by Elizabeth Turello –
For centuries, theologians and saints have referenced the holiness of Mary above all of God’s other creatures. Early church writers and Christians acknowledged her privileged status and royal dignity as Mother of the King. In the 18th century, with love and devotion, St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote that Mary was truly deserving of the title ‘Queen’ that the Catholic Church had bestowed upon her. Yet the feast we celebrate today, the Queenship of Mary, on August 22, was not established until the 1954 encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam.
1954 was a Marian year, which is why it is so fitting that Ad Calei Reginam – which translates ‘To the Queen of the Heavens’ – was given from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary that October. It signified the first time a pope spoke so extensively about Mary’s co-operative role in objective redemption, that is, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to claim all grace and forgiveness.
It is important to first recognize that the social climate at the time parallels the era we are living in now. Not even a decade after the end of World War II, Pope Pius XII acknowledges that “great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood,” (2) including the fact that “[i]n some countries of the world there are people who are unjustly persecuted for professing their Christian faith and who are deprived of their divine and human rights to freedom” (50).
It is apparent we are experiencing the same battle against evil today. Our Lady of Fatima warned us that Russia would spread her errors across the globe. We see this now more than ever with atheistic communist nations like China and Cuba and totalitarian systems like the Taliban in Afghanistan, which control the masses through fear and terror and deny basic human freedoms endowed by our Creator. It is not only foreign lands affected; these same evils are creeping into our very own country – into our everyday lives – some disguised as sheep and others blatantly honest in their wickedness. Without our faith and prayers, these sorrowful truths of reality can lead us to fear.
And just like the Fatima seers, Pope Pius XII urges us to form a strong devotion towards our heavenly Mother. Mary brings us closer to our Savior, namely because “God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation” (35). As Catholics, we are called to remember this and when we “[reflect] upon the intimate connection that obtains between a mother and son” we “readily acknowledge the supreme royal dignity of the Mother of God” (8). How blessed are we to ask Mary the Queen of Heaven to intercede for us.
As Pope Pius XII concludes, “Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother” (48).
A Prayer to Mary, Queen of Heaven
by Pope Pius XII
From the depths of this vale of tears where sorrowing humanity makes weary progress, through the surges of this sea of ours, endlessly buffeted by the winds of passion, we raise our eyes to you, O most beloved Mother Mary, to be comforted by the contemplation of your glory and to hail you as Queen of heaven and earth, Queen of mankind.
With legitimate filial pride, we wish to exalt your queenship and to recognize it as due to the sovereign excellence of your whole being, O dearest one, truly mother of him who is King by right, by inheritance and by conquest.
Reign, O Mother and Queen, by showing us the path of holiness and by guiding and assisting us that we may never stray from it. In the heights of heaven you exercise your primacy over the choirs of angels who acclaim you as their sovereign, and over the legions of saints who delight in beholding your dazzling beauty.
So, too, reign over the entire human race, above all by opening the path of faith to those who do not yet know your Divine Son.
Reign over the Church, which acknowledges and extols your gentle dominion and has recourse to you as a safe refuge amid the calamities of our day.
Reign especially over that part of the Church which is persecuted and oppressed; give it strength to bear adversity, constancy never to yield under unjust compulsion, light to avoid falling into the snares of the enemy, firmness to resist overt attack, and at every moment unwavering faithfulness to your kingdom.
Reign over men’s minds, that they may seek only what is true; over their wills, that they may follow solely what is good; over their hearts, that they may love nothing but what you yourself love.
Reign over individuals and over families, as well as over societies and nations; over the assemblies of the powerful, the counsels of the wise, as over the simple aspirations of the humble.
Reign in the streets and in the squares, in the cities and the villages, in the valleys and in the mountains, in the air, on land and on the sea; and hear the pious prayers of all those who recognize that yours is a reign of mercy, in which every petition is heard, every sorrow comforted, every misfortune relieved, every infirmity healed, and in which, at a gesture from your gentle hands, from death itself there arises smiling life.
Obtain for us that all who now in every corner of the world acclaim and hail you Queen and Lady may one day in heaven enjoy the fullness of your kingdom in the vision of your Divine Son, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
Elizabeth Turello is the marketing/communications assistant for the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA.