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Pentecost with Mary, Queen of Apostles

By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bio - articles - email ) | May 22, 2015 | In The Liturgical Year

More often then not, the close of the Easter season with the feast of Pentecost falls during the month of May, which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We do not need to exclude one for the other, but in actuality honoring Our Lady directly complements our celebration of the birthday of the Church.

Easter and Our Lady

The Directory of Popular Piety and Liturgy consistently emphasizes that Liturgy comes first, and then piety of the people. That isn’t to say that Marian devotions need to be forgotten. Instead, the document stresses that the month dedicated to Our Lady should take a wider focus within the Liturgical Year, putting our Lady in context with the feasts and seasons:

For example, since the month of May largely corresponds with the fifty days of Easter, the pious exercises practised at this time could emphasize Our Lady’s participation in the Paschal mystery (cf. John 19, 25-27), and the Pentecost event (cf. Acts 1, 14) with which the Church begins: Our Lady journeys with the Church having shared in the novum of the Resurrection, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The fifty days are also a time for the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation and of the mystagogy. The pious exercises connected with the month of May could easily highlight the earthly role played by the glorified Queen of Heaven, here and now, in the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.

Our Lady in the Upper Room

After the Ascension, the Apostles returned to the Upper Room to await the coming of the Paraclete, as we read in Acts 1:13-14:

When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

Mary joins the Apostles in the Cenacle. She provides a model of prayer, and encourages the Apostles to wait and pray for the Holy Spirit and pray for the Holy Spirit. She models how to be active in preparing for the Holy Spirit.

Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles

It is in her role in the Cenacle that she was endowed with one of the oldest titles, Queen of Apostles. Mary leads all men to the Truth, and to Christ, just as she brought forth the Light of the World. Through Our Lady the Apostles bring the Good News of salvation to the whole world (see University of Dayton Mary Page, About the title Mary, Queen of Apostles).

Pope Leo XIII in Adiutricem Populi wrote of Mary in the Cenacle:

With wonderful care she nurtured the first Christians by her holy example, her authoritative counsel, her sweet consolation, her fruitful prayers. She was in very truth, the Mother of the Church, the Teacher and Queen of the Apostles, to whom, besides, she confided no small part of the divine mysteries which she kept in her heart.

Traditionally, the Saturday after Ascension Thursday (not the Saturday before Pentecost) was the feast of Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles (the feast was removed in the 1960 calendar). The feast was originally requested by the Pallottine Fathers. This title appears in the oldest forms of the Litany of Loreto, and many religious congregrations include this title within their names or is part of their devotions, such as Salvatorians, Claretians, Pallottines, Missionaries of Steyl, Paulines, and more (see University of Dayton Mary Page, About the title Mary, Queen of Apostles.)

Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family, had great devotion to our Lady, Queen of the Apostles. He encouraged the faithful to return to the Biblical roots of Marian devotion:

The first devotion that we find in the Church is the devotion to the Queen of Apostles, as portrayed in the Cenacle. It lessened a bit and became obscure with the passing of centuries. You have the sweet mission of gathering the faithful around Mary, Queen of the Apostles. You are to reawaken this devotion. . . . Let us return to the sources. At the sources we find Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and if it was so at the beginning of the Church, there is nothing more certain than to draw from the ancient Faith. The water is purer when it is taken from its source (see Marian Spirituality of Blessed James Alberione).

And of course St. John Paul II had a beautiful footnote in his Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women) showing how Mary prefigured the ideal of sanctity, and through her the Apostles had their program touching on the complementary roles of the Apostles (Petrine) and Queen of the Apostles.

55. “This Marian profile is also—even perhaps more so—fundamental and characteristic for the Church as is the apostolic and Petrine profile to which it is profoundly united. ...The Marian dimension of the Church is antecedent to that of the Petrine, without being in any way divided from it or being less complementary. Mary Immaculate precedes all others, including obviously Peter himself and the Apostles. This is so, not only because Peter and the Apostles, being born of the human race under the burden of sin, form part of the Church which is ‘holy from out of sinners,’ but also because their triple function has no other purpose except to form the Church in line with the ideal of sanctity already programmed and prefigured in Mary. A contemporary theologian has rightly stated that Mary is ‘Queen of the Apostles without any pretensions to apostolic powers: she has other and greater powers’ (H. U. von Balthasar, “Neue Klarstellungen”).” Address to the Cardinal and Prelates of the Roman Curia (December 22, 1987); “L’Osservatore Romano,” December 23, 1987.

The Cenacle in the Home

While we pray for the Holy Spirit, we can turn to Our Lady for guidance. We need her help in reminding us to ask for those Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and to to use them. We have to grow daily, and Mary can help us.

At home we can add visual and verbal reminders of Mary’s presence in the Upper Room at Pentecost.

  1. Almost every beautiful image of the scene at Pentecost pictures Mary in the middle, usually in a higher or more dominant position than the rest of the Apostles. Print some color images (such as from Web Gallery of Art) to display around Pentecost.
  2. Recreate a small Cenacle, such as Whitsunday Cenacle or The Cenacle Project. The Internet abounds with ideas and instructions in painting wooden peg dolls which could be used as the figures for the Cenacle (there is even a kit to paint).
  3. When praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, say the title of the third mystery as “The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary (or Our Lady)”, emphasizing her presence at the beginning of the Church.
  4. Pray the Litany of Loreto.

As we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary and recall our own coming of the Holy Spirit, let us remember to invoke Our Lady so that we may have her example and guidance as we continue in our apostolic mission to live and spread the Gospel.

Jennifer Gregory Miller is a wife, mother, homemaker, CGS catechist, and Montessori teacher. Specializing in living the liturgical year, or liturgical living, she is the primary developer of’s liturgical year section. See full bio.

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