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Queen of Heaven: Pagan Divinity or Royal Mother of the Messiah?

by Mark Brumley

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    Document Information

  • Description:
    Mark Brumley explains Church teaching on the Blessed Virgin's Queenship, answering the main objections to this doctrine.
  • Larger Work:
    The Catholic Faith
  • Pages: 37-43
  • Publisher & Date:
    Ignatius Press, March/April 2000

"Is the Virgin Mary Dead or Alive?" is the title of a pamphlet widely distributed during Pope John Paul II's visit to St. Louis last year. At first glance, it appears to be a Catholic publication, with a loving statue of the Blessed Virgin looking down on a young mother holding her child up to kiss the statues hand. As it turns out, the pamphlet is anti-Catholic propaganda aimed at debunking Catholic teaching regarding the Blessed Virgin.

The chapter titled, "The Madonna of Rome is the Madonna of Ancient Babylon," regurgitates the typical anti-Catholic claim that Catholic belief in Mary’s Queenship is warmed-over paganism. The author quotes Jeremiah 44:15-17, where the people of Judah rebelliously reject the prophet Jeremiah’s message in preference to their idolatrous worship of an entity called "the Queen of Heaven"—apparently the pagan deity Ishtar. The claim is that this idolatrous, pagan worship of the Queen of Heaven has been carried over by the Catholic Church into its "worship" of Mary as the Queen of Heaven.

Many anti-Catholic Fundamentalists and even a few otherwise more sympathetic Evangelical Christians hold this view. Answering them requires at least two things. First, stating what the Catholic Church actually teaches about Mary’s Queenship. Second, responding to the specific objections and accusations raised against this teaching.

What The Church Teaches

First, let us be clear about what the Catholic Church means by the Queenship of Mary. Simply put, the Queenship of Mary refers to Mary’s royal dignity as Mother of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. As we shall see, that title takes nothing away from Jesus’ own Kingship, but rather is a consequence of it.

In his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (1954), Pius XII taught, "Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as His associate in the redemption, in His struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity" (no. 39). Pope Pius XII makes clear that royal dignity belongs "in the full and strict" sense to Jesus Christ alone. At the same time, Mary possesses a certain royal dignity by association with Christ in his Incarnation, Redemption and victory over evil.

Vatican II also affirmed Mary’s Queenship: "She was exalted by the Lord as Queen of all in order that she might be more thoroughly conformed to her Son, the Lord of Lords and the conqueror of sin and death" (Lumen Gentium 59; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 966).

Mary’ Queenship is based on a number of elements. First, Mary's maternal relationship to Jesus, the King of Kings. Second, the Blessed Virgin's association with Jesus' work of redemption. Third, the royal dignity possessed by all members of the Church, including Mary, which is fully realized in heaven. This last element is, in a sense, an extension of Mary's association with Jesus, only under the aspect of her relation to the Church. Scriptural explanations of these points can help Protestants recognize Mary's royal dignity.

Mary's Maternal Relationship With The King Of Kings: The Queen Mother

Mary's Queenship is first based on her maternal relationship with Jesus. Here the ancient Hebraic notion of the Queen Mother applies to Mary as Mother of the Messianic King, Jesus Christ. In ancient Israel, the most important woman in the monarchy was generally the queen mother, not the queen. In the southern kingdom of Judah, the kings' wives were apparently never "queens." It was the queen mother (Hebrew, gebira or "Great Lady"), the king's mother, who was honored and who wielded authority as a counselor to the king.

In 1 Kings 2:19, Bathsheba, the queen mother of Solomon, is honored by her son, who stands to greet her and pays her homage when she comes to him on a matter of state. The Bible declares, "Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king's mother, who sat at his right."

Furthermore, the queen mother often advised the king. Proverbs 31:1-9, for example, summarizes the advice King Lemuel's mother gave him on how to govern. Included are warnings to the king against focusing on his harem and against excessive drinking, as well as an appeal that he care for the poor. The close link between the king and the queen mother can also be seen in Jeremiah 13:18. Jeremiah warns of the judgment to come on the monarchy and includes the queen mother: "Say to the king and to the queen mother: come down from your throne; From your heads fall your magnificent crowns." Apparently, not only the king but also the queen mother wore a crown.

Psalm 45:9 refers to the Queen Mother standing at the king's right hand, arrayed in gold. Hebrews 1:8-9 applies this psalm to Jesus as Messianic King. By extension, Psalm 45:9 would then apply prophetically to the Messianic King's Mother, Mary.

Which brings us to the New Testament. These texts provide the Old Testament background to Mary's role in the New Testament. At the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and bear a son whom she would name Jesus. Then Gabriel declared, "The Lord God will give him the throne of his David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Lk 1:32-33; RNAB). Since Jesus is certainly the Messianic King, it follows that Mary's role is that of the Queen Mother of the Messianic King. This explains why St. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, would say to her younger cousin, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Lk 1:43; RNAB).

This is the language of the royal court, with the subordinate (Elizabeth) addressing a royal superior (Mary). Elizabeth was honored, not merely by the presence, in utero, of the child Jesus, but also by Mary herself. Elizabeth said, "Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" Elizabeth was honored by the presence of Mary because she is the Queen Mother of the Messianic King, Elizabeth's Lord.

Mary's royal dignity as Queen Mother is also evident in Revelation 12, the heavenly vision of the "woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev 12:1). The vision depicts the Woman as "Queen of Heaven" insofar as she is both a queenly and heavenly figure — the Woman wears a crown of twelve stars and appears in the sky, in heavenly glory — clothed with the sun and with the moon beneath her feet.

Furthermore, the Woman is a mother. According to v. 2, "she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery." Verses 5-6 state that the Woman "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." Verse 17 refers to "the rest of her offspring . . . those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus."

The "male child . . . who is to rule all the nations" is the Messiah; the reference is drawn from the Messianic Psalm 2. But who is the Woman? Some commentators have argued that she is the Church, not Mary. Others see the Woman as the Old Testament People of God personified, e.g., the Daughter of Zion. Both of these interpretations have merit, for both express aspects of the Woman. Yet neither of these interpretations is sufficient by itself. Mary must also be included in the passage, though the case for a Marian interpretation of the text is not as obvious as it may seem at first glance.

For one thing, the Woman gives birth "in travail," seemingly contrary to the tradition that Mary was exempt from the pangs of birth. Second, immediately after giving birth, the child is "caught up to God," something difficult to understand in terms of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. Third, many of the early patristic commentators on the text saw the Woman as Israel or the Church.

And yet there are also problems with these non-Marian interpretations. The Dragon, i.e., the devil, pursues the Woman after she gives birth to the Messiah. Unable to attack her, the Dragon then makes war against the Woman's other offspring. If the Woman is Israel, how is it that the Dragon pursues her and makes war against her children? These children are clearly disciples of Jesus (Rev 12:17). Why would Israel be depicted as the Mother of Jesus' disciples, which is what would be the case if the Woman were simply Israel? Furthermore, is it likely that John would depict Israel as the Mother of the Messiah?

On the other hand, if the Woman is the Church, how do we account for her giving birth to the Messiah? One plausible explanation is that pains of birth refer not to the physical birth of the Messiah, but to Jesus' Crucifixion. There are at least two reasons for this. First, because the text says immediately afterward the child was "caught up to God" — which fits better with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus than His birth in Bethlehem. Second, because the Lord Himself speaks of His disciples suffering over their loss of Him as like a woman in travail (Jn 16:21).

Even so, there are still problems with the Woman as the Church. For one thing, the Dragon and the Child are individual persons. It seems inconsistent that the Woman would refer to a collective such as the Church or even Israel, when the other two figures in the text are individuals. For another, the Church seems to be the Woman's "other offspring" — although one could argue that the Woman is the Church as Mother in relation to individual Christians as her children. A third reason why the Woman seems not to be the Church — or at least not only the Church — has to do with the fact that the Book of Revelation is part of the Johannine corpus of writings. In John's Gospel, the "Woman" is clearly the Mother of Jesus, who, it must be noted, was at the crucifixion and there referred to by Jesus as "Woman" (Jn 19:25-27; cf. Jn 2:4). If the childbirth in travail does refer to the crucifixion, then the Woman of Rev 12 could just as well be Mary at the foot of the Cross, as the Church. The other Johannine reference to "Woman" — Jn 2:4, the wedding at Cana — only strengthens this view. There, "Woman" clearly refers to the Mother of Jesus.

A fourth problem with the Woman of Revelation 12 being the Church: the vision of the Woman is based on Genesis 3:15, where God tells the serpent (i.e., the Dragon; cf. Rev 12:9) that God will put enmity between the serpent and "the woman," and between His offspring and hers. The Woman of Genesis 3:15 is Eve, but if the text is interpreted messianically and prophetically, it applies to Mary. Revelation 12 seems to be such a messianic and prophetic interpretation of Genesis 3:15, so it seems likely that the Woman is Mary.

That said, elements of the other two interpretations can be brought together in a Marian interpretation (cf. Redemptoris Mater 24, 47). After all, Mary typifies God's People of both the Old Testament and New Testament. She was a true daughter of Israel, indeed, the "Daughter of Zion" awaiting the salvation of the Messiah (cf. Zeph 3:14-17 and Lk 1:28,30-31). At the same time, she was also the first person of the New Covenant, for through her Immaculate Conception she was the first to benefit from the salvation of Christ and through her faith in the angel's message to her, the first explicitly to believe in Jesus as Savior.

Mary is at once the "personal summa" of Israel – at least of the faithful remnant of Israel — and of the Church, the new Israel. In that respect, she gives birth to the Messiah — not only in Bethlehem, but in her collaborative suffering at the Cross. She also becomes Mother of the Church there, for by the word of her own Son Jesus, she becomes Mother of the Beloved Disciple, who becomes her son (Jn 19:25-27).

Perhaps the best interpretation of the Woman of Revelation 12, then, is Mary as the embodiment of the People of God in the Old Testament and New Testament. Since this Woman is a royal heavenly figure — the Queen of Heaven — it follows that Mary is the Queen of Heaven; she is Mother of the King "destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron."

Mary's Cooperation In Jesus' Work

Mary also has a royal dignity because of her cooperation in Jesus' kingly, redemptive work. Her grace-enabled cooperation helped introduce the Kingdom of God in the person of her Son Jesus. Her "yes" to God's plan at the Annunciation was the means by which God in Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom (Lk 1:26-38). And her ongoing cooperation with the divine plan throughout Jesus' ministry also furthered the Kingdom. Finally, Mary suffered with the Messianic King, her Son, at the foot of the Cross. If the Cross is the means by which Jesus entered into His Kingdom, defeating Satan and purchasing mankind with his blood, then Mary's association with Jesus' kingly suffering on the Cross has a royal quality to it as well. On the Cross was Jesus, the true "King of the Jews" (Jn 19:19-22), and at the foot of the Cross was the Queen Mother to the King (Jn 19:25-27), sharing in her Son's sufferings (Lk 2:35) and therefore His royal glory.

Another way to understand Mary's queenly dignity in her cooperation with her kingly Son: her role as the New Eve, collaborating with her Son, the New Adam, in the redemption of the world (cf. Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:21-23). Christ's victory over sin establishes His Kingship as the New Adam. Mary cooperated in that as the New Eve, hence she shares in His royal dignity. In his encyclical on the Queenship of Mary, Pope Pius XII taught:

If Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God's design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of "recapitulation," in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ "in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race"; and if, in truth, "it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall," then it may be legitimately concluded that as Christ, the new Adam, must be called a King not merely because He is Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so, analogously, the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because, as the new Eve, she was associated with the new Adam (Ad Caeli Reginam, no. 38).

The Royal Dignity Of The Church's Members, Including The Mother Of The Church

We have seen that Mary's Queenship is based on the Old Testament figure of the Queen Mother and upon her Mary's grace-enabled collaboration in inaugurating the Kingdom of God. Yet we can understand Mary's Queenship in another way — as the fullness of that royal dignity possessed by all members of Christ's Church. This is an extension of Mary's collaborative role in the redemption of Christ the King, insofar as Mary is the archetype of the Church and of all Christians.

Christian royal dignity is based on our union with Christ the King. All the baptized share in Christ's kingly office, as seen from the New Testament's repeated references to Christians "reigning" with Christ, either now by virtue of Jesus’ kingly presence in heaven or in the Age to Come. For example, in Luke 22:29-30 Jesus says to the apostles, "I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (RSV). In Ephesians 2:6, Paul speaks of all Christians as now "seated" with God "in the heavens in Christ Jesus" (RNAB). 1 Peter 2:9 refers to our kingly dignity in Christ: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (RNAB).

According to the Book of Revelation, Jesus has made His followers "a kingdom and priests" that "will reign on earth" (Rev 5:10; cf. Rev 1:6) — provided, of course, that we remain faithful to him. This corresponds to what Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:11-12: "If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him" (italics added). In Revelation 2:26, the Lord Himself declares, "He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations, and he shall rule them with an iron rod, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received power from my Father" (RSV). We have already seen in connection with the Child of the heavenly Woman of Revelation 12 that the phrase "ruling with an iron rod" comes from the Messianic Psalm 2. Here it is applied not only to the Messiah Himself, but also to His faithful followers. They will share in the Messiah's kingly reign and authority. As Jesus puts it in Revelation 3:21, "He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne" (RSV). Revelation 20:6 says, "Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years" (RSV). After the thousand years of the Millennium, according to Scripture, " . . . night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever" (RSV; Rev 22:5; italics added).

Except for Luke 22: 29-30 and Revelation 12, the aforementioned texts refer to faithful Christians in general. Yet if they apply to all faithful Christians, then surely they also apply to Mary specifically, especially given her deep union with her Son. If all faithful Christians are to reign with Christ as "kings" and "queens," it makes no sense to object to calling Mary "Queen," for she, too, is a faithful follower of Jesus — the preeminently faithful follower of Jesus, in fact.

Christian royal dignity also comes from one of the underlying principles of discipleship and divine service — the humility of service. The true disciple humbles himself and puts God first. As a result, God exalts him and honors him (1 Pet 5:4-5). This is what the Lord meant when He said, "For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk 14:11) and "Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves" (Lk 22:26). As John Paul II writes in Redemptoris Mater (no., 41), "to serve is to reign" in the kingdom of God. Mary's humble service to God of saying "yes" to the Incarnation and the Crucifixion of her Son established her as "Queen" of the New Covenant, reigning with her divine Son.

One aside worth mentioning: some feminist Catholics defend Mary's Queenship by proposing Mary as the "divine feminine" element needed to "balance out" the "masculine" divine imagery of Scripture and traditional theology, i.e, God as Father. This is a serious mistake because it is apt to be understood as confusing the distinction between the Creator and even the greatest of His creations, the Blessed Virgin. In effect, it confirms all the worst stereotypes of Catholicism.

Objections To Mary's Queenship

We have considered what the Church teaches about the Blessed Virgin's Queenship and why the Church teaches it. Now we turn to some specific objections often raised against the doctrine.

1. The Queenship of Mary makes her "the Fourth Person of the Trinity," giving her a divine dignity that no mere creature can claim.

But this objection doesn't engage what the Church actually believes about Mary; it is based on 1) a misunderstanding of Marian teaching; 2) a deliberate misstatement of that teaching; or 3) an invalid inference from an exaggerated, distorted practice of some misguided Catholics. Catholicism teaches that only God is King in the absolute sense. Even so, through Jesus Christ, God shares His royal dignity with others, as we have seen, making them a "royal nation" hence "kings" and "queens" in heaven. By calling Mary "Queen," Catholics claim only a derivative royal for Mary, not an absolute one possessed by God alone.

2. Giving Mary the title of Queen or Queen of Heaven succumbs to the idolatrous worship of a feminine, pagan deity condemned in the Old Testament. According to anti-Catholic Fundamentalist author Dave Hunt, "The only 'queen of heaven mentioned in Scripture is an idol which was worshipped by the pagans and to which the Jewish women gave offerings, bringing the wrath of God upon them" (A Woman Rides the Beast, p. 441).

It is true that the Old Testament refers to a false divinity known as the Queen of Heaven (cf. Jer 7:18; 44:15-17) — apparently the Assyrian-Babylonian fertility goddess Ishtar. But since the Catholic Church doesn't worship Mary as a deity — whether as Ishtar or any other goddess — the objection is flawed. Furthermore, the fact that a false goddess in the Old Testament was called "Queen of Heaven" does not mean Mary cannot rightly be given the title in an altogether different sense, as the Queen Mother of the King of Kings in New Testament. False deities in the Old Testament were often called "God" or "Lord". Does that mean we cannot invoke the true God by these titles? The fact that a particular title is idolatrously used in one context doesn't preclude it being non-idolatrously used in another. The fact that the Devil (or the wicked King of Babylon, depending on your interpretation) is called "the morning star" in Isaiah 14:12 does not mean we cannot use the same title to refer to Jesus, as in 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 22:16.

3. Many heathen converts to Christianity in the early Church retained from their pagan roots a need for a feminine deity. Mary came to fulfill this need and many of titles formerly given to pagan feminine deities were transferred to her.

The problem with this objection is that it succumbs to the same sort of reductionism Protestants rightly reject when it is applied to Jesus. If we argue that Catholic doctrine regarding Mary's Queenship is just "baptized paganism," cannot the same be said (as it is said by many anti-Christian writers) of the Incarnation, death and Resurrection of Jesus? Pagan myths of dying and rising gods abound: Dionysius, Osiris, Adonis, etc. Parallels can certainly be drawn between them and the Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and Redemption. But such parallels prove nothing — certainly they do not prove that Jesus Christ is just one more dying god myth. Likewise with the role of Mary in Catholicism vis-à-vis pagan goddesses.

Sometimes anti-Catholics get so worked up about Marian devotion that things, which should be obvious to them, get missed. For example, in his book Babylon Mystery Religion (p. 18-19) anti-Catholic Fundamentalist Ralph Woodrow states, "The Egyptian goddess Isis was often represented as standing on the Crescent moon [emphasis his] with twelve stars surrounding her head. Even this was adopted and applied to Mary, for in almost every Roman Catholic Church on the continent of Europe may be seen pictures of Mary the same way! The accompanying illustration below (as seen in the OFFICIAL BALTIMORE CATECHISM) pictures Mary with twelve stars circling her feet!"

To this noted Catholic author and theologian Father Peter Stravinskas has aptly replied, "One wonders if Woodrow would be willing to indict not only the Catholic Church on this score but also the author of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation" (Mary and the Fundamentalist Challenge, p. 109). Woodrow claims a pagan origin for what, in fact, comes straight from the Bible — the New Testament image of the Queen of Heaven. His anti-Catholic, anti-Marian bent is so strong and he is so eager to find a link between Catholic doctrine and paganism, he misses the scriptural reference.

Regarding the pagan parallel theory, Protestant theologian Karl Barth — no friend of Catholic teaching about Mary — declared: "It is not recommended that we should base our repudiation [of Marian doctrine] on the assertion that there has taken place here an irruption from the heathen sphere, an adoption of the idea, current in many non-Christian religions, of a more or less central and original female or mother deity. In dogmatics you can establish everything and nothing from parallels from the history of religions (Church Dogmatics, Vol. 1, p. 143).

Notwithstanding certain fears Martin Luther had about a misuse of the term, he taught that the title "Queen of Heaven" was "a true enough name and yet does not make her a goddess" (Luther's Works, Vol. 21, p. 327).

4. Calling Mary "Queen" unduly singles her out; all the saints in glory are kings and queens in Christ.

This objection succumbs to the mistake of unnecessarily opposing truths that are complementary, not contradictory. The fact that all the saints in glory have a royal dignity does not mean Mary should not be given the title "Queen," anymore than the fact that in the New Testament all believers are called "holy" means that the apostles cannot be called the "holy apostles" (Eph 3:5). Furthermore, while all the saints in heaven can claim a royal dignity, Mary alone is the Queen Mother of the Messiah in the literal sense. Finally, Scripture itself declares that "all ages shall call" the Virgin blessed (Lk 1:48). Why? Because she is the Mother of the Messianic King, in other words, the Queen Mother. And if Scripture itself singles out Mary in a special way as the one especially blessed by God to be the Mother of the King of Kings, then how can it be objectionable for Christians to acknowledge this?

5. While Mary's Queenship may have some biblical basis, especially that of the Queen Mother, Catholic teaching and practice goes well beyond anything we find in the New Testament.

The premise of that objection is that something, which goes beyond (but does not contradict) the New Testament, must ipso facto be inauthentic and therefore must be rejected by Christians. But this premise is itself "beyond" the New Testament's teaching in that nowhere do we find such a position, either implied or spelled out, in the New Testament.

Furthermore, the Queenship of Mary "goes beyond the New Testament" only in the sense that it makes explicit what is implicit in the New Testament, the way the doctrines of, say, the Trinity and the two natures of Christ make explicit, respectively, the relationship between God, Jesus and the Spirit and the Uncreated Word and the humanity of Jesus. The term "Trinity" isn't in the Bible, but the doctrine of the Trinity is. Similarly, nowhere in the Bible is Mary directly called "Queen of Heaven," though the doctrine of her Queenship is there.

One other point, some people object to what seems extravagant language regarding Mary. Part of the objection is based on a failure to see the theological grounds for Marian doctrines. But part of it is also a lack of appreciation for how the language of Scripture regarding royalty has been taken up and applied to Mary. When we consider how the Psalms refer to the Old Testament kings (and even their queen mothers), it can be off-putting, especially for those raised in a democracy. We must recall that the monarchy was a divinely established office and that the language used to address royalty was divinely inspired. There is nothing wrong with Christians, by analogy, using similar language for the royal dignity believers have through Christ, nor for applying that language in a special way to Mary, who is Mother of the King and herself in the royal line of David.

6. Calling Mary Queen of Heaven contradicts her humble status as the lowly "handmaid of the Lord."

As we have seen, God's pattern throughout Scripture is to exalt the humble. Why, then, should not this principle apply to the lowly "handmaid of the Lord" who believed God's Word and humbly cooperated with his saving plan? As argued above, it is precisely because of her humble service that Mary is made Queen of Heaven. In the Magnificat, Mary herself declared, "For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me . . . He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree" (Lk 1:48-52).

Conclusion

Many Protestants have trouble with Mary's Queenship because they wrongly regard it as usurping divine privileges and as succumbing to the idolatry of pagan feminine divinities. Of course, these Protestant difficulties are only deepened when Catholics give undue emphasis to the Queenship of Mary or fail to understand it in proper relation to the Kingship of Christ and the royal dignity of all Christians. On the other hand, if Catholics show how Mary's Queenship flows from the Kingship of Christ and is the model of the royal dignity of all Christians, we can reduce or eliminate Protestant objections. As with most Marian doctrines, the key to non-Catholic acceptance of Mary's Queenship, especially for Protestants, is linking the doctrine to Jesus Christ.

Mark Brumley is the Managing Editor of The Catholic Faith magazine.

For further reading:

1. Montague, S.M, George, Our Father, Our Mother: Mary and the faces of God.

2. Mateo, Father, Refuting the Attack on Mary.

3. Keating, Karl, Catholicism and Fundamentalism.

4. Stravinskas, Peter, Mary and the Fundamentalist Challenge.

5. Payesko, R., The Truth About Mary, vols. 1-3.

6. Gambero, L., Mary and the fathers of the Church.

7. O'Carroll, Michael, Theotokos.

8. Jelly, 0. P., Frederick, Madonna: Mary in the Catholic Tradition.

9. Semmelroth, Otto, Mary, Archetype of the Church.

© The Catholic Faith", Ignatius Press, 2515 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94118, 1-800-651-1531.

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