The Story of the Queenship of Mary
Jul 12, 2022 / Written by: Tonia Long
Queen of the Universe and Queen of Our Hearts
Pope Pius XII established this feast in 1954. Having declared the dogma of the Assumption, that “the Immaculate Mother of God . . . was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” he then established the feast of her Queenship. Eventually, the date for this feast was set for the octave (8th day) after the Solemnity of the Assumption, that is, August 22nd each year.
Though this dogma of the Church was established relatively recently, Mary’s Queenship has its roots in sacred Scripture. At the Annunciation, in the very moment Mary became a mother as she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, she also became a queen. The Archangel Gabriel tells Mary that her Son will sit on “the throne of his ancestor David” and that “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33). Since Jesus is a king, and since He is conceived in the womb of Mary, and since in Israel the mother of a king was always a queen, Mary truly became a queen at the first joyful mystery of the rosary, the Annunciation.
Shortly after this episode in salvation history, Our Lady went to visit her cousin, Saint Elizabeth. At the Visitation, Saint Elizabeth calls her “the mother of my Lord.” Again, we can logically connect the title of “Queen” with that of “Mother of My Lord.” Some texts from the early centuries of the Church call Our Lady the “Domina,” the female of “Dominus,” Latin for “master” or “Lord.”
But perhaps the most dramatic scriptural reference to Mary as Queen comes in the final book of the Bible, Revelations. In Rev. 12:1-6, we read:
“And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.
“And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth.
“And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” (emphasis ours)
Mary is that heavenly queen in the mysterious vision of the Book of Revelation in which appears “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1-3).
The complex symbolism of this crowned empress encompasses Mary, Israel, and the Church Herself.
Hail, Holy Queen
As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, she is closely associated with Jesus: Her Queenship is a share in Jesus’ Kingship. In Revelation 12, above, Mary is described as both Queen and Mother, representing both herself, as Mother of the Redeemer, and the Church, in her continuing battle against the Evil One.
If Christ were not King, Mary would not be Queen, as all her prerogatives and titles depend upon her being the Mother of the Son of God made Man for our salvation.
It is not royal blood, but her motherly relationship, that makes Mary a queen. And since nothing is excluded from the realm of Christ the King, Mary is the Queen of that same realm, including both heaven and earth. The Kingdom of Christ was purchased through a blood sacrifice of the King Himself who died on the cross. Christ humbly allowed Himself to be crucified so that He could rise from the dead and ascend into heaven forty days later to be seated, like a king, at the right hand of the Father.
Earthly kings, queens, and kingdoms, so present throughout history, are merely images or signs of the structure of authority that lies behind all creation. Mankind naturally organizes its public life to ensure peaceful co-existence with others, to promote order and tranquility, and to foster the common good in a thousand ways. This secular response of establishing a structure to manage together what cannot be managed alone is universal and always includes certain leaders to represent the organized community. All of this has a religious equivalent.
A sacred canopy hangs over the world. A timeless, divine mega-structure encompasses under itself all of the smaller, temporary civic structures. The man anointed as king, the woman crowned as queen, the order they impose through a just rule in a secular polity, point to something else—an underlying, and overarching, sacred polity in which God rules His creation like a fatherly king. In this timeless theological union, the feminine presence is felt. The queen mother is there, interceding with her King-Son on behalf of His subjects. She worships with them but also receives their honor. The accolades directed at her are deflected, mirror-like, to the greater One to whom she is holy daughter, holy mother, holy spouse and holy queen, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.*
Pope Pius XII and the Queen of Heaven
In his 1954 encyclical on Mary’s Queenship, Ad Caeli Reginam, Pope Pius XII wrote:
“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.” (emphasis ours)
Pius XII explained the theological reasons for her title of “Queen” in a radio message on May 13, 1946:
“He, the Son of God, reflects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Martyrs in the ... work of human Redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice [of the Father].”
The Feast of the Queenship of Mary
Mary’s coronation, the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the rosary, has not been defined dogmatically, but has been celebrated liturgically and depicted in art since early medieval times. The most ancient depiction of Mary as queen is a mosaic from the 500s in a small church in the historic center of Rome. But the feast day of her Queenship was only placed in the Church’s calendar in 1954.
The Queenship of Mary is a Marian feast day in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, created by Pope Pius XII. On October 11, 1954, the pontiff pronounced the new feast in his encyclical Ad caeli reginam. The feast was celebrated on May 31, the last day of the Marian month. The initial ceremony for this feast involved the crowning of the Salus Populi Romani icon of Mary in Rome by Pius XII as part of a procession in Rome.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the feast day to August 22, the former Octave day of the Assumption in order to emphasize the close bond between Mary's Queenship and her glorification in body and soul next to her Son. The Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church states that "Mary was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son" (Lumen gentium, 59).
The movement to officially recognize the Queenship of Mary was initially promoted by several Catholic Mariological congresses in Lyon, France; Freiburg, Germany; and Einsiedeln, Switzerland. Gabriel Roschini founded in Rome, Italy, an international society to promote the Queenship of Mary, Pro Regalitate Mariae. Several popes had described Mary as Queen and Queen of Heaven, which was documented by Gabriel Roschini. Pope Pius XII repeated the title in numerous encyclicals and apostolic letters, especially during World War II.
We, Her Loyal Subjects
Having established that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is truly Queen of heaven and earth, there is nothing more to do other than roll out the red carpet for her glorious Reign. Every heart conquered for Our Lady expands the territory if her kingdom. And so we must strive to win the heart and soul of America and of the world for Our Queen. If each of us, as her loyal subjects, were to live the Fatima message in its entirety, each to the best of his or her ability, it will not be long before her prophecy at Fatima becomes a reality: