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Pius XII – Ad Caeli Reginam

Main Doctrines:

  • The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen, is to be celebrated by the universal Church on May 31st.
  • The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary flows from her Divine Maternity, whereby she is the true Mother of the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
  • Support for this doctrine can be found in the words of St. Gabriel and St. Elizabeth, recorded by St. Luke, as well as in the writings of Church Fathers, in Papal pronouncements, in the writings of theologians, in the liturgy of the Church, and in popular devotion.
  • Mary is also Queen on account of her role as a New Eve, cooperating with Christ, the New Adam, in the Redemption; just as Christ has an acquired Kingship through the shedding of His blood, Mary has an acquired Queenship through her cooperation and association with Him in this most holy work.
  • Christ has given to His Mother great power in the distribution of graces.
  • All Christians should deeply honor our Lady and strive to imitate her virtues, being charitable to his neighbor and promoting peace, which is “well-ordered concord under the nod and command of God’s will.”

Important Quotes.

  • “When the Christian people considered then the close bond that unite the mother with the child, they easily recognized in the Mother of God a royal excellence over all.”
  • “Saint Andrew of Crete frequently attributes the dignity of a queen to the Virgin; for example, he writes: ‘[Jesus Christ] lifts up on this day, from her earthly abode, as Queen of the human race, his Mother, always virgin, in whose womb, while remaining God, He took on the form of man.’  And elsewhere he says: ‘The Queen of all men, true to that which is signified by her name, stands above all things, with the only exception of God.’”
  • “It is also right to remember that Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Sixtus IV, in the bull Cum Praexcelsa, while referring favorably to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, begins with these words, calling Mary: ‘The Queen,’ ‘Who ever vigilantly intercedes with the King she has begotten.’”
  • “St. Alphonsus Liguori, summarizing all the tradition of the previous centuries, writes with great devotion: ‘Because the Virgin Mary was carried to such a great dignity, so to be the Mother of the King of Kings, deservedly and justly has the Church adorned her with the title of ‘Queen’.’”
  • “It is true that in the proper and strict sense of the term, only Jesus Christ – God and man – is King, but Mary, as Mother of the Christ God, and as associated in the work of the Divine Redeemer, in His struggle with His enemies and in His triumph over them all, participates in the regal dignity of the Redeemer, though in a limited and analogous way.”
  • “Moreover, the Blessed Virgin not only has, after Christ, the highest degree of excellence and perfection, but she also possesses a participation in that influence by which Christ, her Son and our Redeemer, is rightly said to reign in the minds and wills of men.”
  • “However, both theologians and preachers of the divine word, in these and in other questions regarding the Blessed Virgin, should be careful to avoid certain deviations, so as not to fall into a double error; that is, to beware of baseless and exaggerated expressions which exceed the limits of truth, and, on the other hand, to avoid a certain excessive narrow-mindedness when considering this singular, sublime and, indeed, almost divine dignity of the Mother of God…”
  • “Let all, therefore, seek to approach with greater confidence than before the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, to ask for help in adversity, light in darkness, and consolation in pain and weeping; above all, let them seek to free themselves from the slavery of sin, in order to be able to present an unceasing tribute, saturated with ardent filial devotion, to the royal scepter of such a great Mother.”

The Circumstances

On September 8th, 1953, Pius XII released the encyclical letter Fulgens Corona, which announced a Marian Year beginning in December of 1953 and continuing to the December of 1954. The Marian Year of 1954 was in celebration of the centenary of the definition of the Immaculate Conception by Pius IX. Moreover, Pius XII saw it as a means to increase Marian piety in the Christian people as well as a way to storm Heaven with prayers for the healing of the moral chaos and persecution of the Church which erupted due to the Second World War and the spread of Communism, both of which were clearly predicted by the Queen of Heaven and Earth at Fatima.

Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Fra. Angelico

The encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, released on the Feast of the Divine Maternity, 1954, was intended by Pius XII to be a crowning proclamation for the Marian Year of 1954. To this same end, the pope also used this encyclical to institute the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, which is therefore one of the most recent universal feasts of the Church, though the doctrine at the center of it is certainly not.

It was most fitting that this encyclical was released on the Feast of the Divine Maternity, as this privilege of Mary is ultimately that from which her other privileges flow, including her Queenship.  At length, Pius XII examines how this is the case from Scripture, tradition, the teachings of approved theologians, and the papal magisterium.  He also speaks, notably, of Mary’s role as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix, from which her Queenship also flows. The doctrines here outlined are, as it were, a perfect complement to those outlined in the landmark encyclical of Pius XI on the Kingship of Christ, Quas Primas, nearly 30 years before. Acknowledgment of the royal dignity of Jesus and Mary and submission to it is, indeed, an antidote to the social disorder of today. It this, we find peace, we find order, and we find eternal life.

(Queenship of Mary) – 1954

ENCYCLICAL LETTER

AD CAELI REGINAM

OF OUR MOST HOLY LORD

PIUS

BY DIVINE PROVIDENCE

POPE, THE TWELFTH OF THAT NAME

TO THE VENERABLE BRETHREN

PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES, ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS

AND OTHER LOCAL ORDINARIES

HAVING PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE

CONCERNING THE QUEENSHIP OF THE MOST HOLY VIRGIN MARY AND THE INSTITUTION OF HER FEAST

VENERABLE BRETHREN

HEALTH AND APOSTOLIC BLESSING,

1.  Since the first centuries of the Catholic Church, the Christian people have elevated suppliant prayers and hymns of praise and piety, both in times of happiness and joy as well as in times of anguish and dangers, to the Queen of Heaven; hope in the Mother of the divine King, Jesus Christ, never failed, nor did that faith languish which teaches us how the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, reigns in all the world with a maternal heart, just as she is crowned with the glory of royalty in celestial blessedness.

2. And now, after the tremendous calamities that, even before Our sight, have crushed flourishing cities, towns, and villages into ruins, we see with sorrow many evils of soul which gush forth in an alarming flood; at the same time, we see the foundations of justice cracking and, here and there, the allurements of corruption triumphing.  In this uncertain and frightening state of affairs, We are distressed with deepest anguish, but We fly confidently to Mary Our Queen, putting at her feet not only Our own feelings of devotion but also that of all the faithful who glory in the name of Christian.

3. We remember with pleasure and joy that We, Ourselves, on the first day of November, 1950, before a great multitude of cardinals, bishops, priests, and faithful from all parts of the world, defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven [1], where, present in body and soul, she rules together with her only-begotten Son among the heavenly choirs of the angels and saints.  Moreover, as the centenary approaches of the dogmatic definition – made by Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX – of the conception of the Mother of God without any stain of original sin, We instituted this Marian Year [2].  And now it is a great solace to Our paternal soul that, not only in this city – especially in the Liberian Basilica, where innumerable multitudes have strikingly testified to their faith and burning love for their Heavenly Mother – but in all parts of the earth, devotion to the Virgin Mother of God is once again blossoming, while the main shrines of Mary have welcomed and are still welcoming armies of suppliant pilgrims.

4. All know that We, whenever the opportunity has been given to us, have exhorted our children in Christ, be it through personal audiences in their presence or with the help of the radio to distant peoples, to a strong and tender love, as fits children, for Our gracious and powerful Mother.  On this point, it is particularly fitting to recall Our radio message, transmitted to the people of Portugal, from when the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary, which is venerated in Fatima, was crowned with a gold diadem [3].  We, Ourselves, called this the announcing of the “Royalty” of Mary [4].

5. And now, as if to crown these many signs of Our piety toward the great Mother of God, to which the Christian people have responded so eagerly, and that We may bring the Marian Year to a happy and useful end, and due to the urgent petitions which have come to Us from all nations, We have decided to decree the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen.

6. In what We here treat of, We wish not to propose a new truth to the Christian people, as the title and arguments upon which the royal dignity of Mary rests upon are, in truth, already expressed at this time with lucidity.  These are to be found in the documents of the Church, which have been handed down from ancient times, and in the books of the Sacred Liturgy.

In what We here treat of, We wish not to propose a new truth to the Christian people, as the title and arguments upon which the royal dignity of Mary rests upon are… to be found in the documents of the Church, which have been handed down from ancient times, and in the books of the Sacred Liturgy.

Pius XII – Ad Caeli Reginam

7. It is certainly pleasing for Us to recall these things by encyclical letter, that we may renew the praises of our heavenly Mother and that ardent devotion to her may be reignited, not without spiritual benefit, in all souls.

TRADITION

8. The Christian people, over the lapse of time, have believed, not without reason, that She from whom was born the Son of the Most High, above all other creatures created by God received from God very singular privileges of grace.  He “will reign eternally in the house of Jacob” [5] and [will be] “Prince of the Peace” [6], and “King of kings and Lord of lords” [7].  When the Christian people considered then the close bond that unite the mother with the child, they easily recognized in the Mother of God a royal excellence over all.

9. On account of this, it is not a surprise that the ancient writers of the Church, based on the words of Saint Gabriel the Archangel, who predicted the eternal reign of the Son of Mary [8], and on the words of Elizabeth, who reverently saluted her, honoring her as “Mother of my Lord” [9], called Mary “Mother of the King” and “Mother of the Lord”, signifying, by no means obscurely, that from the exalted royal dignity of her Son, a singular elevation and pre-eminence was to be held by Mary.

10. Thus Saint Ephrem, aflame with poetic inspiration, has Mary speak thus: “May Heaven hold me in its embrace, for I am honored above it.  For heaven was not Your mother, but You have made it Your throne.  How much more honorable and venerable will be the Mother of the King than His throne,” [10].  And in another place he prays thus to her: “…august virgin and mistress, Queen, Lady, protect me under your wings, keep me so that Satan, who sows ruin, will exult not over me and so that the wicked enemy will not triumph over me,” [11].

11. Saint Gregory of Nazianzus calls Mary “Mother of the King of the whole universe,” and “Virgin Mother, who gave birth to the King of the whole world,” [12], while Prudentius asserts that the Mother was amazed “she had brought forth God as man, and even as Supreme King,” [13].

12. This royal dignity of Mary is also clearly and openly signified and asserted by those who call her “Lady,” “Dominatrix,” and “Queen”.

“This royal dignity of Mary is also clearly and openly signified and asserted by those who call her ‘Lady,’ ‘Dominatrix,’ and ‘Queen’.”

Pius XII – Ad Caeli Reginam

13. In a certain homily attributed to Origen, Mary is greeted by Elizabeth not only as “Mother of my Lord,” but also “You are my lady,” [14].

14. The same can be deduced from Saint Jerome, for he offers the following statement when expounding his thoughts on the various interpretations of the name “Mary”: “Know that ‘Mary’ in the Syriac language means ‘Lady’,” [15]. And after him, in an equally certain manner, Saint Peter Chrysologus expresses himself in these words: The Hebrew name ‘Mary’ is translated ‘Domina’ in Latin; therefore, the angel greets her as ‘Lady’ so that the Mother of the Lord may be free from servile fear, she whose offspring had made and commanded by His authority that she was to be born and called ‘Lady’,” [16].

15. In addition, Saint Epiphanius, bishop of Constantinople, writing to the Supreme Pontiff Hormisdas, says that we ought to pray that the unity of the Church be protected “by the grace of the holy and consubstantial Trinity and through the intercession of our holy Lady, glorious Virgin and Mother of God, Mary,” [17].

16. A certain author of the same time solemnly greets the Blessed Virgin, seated at the right hand of God, with these words, that she may pray for us: “Lady of mortals, most holy Mother of God” [18].

17. Saint Andrew of Crete frequently attributes the dignity of a queen to the Virgin; for example, he writes: “[Jesus Christ] lifts up on this day, from her earthly abode, as Queen of the human race, his Mother, always virgin, in whose womb, while remaining God, He took on the form of man,” [19]. And elsewhere he says: “The Queen of all men, true to that which is signified by her name, stands above all things, with the only exception of God,” [20].

18. St. Germanus also addresses the humble Virgin in these words: Sit down, Lady, for it is proper for you to sit in the highest place since you are Queen and glorious above all kings,” [21], and he calls her “Lady of all who dwell on earth,” [22].

19. Saint John Damascene proclaims her “Queen, Mistress, Lady,” [23] and also “Lady of all creatures,” [24]; an ancient writer of the Western Church calls her “Happy Queen,” and “Eternal Queen, next to the begotten King,” whose “snowy head is adorned with a golden crown,” [25].

20. Finally, Saint Ildefonsus of Toledo combines all the titles of honor in this greeting: “O my Lady, o my Dominatrix; you command me, Mother of my Lord… Lady among handmaids, Queen among sisters,” [26].

21. The Theologians of the Church, drawing forth their doctrine from these and other testimonies, nearly innumerable, of ancient tradition, have called the Blessed Virgin Mother the Queen of all created things, Queen of the world, and Lady of the universe.

22. Moreover, the Supreme Pastors of the Church have considered it their duty to approve and advance the devotion of the Christian people towards their heavenly Mother and Queen with praises and exhortations.

23. Leaving aside documents of the recent Popes, we will remember that already in the seventh century Our Predecessor Saint Martin I called Mary “our glorious Lady, always Virgin,” [27]; also, St. Agatho, in a synodal letter sent to the Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, called her “Our Lady, truly and properly Mother of God,” [28].  In the eighth century, Gregory II, in a letter sent to the Patriarch St. Germanus which was read among the acclamations of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, called Mary “Lady of all and true Mother of God,” and also, “Lady of all Christians,” [29].

24. It is also right to remember that Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Sixtus IV, in the bull Cum Praexcelsa [30], while referring favorably to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, begins with these words, calling Mary: “The Queen,” “Who ever vigilantly intercedes with the King she has begotten.”  In like manner, Benedict XIV, in the bull Gloriosae Dominae [31] calls Mary “Queen of Heaven and Earth,” asserting that the Supreme King has entrusted to her, in a certain way, his own ruling power.

25. On account of these reasons, St. Alphonsus Liguori, summarizing all the tradition of the previous centuries, writes with great devotion: “Because the Virgin Mary was carried to such a great dignity, so to be the Mother of the King of Kings, deservedly and justly has the Church adorned her with the title of ‘Queen’,” [32].

THE LITURGY

26. The Sacred Liturgy, a faithful mirror of the teachings passed on by our ancestors and believed by the Christian people, has sung over the flow of the centuries and continually sings, both in the East and West, the glories of the heavenly Queen.

27. Indeed, fervent voices resound from the East: “O Mother of God, today You are taken to heaven by the chariots of the cherubim, the seraphim minister to You, and the columns of the heavenly army lie down in Your presence,” [33].

28. Furthermore: “O just, most blessed [Joseph], by your regal origin you have been chosen out of all men to be the spouse of the pure Queen who will ineffably bring forth Jesus the King,” [34].  And also: “A hymn I will sing to the Queen Mother, to whom I am about to honor with joy, to joyfully sing of her wonders… O Lady, our tongue cannot praise You worthily, for You, who have given birth to Christ the King, have been exalted above the seraphim… Hail, O Queen of the world, hail, O Mary, Lady of us all,” [35].

“A hymn I will sing to the Queen Mother, to whom I am about to honor with joy, to joyfully sing of her wonders… O Lady, our tongue cannot praise You worthily, for You, who have given birth to Christ the King, have been exalted above the seraphim… Hail, O Queen of the world, hail, O Mary, Lady of us all.”

Byzantine Rite – Hymn, ‘Αxάτιστος

29. In the Ethiopian Missal we read: “O Mary, center of the whole world… You are greater than the many-eyed cherubim and the multi-winged seraphim.  Heaven and earth are filled with the holiness of your glory,” [36].

30. The Latin Church sings that ancient and sweet prayer which is called the “Salve Regina,” the joyful antiphons “Ave Regina caelorum,” “Regina caeli laetare,” and others which are accustomed to be recited at the various feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “The Queen stood at your right hand, dressed in a golden raiment, surrounded with variety,” [37]; “Earth and heaven honor you as a powerful Queen” [38]; “Today the Virgin Mary ascends to heaven; rejoice, for she reigns forever with Christ,” [39].

31. To these, besides others, must be added the Litany of Loreto, which daily invites the Christian people to invoke Mary as Queen.  Also, for several centuries now, Christians have been accustomed to meditating upon the Mary’s ruling power, which encompasses heaven and earth, in recalling the fifth mystery of the Rosary, which can be called the mystical crowning of the heavenly Queen.

32. Finally, art, supported by Christian principles and vitalized by their spirit to be something faithfully interpreting the natural and spontaneous devotion of the people, has, since the Council of Ephesus, depicted Mary as Queen and Empress who, seated on a royal throne, adorned with royal ensigns, crowned with a diadem, and surrounded by the heavenly armies of angels and saints, rules not only over the things and forces of nature, but also over the wicked assaults of Satan.  Iconography, which also depicts the royal dignity of Mary, has been enriched at all times with works of greatest artistic value and beauty, even colorfully representing the Divine Redeemer in the act of crowning the head of his Mother with a shining crown.

33. Favoring popular piety of this sort, the Roman Pontiffs have, on many occasions, crowned with a diadem, either by their own hands or by means of delegates, images of the Virgin Mother of God already conspicuous for public veneration.

THEOLOGICAL REASONS

34. As we have already touched on above, Venerable Brethren, first from ancient tradition and then from the liturgy, the main argument on which the Queenship of Mary is founded is undoubtedly her Divine Maternity.  In fact, the following statement is read in the Holy Scriptures concerning the Son whom the Virgin will bring forth:  “He will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David, His father, and He will reign in the house of Jacob eternally, and His kingdom will have no end,” [40].  Moreover, Mary is proclaimed the “Mother of the Lord” [41].  Thus, it follows logically that she herself is a Queen, for she has given life to a Son who, at the very moment of His conception, even as Man, was King and Lord of all things on account of the hypostatic union of His human nature with the Word of God.  Therefore St. John Damascene wrote the following of Mary, justly and deservedly:  “She truly became Lady of all creation when she became Mother of the Creator,” [42].  In this sense, it can be affirmed that the first one who announced the royal office of Mary was Gabriel the Archangel with his heavenly voice.

35. However, the most Blessed Virgin Mary is not only to be proclaimed Queen because of her Divine Maternity, but also because of the extraordinary part she had, by God’s will, in the work of our eternal salvation.  “What thought could be more joyful and sweet to us,” Pius IX, Our Predecessor of happy memory, wrote, “than the thought that Christ reigns over us, not only by birth-right, but also by acquired right, at the cost of the Redemption?  If only that all men, who are very forgetful of how much we have cost our Savior, would recall these words: ‘Ye were rescued, not with gold nor silver… but with the precious blood of Christ, as of an immaculate and undefiled Lamb,’ [43].  We are no longer ours, therefore, since Christ ‘for a great price’ [44] has bought us,” [45].

36. Now, in the accomplishment of the work of the Redemption, the most Blessed Virgin Mary was intimately associated with Christ; thus does the Sacred Liturgy rightly sing: “Holy Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, stood sorrowfully next to the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ,” [46].  Also, for this reason, already in the Middle Ages, a most pious disciple of St. Anselm wrote: “Just as… God, in creating all things with His power, is the Father and Lord of all, so Mary, in repairing all things with her merits, is the Mother and Lady of all; God is the Lord of all things because He has constituted them in their own natures by His command, and Mary is the Lady of all things because she returned them to their original dignity through the grace she merited,” [47].  

37. And indeed “just as Christ, as he redeemed us, has the special titles of Lord and our King, so also does the Blessed Virgin [have the titles of Lady and our Queen], on account of the special way by which she concurred in our redemption, by giving of her own substance, by offering Him voluntarily for us, and by her remarkable desiring for, asking for, and seeking of our salvation,” [48].

“Just as Christ, as he redeemed us, has the special titles of Lord and our King, so also does the Blessed Virgin [have the titles of Lady and our Queen], on account of the special way by which she concurred in our redemption, by giving of her own substance, by offering Him voluntarily for us, and by her remarkable desiring for, asking for, and seeking of our salvation.” 

Suarez – De mysteriis vitae Christi

38. Given these premises, argument goes as follows:  If Mary, in the spiritual work of procuring salvation, was, according to God’s good pleasure, associated with Christ Jesus, the principle of salvation itself, and this in a manner similar to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the principle of death, so it can be said that our redemption was fulfilled by a type of “recapitulation” [49] whereby mankind, subjected to death by a virgin, is saved by means of a virgin.  If, moreover, it can be said that this most glorious Lady was chosen for Mother of Christ precisely “to be associated with Him in the redemption of the human race” [50], and if, really, “ it was She herself, who, as a new Eve, free from every personal and original stain and ever most tightly united with her Son, offered Him to the Eternal Father on Golgotha, together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and maternal love, for all the children of Adam stained by his miserable fall,” [51], it can legitimately be concluded from all this that, just as Christ, the new Adam, is our King not only because He is the Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so, according to analogy, it can also be said that the most Blessed Virgin is Queen, not only because she is the Mother of God, but also because she has been associated as a new Eve with the new Adam.

39. It is true that in the proper and strict sense of the term, only Jesus Christ – God and man – is King, but Mary, as Mother of the Christ God, and as associated in the work of the Divine Redeemer, in His struggle with His enemies and in His triumph over them all, participates in the regal dignity of the Redeemer, though in a limited and analogous way.  Indeed, from this union with Christ the King she attains to such a splendorous and heavenly excellence that it surpasses that of all created things.  From this same union with Christ, she receives the regal power by which she dispenses the treasures of the Kingdom of the Divine Redeemer.  Finally, from this same union with Christ is drawn the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before her Son and His Father.

40. There is, therefore, no doubt that Mary most Holy surpasses all creatures in dignity, and that, after her Son, she has primacy over them all. “You have, in the end,” St. Sophronius sings, “surpassed every creature… what can be more sublime than your joy, O Virgin Mother?  What can be higher than this grace which You alone have received from the Divinity?” [52].  To this praise, St. Germanus adds, “Your honor and dignity surpass all creation; your excellence places you above the angels,” [53].  And St. John Damascene goes so far as to write: “Infinite is the difference between the servants of God and the Mother of Him,” [54].

41. To help us better understand the sublime dignity which the Mother of God has attained over all creatures, we must consider well that the holy Mother of God, already from the first moment of her conception, was filled with such an abundance of grace that she surpassed the grace of all Saints.

42. For this reason Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius IX, wrote that the ineffable God “has enriched Mary from the treasury of His Divinity with an abundance of all heavenly graces, far greater than that of all the Angels and Saints, such that she is completely free from every stain of sin, is totally beautiful and perfect, and has such a fullness of innocence and holiness that one cannot think of a greater outside of God, and such that no one, excepting God, will come to understand her greatness,” [55].

43. Moreover, the Blessed Virgin not only has, after Christ, the highest degree of excellence and perfection, but she also possesses a participation in that influence by which Christ, her Son and our Redeemer, is rightly said to reign in the minds and wills of men.  If, in fact, the Word, through His assumed humanity, works miracles and infuses graces, if He uses His Sacraments and Saints as instruments to save souls, then why should He not use the office and work of His most holy Mother to impart unto us the fruits of the Redemption?

44. “With a truly maternal spirit,” says Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, “does she treat the business of the salvation of our souls, and is solicitous for the whole human race; constituted by the Lord as Queen of Heaven and Earth, exalted above all the choirs of Angels and degrees of the Saints in Heaven, being at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, she intercedes very powerfully with a mother’s petitions, obtaining what she seeks, and not possibly being rejected,” [56].

45. In this regard, another Predecessor of Ours, of happy memory, Leo XIII, declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the distribution of graces, has been granted an “almost immeasurable” power [57], and Saint Pius X adds that Mary attends to this office of hers “as by maternal right” [58].

46. Let all Christians glory, therefore, in being submitted to the empire of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while enjoying regal power, burns with maternal love.

“Let all Christians glory, therefore, in being submitted to the empire of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while enjoying regal power, burns with maternal love.”

Pius XII – Ad Caeli Reginam

47. However, both theologians and preachers of the divine word, in these and in other questions regarding the Blessed Virgin, should be careful to avoid certain deviations, so as not to fall into a double error; that is, to beware of baseless and exaggerated expressions which exceed the limits of truth, and, on the other hand, to avoid a certain excessive narrow-mindedness when considering this singular, sublime and, indeed, almost divine dignity of the Mother of God, which the Angelic Doctor teaches must be acknowledged “by reason of the infinite good who is God,” [59].

48. For the rest, in this as in other points of Catholic doctrine, the “proximate and universal norm of truth” is for all the living Magisterium of the Church, which Christ has constituted “also to illustrate and explain that which is contained in the deposit of faith only obscurely and, as it were, implicitly,” [60].

49. From the documents of Christian antiquity, from the prayers of the liturgy, from the innate devotion of the Christian people, from works of art, from everywhere we have collected expressions which assert the regal dignity of the Virgin Mother of God.  We have also shown how the reasons of Sacred Theology, deduced from the treasury of divine faith, fully confirm this truth.  From all these testimonies, a resounding chorus is formed which extolls the sublime royal dignity of the Mother of God and men, to whom every creature is subject, who is exalted to the heavenly kingdoms, above the choirs of the angels,” [61].

INSTITUTION OF THE FEAST

50. As We are convinced, after mature and weighty reflection, that great advantages will follow for the Church if this solidly proven truth shines more clearly to all, like a bright lamp raised on top of a candlestick, We, by Our Apostolic Authority, decree and institute the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, which should be celebrated every year throughout the world on May 31.  We also command that on that day the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary be renewed.  In this is placed the great hope that a new era may emerge, serene in Christian peace and the triumph of religion.

51. Let all, therefore, seek to approach with greater confidence than before the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, to ask for help in adversity, light in darkness, and consolation in pain and weeping; above all, let them seek to free themselves from the slavery of sin, in order to be able to present an unceasing tribute, saturated with ardent filial devotion, to the royal scepter of such a great Mother.  Let her churches be frequented by the multitudes of the faithful, her feast days celebrated; may the beads of the Rosary be in the hands of all; may Christians gather together in churches, in homes, in hospitals, in prisons, in both small groups and large, in order to sing her glories.  May Mary’s be held in high honor, a name sweeter than nectar, more precious than all jewels; may no one dare to utter blasphemies, a sign of a corrupted spirit, against this name, adorned with such majesty and venerable for its maternal kindness.  Let no one lacking in reverence dare to offer his dues.

“May Mary’s be held in high honor, a name sweeter than nectar, more precious than all jewels; may no one dare to utter blasphemies, a sign of a corrupted spirit, against this name, adorned with such majesty and venerable for its maternal kindness.”

Pius XII – Ad Caeli Reginam

52. Let all endeavor to imitate, according to their state, the great virtues of the Queen of Heaven, our most loving Mother, in their souls and manners with watchful diligence and care.  It will be a consequence of this that Christians, in venerating and imitating such a great Queen and Mother, will realize that they are brothers and, fleeing hatreds and unbridled desire for riches, promote charity among the social classes, respect the rights of the poor, and love peace.  Let no one, therefore, judge himself a child of Mary, worthy of being welcomed under her most powerful guardianship, unless he, under her example, is just, meek, and chaste, showing a true desire for brotherhood, not injuring or harming but helping and comforting others.

53. In many countries of the world, there are people unjustly persecuted, deprived of their human and divine rights to freedom, because of their profession of the Christian faith.  Up to now, just petitions and repeated protests have been of no use in warding off these evils.  May the Lady, powerful over things and time, whose light serenely dispels tempests and clouds, who knows how subdue violence under the weight of her virginal feet, turn her eyes of mercy upon her innocent and afflicted children.  May she also grant them that they may soon enjoy due freedom for the practice of their religious duties, so that, whilst serving the cause of the Gospel, they may also work for the strengthening and growth of nations by their harmonious labors and illustrious virtues, which shine exemplary in the midst of hardships.

54. A new feast has been instituted by this Encyclical Letter in order that everyone might more clearly recognize and more carefully honor the merciful and maternal empire of the Mother of God.  We believe that this feast can help confer, preserve, solidify, and make lasting peace among the nations, so commonly upset by worrisome affairs.  Is she not a rainbow placed by God above the clouds, as a sign of a peaceful covenant? [62]. “Look upon the rainbow and bless He who has made it; it is very beautiful in its radiance; it embraces the sky with the circuit of its glory, and the Hands of the Exalted have extended it,” [63].  Therefore, let everyone who honors the Lady of Heaven and Earth – and let no one believe himself free from this tribute of a gracious and loving soul – invoke her as a most propitious Queen, the arbiter of peace.  Let them respect and defend peace, which is not unpunished injustice or unbridled license, but is rather well-ordered concord under the nod and command of God’s will.  To the protection and promotion of true peace, the maternal exhortations and commands of the Virgin Mary impel us.

“Therefore, let everyone who honors the Lady of Heaven and Earth – and let no one believe himself free from this tribute of a gracious and loving soul – invoke her as a most propitious Queen, the arbiter of peace.  Let them respect and defend peace, which is not unpunished injustice or unbridled license, but is rather well-ordered concord under the nod and command of God’s will.”

Pius XII – Ad Caeli Reginam

55. Sincerely desiring that the Queen and Mother of the Christian people accept these Our prayers, cheer by her peace the lands shaken by hatred, and show unto us all, after this exile, Jesus who will be our peace and joy forever, to You, Venerable Brethren, and to your faithful, we cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing, as a promise of the help of Almighty God and in witness to Our love.

Given at Rome, from St. Peter’s, on the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the eleventh day of October, 1954, the sixteenth year of Our Pontificate.

PIUS PP. XII


[1] Cf. const. Munificentissimus Deus: A.A.S. XXXXII, 1950, p. 753 sq.

[2] Cf. enc. Fulgens Corona: A.A.S. XXXXV (1953), p. 577 sq.

[3] Cf. A.A.S. XXXVIII, 1946. p. 264 sq.

[4] Cf. Osservat. Rom., May 19, 1946.

[5] Luke 1:32.

[6] Is. 9:6. 

[7] Rev. 19:16.

[8] Cf. Luke 1:32, 33.

[9] Luke 1:43.

[10] S. Ephraem, Hymni de B. Maria, ed. Th. J. Lamy t. II, Mechliniae, 1886, hymn. XIX, p. 624.

[11] Idem, Orat. ad Ssmam. Dei Matrem; Opera omnia, Ed. Assemani, t. III (graece), Romae, 1747, p. 546.

[12] S. Gregorius Naz., Poemata Dogmatica, XVIII, v. 58: P.G. XXXVII, 485.

[13] Prudentius, Dittochaeum, XXVII: P.L. LX, 102 A.

[14] Hom. in S. Luc., hon. VII; ed. Rauer, Origines’ Werke, T. IX p, 48 (ex catena Macarii Chrysocephali).  Cf. P.G. XIII, 1902 D.

[15] S. Hieronymus, Liber de nominibus hebraeisP.L. XXIII, 886.

[16] S. Petrus Chrys., Sermo 142 From Annuntiatione BMV: P.L. L, LII, 579 C; cf. etiam 582 B; 584 A: “Regina totius exstitit castitatis”.

[17] Relatio Epiphanii ep. Constantin.P.L. LXIII, 498 D.

[18] Encomium in Dormitionem Ssmae. Deiparae (inter opera S. Modesti): P.G. LXXXVI, 3306 B.

[19] S. Andreas Cret., Hom. II in Dormitionem Ssmae. Deiparae: P.G. XCVII, 1079 B.

[20] Id., Hom. III in Dormit. Ssmae. Deip.: P.G. XCVII, 1099 A.

[21] S. Germanus, In Praesentationem Sanctissimae Deiparae, I: P.G. XCVIII, 303 A.

[22] Id., In Praesentationem Sanctissimae Deiparae, II: P.G. XCVIII, 315 C.

[23] S. Ioannes Damasc., Hom. I In Dormitionem BMV: P.G. XCVI, 719 A.

[24] Id., De fide ortodoxa, I, IV, e. 14: P.G. XLIV, 1158 B.

[25] De laudibus Mariae (inter opera Venantii Fortunati): P.L. LXXXVIII, 282 B. et 283 A.

[26] Ildefonsus Tolet. De virginitate perpetua B.M.V.P.L. XCVI, 58 AD.

[27] S. Martinus I, Epist. XIVP.L. LXXXVII, 199-200 A.

[28] S. Agatho: P.L. 87, 1221 A.

[29] Hardouin, Acta Conc., IV, 234; 238: P.L. LXXXIX, 508 B.

[30] Xystus IV, Bulla Cum praeexcelsa, d. d.28 Feb. a. 1476.

[31] Benedictus XIV, Bulla Gloriosae Dominae, d. d. 27 Sept. a. 1748.

[32] S. Alphonsus, Le glorie di Maria, p. I, e. I, § 1.

[33] Ex liturgia Armenorum: in festo Assumpt., hymnus ad Mat.

[34] Ex Menaeo (byzant.): Dominica post Natalem, in Canone, ad Mat.

[35] Officium hymni, ‘Αxάτιστος (in ritu byzant.).

[36] Missale Aethiopicum, Anaphora Dominae nostrae Mariae, Matris Dei.

[37] Brev. Rom., Versiculus sesti Respons.

[38] Festum Assumpt., hymn. Laudum.

[39] Ibid., ad Magnificat II Vesp.

[40] Luke 1:32, 33.

[41] Luke 1:43.

[42] S. Ioannes Damasc. De fide orthodoxa, 1. IV. e. 14: P.G. XCIV, 1158E. B.

[43] 1 Pet . 1:18, 19.

[44] 1 Cor. 6:20.

[45] Pius XI, Litt. Enc. Quas primas: A.A.S. XVII, 1925, p. 599.

[46] Festum septem dolorum B.M.V., Tractus.

[47] Eadmerus, De excellentia B.V.M., c. 11: P.L. CLIX, 508 AB.

[49] F. Suarez, De mysteriis vitae Christi, disp. XXII, sect. II (ed. Vives, XIX, 327).

[50] S. Irenaeus, Adv. haer., V, 19, 1: P.G. VII, 1175 B.

[50] Pius XI, Epist. Auspicatus profecto: A.A.S. XXV, 1933, p. 80.

[51] Pius XII, Litt. Enc. Mystici Corporis: A.A.S. 1943, p. 247.

[52] S. Sophronius, In Annuntiationem B.M.V.: P.G. LXXXVII, 3238 D., 3242 A.

[53] S. Germanus, Hom. II in Dormitionem B.M.V.: P.G. XCVIII, 354 B.

[54] S. Ioannes Damasc., Hom. I in Dormitionem B.M.V.: P.G. XCVI, 715 A.

[55] Pius IX, Bulla Ineffabilis Deus:Acta Pii IX, I, p. 597-598.

[56] Ibid., p. 618.

[57] Leo XIII, Litt. Enc. Adiutricem populi: A.A.S. XXVIII, 1895-1896, p. 130.

[58] Pius X, Litt. Enc. Ad diem illum: A.A.S. XXXVI, 1903-1904, p. 455.

[59] S. Thomas, Sum. Theol., I, q. 25, a. 6, ad 4.

[60] Pius XII, Litt. Enc. Humani generis: A.A.S. XLII, 1950, p. 569.

[61] Brev. Rom.: Festum Assumpt. B.M.V.

[62] Cf. Gen. 9:13.

[63] Eccli. 43:12, 13.

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