Hail Queen of Heaven!

Malta Independent - - LETTERS -

Some weeks ago I had the joy of as­sist­ing at a mag­nif­i­cent Eucharis­tic ado­ra­tion or­gan­ised by the Ko­mu­nità Ġesù Sal­vatur.

The way it was or­ga­nized and the heal­ing spirit that reigned in this ado­ra­tion were re­ally un­for­get­table! This ado­ra­tion made me ap­pre­ci­ate more what the Ven­er­a­ble Pope Pius XII wrote in his en­cycli­cal Me­di­a­tor Dei, on how Eucharis­tic ado­ra­tion is a cat­a­lyst for doc­tri­nal progress and pro­vides a deeper un­der­stand­ing of Christ’s pres­ence in the Blessed Eucharist out­side the Mass. He said that var­i­ous modes of Eucharis­tic ado­ra­tion “have brought a won­der­ful in­crease in faith and su­per­nat­u­ral life to the Church mil­i­tant upon earth” (MD, 133).

My in­crease in faith and su­per­nat­u­ral life, thanks to this Eucharis­tic ado­ra­tion, has also been due to a fas­ci­nat­ing Mar­ian hymn which the charis­matic priest who animated the ado­ra­tion played won­der­fully to­wards the end. This Mar­ian hymn, which is also fea­tured in the 2005 epic his­tor­i­cal drama film set in the 12th cen­tury Cru­sades back­ground, (which was di­rected and pro­duced by Ri­d­ley Scott and writ­ten by Wil­liam Mon­a­han), King­dom of Heaven, is called Ave Regina Caelo­rum, or Hail Queen of Heaven. Its words are re­ally mov­ing and in­spir­ing!

“Hail, O Queen of Heav’n en­thron’d, Hail, by an­gels Mis­tress own’d, Root of Jesse, Gate of morn, Whence the world’s true light was born. Glo­ri­ous Vir­gin, joy to thee, Loveli­est whom in Heaven they see, Fairest thou where all are fair! Plead with Christ our sins to spare. V. Al­low me to praise thee, holy Vir­gin. R. Give me strength against thy en­e­mies.

“Let us pray: Grant, O mer­ci­ful God, to our weak na­tures Thy pro­tec­tion, that we who com­mem­o­rate the holy Mother of God may, by the help of her in­ter­ces­sion, arise from our in­iq­ui­ties. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”

What are the bib­li­cal and the­o­log­i­cal un­der­tones of this pro­found Mar­ian ti­tle? With this ti­tle Queen of Heaven, Mary cer­tainly sur­passes the gebi­rah or the “Great Lady”, the Mother of the King, who, un­der cer­tain Da­vidic kings, had great power as ad­vo­cates with the kings. Take, for in­stance, the case in 1 Kings 2:20, where King Solomon said to his mother Bathsheba, who was seated on a throne on his right: “Make your re­quest, my mother; for I will not refuse you” (1 Kings 2:20).

The Church has al­ways con­sid­ered the wo­man clothed with the sun in the Book of Rev­e­la­tion 12 as re­fer­ring to Mary. “And a great por­tent ap­peared in heaven, a wo­man clothed with the sun, with the moon un­der her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in an­guish for de­liv­ery” (Rev 12:1-2).

As Pope Pius XII rightly ex­plained in his en­cycli­cal on pro­claim­ing the Queen­ship of Mary, Ad Caeli Regi­nam (Nos 17-21), there is am­ple pa­tris­tic ev­i­dence which il­lus­trates this pow­er­ful Mar­ian ti­tle within the Church’s rich tra­di­tion. St An­drew of Crete writes: “To­day He trans­ports from her earthly dwelling, as Queen of the hu­man race, His ever-Vir­gin Mother, from whose womb He, the liv­ing God, took on hu­man form.” For An­drew of Crete Mary is “the Queen of the en­tire hu­man race faith­ful to the ex­act mean­ing of her name, who is ex­alted above all things save only God him­self”. St Ger­manus ad­dresses the hum­ble Mary with th­ese elo­quent words: “Be en­throned, Lady, for it is fit­ting that you should sit in an ex­alted place since you are a Queen and glo­ri­ous above all kings... Queen of all of those who dwell on earth”. St John Da­m­a­scene calls Mary “Queen, ruler, and lady” and “the Queen of ev­ery crea­ture”. An­other an­cient writer of the Eastern Church refers to Mary as “favoured Queen”, “the per­pet­ual Queen be­side the King, her son”, whose “snow-white brow is crowned with a golden di­a­dem”. Lastly, St Ilde­phon­sus of Toledo salutes Mary in the fol­low­ing ma­jes­tic way: “O my Lady, my Sov­er­eign, You who rule over me, Mother of my Lord... Lady among hand­maids, Queen among sis­ters”.

Fr Mario At­tard OFM Cap Marsa

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