The Church has a wonderful tradition of “remembrance” and a consistent ethic to recall for us those who have gone before, as well as those who have founded, promoted, supported or died for Her sake. If we look at the Church calendar, we see that there is no lack of these examples for every day of the year as well as reminders for us to see our precursors in a new or different light. So it is with Mary. Mary was a common peasant girl who was promised and married off at an early age. She was poor and had no relatives with power or money. So how did she become Queen (Feast of the Queenship of Mary)?
Of course, Mary’s fiat puts her in a league of her own with no equal before or since. Through the years, she has acquired dozens of names that arise straight out of peoples’ and nations’ affections for her. But the origin of the celebration of her queen ship has some interesting tidbits which go to show us that all we have to do is “pay attention” and we will see God moving in his gentlemanly and graceful way. God intended Mary to be venerated as Queen before anyone even thought of it! The proof is so obvious.
he official declaration of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary came in 1954. This was almost two-thousand years after Mary’s yes. Pius XII actually instituted the memorial “so that all may clearly recognize and more zealously venerate the kind and maternal rule of the Mother of God”. But the rootedness of this very appropriate declaration goes back much further.
Maximillian Kolbe (1935) wrote that “Mary has a right to be loved as Queen of all hearts”. In the fourth century, St. Ephram referred to Mary as “Lady” and “Queen”. Church Fathers picked up on this and continued to use these titles. Her royalty worked its way into the liturgy with hymns like “Hail Holy Queen,” “Hail Queen of Heaven,” and “Queen of Heaven.” If you love these hymns, be proud that you are part of a majority; the Church has been singing them since the eleventh through thirteenth centuries. In subsequent centuries, the Dominicans added this consideration to the rosary and the Franciscans created many invocations in the litany of Mary to celebrate her Queenship. We cannot, also, deny the influence of the concept of “ruling families” from the middle ages. At that time, a royal dynasty consisted of a king and his mother, not his wife. Throughout the bible, it is hinted that Jesus is royal from his lineage of the House of David, to his kingly triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the prophecies that Jesus will return to earth to rule as king. It is no less logical to regard his Mother as the Queen who rules with Him.
But the real proof of Mary’s ever eternal Queenship exits in the scripture that describes the Annunciation and shows that God clearly had an eternal intention to regard her as Queen right from the beginning. We can recall several things from the (Luke 1: 26-38) reading. First lets look at the messenger, Gabriel. Gabriel is, of course an Archangel who’s name means “strong man of God”. His title indicates that he is a “chief messenger”, not just your common errand boy. The Jewish scriptures tell us that there are four angels who guard each side of God’s throne with Gabriel being one of them. Gabriel is in the constant presence of God and is chosen by God himself to deliver the message to Mary. In ancient times and societies, ruling royalties observed protocols that everyone in those circles knew. One of these was that when an important message need to be delivered to an important person you sent an important messenger. Mary’s deliverer was not an “ordinary angel” but literally the angel who stood on God’s left hand. You can’t get any higher than that. This was not a messenger to a common peasant girl. But the clincher lies in Gabriel’s greeting to Mary: “Hail, full of grace”. Note that Gabriel does not call her earthly name, Mary. He does not say hello or ask her how she’s doing. Gabriel greets Mary with a name change (Full of Grace) and uses a greeting that was quite exclusive: “Hail”. In biblical times, the only occasion when the word hail was used to greet someone was when you were in the presence of royalty. Regular people never used the word for each other! “Hail” is a greeting of respect and homage only to be used for someone who was a member of royalty. It was the expected greeting to be used in their presence. So we have Gabriel, who is straight from the throne of God, a being of light, who actually humbles himself in front of this teen age peasant girl. Of course, she is royal and always has been. Hail our Holy Queen for all ages.
Copyright© 2008 by Kathryn M. Cunningham, all rights reserved.
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