Posted by Zia Shah
A series of articles on
Mariology • Veneration of the Blessed Virgin • History of Mariology • Mariology of the saints • Mariology of the popes • Marian Societies
Rosary • Scapular • Immaculate Heart • Seven Joys • Seven Sorrows • First Saturdays • Acts of Reparation • Hearts of Jesus & Mary • Consecration to Mary
|Dogmas and Doctrines
Mother of God • Perpetual virginity • Immaculate Conception • Assumption • Mother of the Church • Queen of Heaven • Co-Redemptrix
|Expressions of devotion
Art • Hymns • Music • Architecture
|Key Marian apparitions
(approved or worthy of belief)
Guadalupe • Miraculous Medal •
La Salette • Lourdes • Pontmain • Laus • Banneux • Beauraing • Fátima
Ineffabilis Deus • Munificentissimus Deus • Bis Saeculari
Redemptoris Mater • Ad Caeli Reginam • Fulgens Corona • Deiparae Virginis Mariae • Ingruentium Malorum • Ad Diem Illum
|Papal Apostolic Letters and other teachings
Rosarium Virginis Mariae • Marialis Cultus
|Key Marian Feast Days
Dec 8 Immaculate Conception • Jan 1 Mother of God • Mar 25 Annunciation • Aug 15 Assumption
Roman Catholic Mariology is the systematic study of the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of her place in the economy of salvation, within the theology of the Catholic Church. In a broad context, Mariology may be seen as the study of devotion to and thinking about Mary throughout the history of Christianity.
In the Roman Catholic perspective, Mary has a precise place in the plan of salvation and a special place within tradition and devotion. She is seen as having a singular dignity, and receives a higher level of veneration than all other saints. Roman Catholic Mariology thus studies not only her life but also the veneration of her in daily life, prayer, hymns, art (where she has been a favorite topic), music, and architecture in modern and ancient Christianity throughout the ages.
The development of Mariology is ongoing and its study continues to be shaped by theological analyses, writings of saints, and papal statements, e.g. in his Angelus address in September 1985 Pope John Paul II coined the term Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized that the study of Mary can not be performed in isolation and is inherently related to the study of Christ and of the Church and stated that: “It is necessary to go back to Mary, if we want to return to the truth about Jesus Christ“.
In parallel to the traditional views, since the late 19th century, a number of other perspectives have been presented as a challenge to Roman Catholic Mariology. These have ranged from feminist criticisms that consider the image of Mary a construct of the patriarchal mindset which limits equal opportunity for women, to other Christian views that see Mariology as a distraction from Christ, to modern psychological interpretations of Mary as the equivalent of mythical Goddesses ranging from Diana to Kwan Yin.
The study of Mary has involved the analysis of her special position in Roman Catholic teachings which going back to Thomas Aquinas, have held that she has a “certain infinite dignity from the infinite good which is God”, although she is human and not divine. In the 16th century, Francisco Suárez stated that theologically the special dignity of Mary derives from her intrinsic relationship with the hypostatic union. In the 18th century, St. Alphonsus Liguori referred to Aquinas’ characterization and also to the statements by saints Albertus Magnus and Bonaventure that Mary was exalted by God to the highest degree possible for a person. In the 20th century, in Fulgens Corona, Pope Pius XII re-affirmed Aquinas’ “certain infinite dignity” statement about Mary and also Cornelius a Lapide‘s statement that Mary “is the purest and the most holy, so that under God a greater purity cannot be understood”. Pius XII further confirmed this in item 8 of Ad Caeli Reginam.
Mary’s position in Church can be compared to the aspect of the Petrine office in a dual sense. This perspective on the duality of the roles of Mary and Peter highlights the subjective holiness of the heart and the objective holiness of the structure of the Church. In this duality the Petrine office logically examines the charisms for their theological soundness, while the Marian dual provides a balance in the spiritual and emotional sense via the service of love that the office can never encompass. Mariology and the doctrine of office are thus not “side chapels” in Roman Catholic teachings, but are central and integrating elements of it.
Mariology is a field in which deeply felt pious beliefs of the faithful and hagiography may conflict with theological and critical historical reviews of beliefs and practices. This conflict was recognized as early as the year 1300 by William of Ware who described the tendency of some believers to attribute almost everything to Mary. Bonaventura warned against Marian maximalism. “One has to be careful as to not to minimize the honour of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” However, both minimalist and maximalist have always seen in Mary a sign of the Church and and viewed her as a model for all Catholics. In the 20th century, Pope Pius XII, “the most Marian Pope in Church history” warned against both exuberant exaggerations and timid minimalism in the presentation of Mary. The Vatican II dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium was specifically written in 1964 to avoid both Marian maximalism and minimalism. Pope John Paul II was also careful to avoid both maximalism and minimalism in his Mariology and avoided taking personal positions on issues which were subject to theological debate.
Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized that the study of Mary can not be performed in isolation from other disciplines and that “Mariology can never be purely mariological” but is inherently related to the study of Christ and of the Church, and expresses the inner coherence of these disciplines. The study of Mary and her place in the Catholic Church has been thus undertaken from a number of perspectives, and in his address to the 2012 Mariological congress, Benedict XVI stated that this study must be “understood and deeply examined from different and complimentary viewpoints”: the path of truth (via veritatis) remains for ever valid, and the path of beauty (via pulchritudinis) and the path of love (via amoris) should also be followed in this study. Pope Benedict XI has stated that Marian studies have three separate characteristics: first personalizing the Church so it is not seen just as a structure but as a person, secondly the incarnational aspect and the relation to God, and third Marian piety which involves the heart and the emotional component.
Mariology (the study of Mary) has been related to Christology (the study of Christ) and in Roman Catholic teachings has been positioned as a logical and necessary consequence of Christology: Jesus and Mary are son and mother, redeemer and redeemed. Pope John Paul II expressed this concept in Redemptoris Mater by stating: “At the center of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith, stands Mary. As the loving Mother of the Redeemer, she was the first to experience it: “To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator”!” Roman Catholic theologians have also expressed the view that: “Mariology is Christology developed to its full potential”. Pope Benedict XVI characterized the relationship by stating that “Christology and Mariology are inseparably intervowen” from their very beginnings. In his view Mariology underscores the nexus of the mysteries of Christology and ecclesiology, and reflects their intrinsic interwovenness.
In Roman Catholic theology, Mary and her son Jesus are very close but not identical. Therefore, the study of Mary, while contributing to the study of Christ, is also a separate discipline in its own right, with an understanding of the figure of Mary contributing to a fuller understanding of who Christ is and what he did. In the Roman Catholic view, a Christology without Mary is incomplete because it is not based on the total revelation of the Bible.
Early Christians and numerous saints focused on this parallel interpretation. Popes highlighted the inner link between Marian dogmas and the full acceptance of christological dogma. The Church is the people of God as she is the Body of Christ. The Church lives in its relation to Christ. Being the Body of Christ, the Church has also a relation to his mother, which is the subject of Catholic Mariology. She is seen as the original image of the Church, or, as Vatican II states, Mother of the Church.
In his 1946 publication Compendium Mariologiae, respected Mariologist Gabriel Roschini explained that Mary did not only participate in the birth of the physical Jesus but also, with conception, she entered with him into a spiritual union. The divine salvation plan, being not only material, includes a permanent spiritual unity with Christ. Most Mariologists agree with this position. This echoed the sentiments of Pope Saint Pius X who in Ad Diem Illum stated: “there is no more direct road than by Mary for uniting all mankind in Christ.”
Mariology is both part of abstract doctrine and an important part of church life. Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church, including the four dogmas mentioned below, are the central part of Mariology consisting of confirmed teachings and doctrines regarding Mary’s life and role, but excluding the overall perspectives, the controversies and the cultural aspects of Marian devotion.
Marian devotions, prayers, pilgrimages and apparitions are detailed in the article on Blessed Virgin Mary. This article focuses on the major doctrinal and theological issues, rather than devotional aspects.
The history of Mariology goes back to the 1st century. Early Christians focused their piety at first more upon the martyrs around them. Following that, they saw in Mary a bridge between the old and the new. The earliest recorded prayer to Mary, the sub tuum praesidium, is dated in its earliest form to around the year 250.
In Egypt the veneration of Mary had started in the 3rd century and the term Theotokos was used by Origen, the Alexandrian Father of the Church. In the 5th century, the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus declared Mary as Theotokos (God-bearer). Churches dedicated to Mary were constructed across the Christian world, among the most famous being Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Teaching of the Assumption of Mary became widespread across the Christian world, having been celebrated as early as the 5th century and having been established in the East by Emperor Maurice around AD 600. It was celebrated in the West under Pope Sergius I in the 8th century and Pope Leo IV then confirmed the feast as official. The Middle Ages saw growth and development for Mariology and brought major champions of Marian devotion to the fore, including Ephraim the Syrian, John Damascene and Bernard of Clairvaux. Prayers to Mary included the Ave Maria, and chants such as Ave Maris Stella and the Salve Regina emerged and became staples of monastic plainsong. Devotional practices grew in number.
The Renaissance period witnessed a dramatic growth in Marian art. Masterpieces by Boticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael were produced in this period. In the 16th century, the Council of Trent confirmed the Catholic tradition of paintings and artworks in churches, resulting in a great development of Marian art and Mariology during the Baroque Period. During the Reformation, the Catholic Church defended its Mariology against Protestant views. With the victory at Battle of Lepanto (1571) accredited to her, it “signified the beginning of a strong resurgence of Marian devotions.” The baroque literature on Mary experienced unforeseen growth. More than 500 pages of Mariological writings were published during the 17th century alone.
Mariology in the 19th century was dominated by discussions about the Immaculate Conception and in 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed it a dogma. Mariology in the 20th century was dominated by a genuine Marian enthusiasm. Pope Pius XII issued the Dogma of the Assumption and the Second Vatican Council declared Mary to be the Mother of the Church.
Popes have been an important element in shaping both the theological and the devotional aspects of the Roman Catholic perspective on the Virgin Mary. Theologically, popes have highlighted the inner link between Virgin Mary and the full acceptance of Jesus Christ as son of God, the encyclicals Mystici Corporis, Lumen Gentium and Redemptoris Mater being examples. Furthermore, popes have fostered the veneration of the Blessed Virgin through the promotion of Marian devotions, feast days, prayers, initiatives, the acceptance and support of Marian congregations, and, the formal recognition of Marian apparitions such as in Lourdes and Fátima.
Popes have at times followed on devotions initiated by previous popes, for instance in the 16th century, Pope Clement VIII started the venerative practice of crowning Marian images, a practice that was followed by pope Pius XII in the 20th century via the crowning of the Salus Populi Romani icon, as he declared the Queenship of Mary. Similarly, popes Alexander VII and Clement X both promulgated the veneration of the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary, a concept which was embraced by pope John Paul II in the 20th century as the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
A number of Marian papal encyclicals and Apostolic Letters have been issued since the 16th century. Pope Leo XIII issued 11 encyclicals just on the Rosary. In Ecclesiam Suam Pope Paul VI called Mary the “ideal of Christian perfection”.” These papal documents reflect the support of the popes for both Marian devotions and Marian doctrines. The two Marian dogmas of Assumption and Immaculate Conception were established by popes in the 20th century. In 1904 at the 50th anniversary of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Pope Pius X with the encyclical Ad diem illum encouraged the entire Church to honor the Virgin Mary.
In recent years, popes have emphasized the role of Mary as the Mother of the Church and the Marian elements of Christology. In his 2002 Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope John Paul II quoted Saint Louis de Montfort, and said:
Marian Roman Catholic dogmas have two functions: they present infallible Church teachings about Mary and her relation to Jesus Christ, and they praise Mary and, through Mary, God’s deed on Mary. All Marian dogmas teach about her divine son and highlight the divine nature of Jesus Christ.
De Fide Definita or De Fide Credenda doctrines have the highest degree of dogmatic certainty. These doctrines come in several forms, namely teachings which have been specifically defined as Revealed by an extraordinary definition by a Pope or Ecumenical council, or those teachings infallibly taught to be Revealed by the ordinary universal Magisterium. As in the case of the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption, these doctrines were held by the Church prior to the date of official definition, but open for discussion. The date of definition must be accepted by all faithful members of the Catholic Church as contained specifically in the Deposit of Faith and owed supernatural faith in itself (de fide credenda). 
|Name||First Magisterial Definition||Dogma content|
|Perpetual virginity||Baptismal symbols since 3rd century||‘Perpetual virginity of Mary’, means that Mary was a virgin before, during and after giving birth|
|Mother of God||Council of Ephesus (431)||Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh.|
|Immaculate Conception||Pope Pius IX (1854)||Mary, at her conception, was preserved immaculate from Original Sin|
|Assumption into heaven||Pope Pius XII (1950)||Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory|
Although there are only four Marian dogmas, popular support for a “fifth Marian dogma” which establishes Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix appeared in the 20th century both from lay groups and the clergy. According to L’Osservatore Romano, in 1996 the Holy See formed a commission to seek the opinion of scholars regarding the possibility and the opportuneness of establishing a fifth Marian dogma on Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. A lay movement called Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici is promoting the doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix and provides petitions that can be signed by Roman Catholics at large and sent to the Pope in support of a formal dogmatic definition.
‘Perpetual virginity of Mary’, means that Mary was a virgin before, during and after giving birth. (De fide) This oldest Marian Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox doctrine affirms Mary’s “real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made Man.” Thus, by the teaching of this dogma, the faithful believe that Mary was ever-Virgin (Greek ἀειπάρθενος) for the remainder of her life, making Jesus her only biological son, whose conception and birth are miraculous.
In the year 107, Ignatius of Antioch described the virginity of Mary as “hidden from the prince of this world … loudly proclaimed, but wrought in the silence of God.” The affirmation of the doctrine of Mary’s virginity before, during and after the birth of Jesus was the principal aim of the early 2nd century work, the Protoevangelium of James (c. 120-150). The work, concerned with the character and purity of Mary, claims that Joseph had children from a marriage previous to Mary. However, the text does not explicitly assert the doctrine of perpetual virginity. The earliest such surviving reference is Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, where he cites the Protoevangelium in support.
By the 4th century, the doctrine was generally accepted. Athanasius described Mary as “Ever-Virgin”, Orations against the Arians, as did Epiphanius in his Medicine Chest Against All Heresies. Hilary argued in favor of the doctrine in his Commentary on Matthew and to this may be added Didymus (The Trinity) Ambrose of Milan, Jerome, in Against Helvetius, Siricius‘ and others.
Further important statements of the belief include the Lateran Synod of 649, Thomas Aquinas’s teaching (Summa Theologiae III.28.2) that Mary gave birth painlessly in miraculous fashion without opening of the womb and without injury to the hymen, and Pope Paul IV‘s Cum quorundam of 7 August 1555 at the Council of Trent. Before this last extraordinary papal/concilliar definition, really an afterthought, the teaching can be considered to have been always taught infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium as a truth contained in the deposit of faith, as opposed to by any specific extraordinary definition.
Virginity before birth
Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit without participation of any man. (De fide). Non-Christians questioned this belief of the early Church  Jews and Christians differed on the prediction in Isaiah 7:14 Along with other Christian groups the Catholic Church continues to teach today, that Mary bore her son Jesus while still a virgin. From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed”. The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own. Catechism of the Catholic Church,
Virginity during birth
Mary gave birth without losing her corporal virginity (De fide). Her corporal integrity was not affected by giving birth. The Church does not teach how this occurred physically, but insists that virginity during child birth is different from virginity of conception. Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis “Within her virginal womb she brought into life Christ our Lord in a marvellous birth.” indicating the miraculous nature of the Virgin birth. Numerous early Church writers used analogies to explain this mystery, like Christ leaving the sealed tomb on Easter Sunday, or, Christ walking through closed doors, or, light and sun penetrating through glass windows.
Virginity after birth
Mary remained a virgin after giving birth (De fide). This belief of the Church was questioned in its early years Today most Protestants disagree with this teaching, although Martin Luther and his contemporaries believed in the ever Virgin Mary The scriptures say little about this, mentioning the brothers of Jesus, but never “sons of Mary,” suggesting to the patristical writers a broader family relationship.
Mary is truly the mother of God (De fide). After Church fathers found common ground on Mary’s virginity before, during and after giving birth, this was the first specifically Marian doctrine to be formally defined by the Church. The definition Mother of God (in Greek:Theotokos) was formally affirmed at the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431. The competing view, advocated by Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople, was that Mary should be called Christotokos, meaning “Birth-giver of Christ,” to restrict her role to the mother of Christ’s humanity only and not his divine nature.
Nestorius’ opponents, led by Cyril of Alexandria, viewed this as dividing Jesus into two distinct persons, the human who was Son of Mary, and the divine who was not. To them, this was unacceptable since by destroying the perfect union of the divine and human natures in Christ, it sabotaged the fullness of the Incarnation and, by extension, the salvation of humanity. The council accepted Cyril’s reasoning, affirmed the title Theotokos for Mary, and anathematised Nestorius’ view as heresy. (See Nestorianism)
In letters to Nestorius which were afterwards included among the council documents, Cyril explained his doctrine. He noted that “the holy fathers… have ventured to call the holy Virgin [T]heotokos, not as though the nature of the [W]ord or his divinity received the beginning of their existence from the holy Virgin, but because from her was born his holy body, rationally endowed with a soul, with which [body] the [W]ord was united according to the hypostasis, and is said to have been begotten according to the flesh” (Cyril’s second letter to Nestorius).
Explaining his rejection of Nestorius’ preferred title for Mary (Christotokos, Mother of Christ), Cyril wrote: “Confessing the Word to be united with the flesh according to the hypostasis, we worship one Son and Lord, Jesus Christ. We do not divide him into parts and separate man and God as though they were united with each other [only] through a unity of dignity and authority… nor do we name separately Christ the Word from God, and in similar fashion, separately, another Christ from the woman, but we know only one Christ, the Word from God the Father with his own flesh… But we do not say that the Word from God dwelt as in an ordinary human born of the holy virgin… we understand that, when he became flesh, not in the same way as he is said to dwell among the saints do we distinguish the manner of the indwelling; but he was united by nature and not turned into flesh… There is, then, one Christ and Son and Lord, not with the sort of conjunction that a human being might have with God as in a unity of dignity or authority; for equality of honor does not unite natures. For Peter and John were equal to each other in honor, both of them being apostles and holy disciples, but the two were not one. Nor do we understand the manner of conjunction to be one of juxtaposition, for this is insufficient in regard to natural union…. Rather we reject the term ‘conjunction’ as being inadequate to express the union… [T]he holy virgin gave birth in the flesh to God united with the flesh according to hypostasis, for that reason we call her Theotokos… If anyone does not confess that Emmanuel is, in truth, God, and therefore that the holy virgin is Theotokos (for she bore in a fleshly manner the Word from God become flesh), let him be anathema.” (Cyril’s third letter to Nestorius)
Mary was conceived without original sin (De fide). The Immaculate Conception is, according to Roman Catholic dogma, the conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus without any stain of original sin, in her mother’s womb: the dogma thus says that, from the first moment of her existence, she was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind, and that she was instead filled with divine grace. It is further believed that she lived a life completely free from sin. Her immaculate conception in the womb of her mother, by normal sexual intercourse (Christian tradition identifies her parents as Sts. Joachim and Anne), should not be confused with the doctrine of the virginal conception of her son Jesus.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated on December 8, was established in 1476 by Pope Sixtus IV. He did not extraordinarily define it as a dogma at this time, but this does not mean Catholics were free to believe in it or not. The Immaculate Conception was solemnly defined as a dogma by Pope Pius IX in his constitution Ineffabilis Deus, on December 8, 1854 as a truth not merely implied by the deposit of faith and discerned by the Church under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit (de fide tenenda), but as specifically and explicitly contained as an object of supernatural faith in the Public Revelation of the Deposit of Faith (de fide credenda).
The Catholic Church believes the dogma is supported by Scripture (e.g. Mary’s being greeted by Angel Gabriel as “full of grace” or “highly favoured”), as well as either directly or indirectly by the writings of many of the Church Fathers, and often calls Mary the Blessed Virgin (Luke 1:48). Catholic theology maintains that, since Jesus became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, it was fitting that she be completely free of sin for expressing her fiat. (Ott, Fund., Bk 3, Pt. 3, Ch. 2, §3.1.e).
It seemed to Pius XII that the Blessed Virgin Mary herself wished to confirm by some special sign the definition, because, less than four years later, in a French town
For the whole Roman Catholic Church the dogma of the Immaculate Conception gained additional significance from these apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes in 1858, in Lourdes, to a 14-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubirous.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation, except where conferences of bishops have decided, with the approval of the Holy See, not to maintain it as such. It is a public holiday in some countries where Roman Catholicism is predominant e.g. Italy. In the Philippines, although this is not a public holiday, the predominance of Catholic Schools make it almost a holiday.
Mary was assumed into heaven with body and soul (de fide). Mary, the ever virgin, mother of God was free of original sin. The Immaculate Conception is one basis for the 1950 dogma. Another was the century old Church-wide veneration of the Virgin Mary as being assumed into heaven, which Pope Pius XII referred to in Deiparae Virginis Mariae and reported in Munificentissimus Deus. Although the Assumption was only recently defined as dogma, accounts of the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven have circulated since at least the 5th century. The Catholic Church itself interprets chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation as referring to it. The earliest assumption narrative is the so-called Liber Requiei Mariae (The Book of Mary’s Repose), a narrative which survives intact only in an Ethiopic translation. (Stephen J. Shoemaker, Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption] Oxford University Press, 2002, 2006). Probably composed by the 4th century, this early Christian apocryphal narrative may be as early as the 3rd century. Also quite early are the very different traditions of the “Six Books” Dormition narratives. The earliest versions of this apocryphon are preserved by several Syriac manuscripts of the 5th and 6th centuries, although the text itself probably belongs to the 4th century. Later apocrypha based on these earlier texts include the De Obitu S. Dominae, attributed to St. John, a work probably from around the turn of the 6th century that is a summary of the “Six Books” narrative. The story also appears in De Transitu Virginis, a late 5th century work ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis that presents a theologically redacted summary of the traditions in the Liber Requiei Mariae. The Transitus Mariae tells the story of the apostles being transported by white clouds to the death-bed of Mary, each from the town where he was preaching at the hour. The Decretum Gelasianum in the 490s declared some transitus Mariae literature as apocryphal.
An Armenian letter attributed to Dionysus the Areopagite also mentions the event, although this is a much later work, written sometime after the 6th century. Other saints also describe it, notably St Gregory of Tours, St John Damascene, and St Modestus of Jerusalem.
Since the 1870 solemn declaration of Papal Infallibility by Vatican I in 1870, this declaration by Pius XII has been the only ex cathedra use of Papal Infallibility. While Pope Pius XII deliberately left open the question of whether Mary died before her Assumption, the more common teaching of the early Fathers is that she did.
The Catholic Church holds many other teachings about the Virgin Mary, many of which are just as relevant as the defined teachings above. Some flow logically from the formal dogmas of virginity, sinlessness, and immaculate conception. Others are century old teachings, cults and celebrations, which, in the Catholic view, under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit, are an integral part of the deposit of Faith handed down by the Church.
The Catholic Church teaches that the Virgin Mary is mother of the Church and of all its members, namely all Christians. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
In addition, Mary is seen as mother of Christians because Christians are said in scripture to become spiritually part of the body of Christ. Christians are adopted by Jesus as his “brothers”. They therefore share with Him the Fatherhood of God and also the motherhood of Mary. Again, in the New Testament book of John Jesus, from the cross gives the Apostle John to Mary as her son, and gives Mary to John as his mother. John here, as the sole remaining Apostle remaining steadfast with Jesus is taken to represent all loyal followers of Jesus from that time on.
The devotion to the Virgin Mary thus continues to be emphasized in Roman Catholic teachings. For instance, in his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope John Paul II discussed how his own motto “Totus Tuus” was inspired by the writings of Saint Louis de Montfort on total consecration to the Virgin Mary, which he quoted:.
Co-Redemptrix refers to the participation of Mary in the salvation process. Already, Irenaeus, the Church Father (Died 200), referred to Mary as “causa salutis” [cause of our salvation] given her “fiat It is teaching, which has been considered since the 15th century but never declared a dogma. The Roman Catholic view of Co-Redemptrix does not imply that Mary participates as equal part in the redemption of the human race, since Christ is the only redeemer. Mary herself needed redemption and was redeemed by Jesus Christ her son. Being redeemed by Christ, implies that she cannot be his equal part in the redemption process.
Co-redemptrix refers to an indirect or unequal but important participation by Mary in the redemption process. She gave free consent to give life to the redeemer, to share his life, to suffer with him under the cross and to sacrifice him for the sake of the redemption of mankind. Co-redemption is not something new.
Papal teaching began to mention this aspect in official Church documents during the pontificate of Pope Pius X Pius X referred to it in his encyclical Ad Diem Illum. Pope Benedict XV first described the term in his own right in his Apostolic Letter, Inter Soldalica, issued March 22, 1918. Pope Pius XII repeated this argument with slightly different accents in his encyclical Mystici Corporis. In the Papal bull Munificentissimus Deus on dogma of the assumption, Pope Pius declares that “the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, as the noble associate of the divine Redeemer
In Catholic teachings, Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. He alone reconciled through his death on the Cross creator and creation. But this does not exclude a secondary mediating role for Mary, preparatory, supportive, in the view of several prominent, but not all Catholics. The teaching that Mary intercedes for all believers and especially those who request her intercession through prayer has been held in the Church since early times, for example by Ephraim, the Syrian “after the mediater a mediatrix for the whole world Intercession is something that may be done by all the heavenly saints, but Mary is seen as having the greatest intercessionary power. The earliest surviving recorded prayer to Mary is the Sub tuum praesidium, written in Greek.
Mary has increasingly been seen as a principal dispenser of God’s graces and Advocate for the people of God and is mentioned as such in several official Church documents. Pope Pius IX used the title in Ineffabilis Deus. In the first of his so called Rosary encyclicals, Supremi Apostolatus (1883), Pope Leo XIII calls Our Lady the guardian of our peace and the dispensatrix of heavenly graces. The following year, 1884, his encyclical Superiore Anno speaks of the prayers presented to God through her whom He has chosen to be the dispenser of all heavenly graces. Pope Pius X employed this title in Ad Diem Illud in 1904, Pope Benedict XV introduced it into the Marian liturgy when he created the Marian feast of Mary, Mediatrix of all Graces in 1921, In his 1954 encyclical Ad caeli reginam, Pope Pius XII calls Mary the Mediatrix of peace.
The doctrine that the Virgin Mary has been crowned Queen of Heaven goes back to the early patristic writers of the Church such as St. Gregory Nazianzen “the Mother of the King of the universe,” and the “Virgin Mother who brought forth the King of the whole world,” Prudentius, the Mother marvels “that she has brought forth God as man, and even as Supreme King.” and, St. Ephrem, “Let Heaven sustain me in its embrace, because I am honored above it. For heaven was not Thy mother, but Thou hast made it Thy throne. How much more honorable and venerable than the throne of a king is her mother.” The Catholic Church often sees Mary as queen in heaven, bearing a crown of twelve stars in Revelation
Many Popes have given tribute to it. Mary is the Queen of Heaven and Earth, (Pius IX), Queen and Ruler of the Universe (Leo XIII) and Queen of the World (Pius XII) The theological and logical foundation of these titles rests in the dogma of Mary as the Mother of God. As mother of God, she participates in his salvation plan. The Catholic faith teaches that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother’s solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen:
Roman Catholic teachings and traditions includes specific devotions as Acts of Reparation to the Virgin Mary for insults that she suffers. The Raccolta Catholic prayer book (approved by a Decree of 1854, and published by the Holy See in 1898) includes a number of such prayers.
These devotions and prayers do not involve a petition for a living or deceased beneficiary, but aim to repair the sins of others against the Virgin Mary.
Marian devotions generally begin at the level of popular piety, often in connection with the religious experiences and visions of simple and modest individuals (in many cases children). Their recounting of their experiences in time created strong emotions among numerous Roman Catholics, who independently adopted practices and devotions. Their faith and beliefs influence priests and the higher levels of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
An example is the case of Saint Juan Diego. In 1531, he reported an early morning vision of the Virgin Mary in which he was instructed to build an abbey on the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico. The local prelate did not believe his account and asked for a miraculous sign. This was provided by an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe permanently imprinted on the saint’s cloak where he had gathered roses.
By all accounts, Juan Diego did not receive a lot of attention in Rome during the 1530s, since the Church was busy with the challenges of the Protestant Reformation of 1521 to 1579. Yet, Juan Diego’s reported vision of the Virgin Mary was considered instrumental in the attraction of almost 8 million people to the ranks of Catholics in the Americas between 1532 and 1538. With tens of millions of followers, Juan Diego impacted Marian devotion in the Americas and beyond, and was eventually declared venerable in 1987, beatified in 1990, and canonized in 2002.
Theologians have at times cited in support of their Mariology the constant sensus fidelium. Thus Saint Alphonsus Liguori valued texts of the Church Fathers as expressions of the sensus fidelium of the past and attributed great weight to the argument that “the greater part of the faithful have always had recourse to the intercession of the divine mother for all the graces which they desire”.
Arthur Burton Calkins has argued that the view of Mary as Co-Redemptrix is deeply implanted in the sensus fidelium and that, in spite of the difficulties raised by theologians, more and more bishops, priests and deacons will preach it. However, a commission of scholars established in 1996 in response to a request of the Holy See was asked to give an opinion regarding the possibility of proposing a fifth Marian dogma on Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. The commission unanimously declared that it was not opportune, voting 23-0 against the proposed dogma. The papal spokesman stated: “This is not under study by the Holy Father nor by any Vatican congregation or commission”. A petition presented for a papal definition on the matter was described by a leading Mariologist as “theologically inadequate, historically a mistake, pastorally imprudent and ecumenically unacceptable”. Pope John Paul II cautioned against “all false exaggeration”.
Marian devotions are highly prominent within the Roman Catholic tradition and a wide variety of devotions ranging from Consecration to Mary, to the wearing of scapular, to multi-day prayers such as Rosary Novenas are practiced by Catholics.
Marian devotions have been encouraged by popes, and in Marialis Cultus Pope Paul VI stated:”From the moment when we were called to the See of Peter, we have constantly striven to enhance devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope John Paul II stated: “Among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary.
The spread of Marian devotions, such as the Holy Rosary via lay Catholic organizations, has also influenced Mariology. The 20th century witnessed significant growth in the number of volunteer-based lay Marian devotional organizations, such as free rosary distribution groups. An example is Our Lady’s Rosary Makers, which was formed with a $25 donation for a typewriter in 1949. It now has thousands of volunteers who have distributed hundreds of millions of free rosaries to Catholic missions worldwide. The growth of Marian devotions builds sensus fidelium, which in time influences the direction of Mariology as a whole.
Devotion to the Virgin Mary does not, however, amount to worship – which is reserved for God; Catholics view Mary as subordinate to Christ, but uniquely so, in that she is seen as above all other creatures. In 787 the Second Council of Nicaea affirmed a three-level hierarchy of latria, hyperdulia and dulia that applies to God, the Virgin Mary and then to the other saints.
Saint Juan Diego was not the only person to report an early morning vision on a hilltop where a Lady appears and asks for a Church to be built on that hill. In 1858, Saint Bernadette Soubirous‘s reported vision of Our Lady of Lourdes was similar. Both saints reported a miraculous Lady on a hill who asked them to request that the local priests build a chapel at the site of the vision. Both visions included a reference to roses. Large churches were built at the sites: Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, and Our Lady of Lourdes in France.
A simple, 14 year old peasant girl of no significant education, Bernadette Soubirous reported her vision of a woman in white, who said, Que soy L’Immaculado concepciou, I am the Immaculate Conception and asked that a church be built there. At first ridiculed, questioned, and belittled by Church officials and other contemporaries, Bernadette firmly but modestly insisted on her vision. Eventually the Church believed her and she was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1933. In time, many churches were built on that hilltop (one of them, the Basilica of St. Pius X can accommodate 25,000 people). Lourdes is now a major Marian pilgrimage site. Within France, only Paris has more hotels than Lourdes.
Three Portuguese children, Lucia dos Santos, Jacinta Marto, and Francisco Marto, were equally young and without much education when they reported the apparition of Our Lady of Fátima in 1917. The local administrator initially jailed the children and threatened that he would boil them one by one in a pot of oil. The children were consoled by the other inmates in the jail, and then led the inmates in praying the Rosary.
With millions of followers and Roman Catholic believers, the reported visions at Fatima gathered respect. After a canonical enquiry, the visions of Fátima were officially declared “worthy of belief” in October 1930 by the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima. Popes Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI voiced their acceptance of the supernatural origin of the Fátima events. John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life following an assassination attempt on the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima, 1981. He donated the bullet that wounded him to the Roman Catholic sanctuary at Fátima, Portugal.
Mariologists refer to Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque, as “living proof how Marian devotion is linked to ‘Christology'” and the adoration of Jesus Christ. She made a vow at age 14 to dedicate her life to the Virgin Mary. As a simple Marian nun, she was subjected to many trials to prove the genuineness of her vocation and her visions of Jesus and Mary relating to the Sacred Heart. She was initially rebuffed by her mother superior and was unable to convince theologians of the validity of her visions. A noted exception was Saint Claude de la Colombière, who supported her. The devotion to the Sacred Heart was officially recognized 75 years after Alacoque’s death. In his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI stated that Jesus Christ had “manifested Himself” to Saint Margaret and referred to the conversation between Jesus and Saint Margaret several times.
Mariette Beco was twelve years old when she reported Marian apparitions in 1933 in Banneux, Belgium. In this case, the Lady in White reportedly declared she was the Virgin of the Poor and said: “Believe in me and I will believe in you.” In 1942, the Holy See permitted the local bishop to allow the veneration of the Virgin of the Poor.
The Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary were defined predominantly on the basis of the sensus fidei, “the supernatural appreciation of faith on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals”. Pope Benedict XVI said: “Faith both in the Immaculate Conception and in the bodily Assumption of the Virgin was already present in the People of God, while theology had not yet found the key to interpreting it in the totality of the doctrine of the faith. The People of God therefore precede theologians and this is all thanks to that supernatural sensus fidei, namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit that qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith with humility of heart and mind. In this sense, the People of God is the ‘teacher that goes first’ and must then be more deeply examined and intellectually accepted by theology.” In each case, the dogma was defined “not so much because of proofs in scripture or ancient tradition, but due to a profound sensus fidelium and the Magisterium”. Each of the two popes concerned consulted the bishops of the world about the faith of the community before proceeding to define the dogma.
If the popular praises of the Blessed Virgin Mary be given the careful consideration they deserve, who will dare to doubt that she, who was purer than the angels and at all times pure, was at any moment, even for the briefest instant, not free from every stain of sin?
Throughout the centuries, Catholics have viewed the Virgin Mary from a number of perspectives, at times derived from specific Marian attributes ranging from queenship to humility and at other times based on cultural preferences of events taking place at specific points in history. In parallel with the traditional approaches to Mariology, opposing views based on progressive interpretations of have been presented by feminists, psychologists and liberal Catholics.
Traditional views on Mary have emphasized the Marian dogmas and doctrines, accompanied by devotions and venerations. Yet these views have changed and been transformed over time.
An example of the changing perspectives on the Virgin Mary based on specific spiritual views, and its adoption within a culture a world away is the transformation of the image of Mary from a Heavenly Queen to a mother of humility, and the construction of views to accommodate both perspectives. While depictions of the Virgin Mary as the Queen of Heaven or Coronation of the Virgin by artists such as Paolo Veneziano or Giuliano da Rimini were common in the early part of the 14th century, they did not fit with the virtue of humility which was a key tenet of the spirituality of Saint Francis of Assisi. The concept of the Virgin of humility was developed in the 14th century in order to accommodate Franciscan piety, by depicting the Madonna sitting on the ground, rather than a throne. It offered a view of the Virgin Mary (often barefoot) as a mother nursing a child, rather than a Queen in a coronation scene.
As the Franciscans began to preach in China, the notion of the Virgin of humility resonated well with the Chinese, partly due to the cultural acceptance of humility as a virtue in China, and partly due to its similarity to the motherly, merciful figure of Kuanyin, which was much admired in south China. However, by the middle of the 15th century, a dual view had emerged in Europe, as represented by Domenico di Bartolo‘s 1433 Madonna of humility which expressed the symbolic duality of her nature: an earthly barefoot woman, as well as a heavenly queen. Despite her low, sitting position, the depiction of star and the gems, as well as a halo, signify the regal status of the Virgin, as she is being attended to while she holds the Child Jesus.
Saint Juan Diego‘s account of the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to him in 1531 on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico provides another example of the cultural adaptation of the view of the Virgin Mary. Juan Diego did not describe the Virgin Mary as either European or Middle Eastern, but as a tanned Aztec princess who spoke in his local Nahuatl language, and not in Spanish. The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that is highly venerated in Mexico has the appearance of a South American, rather than a European woman, and the clothing of the Virgin of Guadalupe has been identified as that of an Aztec princess. The Virgin of Guadalupe was a turning point in the conversion of Latin America to Catholicism, and is the primary view of Mary among millions of Catholics in Mexico in the 21st century. Pope John Paul II reinforced the localization of this view by permitting local Aztec dances during the ceremony in which he declared Juan Diego a saint, spoke in Nahuatl as part of the ceremony, called Juan Diego “the talking eagle” and asked him to show “the way that leads to the Dark Virgin of Tepeyac”. 
The view of the Virgin Mary as a “miracle worker” has existed for centuries and is still held by many Catholics in the 21st century. The legends of the miracles of the Maddona of Orsanmichele in Florence go back to the Renaissance. The legends of miracles performed by the image of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa also go back for centuries, and it continues to be venerated today as the Patron of Poland. Every year, millions of Catholic pilgrims visit the Basilica at Our Lady of Lourdes in search of miraculous cures. Although millions of Catholics hope for miracles on their pilgrimages, the Vatican has generally been reluctant to approve of modern miracles, unless they have been subject to extensive analysis.
Since the end of the 19th century, a number of progressive and liberal perspectives of Mariology have been presented, ranging from feminist criticisms to interpretations based on modern psychology and liberal Catholic viewpoints. These views are generally critical of the Roman Catholic approach to Mariology as well as the Eastern Orthodox church, which has even more Marian emphasis within its official liturgy.
Some feminists contend that, as with other women saints such as Joan of Arc, the image of Mary is a construct of the patriarchal mind. They argue that Marian dogmas and doctrines and the typical forms of Marian devotion reinforce patriarchy by offering women temporary comfort from the ongoing oppression inflicted on them by male dominated churches and societies. In the feminist view, old gender stereotypes persist within traditional Marian teachings and theological doctrines. To that end books on “feminist Mariology” have been published to present opposing interpretations and perspectives.
The psychological analysis of Marian teachings dates back to Sigmund Freud, who used the title of a poem by Goethe in his 1911 paper Great is Diana of the Ephesians. Freud argued that Marian venerations were a surrogate for the worship of the Goddess Diana. Carl Jung, on the other hand, viewed the Virgin Mary as a spiritual version of the more loving Goddess Eros. A large number of other psychological interpretations have been presented through the years, ranging from the study of the similarities of the Virgin Mary and the Buddhist Goddess Tara, or the humble and loving figure presented by the East Asian Goddess Kwan Yin.
Since the Reformation many Christians have opposed Marian venerations, and that trend has continued into the 21st century among progressive and liberal Christians, who see the high level of attention paid to the Virgin Mary both as being without sufficient grounding in Scripture and as distracting from the worship due to Christ.
Groups of liberal Catholics view the traditional image of the Virgin Mary as presented by the Catholic Church as an obstacle towards realization of the goal of womanhood, and as a symbol of the systemic patriarchal oppression of women within the Church. Moreover, some liberal Catholics view the cultivation of the traditional image of Mary as a method of manipulation of Catholics at large by the Church hierarchy. Other liberal Christians argue that the modern concepts of equal opportunity for men and women does not resonate well with the humble image of Mary, obediently and subserviently kneeling before Christ.
|Roman Catholic Mariology
A series of articles onMarian Prayers
|Alma Redemptoris Mater
As a Child I Loved You
Ave Maris Stella
Ave Regina Caelorum
Hail Mary of Gold
Mary Our Queen
Sub tuum praesidium
Three Hail Marys
While Eastern Catholics respect papal authority, and largely hold the same theological beliefs as Roman Catholics, Eastern theology differs on specific Marian beliefs. Furthermore, much of the literature and publications on Mariology and centers for its study have been related to the Church of Rome.
The traditional Eastern expression of this doctrine is the Dormition of the Theotokos which emphasises her falling asleep to be later assumed into heaven. The differences in these observances is for some Eastern Catholics superficial. However, Latin Catholics in general object to this doctrine.
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is a teaching of Eastern origin but expressed in the terminology of the Western Church. The Western concept of the Virgin Mary being free from original sin as defined by St. Augustine of Hippo is not accepted in the East. However, Eastern Catholics recognized from ancient times that Mary was preserved by God from sin. Eastern Catholics while not observing the Western feast, have no difficulty affirming it or even dedicating their churches to the Virgin Mary under this title.
The formal study of Mariology within the circles associated with the Holy See took a major step forward between the Holy Year 1950 and 1958 based on the actions of Pope Pius XII, who authorized institutions for increased academic research into the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Of these organizations, the Marianum Pontifical Theological Faculty is the most active marilogical centre in Rome (www.marianum.it). This Pontifical Catholic Faculty was founded by Father Gabriel Roschini (who directed it for several years) under the direction of Pope Pius XII in 1950. At the Marianum, one can get a Master’s degree in Mariology (2-year academic program) and one can also get a doctorate in Mariology. This mariological facility has a library with more than 85,000 volumes on Mariology and a number of magazines and journals of theological and Mariological concern. Marianum is also the name of the prestigious journal of Marian theology, founded by Father Roschini in 1939.
In 1975, the University of Dayton in Ohio formed the International Marian Research Institute in affiliation with the Marianum to offer a doctorate in sacred theology (S.T.D.) and a licentiate in sacred theology (S.T.L.).