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In Catholic Mariology, the title Mediatrix refers to the intercessory role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a mediator in the salvific redemption by her son Jesus Christ and that he bestows graces through her. Mediatrix is an ancient title that has been used by many saints since at least the 5th century. Its use grew during the Middle Ages and reached its height in the writings of saints Louis de Montfort and Alphonsus Liguori in the 18th century. [1]

Catholic Mariology study of Mary as the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, and the Mother of the Church in Roman Catholoic theology

Catholic Mariology refers to Mariology—the systematic study of the person of Mary, mother of Jesus, and of her place in the Economy of Salvation—within Catholic theology. Mary is seen as having a singular dignity above the saints. The Catholic Church teaches that she was conceived without original sin, therefore receiving a higher level of veneration than all other saints. Catholic Mariology thus studies not only her life but also the veneration of her in daily life, prayer, hymns, art, music, and architecture in modern and ancient Christianity throughout the ages.

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Louis de Montfort French Roman Catholic priest and confessor

Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort was a French Roman Catholic priest and Confessor. He was known in his time as a preacher and was made a missionary apostolic by Pope Clement XI.


A general role of mediation or intercession is attributed to Mary in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Oriental Orthodoxy, [2] and the term "Mediatrix" was applied to her in the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium of the Second Vatican Council. "This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator." [3]

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. Roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Lumen gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, is one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council. This dogmatic constitution was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1964, following approval by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,151 to 5. As is customary with significant Roman Catholic Church documents, it is known by its incipit, "Lumen gentium", Latin for "Light of the Nations".

Second Vatican Council Roman Catholic ecumenical council held in Vatican City from 1962 to 1965

The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965.

The use of the title Mediatrix and the doctrine of Mary having a higher level of saintly intercession (owing to her special relationship with her son Jesus) is distinct from the theological issues involved in the establishment of Mediatrix of all graces as a dogma. On 12 September 2015, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments through the Archdiocese of Lipa, Philippines formerly declared the 1948 Marian apparition under the title Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces to be authentic and worthy of pious belief, now rejected as non-supernatural by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith on 1 June 2016. [4] [5]

Intercession of saints

Intercession of the saints is a doctrine held by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Roman Catholic Churches. The practice of praying through saints can be found in Christian writings from the 3rd century onward. The 4th-century Apostles' Creed states belief in the communion of saints, which certain Christian churches interpret as supporting the intercession of saints. As in Christianity, this practice is controversial in Judaism and Islam.

Mediatrix of all graces title of Mary, mother of Jesus

Mediatrix of all graces is a title that the Roman Catholic Church gives to the Blessed Virgin Mary; as the Mother of God, it includes the understanding that she mediates the Divine Grace. In addition to Mediatrix, other titles are given to her in the Church: Advocate, Helper, Benefactress. In the papal encyclical of 8 September 1894, Pope Leo XIII states:

"The recourse we have to Mary in prayer follows upon the office she continuously fills by the side of the throne of God as Mediatrix of Divine grace"

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is the congregation of the Roman Curia that handles most affairs relating to liturgical practices of the Latin Church as distinct from the Eastern Catholic Churches and also some technical matters relating to the Sacraments. Its functions were originally exercised by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, set up in January 1588 by Pope Sixtus V.


Early history

Mediatrix is an ancient title. [1] A prayer attributed to Ephrem the Syrian in the 4th century calls her "after the mediator, you (Mary) are the mediatrix of the whole world." [6] The title was also used in the 5th century by Basil of Seleucia. By the 8th century, the title Mediatrix found common use and Andrew of Crete and saint John of Damascus used it. [1]

Ephrem the Syrian Syriac deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century

Ephrem the Syrian was a Syriac Christian deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the fourth century.

Basil of Seleucia was a Bishop and ecclesiastical writer. He was archbishop of Seleucia by 448. He condemned Eutyches in the year 448, he "acquiesced" while "rehabilitating" at the Latrocinium in 449, "but recanted and signed" the Tome of Leo in 450.

Andrew of Crete Christian bishop and saint

Saint Andrew of Crete, also known as Andrew of Jerusalem, was an 8th-century bishop, theologian, homilist, and hymnographer. He is venerated as a saint by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians.

These early notions place Mary's mediation on a higher level than that of other forms of the intercession of saints. Her position as the mother of Jesus Christ the redeemer and source of grace makes her preeminent among others who might be called mediators. [6]

Later Middle Ages

The use of the Mediatrix title continued to grow in the Middle Ages, and Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century), Bonaventure, and Bernardino of Siena (15th century) frequently used it. [1]

Bernard of Clairvaux French abbot, theologian

Bernard of Clairvaux was a French abbot and a major leader in the reform of Benedictine monasticism that caused the formation of the Cistercian order.

Bonaventure 13th-century philosopher, Franciscan, theologian, and saint

Saint Bonaventure, born Giovanni di Fidanza, was an Italian medieval Franciscan, scholastic theologian and philosopher. The seventh Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, he was also Cardinal Bishop of Albano. He was canonised on 14 April 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV and declared a Doctor of the Church in the year 1588 by Pope Sixtus V. He is known as the "Seraphic Doctor". Many writings believed in the Middle Ages to be his are now collected under the name Pseudo-Bonaventure.

Bernardino of Siena Italian Franciscan missionary and saint

Bernardino of Siena was an Italian priest and Franciscan missionary. He was a systematizer of Scholastic economics. His popular preaching made him famous during his own lifetime because it was frequently directed against sorcery, gambling, infanticide, witchcraft, sodomy, Jews, and usury. Bernardino was later canonised by the Catholic Church as a saint - where he is also referred to as “the Apostle of Italy” - for his efforts to revive the country's Catholic faith during the 15th century.

In the 13th century, Saint Thomas Aquinas noted that only Jesus Christ can be the perfect mediator between God and humankind. However, this does not hinder that others may be called mediators, in some respect, between God and man, because they assist and prepare union between God and man. [7]

The same notion was stated in the 16th century by the Council of Trent, which declared "that the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer up their own prayers to God for men; that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to have recourse to their prayers, aid, (and) help for obtaining benefits from God, through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our alone Redeemer and Saviour; but that they think impiously, who deny that the saints, who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven, are to be invocated; or who assert either that they do not pray for men; or, that the invocation of them to pray for each of us even in particular, is idolatry; or, that it is repugnant to the word of God; and is opposed to the honour of the one mediator of God and men, Christ Jesus; or, that it is foolish to supplicate, vocally, or mentally, those who reign in heaven". [8]

17th–18th centuries

Reliance on the intercession of Mary grew and reached its height in the writings of saints Louis de Montfort and Alphonsus Liguori in the 18th century. [1]

Louis de Montfort's approach (which later influenced Pope John Paul II) emphasized that Mary is the natural path to approaching Jesus because of her special relationship with him. [9] This reliance on the intercession of Mary is based on the general Montfortean formula: [10] " do all our actions by Mary, with Mary, in Mary and for Mary so that we may do them all the more perfectly by Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus and for Jesus..."

In his book Treatise on Prayer, Alphonsus Liguori reviewed the writings of Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux on the intercession of saints and Mary's role as Mediatrix and strongly supported the title. [11] [12]

19th–21st centuries

Several popes have used the title Mediatrix. Leo XIII used it in 1896 and Pius X in 1904. This continued in the 20th century with Benedict XV and Pius XI. [1] However, Pius XII avoided the use of the title, although he urged reliance on the intercession of Mary. [1]

Pope John Paul II used the title Mediatrix a number of times and in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater wrote:

"The maternal role of Mary towards people in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power": it is mediation in Christ. ...Mary's mediation is intimately linked with her motherhood...through this fullness of grace and supernatural life she was especially predisposed to cooperation with Christ, the one Mediator of human salvation. And such cooperation is precisely this mediation subordinated to the mediation of Christ. [13]

In September 2012, during the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, claimant visionnaire Emma de Guzman stated that the Virgin Mary revealed her maternal role as "Mediatrix before the Mediator," a special Marian title associated by many Filipino Catholics in reference to Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces. [14] [15]

Theological issues

Among Catholic theologians, it is undisputed that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and the human race, especially in the salvific role of redemption as exhibited by the crucifixion on Mount Calvary. [16] Accordingly, the word "mediator" in the strict sense fits Jesus alone in relation to God, but in a subordinate sense, Christians exercise a mediation "that is effective through, with, and in Christ. The subordinate mediator never stands alone, but is always dependent on Jesus." [17]

With special reference to Mary, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting the Second Vatican Council, which in its document Lumen gentium referred to Mary as "'Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix and Mediatrix," says:

"Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. ... Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix" (Lumen gentium, 62). "Mary's function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin's salutary influence on men ... flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it" (Lumen gentium, 60). "No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source" (Lumen gentium, 62). [18]

At a Mariological Congress held at Czestochowa in August 1996, a commission was established in response to a request, by the Holy See, which had asked to know the opinion of the scholars present at the Congress on the possibility of defining a new dogma of faith regarding Mary as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. (In recent years, the Pope and various dicasteries of the Holy See had received petitions requesting such a definition.) The response of the commission, deliberately brief, was unanimous and precise: it is not opportune to abandon the path marked out by the Second Vatican Council and proceed to the definition of a new dogma. [5]

Mediatrix of all graces

Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces, a Marian title that reflects Catholic belief in the intercessory role of Mary. Original image circa 1948. AMDG 3.jpg
Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces, a Marian title that reflects Catholic belief in the intercessory role of Mary. Original image circa 1948.

Going further than expressing belief in Mary as Mediatrix, proposals have been made to declare that Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces. Pope Benedict XV allowed the dioceses of Belgium to celebrate the feast of Mary Mediatrix of all graces on May 31 each year. [20] In printings of the Roman Missal from that date until 1961, the Mass of Mary Mediatrix of All Graces was found in the appendix Missae pro aliquibus locis (Masses for Some Places), but not in the general calendar for use wherever the Roman Rite is celebrated. [21] Other Masses authorized for celebration in different places on the same day were those of the Blessed Virgin Mary Queen of All Saints and Mother of Fair Love and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Belgian celebration has now been replaced by an optional memorial on 31 August of the Virgin Mary Mediatrix. [22]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Mary's Pope: John Paul II, Mary, and the Church by Antoine Nachef (Sep 1, 2000) ISBN   1580510779 pages 179–180
  2. McGurkin, John Anthony. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 2011 ISBN   1405185392 p. 597
  3. Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, §62, November 21, 1964
  4. Mark Miravalle, 1993, Introduction to Mary, Queenship Publishing ISBN   978-1-882972-06-7, pages 109–111, 207–208
  5. 1 2 L'Osservatore Romano , Weekly Edition in English, 25 June 1997, p.10
  6. 1 2 Mark Miravalle, 1993, Introduction to Mary, Queenship Publishing ISBN   978-1-882972-06-7, page 104
  7. Thomas Aquinas, Summa, III, 26,1
  8. Council of Trent, Session XXV
  9. Mark Miravalle, 1993, Introduction to Mary, Queenship Publishing ISBN   978-1-882972-06-7, page 156
  10. Mark Miravalle, 1993, Introduction to Mary, Queenship Publishing ISBN   978-1-882972-06-7 page 175
  11. Treatise on Prayer by St Alphonsus Liguori (Jun 7, 2009) ISBN   098199010X page 26
  12. The Mystery of Mary by Paul Haffner (2004) ISBN   0852446500 page 260
  13. Pope John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Part III, "Maternal Mediation" On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church
  14. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2013.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. Castro, June Keithley. "Messages from Mama Mary"
  16. 1 Timothy 2:5
  17. The Intercession of Saints
  18. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 969–970
  19. Behold Your Mother by Stephen Rossetti 2007 ISBN   1594710287 page 25
  20. Mark Miravalle, 2008, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Queenship Publishing ISBN   1-57918-355-7 page 448
  21. See, for instance, the 1957 printing and a late-1920s printing.
  22. Calendrier liturgique francophone 2010-2011