My spiritual director once pointed out to me that, since the folks in heaven don’t really need anything, it would make sense that they would give rather than expect gifts on special days like holidays and birthdays. Since our Blessed Mother Mary loves us purely and without bounds, wouldn’t that also be true of her – to an even greater degree?
August 22 is the feast of the Queenship of Mary, one of my favorite of her feast days. Of course, my favoritism likely comes from my uncontrollable fetish for all things Medieval, but I have another reason, too. I love the feast because of the way it came about.
The roots of the concept are found in the Annunciation narrative, when the angel Gabriel told Mary that her Son would be King over the house of Jacob forever. Well, if Mary’s Son, Jesus, is King, then doesn’t that make her a Queen? Absolutely!
In their wisdom, the Fathers of the Church recognized this, beginning with Origen (died AD 254). In certain writings attributed to him, Origin called Mary domina, the feminine form of Latin dominus, or Lord. Other early Church Fathers and writers also used that title, including St. Ephrem, St. Jerome, and St. Peter Chrysologus. The word “Queen” itself appeared sometime in the sixth century, and has been common since then.
There are other reasons we like to call Mary our Queen, some based on centuries of customs and traditions. For centuries, we’ve used the titles “king” and “queen” to acknowledge the stature of individuals or laud those with outstanding qualities. For example, we call lions the king of the beasts and roses the queen of the flowers. Since our Mother Mary is the purest and most noble blossom – conceived without original sin and remaining untainted by it throughout her life and for all eternity – it follows that she should be heralded as Queen, don’t you think?
Pope Pius XII explained the theological reasons for giving Mary the title of Queen. On May 13, 1946, the Pope made a broadcast over the Vatican Radio at Fatima, in which he highlighted Mary’s Queenship in relation to her role in the economy of salvation.
He said, “He, the Son of God, reflects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Martyrs in the unspeakable work of human Redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice [of the Father]. And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion.”
Yes, Mary’s kingdom is vast, and it includes all of God’s children. That means you and me. She is our Mother, but also our Queen, and as our Queen, we should allow her to reign over our hearts, our work, and our lives. We are her subjects and we belong to her in a special way; she’s eager to oversee all that we are, think, say, and do because she loves us so much, wants always the very best for us, and wants our entire lives to be a continuous glorification of God.
In earthly kingdoms, royal subjects celebrate their queen’s commemorative days – anniversaries, birthdays, milestones, and so on. How much more so should we celebrate our Queen’s commemorative day? On this Feast of the Queenship of Mary, perhaps we can re-crown Mary as our heavenly Queen, offering her the honor she deserves and recommitting ourselves to her as her royal subjects. Is there a church or Marian shrine near you? Why not stop in for a quick visit and greet your Queen? Make up a private crowning prayer and symbolically place the golden crown upon Mary’s holy head. You can even do this in the shrine of your heart. Jesus dwells there, and wherever he is, Mary is. Your prayer can be quite simple, something like:
Dear Mary, on the feast of your Queenship I wish to re-crown you as the Queen of my heart, my work, and my life. Reign over me, protecting me and guiding me in accordance with the will of the heavenly Father. Please accept this crown as a symbol of my love and devotion for you. Amen.
In return, Mary will give you gifts in abundance because it is her special day, and because you are special to her. You are not only her royal subject, but also you are her royal child and she cherishes you as such. The gifts you receive may not be what you expect, but they will be exactly the ones God wants you to have, through Mary’s royal hands.
Happy Feast of the Queenship of Mary!