“There Is No Other Single Word”

The Mariological fruits of the Golden Age sustain Marian thought on Coredemption for two successive centuries. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries do not bring forth any substantially new harvest of insight into the Mother Co-redemptrix, but do witness a much more generous use of the title of Co-redemptrix in the fields of both theology and spirituality. By the end of the nineteenth century, “Co-redemptrix” clearly becomes the dominant title to convey the Mother of God’s saving collaboration in Redemption, and is used in hundreds of testimonies by a plethora of theologians, saints, and mystics. (1) The Redemptrix title, on the other hand, essentially falls out of common usage during this period.

The Marian master, St. Louis Grignion de Montfort († 1716) from whom John Paul II derives his Marian motto of consecration, “Totus Tuus” (entirely yours), preaches that the coredemptive sacrifice of the Mother throughout her life is a glorification of our Lord’s own independence precisely through “depending” on the Virgin Mother:

… (Our Blessed Lord) glorified His independence and His majesty in depending on that sweet Virgin, in His conception, in His birth, in His presentation in the temple, in His hidden life of thirty years, and even in His death where she was to be present in order that He might make with her but one same sacrifice, and be immolated to the Eternal Father by her consent, just as Isaac of old was offered by Abraham’s consent to the will of God. It is she who nourished Him, supported Him, brought Him up, and then sacrificed Him for us. (2)

The Franciscan author, Charles del Moral († 1731) may be the first theologian to teach that the merits of the Immaculate Co-redemptrix, while being totally dependent upon the merits of Jesus, were also in themselves “condign” merits in a secondary sense.

Our Lady’s merits, according to del Moral, were more than just “fitting” or congruous (de congruo) but also worthy, not in strict justice, but in relation to and dependency upon the superabundant merits of the Redeemer:

The Mother of God at the foot of the cross, co-suffering and offering her Son to the Eternal Father, with her Son and by her merits satisfied in a sense (secundum quid), but de condigno and only secondarily, as the Co-redemptrix, for the sins of the whole human race. (3)

And further:

…the Mother of God co-operated with her Son in the salvation of men, the grace and glory of the angels, by acts meritorious de condigno, but dependent on the merits of her Son. Therefore, in that sense we say that it now seems consistent with theological principles that whatever Christ the Lord merited for us falls also under the condign—and not merely the congruous—merits of the Mother of God, dependent … on the superabundant merits of her Son. (4)

Marian Doctor of the Church and Redemptorist founder, St. Alphonsus de Liguori († 1787), invokes the Madonna of Calvary under the “Redemptrix” title, in acknowledgement of the merits of her sacrifice at Calvary: “By the great merit that she acquired in this great sacrifice, she is called redemptrix.” (5) The Doctor of Mary’s Universal Mediation also calls her the ” Co-redemptrix,” (6) and explains how her Coredemption at Calvary is the means by which she becomes the spiritual “Mother of our souls”:

She offered to the Eternal Father with so much grief in her own heart, the life of her beloved Son for our salvation. Hence St. Augustine testifies that, having cooperated by her love in order that the faithful be born to the life of grace, by that she became spiritual Mother of all who are members of our head Jesus Christ. (7)