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While May is traditionally known as the Month of Mary in our Catholic Faith, our Liturgical Calendar places two important feast days in her honor in August, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven on August 15th followed by the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary on August 22nd.
Pope Pius XII created the latter feast day in 1954 in his encyclical appropriately titled Ad Caeli Reginam (to the Queen of Heaven). (Four years earlier, he had defined her Assumption into Heaven as a dogma (official belief) of the Church.)
As the Pontiff wrote in the encyclical “From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught 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.”
While the feast was first celebrated on May 31st, Pope Paul VI moved the date to August 22nd in 1969 to be in closer proximity with the celebration of our Blessed Mother’s Assumption on August 15th.
This blessed event also figures prominently in the fifth decade of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, the Coronation, shown above in this famous rendition by the 17th century Spanish painter Diego Velasquez. While neither Mary’s Assumption (which is the fourth decade) nor her Coronation as Queen of heaven are mentioned in Sacred Scripture, Catholicism’s sacred tradition honors their validity nonetheless.
The lack of Biblical descriptive information can be somewhat frustrating to those meditating on this last mystery of the Rosary. With this in mind, I would like to present these excerpts printed below concerning Mary’s Coronation as Queen of Heaven as meditative food for thought from The Mystical City of God, a wonderful book of private revelations given to Ven. Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun in the 17th century.
(Note that while public revelation ended with the death of St. John the Apostle around 100 AD, there have been many private revelations from our Lord and His Blessed Mother given to various saints over the centuries. We are not required as Catholics to believe in any of them the way we are required to believe the truths contained in the Nicene Creed, for example.)
(Nonetheless, those revelations that have been approved by the Church as containing nothing contradicting her teaching on faith and morals are great for spiritual insight and meditations. The Mystical City of God has been approved for study by numerous popes and other religious since it was first published in the 17th century! For those of you who are interested, there are two versions of this work available in different editions on Amazon.com, one of which is abridged.)
Interestingly, while defining Mary’s Assumption as a dogma, the church nonetheless does not ask us to believe that Mary passed away before going up to heaven. Ven. Mary of Agreda relates nonetheless of Mary’s having died peacefully with her soul going up to heaven being joined by her body soon afterwards.
While we are not required to believe this, it is quite plausible. Her love for her Divine Son was, and is, such that she might very well have wished to follow His example of having experienced actual physical death before entering the glory of Heaven!
Along these lines, as a quick reminder, let me emphasize, as we have in several pages on this site, that we Catholics give Mary honor rather than worship in our prayers and devotions to her.
Her Queenship is meant to enhance rather than detract from our worship of the Triune God. It is one of humility and service on our behalf, not haughtiness.
She has been given God’s graces to give to us, and she very much wants to do so! As Queen of Heaven, she seeks always to do God’s will and for us to do likewise.
There is no need to think of her, as some Protestants and Evangelicals do quite sadly, as some kind of interloper whom we Catholics treat like a Goddess! She is rather an intercessor par excellence for us to God. And, on a practical level, it oftentimes doesn’t hurt when we’re trying to get closer to someone to get in good with their mother.
I’ve also included some comments Our Lady made to Ven. Mary of Agreda that reflect her ardent desire to assist us in receiving God’s graces. So without further ado, let us turn to this Spanish nun for some moving details about our Blessed Mother’s wonderful Coronation as Queen of Heaven!
The most blessed Mary issued from the tomb in body and soul, without raising the stone cover and without disturbing the position of the tunic and the mantle that had enveloped her sacred body…just as the heavenly Mother had given to her divine Son in her womb the form of man, pure, unstained and sinless, for the Redemption of the world, so in return the Lord, in this resurrection and new regeneration, gave to Her a glory and beauty similar to his own….
Then from the sepulchre was started a most solemn procession, moving with celestial music through the regions of the air and toward the empyrean heaven….
The saints and angels entered heaven in the order in which they had started; and in the last place came Christ our Savior and at his right hand the Queen, clothed in the gold of variety (as David says Ps. 44, 10), and so beautiful that She was the admiration of the heavenly court.
All of them turned toward Her to look upon Her and bless Her with new jubilee and songs of praise...Amid this glory the most blessed Mary arrived body and soul at the throne of the most blessed Trinity. And the three divine Persons received Her on it with an embrace eternally undissoluble. The eternal Father said to Her: “Ascend higher, my Daughter and my Dove.”
The incarnate Word spoke: “My Mother, of whom I have received human being and full return of my work in thy perfect imitation, receive now from my hand the reward thou hast merited.”
The Holy Ghost said: “My most beloved Spouse, enter into the eternal joy, which corresponds to the most faithful love; do Thou now enjoy thy love without solicitude; for past is the winter of suffering for Thou hast arrived at our eternal embraces.”
There the most blessed Mary was absorbed in the contemplation of the three divine Persons and as it were overwhelmed in the boundless ocean and abyss of the Divinity, while the saints were filled with wonder and new accidental delight.
We call that the throne of the Divinity, from which God manifests Himself to the saints as the principal cause of their glory and as the infinite, eternal God, independent of all things and on whose will all creatures depend, from which He manifests Himself as the Lord,as the King, as the Judge and Master of all that is in existence...
In this the most holy Mary participates in a degree next inferior and in a manner otherwise ineffable and proportionate to a mere creature so closely related to the Godman; and therefore She assists forever at the right hand of her Son as Queen (Ps. 44, 10), Lady and Mistress all creation, her dominion extending as far as that of her divine Son, although in a different manner.
After placing the most blessed Mary on this exalted and supereminent throne, the Lord declared to the courtiers of heaven all the privileges She should enjoy in virtue of this participation in his majesty.
The Person of the eternal Father, as the first principle of all things, speaking to the angels and saints, said to them: “Our Daughter Mary was chosen according to our pleasure from amongst all creatures, the first one to delight Us, and who never fell from the title and position of a true Daughter, such as We had given Her in our divine mind; She has a claim on our dominion, which We shall recognize by crowning Her as the legitimate and peerless Lady and Sovereign.”
The incarnate Word said: “To my true and natural Mother belong all the creatures which were created and redeemed by Me; and of all things over which I am King, She too shall be the legitimate and supreme Queen.” The Holy Ghost said: “Since She is called my beloved and chosen Spouse, She deserves to be crowned as Queen for all eternity.”
Having thus spoken the three divine Persons placed upon the head of the most blessed Mary a crown of such new splendor and value, that the like has been seen neither before nor after by any mere creature.
At the same time a voice sounded from the throne saying: “My Beloved, chosen among the creatures, our kingdom is Thine; Thou shalt be the Lady and the Sovereign of the seraphim, of all the ministering spirits, the angels and of the entire universe of creatures..."
"Thou shalt be the Empress and Mistress of the militant Church, its Protectress, its Advocate, its Mother and Teacher. Thou shalt be the special Patroness of the Catholic countries; and whenever they, or the faithful, or any of the children of Adam call upon Thee from their heart, serve or oblige Thee, Thou shalt relieve and help them in their labors and necessities. Thou shalt be the Friend, the Defender and the Chieftainess of all the just and of our friends; all of them Thou shalt comfort, console and fill with blessings according to their devotion to Thee."
"In view of all this We make Thee the Depositary of our riches, the Treasurer of our goods; we place into thy hands the helps and blessings of our grace for distribution; nothing do We wish to be given to the world, which does not pass through thy hands; and nothing do We deny, which Thou wishest to concede to men."
"Grace shall be diffused in thy lips for obtaining all that Thou wishest and ordainest in heaven and on earth, and every where shall angels and men obey Thee; because whatever is ours shall be thine, just as Thou hast always been ours; and Thou shalt reign with Us forever.”
Both the angelic spirits and the blessed souls, while rendering their adoration to the Lord with fear and worshipful reverence, rendered a like homage in its proportion to his most blessed Mother...
All these demonstrations at the coronation of the Empress of heaven redounded wonderfully to her glory, to the new joy and jubilee of the saints and to the pleasure of the most blessed Trinity.
Altogether festive was this day, and it produced new accidental glory in all the heavens. Those that partook more especially therein were her most fortunate spouse saint Joseph, saint Joachim and Anne and all the other relatives of the Queen, together with the thousand angels of her guard.
Within the glorious body of the Queen, over her heart, was visible to the saints a small globe or monstrance of singular beauty and splendor, which particularly roused and rouses their admiration and joy.
It was there in testimony and reward of her having afforded to the sacramental Word an acceptable resting place and sanctuary, and of her having received holy Communion so worthily, purely and holily, without any defect or imperfection, and with a devotion, love and reverence attained by none other of the saints.
In regard to the other rewards and crowns corresponding to her peerless works and virtues, nothing that can be said could give any idea; and therefore I refer it to the beatific vision, where each one shall perceive them in proportion as his doings and his devotion shall have merited....
We have left the great Lady at the right hand of her divine Son, reigning through all the ages of eternity. We now return to the Apostles and disciples, who in flowing tears surrounded the sepulchre of Mary in the valley of Josaphat....
Partly enlightened by the Holy Ghost, they conjectured that the most pure Mother had arisen and had entered heaven, body and soul, like her divine Son. They conferred about this matter and came to the conclusion that so it must be; and saint Peter, as the head of the Church, decided that such a wonderful fact should be ascertained as far as possible and made known to those who had witnessed her death and burial.
This being done, they saw the grave despoiled of the sacred body of the Queen of heaven and the tunic in the same position as when it had covered her, showing that it must have passed through the tunic and the stone of the sepulchre without disturbing any part of them.
Saint Peter took out the tunic and the mantle and, with all the others, venerated it, as they were now certain of the Resurrection and Assumption of the blessed Mother into heaven. In mixed joy and sorrow they wept sweet tears at this prodigy and sang psalms and hymns of praise and glory to the Lord and his most blessed Mother.
In their affectionate wonder all of them remained looking at the sepulchre, spellbound, until the angel of the Lord descended and manifested himself to them, saying: “Ye men of Galilee, why are you astounded and tarry here? Your and our Queen now lives body and soul in heaven and reigns in it forever with Christ. She sends me to confirm you in this truth, and in her name I tell you that She recommends to you anew the Church, the conversion of souls, and the spread of the Gospel. She desires to tell you that you now return to your ministry, with which you were charged, and that from her throne She will take care of you.”
At this message the Apostles were consoled; they experienced her protection in their wanderings, and much more in the hour of their martyrdom; for to each of them did She appear in that hour to present their souls to the Lord.
Other particulars concerning the Transition and Resurrection of the most blessed Mary were not made known to me for record here; nor have I during the whole course of this heavenly history had any choice of saying except what was made known to me and what I was commanded to write.
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN, MOST HOLY MARY, GAVE ME. (Ven. Mary of Agreda)
“My daughter, if anything could lessen the enjoyment of the highest felicity and glory which I possess, and if, in it, I could be capable of any sorrow, without a doubt I would be grieved to see the holy Church and the rest of the world in its present state of labor, notwithstanding that men know me to be their Mother, Advocate and Protectress in heaven, ready to guide and assist them to eternal life. In this state of affairs, when the Almighty has granted me so many privileges as his Mother and when there are so many sources of help placed in my hands solely for the benefit of mortals and belonging to me as the Mother of clemency, it is a great cause of sorrow to me to see mortals force me to remain idle, and that, for want of calling upon me, so many souls should be lost...
How much my intercession and the power I have in heaven is worth has never been hidden in the Church, for I have demonstrated my ability to save all by so many thousands of miracles, prodigies and favors operated in behalf of those devoted to me. With those who have called upon me in their needs I have always shown myself liberal, and the Lord has shown himself liberal to them on my account.
Yet, though many are the souls whom I have helped, they are few in comparison with those, whom I could and am willing to help. The world and the centuries are far advanced; while mortals are tardy in turning toward the knowledge of God; the children of the Church are involving themselves in the snares of Satan…but my kind and clement love exceeds all this malice, detains justice and still inclines the infinite Goodness toward men.
The Most High still wishes to give liberally of his infinite treasures and resolves to favor those who know how to gain my intercession before God. This is the secure way and the powerful means of advancing the Church, of improving the Catholic reigns, of spreading the faith, of furthering the welfare of families and of states, of bringing the souls to grace and to the friendship of God.”
These are inspiring and challenging words, aren't they? Even today, especially today, just as they were in the 17th century!
Don't be afraid to ask Mary for her help and assistance on the often rocky road to salvation. You're not "going around God" by doing so. And always remember that Jesus and Mary are never "too busy" to hear from you!
"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen!"