by God’s will…”(Footnote 16).


In specific reference to her role as Mediatrix of all graces, footnote 17 concerning Mary’s universal mediation provides both a strong articulation of the Mediatrix role, and acknowledges tthe fact that before the beginning of Vatican II, over 500 Council Fathers from the world over had requested a solemn papal definition of some aspect of Mary’s maternal mediation to take place curing the Council itself:


In carefully surveying the Appendix of Volume II in preparation of the Acts and Documents for Vatican Council II (pp. 131-140), it is apparent that more than 500 bishops and prelates from all five parts of the world requested a solemn definition of some social office of the Blessed Virgin, and especially her universal mediation with regard to graces. As P. De Aldama, S.J., writes (p.419): “That the Blessed Virgin Mary is a mediatrix in some true sense, and is such with a title by all means special above other saints, is de fide from the ordinary magisterium. That the title of mediatrix can be justly used, is certain from repeated use by the Roman Pontiffs and in the liturgy; there is no room for doubt here.” And again he writes (p. 427): “That the mediation of Mary with regard to dispersing graces is in every way special and far exceeds the mediation of the saints, seems to be de fide from the ordinary magisterium. That it refers to all graces in a general way, is at least Catholic doctrine.” Other approved authors, especially Popes, speak in much the same way.


Pius IX: “The most powerful mediatrix in the entire world with her Only-begotten Son”

Leo XIII: “The mediatrix of our peace with God and the administrator of heavenly graces”

Leo XIII: “Our Lady, the reparatrix of the entire world, the procurer of the gifts of God.”

Leo XIII: “She is the one of whom was born Jesus, i.e. his Mother, and for this reason she was worthy and most acceptable to be the Mediatrix for the Mediator.”

Leo XIII: “So the most powerful Virgin Mother, who formerly cooperated in charity so that the faithful might be born in the Church, is even now the means and mediatrix of our salvation.”

Pius X: “From this sharing of sorrows and will between Mary and Christ, she merited to very worthily become the Reparatrix of a ruined world and, accordingly, also the dispenser of all gifts which Jesus gained for us by his death and blood.”


At times the Most Blessed Virgin is called the Mediatrix to the Mediator, Christ and, at other times, to God. In the Constitution both formulas are used. It is said that she intercedes through Christ, in conformity with that declaration of the Council of Trent regarding the intercession of saints: “It is good and beneficial to earnestly invoke the saints for the sake of requesting blessings from God through his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who alone is our Redeemer and Savior.” Hence, the Blessed Virgin and other saints intercede for us mediately, namely, through Christ. That is the reason why the Church closes all its prayers with: Through Our Lord Jesus Christ…


The Praenotanda to the First Schema provided further commentary regarding the Co-redemptrix title. In contrasting emphasis to the schema itself approved by Bl. John XXIII, the theological subcommittee offere this explanatory note regarding titles used by the popes such as “Co-redemptrix of the human race,” which it states are “in themselves absolutely true” but which have been omitted from the text such titles “may be understood with difficulty by separated brethren”:


Certain expressions and words used by Supreme Pontiffs, have been omitted, which, in themselves are absolutely true, but which may be understood with difficulty by separated brethren (in this case, Protestants).Among such words may be numbered the following: “Co-redemptrix of the human race [Pius X, Piux XI]…III


Apart from the specific issue of the previous teaching and use by ordinary papal Magisteium of the Marian title of Co-redemptrix, the theological method of determining what is included or what is omitted into the Second Vatican Council based on the criteria of what doctrinal issues “may be misunderstood by separated brethren” would also seem, if consistently applied throughout Lumen Gentium and other conciliar documents, to call for the omitting of such central Catholic doctrines such as the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Papal Infallibility, and certainly the removal of Sacred Tradition as a legitimate source of Divine Revelation as discussed in Dei Verbum IV.


Let us always remember the ultimate protection of the Holy Spirit at every ecumenical council. Let us thank the Holy Spirit for inspiring a fruitful growth in understanding of Our Lady’s role at the heart of the Church as Mother and Model, an ecclesio-typical development in rich though subordinate complement to the primary Christo-typical mariology, both of which are harmoniously embodied in the final product of Lumen Gentium, Chapter 8, “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and the Church.”


History is the great teacher.


At the First Vatican Council, several hundred Council Fathers desired a solemn definition of the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption, but it was decided the time was not right. Vatican I in no way sought to prohibit or discourage a later solemn definition by deciding not to define the Assumption at the Council. The subsequent papal definition of the Assumption by Pius XII makes this clear.


Before the Second Vatican Council, over 500 Council Fathers had requested a solemn definition of some aspect of Mary’s coredemption and mediation. Bl. John XXIII initiated the Council by establishing that the Second Vatican Council would not be a dogmatic council, but a pastoral council. The Holy Spirit spoke through Peter.

In like manner, the fact that Vatican II did not solemnly define Mary’s roles as Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of all graces cannot be correctly interpreted as a prohibition or a discouragement of a later solemn papal definition of Marian coredemption and mediation.


The Holy Spirit continues to blow where he wills, and the Second Vatican Council in its rich mariological treatment may well have served in a manner similar to the First Vatican Council: as a conciliar tube which connected one prior period of Marian doctrinal development to another more contemporary period of Marian doctrinal development, both of which ultimately culminate in the historical and supernatural fruit of a solemn Marian papal definition.


Here then, accompanied by the original Latin footnotes (save for the English translation of a few footnotes due to their relevance to the topic) is an English translation of the First Schema of the Second Vatican Council entitled, “Mary, Mother of God and of Men.”


Dr. Guiseppe M. Aiuto received his doctorate in Rome and offers conferences in Rome.


Mary, Mother of God and of Men


1. [The close connection between Christ and Mary according to God’s gracious will]

Out of immense goodness, God the most wise creator of all things, who in every way enjoys freedom in determining the way and the reason by which the liberation of the human race is accomplished by him, from eternity by one and the same decree with the incarnation of divine Wisdom, decreed 1 that the Most Blessed Virgin, from whom the Word became flesh, would be born in the fullness of time. Since, moreover, the Sacred Scriptures, either explicitly or implicitly, so to say, place before our eyes Mary joined with Jesus with the most strict and indissoluble bond from the prophetic preannouncement (cf. Gn 3:15; Is 7:14; Mt 1:23) and the virginal conception (cf. Mt 1:18-25, and Lk 1:26-38), it is clearly appropriate that the Church, which is aided by the Holy Spirit and is securely led (cf. Jn 14:26) to fully comprehend and clearly understand those things which in the sacred sources lie obscurely and, so to say, implicitly, and is preserved from error (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:18-20; Jn 14:16; 15:20) – when it illustrates the mysteries of the divine Redeemer, should also bring the mystery of the Mother of God into a clearer light.


Moreover, this loving Parent, who “cooperated in charity that the faithful might be born in the Church,” 2 is not only the “supereminent” 3 and, even more, the singular member of the Church, but is also called its exemplar4 and, even more, its Mother. 5 Therefore, the Holy Synod, after it has spoken of the Mystical Body of Christ, inhering in the above documents of the magisterium of the living Church, the sole authentic interpreter of the deposit of revelation, considers it opportune to summarily and briefly illustrate the place which the Mother of God and men occupies in the Church, the privileges with which the Son has adorned his Mother, and our duties toward such a sublime creature, so that Marian knowledge and piety may clearly and correctly flourish and prejudiced opinions in this matter may be banished.


2. [The role of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the economy of our salvation]

Since, therefore, the Word of the eternal Father willed to take a human nature from a woman so that, just as death took its origin from a woman so also life would come to us through a woman, and thus liberation would be obtained by means of both sexes 6, he did not accomplish this before the free consent of the chosen mother, redeemed in a more sublime manner by the foreseen merits of Christ6, would have been given, (cf Lk 1:38), 7so that the Son of God by his incarnation would become also her Son and the new Adam and Savior of the world. By her consent, Mary, a daughter of Adam, was made not only the Mother of Jesus, the sole divine Mediator and Redeemer, but also joined her work with him and under him in accomplishing the redemption of the human race. 8 She persevered in this salutary consent and, hence, also in her participation in accomplishing the work of redemption, 9 from the time of the virginal conception of Jesus Christ right up until his death, but it shone forth most then when, not without divine purpose, she stood beside the cross (Jn 19:25); she suffered grievously with her Only-Begotten Son; with him and through him with great courage she offered him as the price of our redemption; 10 and, finally, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross she was given to men as their mother (Jn 19:26-27). 11 Since, however, the mystery of human redemption would not be completed before the Holy Spirit, promised by Christ, arrived on the day of Pentecost, we contemplate Mary persevering in prayer with the apostles in the Upper Room( cf. Acts 1:14), imploring the outpouring of the Spirit with their prayers. 12


Since, therefore, the Most Blessed Virgin, predestined from eternity to be the Mother of God and men, with divine Providence so disposing that on this earth she would be the eminent companion of the passible Christ in acquiring grace for men, she is justly greeted also as the administrator and dispenser of heavenly graces.

Hence it follows that Mary, who had a part in fashioning the mystical body of Christ, and who has been assumed into heaven and constituted Queen by the Lord, and who bears a maternal spirit towards all, after her Son has obtained a certain primacy above all others 13 and, consequently, is to be placed not, as some say, on the “periphery” 14 but in the very “center” of the Church beneath Christ.


3. [Concerning titles by which the association of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Christ in the economy of our salvation is commonly expressed]

Since in the cooperation of the Mother of God with Christ in completing the work of human redemption as the new Eve with the new Adam, so to say, the multiple and varied titles by which the magisterium of the Church, venerable Tradition, and the pious sense of the faithful have customarily saluted the Blessed Virgin 15, rest as on a solid foundation, root, and principle, it is wrong to say that those titles, as understood in the sense of the Church, are empty and vain, and, even more, that they are opposed to Sacred Scripture. Therefore, it is not without merit that the Most Blessed Virgin is called the Mediatrix of graces by the Church. 16 And, if on this earth St. Paul the Apostle was unceasingly mindful of the faithful in his prayers, 17 and earnestly requested their prayers for himself, 18 much more is it expedient and beneficial that we commend ourselves to the prayers or intercession of this same Most Blessed Virgin Mary. For she, more closely and intimately than any other pure creatures and, in fact, in a way proper to her alone, is joined with God and Christ, the Son of God and her Son; likewise, more ardently than any pure creatures she loves God and is loved by him in return. As Mother of the Savior (Lk 1:31), with her soul pierced by the sword (Lk 2:25), in her own Son dying for the salvation of all, beneath the cross she experienced the love of God in a sense attaining its highest degree in love for mankind (Jn 19:25-27). Supported with so many and such great titles, she intercedes for us with her constant love for God and Christ and, because her intercession draws its total power and efficacy from the bloody sacrifice of her Blessed Son, her mediation in no way effects that the man Jesus Christ ceases to be the one mediator between God and men, just as from Christ’s goodness it does not follow that God himself ceases to be the sole fountain of all goodness (cf. Mt 9:17).


For even though among subordinate mediators, whom the Most Wise God has willed to use in the economy of our salvation, no one can be thought of who, in reconciling men to God, is equal to and has contributed or at any time will contribute as much as the Mother of God, nevertheless, it remains always true that, in her predestination and likewise in her holiness and in all her gifts, she depends on Christ and is in every way beneath him. 19


Although, therefore, this humble “Handmaid of the Lord” to whom “he who is mighty has done great things,” (Lk 1:49) is called the mediatrix of all graces – since she is associated with Christ in acquiring them, and since she is invoked as our advocate and mother of mercy by the Church for even now, remaining the associate of the glorified Christ in heaven, she intercedes for all through Christ, so that in conferring all graces to men the maternal charity of the Blessed Virgin is present, 20 – in no way is the mediation of our sole mediator, according to the absolute signification of the words of the Apostle, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tm 2:5), obscured or diminished. 21 Rather, this mediation of Christ is, in fact, extolled and honored. For Mary is a mediatrix in Christ, and her mediation proceeds not from any necessity but from the gracious divine will and the superabundance and power of the merits of Jesus; it is based on the mediation of Christ; and it is entirely dependent on it and receives its total power from the same.


Therefore, the Sacred Synod earnestly exhorts theologians and preachers of the divine word to diligently strive, while engaging in the study especially of Sacred Scripture and the Holy Fathers according to the sense of the magisterium of the Church, to place in a true light the gifts and offices of the Blessed Virgin in connection with other dogmas, especially those which have reference to Christ, who is the center of all truth, holiness, and piety. In this work there is always to be observed, as it is said, “analogy” or a dissimilar similitude, as often as some name or office is predicated simultaneously of Christ and the Virgin Mary; for in no way is the Mother of God to be made equal to Christ.


4. [The singular privileges of the Mother of God and Mother of men]

The Virgin Mary was adorned with altogether singular privileges by God, who pursued her with an unspeakable love. She was, indeed, marvelous in her origin in virtue of the immaculate conception 22; marvelous in her life, since she was without every personal fault 23, and at the same time a mother while remaining always a virgin in mind and body 24; and marve