Mary as Mediatrix: The Patristic, Medieval, and Early Orthodox Evidence

Thursday, February 05, 2004


The following is a compilation of some of the more explicit patristic, medieval, and post-Renaissance statements of Fathers, Doctors, and other eminent theologians, on the subject of Mary as Mediatrix of all Graces, Advocate, and Co-Redemptrix. Vatican II, papal encyclicals, and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church are also cited.


I. Western Church Fathers and the Second Council of Nicaea (787)

II. The Witness of Early Eastern Christian Tradition

III. Eastern Liturgies

IV. Medieval Catholic Theologians and Doctors

V. Orthodox Theologians of the 14th Century

VI. Catholic Theologians and Doctors: 16th to 18th Centuries

VII. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

VIII. Papal Encyclicals: 1758 to the Present / 
Catechism of the Catholic Church

IX. Addendum: 
Spouse of the Holy Spirit and God / Orthodox Objections


St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Brooklyn: Redemptorist Fathers, 1931 ed.
Louis Bouyer, The Seat of Wisdom, tr. A.V. Littledale, Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1960.
Friethoff, C.X.J.M., , A Complete Mariology, Westminster, MD: Westminster Press, 1958.
Graef, Hilda, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, vol. 1, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1963.
Jurgens, W.A., The Faith of the Early Fathers, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, vol. 1, 1970.
Miravelle, Mark I., ed., Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations, Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1995.
Most, William G., Mary in Our Life, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1954.

I. Western Church Fathers and the Second Council of Nicaea (787)

St. Irenaeus (130-202), in his famous Against Heresies (bet. 180-199) wrote:

. . . so also Mary . . . being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race . . . Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith.

{3,22,4; from Jurgens, W.A., The Faith of the Early Fathers, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970, vol. 1, p. 93, #224}

. . . for in no other way can that which is tied be untied unless the very windings of the knot are gone through in reverse: so that the first joints are loosed through the second, and the second in turn free the first . . . Thus, then, the knot of the disobedience of Eve was untied through the obedience of Mary.

{Against Heresies, III, 22,4; from Most, William G., Mary in Our Life, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1954, p. 25}

William Most comments:

Mary, says St. Irenaeus, undoes the work of Eve. Now it was not just in a remote way that Eve had been involved in original sin: she shared in the very ruinous act itself. Similarly, it would seem, Mary ought to share in the very act by which the knot is untied - that is, in Calvary itself.

{in Most, ibid., p. 25}

Just as the human race was bound over to death through a virgin, so was it saved through a virgin: the scale was balanced - a virigin's disobedience by a virgin's obedience.

{Against Heresies, V, 19, 1; cited in Most, ibid., p. 274}

St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 339-397):

Let us not be astonished that the Lord, who came to save the world, began his work in Mary, so that she, by whom the salvation of all was being readied, would be the first to receive from her own child its fruits.

{from the best current work on the subject: Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations, ed. Mark I. Miravelle, Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1995, p. 14; from In Lk. II, 17; ML 15,559}

Mary was alone when the Holy Spirit came upon her and overshadowed her. She was alone when she saved the world - operata est mundi salutem - and when she conceived the redemption of all - concepit redemptionem universorum.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 14; from Epist. 49,2; ML 16, 1154}

She engendered redemption for humanity, she was carrying, in her womb, the remission of sins.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 14; from De Mysteriis III, 13; ML 16,393; De instit. Virginis 13,81; ML 16,325}

Hilda Graef comments:

He interprets the sword in the prophecy of Simeon quite differently from Origen and the Greek fathers following him. In the view of Ambrose this sword is rather Mary's foreknowledge of the Passion, because she is 'not ignorant of the heavenly mystery.'

{in Graef, Hilda, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, vol. 1, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1963, p. 81}

She stood before the Cross and looked up full of pity to the wounds of her Son, because she expected not the death of her Son but the salvation of the world.

{Exp. in Luc., 10, 132; in Graef, ibid., p. 82}

When the Lord wanted to redeem the world he began his work with Mary, that she, through whom salvation was prepared for all, should be the first to draw the fruit of salvation from her Son.

{Exp. in Luc., 2, 17; in Graef, ibid., p. 82}

The Virgin has given birth to the salvation of the world, the Virgin has brought forth the life of all.

{Ep. LXIII, 33; in Graef, ibid., p. 83}

St. Jerome (c.343-420)

Death came through Eve, life through Mary.

{Ep. XXII, 21; in Graef, ibid., p. 94}

Every torture inflicted on the body of Jesus was a wound in the heart of the Mother.

{De 7 Verbis D. tr. 3; in St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Brooklyn: Redemptorist Fathers, 1931 ed., Part 3: The Dolors of Mary; Reflections, p. 519}

St. Augustine (354-430) wrote:

. . . just as death comes to us through a woman, Life is born to us through a woman; that the devil, defeated, would be tormented by each nature, feminine and masculine, since he had taken delight in the defection of both.

{in Jurgens, ibid., vol. 3, 1979, p. 50, #1578; from Christian Combat, c. 397, 22,24}

. . . plainly she is [in spirit] Mother of us who are His members, because by love she has cooperated so that the faithful, who are the members of that Head, might be born in the Church. In body, indeed, she is Mother of that very Head.

{in Jurgens, ibid., vol. 3, 1979, p. 71, #1644; from Holy Virginity, A.D. 401, 6,6}

The cross and nails of the Son were also those of his Mother; with Christ crucified the Mother was also crucified.

{in St. Alphonsus de Liguori, ibid., p. 519}

St. Peter Chrysologus (c. 400-450; an influence on the Council of Chalcedon in 451):

'Hail, full of grace'; . . . the Angel offered her this grace. The Virgin received Salvation so that she may give it back to the centuries.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 16; from Sermon 140}

. . . a young maiden receives as a reward of the womb (Ps 126) salvation for those who were lost: - salutem perditis pro ipsius uteri mercede.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 17; Sermon 140,6}

Commenting on this text, John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote:

It is difficult to state more explicitly, although rhetorically, that the Blessed Virgin has fulfilled a real meritorious cooperation, a participation with the reversing of the fall as its price.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 17; from "Letter to Pusey," in Difficulties of Anglicans, II, pp. 43 and 42, London, 1900}

The Second Council of Nicaea (787), the seventh Ecumenical Council, which is fully accepted by the Orthodox, declared:

The Lord, the apostles and the prophets have taught us that we must venerate in the first place the Holy Mother of God, who is above all the heavenly powers . . . If any one does not confess that the holy, ever virgin Mary, really and truly the Mother of God, is higher than all creatures visible and invisible, and does not implore, with a sincere faith, her intercession, given her powerful access (parrhésia) to our God born of her, let him be anathema.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 30; Session IV; Mansi XIII, 346}

Fr. Bertrand de Margerie comments:

This important, and no doubt little known, declaration of an ecumenical council presupposes, implicitly but surely, the acknowledgement of a privileged participation of Mary, as Mother of God incarnate, in the work of our salvation.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 30}

II. The Witness of Early Eastern Christian Tradition

Fr. Bertrand de Margerie, S.J., sums up:

Since the fourth and especially the fifth centuries, the Greek Fathers, expounding the views of Irenaeus, have become the clearer and more active witnesses of the unfathomable mystery that constitutes the privileged and unique mission of the Virgin Mother in the economy of Redemption. This role was magnificently summed up by the fifth century Fathers in these statements: Mary is the 'Mother of the Economy' (Theodosus of Ancyra, MG 77,393 C), the 'Mother of Salvation' (Severien of Gabala, MG 56,4) and 'the one who gives birth to the Mystery' ( [Patriarch] Proclus of Constantinople, MG 65,792 C). "All these expressions signify that Mary was, in dependence of the unique Savior and Redeemer, an active cause of our redemption. In the eighth and ninth centuries, the more abundant testimony of the Greek Fathers adds nothing essential. It will be enough here to quote Saint Andrew of Crete: Mary is 'the first reparation of the first fall of the first parents' (MG 97,879).

{in Miravelle, ibid., pp. 20-21}

St. Ephraem of Syria (c. 306-373) taught that Mary is the only virgin chosen to be the instrument of our salvation {Sermo III} and called her the "dispensatrix of all goods." {in Most, ibid., p. 48}

St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330-c. 395):

Eve brought in sin by means of a tree; Mary, on the contrary, brought in Good by means of the tree of the Cross.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 18; from Sermon for the Nativity of Christ; MG 46, 1148 A,B}

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407)

A virgin [Eve] has cast us out from paradise; through a virgin [Mary] we have found eternal life.

{Expositio VII in Ps. XLIV (vol. 5, 171D; in Graef, ibid., p. 75}

Whoever then was present on the Mount of Calvary might see two altars, on which two great sacrifices were consummated; the one in the body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary.

{in St. Alphonsus de Liguori, ibid., p. 519}

St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444), at the Council of Ephesus in 431 (which both Orthodox and Anglicans accept), prayed:

Hail, Mary, Mother of God, . . . by whom the human race reaches the knowledge of the truth.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 12}

Hail, Mary, Mother of God, by whom all faithful souls are saved {sozetai}.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 13; from MG 77,992, and 1033; also from Ephesus}

In what some consider the greatest Marian sermon of the patristic period, St. Cyril states:

. . . it is through you that the Holy Trinity is glorified and adored, through you the precious cross is venerated and adored throughout the world . . . through you that churches have been founded in the whole world, that peoples are led to conversion.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 134; from Homilia in Deiparam; PG 65,681}

Theodotus of Ancyra (d. c. 445), a prominent Father at the Council of Ephesus, called her "dispensatrix of good things." {in Most, ibid., p. 48}

The expression Mediatrix or Mediatress was found in two 5th-century eastern writers, Basil of Seleucia (In SS. Deiparae Annuntiationem, PG 85, 444AB) and Antipater of Bostra (In S. Joannem Bapt., PG 85 1772C), 500 years before any Latin writer used it (apart from a direct derivation from the east). The theory developed in the work of John of Damascus (d.c. 749; see Homilia I in Dormitionem, PG 96 713A) and Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (d.c.733; see Homilia II in Dormitionem, PG 98 321, 352-353). {see Miravelle, ibid., pp. 134-135}

The Protestant reference Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (ed. F.L. Cross, 2nd ed., Oxford Univ. Press, 1983, p. 561), states concerning Patriarch Germanus:

Mary's incomparable purity, foreshadowing the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and her universal mediation in the distribution of supernatural blessings, are his two frequently recurring themes.

St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 634-c. 733)

No one is saved except through you, O Theotokos; no one secured a gift of mercy, save through you . . . in you all peoples of the earth have obtained a blessing.

{Hom. in S. Mariae Zonan, MG 98, 377; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 283}

St. Andrew of Crete (c. 660-740) referred to Mary as the "Mediatrix of the law and grace" and also stated that "she is the mediation between the sublimity of God and the abjection of the flesh."

{Nativ. Mariae, Serm. 1 and Serm. 4, PG 97, 808, 865; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 283}

St. John of Damascus (c. 675-c. 749) spoke of Mary fulfilling the "office of Mediatrix."

{Hom. S. Mariae in Zonam, PG 98, 377; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 283}

Hail Thou, through whom we are redeemed from the curse.

{PG 86, 658; in C.X.J.M. Friethoff, A Complete Mariology, Westminster, MD: Westminster Press, 1958, p. 221}

O Mary, whose mediation is never refused, whose prayer is never denied . . . through you we obtain, as long as we linger in this crumbling world, the means to do good works . . .

{PG 96:647; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 268}

III. Eastern Liturgies

Concerning the Byzantine Liturgy, Fr. Bertrand de Margerie writes:

It does not hesitate to implore the Virgin herself for salvation. The following expression is often repeated in the liturgy: 'Most Holy Mother of God, save us.' Surely - numerous texts express it - if Mary can save us, it is because of her intervention with her Son, the only Savior . . .

In fact, . . . no mention of salvation in the liturgical prayers is ever made without invoking the intercession of the Virgin. Such frequency and insistence are not found to the same degree in the course of the Mass in Western liturgies . . .

. . . the recourse to the mediating intercession of Mary reveals the faith of the Church in her unique participation, through divine Motherhood, in the mystery of Redemption.

While exalting the powerful intercession of the Mother of Christ, the Byzantine liturgy does not ignore the created finitude of the Virgin. As proof, the astonishing prayer of the Byzantine Church for Mary; linked, besides, to the recourse to her intercession . . .

. . . since the Church prays for Mary, it is obvious that she is not adored. Mary is not a goddess, but a pure creature . . . Mass is not a sacrifice offered to the Virgin, but to God alone.

{in Miravelle, ibid., pp. 26-28}

Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

In the Liturgy of the Catechumens, the people cry out:

By the intercession of the Theotokos, Saviour, save us." Before distributing Holy Communion, the priest prays: "May Christ, our true God (who rose from the dead), as a good, loving and merciful God, have mercy upon us and save us, through the intercession of his most pure and holy Mother.

{see Miravelle, ibid., pp. 133-134}

IV. Medieval Catholic Theologians and Doctors

St. Peter Damien (1007-1072)

As the Son of God has designed to descend to us through you [Mary], so we also must come to him through you.

{Serm. 46, PL 144, 761B; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 283}

St. Anselm (c. 1033-1109)

I seek you help as being the best and most powerful, after your Son's, that this world can offer . . . What all others can do with you, you are able to do alone without the others . . . If you pray, everyone will pray, everyone will help.

{PL 158:943-4; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 268}

God is the Father of all created things, and Mary is the Mother of all re-created things. God is the Father of the constitution of all things, and Mary is the Mother of the restitution of all things . . . For God generated him through whom all things were made, and Mary gave birth to him through whom all things were saved.

{Or. VII; in Graef, ibid., p. 213}

Eadmer (c. 1060-c.1128)

[Mary] merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world.

{De Excellentia Virg. Marie, c.9; cited by Pope St. Pius X, Ad diem illum, 1904; from Most, ibid., p. 284}

Rupert, Abbot of the Benedictines at Deutz (d. c. 1135)

Because there were truly 'pains as of a woman in labour' [Ps 47:7] and in the Passion of the only begotten Son the blessed Virgin brought forth the salvation of us all, she is obviously the Mother of us all.

{Comm. in Jo., 13; PL 169: 789C; in Graef, ibid., p. 228}

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 1090-1153)

God wished us to have nothing that would not pass through the hands of Mary.

{Sermon on the Vigil of Christmas; PL 183,100; in Most, ibid., p. 48}

As every mandate of grace that is sent by a king passes through the palace-gates, so does every grace that comes from heaven to the world pass through the hands of Mary.

{Apud. S. Bernarin. Pro Fest. V. M. s.5, c.8; cited in St. Alphonsus de Liguori, ibid., ch. 5, p. 160}

Through her man was redeemed.

{Serm. 3 super Salve.; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 221}

St. Albert the Great (c. 1200-1280)

To her [Mary] alone was given this privilege, namely, a communication in the Passion; to her the Son willed to communicate the merit of the Passion, in order that He could give her the reward; and in order to make her a sharer in the benefit of Redemption. He willed that she be a sharer in the penalty of the Passion, in so far as she might become the Mother of all through re-creation even as she was the adjutrix of the Redemption by her co-passion. And just as the whole world is bound to God by His supreme Passion, so also it is bound to the Lady of all by her co-passion.

{Mariale, Opera Omnia, v. 37, Q. 150, p. 219; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 259}

She sacrificed her own Son and the Son of God for us all, freely consenting to his Passion.

{Mariale 51; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 238}

The Blessed Virgin is very properly called 'gate of heaven,' for every created or uncreated grace that ever came or will ever come into this world came through her.

{Mariale 147; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 250}

St. Bonaventure (c. 1217-1274)

Her only Son was being offered for the salvation of the human race; and so she did suffer, with Him, that, if it had been possible, she would have much more gladly suffered herself all the torments that her Son underwent.

{I Sent., d.48, ad Litt. dub.4; cited by Pope St. Pius X, Ad diem illum, 1904; from Most, ibid., p. 285}

Just as they [Adam and Eve] were the destroyers of the human race, so these [Jesus and Mary] were its repairers.

{Sermon 3 on the Assumption; Opera Omnia, v. 9, p. 695; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 259}

She paid the price [of Redemption] as a woman brave and loving - namely, when Christ suffered on the cross to pay that price in order to purge and wash and redeem us, the Blessed Virgin was present, accepting and agreeing with the divine will.

{Collatio 6 de donis Spiritus Sancti, n.16; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 259}

As the moon, which stands between the sun and the earth, transmits to this latter whatever it receives from the former, so does Mary pour out upon us who are in the world the heavenly graces that she receives from the divine sun of justice.

(Spann. Polyanth. litt. M. t.6; cited in St. Alphonsus de Liguori, ibid., ch. 5, pp. 159-160)

That woman (namely Eve) drove us out of Paradise and sold us; but this one brought us back again and bought us.

(de don. Sp. S. 6; 14; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 221)

Abraham! You were willing to sacrifice your son, but you offered a ram! But this glorious Virgin sacrificed her Son.

(de don. Sp. S., 6:17; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 238)

John Tauler, Dominican mystic (c. 1300-1360)

He foretold to you [Mary] all your passion whereby He would make you a sharer of all of His merits and afflictions, and you would co-operate with Him in the restoration of men to salvation.

{Sermo pro festo Purificationis Beatæ Mariæ Virginis, in Miravelle, ibid., p. 259}

First Recorded Use of Co-Redemptrix

Although the concept was present earlier (as clearly demonstrated above), the first known use of the word itself appears in a liturgical book dating from the 14th century, found in St. Peter's in Salzburg, Austria:

Loving, sweet, and kind / Wholly undeserving of any sorrow / If henceforth you chose weeping / As one suffering with the Redeemer / For the captive sinner / Coredemptrix would you be.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 260}

St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444)

Every grace which is communicated to this world has a three-fold course. For, in accord with excellent order, it is dispensed from God to Christ, from Christ to the Virgin, from the Virgin to us . . . I do not hesitate to say that she has received a certain jurisdiction over all graces . . . They are administered through her hands.

{Sermon V de nativiate B.M.V., cap. 8; op. omn., v.4 (Lugduni, 1650), p. 96; cited by Pope Leo XIII, Iucunda semper, 1894; first portion from Most, ibid., p. 49; second portion from Miravelle, ibid., p. 284}

For she is the neck of our Head, by which all spiritual gifts are communicated to His Mystical Body.

{de Evangelio aeterno, Serm. X, a.3, c.3; cited by Pope St. Pius X, Ad diem illum, 1904; in Most, ibid., p. 49}

V. Orthodox Theologians of the 14th Century

St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359)

Mary is the cause of what had gone before her, the pioneer of what has come after her; she distributes eternal goods . . . She is the glory of earth, the joy of heaven, the ornament of all creation. She is the principle, the source, the root of ineffable good things. She is the summit and the fulfillment of all that is holy.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 135; from In Annunt., PG 151, 177B}

No divine gift can reach either angels or men, save through her mediation. As one cannot enjoy the light of a lamp . . . save through the medium of this lamp, so every movement towards God, every impulse towards good coming from him is unrealizable save through the mediation of the Virgin. She does not cease to spread benefits on all creatures . . .

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 136; Ed. of Sophocles Oikonomos, Athens, 1861, 159; PG 151, 472A}

Nicephorus Callistus (d. 1335), a Byzantine church historian, in his poems used titles such as Sovereign Lady, Queen, Helper, Mediatress of the faithful, Mediatress of the world, Consoler, and his favorite, Protectress.

Nicholas Cabasilas (d.c. 1390)

Being assumed as a helper not simply to contribute something as one moved by another, but that she should give herself and become the fellow-worker (sunergos) of God in providing for the human race, so that with him she should be an associate and sharer in the glory which would come from it.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 137; In Annunt. 4 PO 19, 499}

[Mary's partnership was] in all the sufferings and affliction, He, bound on the Cross, received the lance in his side; the sword as divinely inspired Symeon foretold, pierced her heart.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 137; In Dormit. 12, PO 19 508}

Isidore Glabas (d. 1397)

And truly the Virgin, without doubt, was for all a cause of restoration to a better state.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 138; PG 139, 13C}

Theophanes of Nicaea (d. 1381)

Just as she gave our nature directly to God the Word, so God the Word to her directly repaid the deification of all; just as the Son of God through the mediation of his own Mother receives from us our nature, so through her mediation we receive his deification. It is therefore impossible that anyone in any way may become a sharer in the gifts of God other than in the way that we have set forth.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 139; Sermo in Sanctissimam Deiparam, Lateranum, Nova Series, 1, Rome 1935, V, 55 (Fr. Martin Jugie) }

This neck [Mary] pleasing to God and illumined by the rays of the divine Spirit, alone truly preeminent over the whole Body, has no equal in order or place, but, as has been said, holds the place second in order, next after the Head, playing the part of intermediary and bond between the Head and the Body. Accordingly since, it has no equal, it becomes capable and receptive of the whole divine, life-giving fullness which from the head is communicated to all the members.

{in Miravelle, ibid., pp. 139-140; from Jugie, ibid., X, 131}

She receives wholly the hidden grace of the Spirit and amply distributes it and shares it with others, thus manifesting it . . . [No one attains the fullness and the goal of life in Christ] without her cooperation or without the Spirit's help.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 141; from Jugie, ibid., XIV, 195}

[Mary] is the dispenser and distributor of all the wondrous uncreated gifts of the divine Spirit, which make us Christ's brothers and co-heirs, not only because she is granting the gifts of her natural Son to his brothers in grace, but also because she is bestowing them on these as her own true sons, though not by ties of nature but of grace.

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 141; from Jugie, ibid., XV, 205}

VI. Catholic Theologians and Doctors: 16th to 18th Centuries

St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597)

Truly great things were done to Mary by him who is mighty, so that she . . . sacrificed Christ as real and living victim for the sin of the world.

{de Maria V. incomp. 4,26,5; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 238}

Francisco de Suarez, Jesuit theologian (1548-1617)

The intercession and prayers of Mary are, above those of all others, not only useful, but necessary.

{D. Inc. p.2, d.23, s.3; cited in St. Alphonsus de Liguori, ibid., ch. 5, p. 162}

Mary cooperated in our salvation in three ways; first, by having merited by a merit of congruity the Incarnation of the Word; secondly, by having continually prayed for us whilst she was living in this world; thirdly, by having willingly sacrificed the life of her Son to God.

{D. Inc. p.2, d.23, s.1; in St. Alphonsus, ibid., p. 166}

St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)

It is by her that He [Jesus] applies His merits to His members, and that He communicates his virtues and distributes His graces. She is His mysterious canal; she is His aqueduct, through which He makes his mercies flow gently and abundantly.

{True Devotion to Mary, n. 24; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 285}

To Mary, his faithful spouse, God the Holy Ghost has communicated His unspeakable gifts; and He has chosen her to be the dispenser of all He possesses, in such wise that she distributes . . . all His gifts and graces. The Holy Ghost gives no heavenly gift to men which He does not have pass through her virginal hands. Such has been the will of God, who has willed that we should have everything through Mary.

{True Devotion to Mary, n.25; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 298}

. . . Mary, whom he has appointed to be . . . Treasurer of his riches, Distributor of his graces, Worker of his great miracles, Restorer of the human race, Mediatrix of men, Detsroyer of God's enemies, and faithful Companion of his great works and triumphs.

{W.G. 28; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 278}

St. Alphonsus de Liguori (1696-1787)

God, who gave us Jesus Christ, wills that all graces that have been, that are, and will be dispensed to men to the end of the world through the merits of Jesus Christ, should be dispensed by the hands and through the intercession of Mary.

{The Glories of Mary, ch. 5; in Miravelle, ibid., p. 284}

During her whole life this sublime Virgin collaborated in the salvation of men through her love for them, especially when, on Mount Calvary, she offered up her Son's life to the eternal Father for our salvation.

{Contra hereticos, 25:1; in Friethoff, ibid., p. 238}

VII. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

For those non-Catholics (and Catholics) who think that the proposed definitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix, andAdvocate are radically new in concept and advanced by only a few "ultraconservative" Catholics on the fringe of the Church, the following excerpts from the section on Mary, from Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) should be most illuminating. Vatican II dealt with Mary in greater depth and length than all previous Ecumenical Councils combined:


§55. The sacred writings of the Old and New Testaments, as well as venerable tradition, show the role of the Mother of the Saviour in the plan of salvation in an ever clearer light and call our attention to it The books of the Old Testament describe the history of salvation, by which the coming of Christ into the world was slowly prepared. The earliest documents, as they are read in the Church and are understood in the light of a further and full revelation, bring the figure of a woman, Mother of the Redeemer, into a gradually clearer light. Considered in this light, she is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after their fall into sin (cf. Gen 3:15) . . . After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion and the new plan of salvation is established, when the Son of God has taken human nature from her, that he might in the mysteries of his flesh free man from sin.

§56. The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in bringing about death, so also a woman should contribute to life. This is preeminently true of the Mother of Jesus, who gave to the world the Life that renews all things, and who was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role. It is no wonder then that it was customary for the Fathers to refer to the Mother of God as all holy and free from every stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature.[5] Enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendour of an entirely unique holiness, the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as "full of grace" (cf. Lk. 1:38), and to the heavenly messenger she replies: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word" (Lk. 1:38). Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God's saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God. Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man's salvation through faith and obedience. For, as St Irenaeus says, she "being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race."[6] Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert with him in their preaching: "the knot of Eve's disobedience was united by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith."[7] Comparing Mary with Eve, they call her "Mother of the living,"[8] and frequently claim: "death through Eve, life through Mary."[9]

§57. This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death . . .

§58. . . . the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her. Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to his disciple, with these words: "Woman, behold thy son" (Jn. 19:26-27).[11] . . .


§60. In the words of the apostle there is but one mediator: "for there is but one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all" (1 Tim. 2:5-6). But 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 originates not in any inner necessity but in the disposition of God. It 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. It does not hinder in any way the immediate union of the faithful with Christ but on the contrary fosters it.

§61. The predestination of the Blessed Virgin as Mother of God was associated with the incarnation of the divine word: in the designs of divine Providence she was the gracious mother of the divine Redeemer here on earth, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ, she presented him to the Father in the temple, shared her Son's sufferings as he died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.

§62. This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. 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.[15] By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.[16] This, however, is so understood that it neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.[17]

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.

The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary, which it constantly experiences and recommends to the heartfelt attention of the faithful, so that encouraged by this maternal help they may the more closely adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer.

VIII. Papal Encyclicals: 1758 to the Present / Catechism of the Catholic Church

This overall teaching is even more explicitly laid out in the encyclicals of several popes, thus (far from being "novel") it already qualifies as binding under the ordinary magisterium:

1) Benedict XIV (Gloriosae Dominae, between 1740-1758),
2) Pius IX (Ineffabilis Deus, 1854),
3) Leo XIII (Iucunda semper, 1894 / Adiutricem populi, 1895),
4) St. Pius X (Ad diem illum, 1904),
5) Pius XI (Explorata res, 1923 / Miserentissimus Redemptor, 1928),
6) Pius XII (Mystici Corporis, 1943 / Munificentissimus Deus, 1950 / Ad Caeli Reginam, 1954),
7) Paul VI (Signum magnum, 1967 / Marialis Cultus, 1974),
8) John Paul II (Redemptor Hominis, 1979 / Salvifici Doloris, 1984 / Redemptoris Mater, 1987 / Veritatis Splendor, 1993).

It is also reiterated in the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church (#410-411, 488, 494, 502, 511, 529, 964, 967-970, 973, 975, 2618), which quotes frequently from Lumen Gentium.

IX. Addendum: Spouse of the Holy Spirit and God / Orthodox Objections

The following research resulted from a challenge by an Orthodox Christian on my e-mail discussion list. His words will appear in blue:

I should make one comment on comparing the Assumption to the new proposed dogma of Coredemptrix etc. The Assumption as a devotion does not have the major Christological implications that the potential new dogma of Coredemptrix would have. The Assumption can be viewed as a form of piety that does not necessarily have to be dogmatized but does not raise the same number and magnitude of issues as Coredemption does.

Be that as it may (from your perspective), my original point was in response to your contention that new dogmatic Marian proclamations hindered unity and ecumenism. I suggested - just in passing - the Assumption proclamation as a counter-argument, since nevertheless ecumenism has proceeded at an exponential pace since 1950.

In addition, Most Orthodox do not believe that the Assumption or for that matter the Immaculate Conception are dogmas that should have been proclaimed without the consensus of the entire Catholic and Apostolic Church.

We would say the same, of course, about your dogmatic denial of papal supremacy. We can't stop our legitimate theological and spiritual development simply because Orthodox disagree with us (although we do try to do all we can to work with you). If that were the case, then we would have stopped developing in the 11th century, like you basically did. We believe that the Holy Spirit is still active in expanding the Church's faith and understanding, just as He always has been. We tried to achieve reconciliation at the Councils of Lyons and Florence, but the masses of the East would allow no such thing (as if they knew more about the filioque et al than the Orthodox theologians). 'Tis a pity . . .

I hope that we do not want to get into saying that from an Orthodox point of view that Rome became heretical and therefore is no longer genuinely Catholic and Apostolic. Neither do we want to hear from the Catholic side that the Orthodox by not being in direct communion in Rome are not Catholic and Apostolic.

Excellent. It is this negative attitude which I have always strenuously fought. Catholics cannot claim that the Orthodox have lost apostolicity, since we officially accept the validity of your sacraments. The present pope's very high regard for the Orthodox is well-known.

The development within the Latin Church for the new doctrines of Mary as Coredemptrix and as Mediatrix of ALL GRACES occurred primarily during the 19th and 20th centuries.

It may have developed more rapidly recently, but that doesn't prove in and of itself that its roots were not planted long ago, and even developed to a considerable degree. The above documentation proves that beyond all doubt.

Although quotations from the previous centuries and even from the Patristic age might be cited to suggest some components of these new developments, the fact of the matter is that the development itself is relatively recent.

More rapid development, yes, but I continue to maintain that the patristic "components" are quite explicit and numerous enough (per my compilation) - in fact comparable or more prevalent than that for several doctrines which both our communions (and even Protestants) accept. So if your criticisms hold, they would also apply to some doctrines you yourself uphold.

The case for trying to show that the Patristic age or that Eastern Orthodox writers have provided the direct support for this development is very weak.

This is easily said, but until someone goes down the list of citations in this paper and comments variously on what I have compiled, I will remain utterly unpersuaded of your assertion (and I would hope those reading this are, too).

Stray quotes do not a doctrine much less a dogma make. However, such quotes might indirectly support a devotion of sorts.

And no point-by-point examination of such allegedly "stray" quotes do not a refutation make. :-) Bald assertions of summary are not argument, but rather, unsubstantiated opinion. And this is what I have often complained of getting from the Orthodox. This is what is done with our tons of patristic evidences for the full-blown Roman conception and Tradition of the papacy, too. Sweeping statements . . .

The only really compelling basis within the Roman communion for these new doctrines is ultimately the dogma of Papal Infallibility...

"Only?" Not if the doctrine is well-established in Tradition and the Fathers (even in the ancient liturgies), which I believe to be the case. I haven't quoted a single pope, though I've cited their encyclicals which touch upon the subject.

In my humble opinion, these doctrines were not fully developed until recently.....

This is a fairly straightforward development from the concept of the Second Eve, and of Simeon's prophecy that "a sword shall pierce your heart." Depending on what one believes the extent of knowledge of the Blessed Virgin to have been at the Annunciation, it might even be traced in some fashion back to that moment. You could hold that the Blessed Virgin was largely ignorant about Christ and His mission, but I would say that is itself a rank heresy. If she knew about what was to come, then I don't see how the notions of Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrixare far-fetched or objectionable at all. I can see how Protestants would object, since they want everything explicit in Scripture, but Orthodox? I don't get that, except on the grounds of a misunderstanding of development, and an antipathy to raising beliefs to the level of absolutely binding dogma - both common opinions / tendencies among Orthodox. But patristic and medieval Marian thought in the East is very explicit and advanced, often surpassing the development in the West (as demonstrated above).

St. Maximilian Kolbe completed the development of these doctrines in 1923 when he proposed that Mary was the "Spouse of the Holy Spirit" and therefore this explains why she was the mediatrix of all graces. The whole concept that Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit is completely new and has no precedent in either Roman Catholic or in Eastern theology. Therefore, the main foundation for proclaiming Mary as Mediatrix of all Graces and a Coredeemer is ultimately based on a series of developments and assertions that are new doctrinal developments grounded on the premise of the dogma of Papal Infallibility . . .

If the Pope is Infallible within the Latin communion...what does it matter that these doctrines were developed recently or that they are innovations? Does it matter...since the Pope is Infallible anyway?

{emphasis added}

In another post, my Orthodox friend added:

However, I do not have a conclusion on whether St. Maximilian's teaching is right or wrong yet. It could still potentially be a correct teaching even if it is unprecedented in Western or Eastern Traditions.

You said the same about the Mediatrix doctrine in general, until I proved otherwise with many patristic and early Orthodox citations (which you have dismissed as insufficient and "very weak"). Now you have come up with a new theory, a more specific assertion, which is contradicted by the biblical and patristic evidence below. You only refute yourself by making sweeping historical statements which can easily be shown false. It's always good to understate one's case! :-)

First of all, it is not too much of a stretch to regard Mary (somewhat figuratively) as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, by virtue of the following passage, connected with the universal Christian belief in the Virgin Birth of Christ:

Lk 1:35: . . . The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. (NRSV)

Secondly, there is much patristic evidence of Mary being regarded as the Bride of Christ, and sometimes as the Bride of God (the Father). All three Persons of the Trinity are God, so how is there any qualitative difference between these relationships and that of Mary being "Spouse of the Holy Spirit?" The Church itself is often regarded in Scripture as the Bride of Christ, and Mary is a symbol of the Church. All of these notions are extremely interrelated.

St. Ephraem of Syria (c.306-73):

. . . I am also mother / For I bore thee in my womb. I am also thy bride . . .

{Hymn on the Nativity, 16, 9-10, in Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, vol. 1, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1963, pp. 57-58}

[in St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386)] "Mary is called 'bride', but in a general sense, as Israel was the bride of Yahweh. In a similar sense the word occurs also in many later Greek authors."

{from Mystagogical Catechesis #26 - somewhat doubtful as to authorship: some attribute it to Cyril's successor, John of Jerusalem (386-417); comment by Hilda Graef, in Graef, ibid., p. 68}

Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 733):

You alone, Theotokos, are the highest on the whole earth; and we, O Bride of God, bless you in faith . . .

{Second Sermon on the Assumption, in Graef, ibid., p. 149}

Rupert, Abbot of the Benedictines at Deutz (d.c. 1135):

[Mary was] the best part of the first Church, who merited to be the spouse of God the Father so as to be also the type of the younger Church, the spouse of the Son of God and her own Son.

{On the Trinity, in Graef, ibid., p. 228}

Hermann of Tournai (d. after 1147) called Mary the "spouse and mother of God."

{in Graef, ibid., p. 234}

Aelred of Rievaulx, Cistercian Abbot (d. 1167)

Following St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Aelred writes:

God [the Son] is the Bridegroom, the Virgin the bride, and the angel the best man.

{Sermon on the Annunciation, in Graef, ibid., p. 249}

Philip of Harvengt (d. 1183)

Not only does the Mother most tenderly embrace the Son, but also the Spouse the Bridegroom.

{Commentary on the Canticle, in Graef, ibid., p. 255}

St. Albert the Great (c. 1200-1280)

Albert, too, sees her not only as the Mother but as the Bride of the Son, who has received all the gifts of the Spirit and whose inner life was perfectly well ordered. She is the mother of all the faithful, who owe their virtues and merits to her intercession.

{Tractatus de Natura Boni, commented on by Hilda Graef, ibid., p. 274}

Ubertino of Casale, Franciscan (d.c. 1330)

[Graef summarizes his view:]

At the Annunciation, moreover, the Father took her as his spouse and communicated his paternal fecundity to her, making her 'the mother of all the elect' and the 'mother and associate' (socia genitrix) of his Son. No grace is given which she does not dispense.

{Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus, commented on by Graef, ibid., p. 293}

Direct reference to Mary as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit also exists, at least as early as the 11th century, contrary to the assertion that St. Maximilian Kolbe "proposed" this in 1923, as if it were a novel doctrine at that time:

Amadeus of Lausanne, student of St. Bernard (d. 1159)

Your Creator has become your Spouse . . . your Spouse is coming, the Holy Spirit comes to you . . . For you, most beautiful Virgin, have been joined in close embraces to the Creator of beauty, and . . . have received the most holy seed by divine infusion.

{Third Sermon on Mary, in Graef, ibid., p. 245}

St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716), in his True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, §36, speaks of "the Holy Ghost, her Spouse."

{in William G. Most, Mary in our Life, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1954, p. 194}

St. Alphonsus de Liguori (1696-1787)

. . . it was also becoming that the Holy Ghost should preserve her as his spouse.

St. Augustine [354-430] says that 'Mary was that only one who merited to be called the Mother and Spouse of God.' [Sermon 208] For St. Anselm [c. 1033-1109] asserts that 'the divine Spirit, the love itself of the Father and the Son, came corporally into Mary, and enriching her with graces above all creatures, reposed in her and made her his Spouse, the Queen of heaven and earth.' [De Excell. Virg. c.4].

{The Glories of Mary, Brooklyn: Redemptorist Fathers, 1931 ed., pp. 304-5}

Fr. Louis Bouyer summarizes:

The idea that Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Ghost is found, at least adumbrated, in certain writers, e.g., St. Peter Damian[1007-1072] . . . They tell us that Mary can be looked upon as the Spouse of the Holy Ghost in so far as his intervention took the place of the normal process of conception; and they hasten to add that the comparison stops at that point . . .

{The Seat of Wisdom, tr. A.V. Littledale, Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1960, pp. 177}

The only way I could believe any of these new doctrines or proposed dogmas with any confidence is to ask the Mother of God herself to reveal what is true about herself. It will take a miracle...for me to accept these new doctrines. But with God all things are possible.

What about God's own inspired words in Scripture - if you want to dismiss the Fathers (East and West alike), the Byzantine liturgy, and medieval Orthodox theologians? See the biblical sections of my Mary as Mediatrix: Dialogues and Explanations. This takes it back to Scripture before we even get to the issue of the Fathers' views. I maintain that both are more than sufficient for a Christian to hold these doctrines.