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Mary, Coredemptrix:

 The Significance of Her Title in

 the Magisterium of The Church

 

Rev. John A. Schug, O.F.M. Cap.

and

Dr. Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D.

 

Fr. Schug is a member of the Mariological Society of America, and author of the Mariological work Mary, Mother: A Study of the Nature of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood.

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The word “Coredemption” can be understood only vis-à-vis “Redemption.”  Our Redemption is the “price” that Jesus paid for our salvation, that is, the restoration of sanctifying grace.  By “Coredemption” we mean Mary’s unique participation in “the payment of the price” of our Redemption:  through, with, in, and under Christ, our only Savior and Redeemer.[1]  Jesus is our Redeemer; Mary is our Coredemptrix only in complete dependence upon Him:  “I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Just as we focus on the sufferings of Jesus as the “price” He paid to redeem us (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23), so too when we call Mary “Coredemptrix,” we focus on her cooperative role in His redemptive sufferings and death.  Other Marian titles of course are closely allied to that awesome God-given vocation, for example “Mediatrix” and “Spiritual Mother.”  However, this study shall not draw attention (with few exceptions) to the Magisterium’s frequent use of those titles.

Among Mary’s “personal” titles we might list her divine motherhood, her Immaculate Conception, her virginity and her Assumption.  Other titles might be considered more social or ministerial, such as those attributed to her by the Second Vatican Council:  “Advocate, Auxiliatrix [Helper], Adjutrix [Aide], and Mediatrix.”[2]

Insofar as Mary’s title “Coredemptrix” is concerned, the degree of the directness and immediacy of her cooperation will determine the sense — analogical, metaphorical, or equivocal — in which we will understand her role in Coredemption.

This essay will consider Mary’s title “Coredemptrix” and its significance in the ordinary Magisterium, as expressed by the Popes, the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, the Roman Curia, and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church.  However, all references will be grouped into a single chronological list of Popes.

My approach will be in the nature of a survey, rather than a theological analysis.  Nor shall we consider (except briefly and in passing) the distinctions that theologians commonly make anent our Redemption by Christ:  objective and subjective, or immediate and remote.[3] 

Before we begin, we must address a problem — the words “Coredemptrix’ and “Mediatrix” might pose for some that these Marian roles may detract from the absolute supremacy of Christ, our one Redeemer and Mediator.  Precision of words is of crucial importance here, for we find a host of meanings to the Latin preposition “cum” and its correlative “co.”  All of them indicate some kind of dependence or inferiority, or less than absolute equality.  For example, under the word “cum”: "From Greek: kyn, dzyn, syn.  It denotes in general, a being together, an accompanying, and is applied to persons as well as things and ideas.  Its principal signification is `with' (opposed to sine, without)... hence, it signifies in union, in relation to, in communion.  Hence, of an acting in common, with, together with... also in amicable relations... I am on very friendly terms with... I am in connection with a person... siding with a person... take one's part.  It denotes reciprocation.  Also, in company, in society with, together with, along with, provided with.  Of persons: among (equal to Greek kai (and).”[4]  The title “Mediatrix,” even as an English word and without the prefix “co,” does not seem to pose a similar semantic problem and is less controversial.[5] 

References by the Magisterium to the value of Mary’s sufferings burgeoned in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Prior to our modern era, the Church had enjoyed peaceful possession of the same truth.  It seems to have generated little or no controversy.  The Eastern and Western Fathers and Doctors of the Church had amassed a veritable Mariological treasure in regard to these sublime Marian roles, and in doing so already prepared the groundwork for the later invocation of Mary under the more technical term “Coredemptrix.”

Dr. Miravalle writes:  “The first recorded use of the title ‘Coredemptrix’ appears to date back to the fourteenth century, for example, in a liturgical book found in St. Peter’s in Salzburg.”[6]

 

Mary, Coredemptrix

 

In the very first Marian encyclical in the history of the Church, Gloriosae Dominae, Pope Benedict XIV (1740–1758) summarizes Mary’s importance in our Redemption:  a) her role is with Christ, our Redeemer; b) it is at the foot of the cross that she is entrusted to the Church as a mother; c) and through this, our reconciliation is completed:

 

The Church, instructed by the magisterium of the Holy Spirit, has always professed with filial devotion and affection that Mary is recognized most appropriately as the Mother of her Lord and Redeemer; that she is venerated with lavish honors as Queen of Heaven and Earth; and that, by the last words of [the Church’s] dying spouse, she was entrusted [to the Church] as a most loving Mother....In accord with the Fathers...the Church urges us to approach her as an Advocate interceding for good things for us before [Jesus], who is her Son and the only-begotten Son of the Father.  The Church preaches her as the Mystical Ark of the Convenant, in whom the Mysteries [Sacramenta] of our reconciliation have achieved their goal [impleta sunt].  When God looks upon her, He will remember His covenant and be mindful of His mercy.[7]

 

The apparent casualness of Benedict’s XIV’s terse statement that “in Mary the Mysteries of our reconciliation have achieved their goal” does not detract from the importance of Gloriosae Dominae.  The encyclical is less than four pages long and marks the Magisterium’s most graphic reference to date of the concept of Coredemption.  The very casualness of Benedict XIV indicates that Mary’s role as Coredemptrix was already a truth in the Church by the time he wrote his encyclical.

A half century later, in 1806, Pope Pius VII (1800–1823) refers to the concept of our salvation having been accomplished in Mary by calling her the “Dispensatrix of all graces.”[8]  We get further development under the Papacy of Pius IX (1846-1878) as he brings to light an “indissoluble” association of Mary with her Son in both His labor and His redemptive victory.  Drawing from Sacred Scripture and the Church Fathers, the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus depicts Mary as the “secondary restorer” (“Reparatrix”) of our first parents, intimately sharing with her seed the same enmity and victory over Satan (cf. Gen. 3:15), and thus having a unique and intrinsic cooperation with her Son in the saving work of redemption:

 

Just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.[9]

The most Blessed Virgin...by a God-given power utterly destroyed the force and dominion of the evil one....The Fathers...declared that the most glorious Virgin was Reparatrix of the first parents, the giver of life to posterity, that she was...foretold by God when he said to the serpent, “I will put enmities between you and the woman”—unmistakable evidence that she has crushed the poisonous head of the serpent.[10]

 

The entire encyclical is studded with references to Mary’s role in our Redemption, which led the Pope to attribute to her the specific titles of Reparatrix (cited above), and Mediatrix and Conciliatrix[11] in the following statement:

 

We repose all our hope in the most Blessed Virgin...who has crushed the poisonous head of the most cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world;...in her,...the most trustworthy helper of all who are in danger; in her, who with her only-begotten Son is the most powerful Mediatrix and Conciliatrix in the whole world....Having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race....Appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth...she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner.  What she asks, she obtains.[12]

 

The papal teachings of Leo XIII (1878–1903) portray the intense suffering Mary endured with her Son.  She “was already a participant” with the Redeemer at the temple offering (cf. Lk. 2:35), and continued to suffer “along with His most bitter sufferings” until faithfully and triumphantly, in a climactic act of great love, “she died with him” in her maternal heart:

 

It is true that Mary was not present [when Jesus suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, was scourged, etc.], but she was keenly and fully aware of those selfsame events.  When Mary functioned as handmaid and mother, and when she offered herself completely to God together with her Son in the temple, she was already a participant (consors) with Him in the painful atonement on behalf of the human race.  We may not doubt, therefore, that she suffered (condoluisse) along with His most bitter sufferings and with His torments in the very depths of her soul.  Finally, with Mary present and before her very eyes, the divine sacrifice for which she had borne and nurtured the victim was to be finished....We see “His mother Mary, weeping, standing by the cross of Jesus.”  She experienced this immense love for us so that she might receive us as her children.  Insofar as her Son was concerned, she offered Him to the justice of God.  In her heart she died with him (commoriens corde), her heart transfixed with a sword of suffering.[13]

 

Leo XIII offers a dynamic portrayal of Mary’s coredemptive suffering:  She painfully partakes  in “His torments in the very depths of her soul,” “weeping” at the cross of her dying Son and willingly offers him to divine justice.  This coredemptive suffering with the Redeemer was fitting and appropriate so that Mary “might receive us as her children.”

Thus beyond endorsing the Marian roles of Mediatrix, Reparatrix and Conciliatrix, Leo XIII brings to light the precious gift generously given to Mary by divine will:  her cooperation in the acquisition of the graces of redemption.  She has been granted “an almost boundless power” in dispensing the very graces won by her coredemptive participation with the Redeemer:

 

By the will of God this mother began to stand vigil over [advigilare] the Church and nurture us as His aide [administra] in effecting [patrandi] the sacrament of Redemption of mankind, dispensing [pariter administra] the graces that derive from our Redemption for all time with an almost boundless power granted her.  Most appropriately, therefore, all peoples and cultures have lavished public praises upon her, which have escalated throughout the ages, among many of which we might mention:  Our Lady (Domina), our mediatrix (mediatrix), the restorer (reparatrix) of the whole world, and the conciliatrix (conciliatrix) of the gifts of God.[14]

 

The Pope’s depiction of Mary’s vocation is so astonishing that we might not fully appreciate its importance.  Mary’s ancient title Domina is usually translated into English by the very weak “our lady.”  However, that word’s counterpart is Dominus  — LORD!  In Sacred Scripture, “Lord” is unambiguous for God Himself, even more clearly than “Son of God.”  Yet Domina is one of Mary’s titles that the Pope uses in the context of our Redemption by Christ.  Also, the significance of Adiutricem populi is further heightened when Vatican II, calling Mary “Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix,” refers us back to this encyclical.[15]

“We have shown that the Rosary,...coupled with [Mary’s] office of mediatrix [mediationis officio], is a most excellent and fruitful prayer of petition.”[16]  Pope Leo XIII draws the Christian faithful to recall the truths of the Rosary, prayer and our Lady’s mediating role which include her effective and unique participation in Redemption:

 

[Through the Rosary] we recall Mary’s exceptional merits by which she became a participant [facta est particeps] with her Son Jesus in the Redemption of mankind....She was not only present [non adfuit tantum] in the mysteries of our Redemption, but she played a part in them [interfuit].  In this way the all-powerful Virgin Mother, who once cooperated lovingly in the birth of the faithful in the Church, is also the means [media] and the agent [sequestra] of our salvation to the extent of bringing us back to Jesus Christ, “who is able to save forever all who come to God through Him”.[17]

 

This remarkable concatenation of Mary’s prerogatives depicts her cooperation with her Son.  It is cooperation that is 1) direct, immediate and dynamic; 2) bilateral, between Mary and Jesus precisely in His role as Redeemer; 3) not only an activity but a ministry — a role initiated by Him and assigned to her by Him to achieve our Redemption.  In these succinct quotations of Pope Leo XIII we see the Magisterium’s fullest description to date of the essence of Mary’s role as Coredemptrix.

Pope Saint Pius X (1903-1914) joins Pope Leo in calling Mary our Mediatrix, Conciliatrix (Conciliatrix), Restorer (Reparatrix), and Dispensatrix of all grace.  Pius X also resounds Pope Pius IX’s description of an “indissoluble bond” uniting “the Woman and her seed” as he tells us that the life and work of Mary and her Son are “never disassociated.”  “So perfect was the identity” of Mary’s coredemptive suffering with the Redeemer — a “communion of pain and will” — that she merited to become the Reparatrix and thus the Dispensatrix in distributing the graces of redemption:

 

The life and work of the Mother and Son are never disassociated...In the final moment of her Son, “His Mother stood by the cross of Jesus”, not just beholding the dread spectacle, but actually rejoicing that her only-begotten Son was being offered for the salvation of the human race.  So perfect was the identity of her suffering with her Son that, if at all possible, she would sustain even more intensely all the torments her Son endured.  Through this communion [communione] of pain and will between Christ and Mary, “she merited [promeruit] to become the most worthy restorer [reparatrix] of a lost world,” and hence, too [atque ideo] the disburser [dispensatrix] of all the gifts which Jesus bought for us by the price of His death and His blood.[18]

 

The precious gift and exalted role of Mediatrix of the graces of the redemption has been granted to Mary in light of her “communion with her Son in pain and sorrow,” that is, in light of and in reward to her unfailing perseverance in fulfilling her coredemptive mission.

The unequivocal primacy of the one Mediator, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Tim 2:5), who alone could reconcile humanity in his divinity and humanity is not undermined by the subordinate and dependent coredemptive role of Mary from which flows her likewise subordinate and dependent role as Mediatrix of the graces of redemption.  The rights of these gifts belong to Jesus Christ, and yet these gifts are generously bestowed upon Mary because of her communion and solidarity of suffering with the one Redeemer.  Pope St. Pius explains:

 

We do not deny that the distribution of these gifts belongs to Christ by His own personal right, since they were obtained for us by the death of Christ alone, and through His power He is the mediator between God and man.  Yet, as we have said, by Mary’s communion with her Son in pain and sorrow it was granted to the august Virgin “to be, along with her only-begotten Son, the most powerful mediatrix and conciliatrix [mediatrix et conciliatrix] of the whole world”.[19]

 

Pius X further expands the panoply of Marian titles used by Pope Leo XIII.  Going beyond the Marian titles of Mediatrix, Conciliatrix (Conciliatrix), Restorer (Reparatrix), and Dispensatrix of all grace, Pope Pius adds to the Mariological development when he sanctions the use of the word “Coredemptrix” by three Congregations of his Curia:  In the Congregation of Rites, we see the decree elevating the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the rite of a double of the second class: “Through this decree...may devotion to the merciful Coredemptrix [Conredemptrix] increase.”[20] The Holy Office repeats the title in the following section on Indulgences:

 

There are some people whose love for our Most Blessed Virgin inclines them never to pray to Jesus without mentioning the name of His mother, Blessed Mary, our Coredemptrix [Corredemptrice].  This laudable custom expands the invocation, or the Christian salutation:  “Praised be Jesus Christ,” concerning which this Congregation issued a decree on March 27, 1913.[21]

 

Six months later the Holy Office again employs the use of this term:

 

An indulgence granted to the following prayer for reparation addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the instrument of reparation [reparationis causa]:  “Blessed be your prerogative...of Coredemptrix [corredentrice] of the human race”.[22]

 

We can do more than presume that Pope St. Pius X personally approved their statements.  After all, they were published in the official Acta Apostolicae Sedis and were never recanted.  As cited above, on one occasion “Coredemptrix” was used by the Congregation of Rites, but twice this title passed the scrutiny of the Holy Office, the very congregation commissioned and entrusted to insure doctrinal integrity.  Therefore, we see here the Magisterium’s first three endorsements of Mary’s title “Coredemptrix” with an indulgenced encouragement to the faithful to recognize her blessed prerogative as “Coredemptrix of the human race.”

Although the papal teachings of Benedict XV (1914–1922) were possibly less conspicuous than his predecessors in the number of titles he attributed to Mary, perhaps he was more conspicuous than they in his comprehension of Mary’s office of Coredemptrix.  His encyclical Inter sodalicia was unambiguous in describing how Mary cooperated with Christ in his role as Redeemer.  In Benedict XV the Magisterium verbalized for the first time what Coredemption meant to Mary personally:  “She abdicated her maternal rights”[23]:

 

The Doctors of the Church state with one voice that the Blessed Virgin Mary was almost absent from the public life of Jesus Christ, but in God’s plan she was present when He was in His death agony and nailed to the cross.  To the same extent to which she almost died with her suffering and dying Son, she abdicated her maternal rights over her Son to save mankind and appease the justice of God.  With every fiber of her being she immolated her Son, so that she may rightly be said to have redeemed the human race together with Christ.  For this reason, those graces that flow from the treasury of the Redemption are administered (ministrantur) as it were through the hands of the same Sorrowful Virgin.  No one can fail to see that the work of our Redemption is effectively and permanently completed especially by this gift.[24]

 

Clearly, we see in Pope Benedict’s statement the doctrines of the Coredemptrix and Mediatrix:  Mary “redeemed the human race together with Christ” and “administers” those graces which flow from the redemption.  Benedict XV further endorsed the term “Mediatrix” through the prescript of the Congregation of Rites that approved a Mass and Office of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces.[25]

Pope Pius XI (1922–1939) continues the consistent teachings of the modern Popes in describing the essence of Mary’s coredemptive role in light of her “inscrutable and absolutely unique bond” with the Redeemer and her “offering of the Victim of sacrifice” for the acquisition of the life of grace for humanity:

 

The Virgin Mother of God...offered the Victim of sacrifice at the foot of the cross.  Through an inscrutable and absolutely unique bond [coniunctionem] with Christ she shines forth conspicuously as our Reparatrix [Reparatrix].  To her we direct our prayers to Christ, who is the one Mediator between God and men, who willed to unite His mother to Himself as an advocate [advocatam] of sinners and the dispensatrix and mediatrix [ministram ac mediatricem] of grace.[26]

 

Here also we see present the threefold office of Mary as Coredemptrix (Reparatrix), Mediatrix and Advocate.  This paragraph spans the full gamut of the Coredemption — objective and subjective — from Mary’s sharing in Christ’s sufferings to her distribution of grace.  This quotation is the third of four endorsements given by the Second Vatican Council to Mary’s titles:  “Advocate, Auxiliatrix [Helper], Adjutrix [Aide], and Mediatrix.”[27]

In a Papal Audience in 1933, Pius XI marked a Marian milestone when for the first time in Church history a Pope had personally and explicitly attributed the title “Coredemptrix” to Mary.  When he did so, he was in the Sala del Concistoro, seated on the papal throne.  Even the printer of the Vatican newspaper seems to have picked up the excitement.  For the headline “The Glories of Mary, Coredemptrix” he used a very conspicuous ten-point font.  The Pope tells us that  Mary not only gave us the instrument of Redemption, but she also raised Him for that very work and further shared in His Passion, accomplishing the redemptive victory.  Thus the Redeemer, says Pius XI, “could not help but associate His Mother in His work, and therefore we invoke her under the title of Coredemptrix”: 

 

In the very nature of things, the Redeemer could not help but associate [non poteva, per necessità di cose, non associare] His Mother in His work [opera]; and therefore we invoke her under the title of Coredemptrix [Corredentrice].  She has given us the Savior; she raised Him for the work [opera] of Redemption unto the cross, sharing in the suffering and death by which Jesus accomplished the Redemption of all men.  And it was upon the cross, in the last moments of His life, that the Redeemer proclaimed her our mother and the mother of all.  Ecce filius tuus”, He said of St. John, who represented all of us; and those other words, spoken to the Apostle were addressed to us too:  Ecce Mater tua”.[28]

 

Continuing his address, Pius XI celebrates the “universal motherhood of Mary” in these 1933 papal words:

 

These good people had come to celebrate with the Holy Father the nineteenth centenary not only of our Redemption but also of the universal motherhood of Mary, proclaimed so officially and solemnly in the very words of the Son of God in the especially solemn moment of His death.  They had come to render also this tribute of devotion to the Virgin Mother of all men, whom they could with filial pride call their mother in a very special way.[29]

 

A year later Pius XI again made use of the term “Coredemptrix.”   This occasion was a 1934 papal audience with pilgrims from Spain: 

 

By these words the Pope meant that [the pilgrims] had come to celebrate with the Vicar of Christ not only the nineteenth centenary of the Divine Redemption but also the nineteenth centenary of her role as Coredemptrix [Sua Corredenzione] and of her universal motherhood.

These young [pilgrims] must follow the thoughts and wishes of Mary most holy, who is our Mother and Coredemptrix [Corredentrice].  They too must make every effort to be coredeemers [coredentori] and apostles.[30] 

 

And in his 1935 Radio Message to Lourdes Pius XI invoked the Mother of Jesus once again as Coredemptrix, she who bears fruit in the redemptive work of her Son through her compassion:

 

O Mother of love and mercy, when your sweet Son was consummating the Redemption of the human race on the altar of the cross, you stood next to Him, suffering with Him as a Coredemptrix....Day by day preserve and increase in us, we beg you, the precious fruit of His redemption and your compassion as His Mother.[31]

 

Significantly, the occasion of this radio message was the solemn closing of the jubilee year of our Redemption.  We may legitimately understand the word “compassion” in its etymological sense (suffering with).  Thus our “Redemption” by Christ and the “compassion” of Mary become one in producing the single “fruit” for which the Pope prays.  Hence “compassion” and “Coredemption” are synonymous, in referring to the selfsame meritorious role of the new Eve with the new Adam in the redemptive victory.

If Pope Pius XI called Mary “Coredemptrix” only once, in 1933, that would have been noteworthy enough.  But the fact that he used basically the same word-form three times also in 1934 and once again in 1935 is highly significant.

Even though Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) did not explicitly use the title, “Coredemptrix,” his theological commentary on the coredemptive role of Mary manifests a development of this Marian role, particularly in regard to the patristic model of the “New Eve”.  Like his predecessors, he spoke emphatically and repeatedly of an organic union between Jesus and Mary — not only between the Son and his Mother, but between Jesus precisely in His redemptive sufferings, and Mary as His co-sufferer. 

In three encyclicals (Mystici Corporis Christi, Ad Caeli Reginam and Munificentissimus Deus) Pius XII states that Mary is “inexorably bound to her Son” (arctissime coniuncta).  Etymologically, coniuncta means “joined to the same yoke, like oxen pulling a plow.”  Regardless of whether or not he and Pius XI intentionally chose coniuncta because it has this derivation, they proffer to us a graphic portrait of Mary as Coredemptrix.  In Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis Christi, we read:

 

[Mary], always inexorably united [arctissime coniuncta] with her son, like a New Eve offered [obtulit] that same Son on Golgotha to the Eternal Father, together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and love, on behalf of all the children of Adam.  And so she, who was the physical mother of our Head, became the spiritual mother of His members also through a new title of suffering and glory.[32]

 

Pius XII points out that the offering of her Son with the holocaust of her maternal rights was a suffering directed for the specific end of the redemption of the “children of Adam.”

Seven years later in the encyclical  Munificentissimus Deus, the coredemptive role of Mary is expressed by Pope Pius XII in the Patristic language of the “new Eve,” reiterating once again the Fathers’ understanding that the battle against the devil was “jointly engaged in” by the new Eve with the new Adam, and thereby advanced the modern Magisterial doctrine of the Coredemptrix with the Redeemer:

 

Most of all, we must remember that since the second century the Virgin Mary has been proposed by the Fathers of the Church as the New Eve.  Although she was subject to the New Adam, she was inexorably bound [arctissime coniunctam] to Him in that struggle against the devil, which was prefigured in the Proto-gospel [Genesis 3:15]...and which resulted in that most complete victory over sin and death.  Hence, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and final sign of this victory, so also the battle that was jointly engaged in [commune cum Filio suo] by the Blessed Virgin and her Son had to terminate in the glorification of her virginal body.[33]

 

In his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, Pius XII continues to expound on this “redemptive alliance” of the Blessed Virgin with Jesus Christ, procuring life for the human race in a “recapitulation” of the first Eve-Adam alliance which brought death to the human race.  The human race is instrumentally “saved by a virgin”:

 

From the reasons given above, we derive the argument:  By the will of God Mary is allied [sociata] with Jesus Christ in procuring [procuranda] our spiritual salvation in a way similar to the way Eve was allied [consociata] with Adam, the principle of death.  Therefore, we may state that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a certain “recapitulation” in which the human race was saved by a virgin, just as it was plunged into death by a virgin.  We may also state that Our Lady was the beloved mother of Christ so that she might effectively become a participant [consors] in the redemption of the human race.  We may state further that she was always inexorably bound [arctissime coniuncta] to her Son....Christ is our King and Redeemer.  In an analogous way the most Blessed Virgin is queen, not only because she is the mother of God but also because she stands as one who was allied [consociata] with the new Adam like a new Eve.[34]

 

Pius XII’s May 13, 1946 radio message to Fatima speaks of Christ specifically as our Redeemer, and Mary’s association and cooperation with Him specifically in that role.  The Pope also attributes her cooperation “by right of conquest.”  Note that he had just spoken the right of Jesus’ conquest because of his “martyrdom.’  Because the Pope duplicates the phrase identically now in reference to Mary, we may conclude that her “right of conquest” is also attributable to her “martyrdom.”  Coredemption is nothing less than that:

 

Having been associated [associada] to the King of Martyrs in the indescribable work of human Redemption as Mother and minister [ministra], she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces that flow from the Redemption.  Jesus is King of the Eternal Ages by nature and by right of conquest; through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine motherhood, by conquest [por conquista], and by the singular choice [of the Father].[35]

 

This same radio message to Fatima is the fourth (and final) citation of official footnote number 278 of Lumen Gentium (pg. 91), documenting Vatican II’s use of Mary’s titles:  Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.[36]  Not insignificantly, he called Mary “Mediatrix” eight times.  The first schema of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium made thirty-two references to Pius XII.  The final text has seven references to him — the largest number for any non-biblical or patristic author.[37]  For Pius XII, Mary’s redemptive participation is also intimately associated with her revealed relationship to us as Mother:  “This mother [Mary] shone forth as our mother when our divine Redeemer was offering His sacrifice, and therefore by this title, too, we are her children.”[38]

And we should note that the petition to Pope Pius XII from the First International Mariological Congress, held in Rome in 1950, embodies a desire on the part of “the faithful” for a dogmatic definition of Mary’s coredemption and mediation, since her personal attributes were already defined:

 

Since the principal, personal attributes of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been already defined, it is the wish of the faithful that it should also be dogmatically defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary was intimately associated with Christ the Saviour in effecting human salvation, and, accordingly, she is the true collaborator in the work of redemption, spiritual Mother of all men, intercessor and dispenser of graces, in a word universal Mediatrix of God and man.[39]

 

The Marian pronouncements and official acts of Pope John XXIII (1958–1963) are voluminous; they total 476 pages.[40]  This single quotation can stand as typical of his thought on Mary’s association with Christ, our Redeemer:  “[Our Lady is] intimately associated [intimamente associata] in the Redemption in the eternal plans of the Most High.”[41]

Adding its Conciliar weight to the consistent Magisterial teaching, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (chapter 8) ratifies Mary’s coredemptive role in cooperation with the Redeemer.  Her “cooperation” is not a static, one-time act, but her “role” in the on-going mystery of our Redemption.  In this context, we see Mary’s cooperation as coredemptive[42]:

 

She is acknowledged and honored as...Mother of the Redeemer....At the same time she cooperated [cooperata est] out of love so that [the faithful] might be born in the Church....As it clarifies Catholic teaching concerning the Church, in which the divine Redeemer works salvation, this sacred Synod intends to describe with diligence the role of the Blessed Virgin in the mystery of the Incarnate Word and the Mystical Body.[43]

 

 In Lumen Gentium, nos. 55-56, the Council is plumbing the full depth of Genesis 3:15 and sees an implication (the foreshadowing of Mary’s cooperation in Christ’s victory) that the Prophets themselves might not have grasped.  Then the Council echoes Irenaeus’s bold encomium:  “[Mary] became a cause [causa] of salvation.”  Could any definition of “Coredemptrix” encompass more than that?  Yet that is exactly what the Council perceives as Mary’s “dynamic” role:

 

[The Old and New Testament] bring the figure of the woman, Mother of the Redeemer, into a gradually sharper focus.  When looked at in this way, she is already prophetically foreshadowed in that victory over the serpent (Gen. 3:15)....Mary...in subordination to [Jesus] and along with Him...served [inserviens] the mystery of the Redemption.  Rightly then do the Holy Fathers judge that Mary was not merely passively employed by God, but was cooperating through free faith and obedience in human salvation.  For, as St. Irenaeus says, she, “being obedient, became a cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.”[44]

 

Sacred Scripture singles out Calvary as the recapitulation and climax of Christ’s sufferings.  Just the preceding numbers indicate Mary’s association with Christ generally, but now, in Lumen Gentium nos. 57-59, the Council pinpoints the culmination and epitome of Mary functioning as Coredemptrix not only in her heartrending witnessing of Calvary but in her “uniting herself to His sacrifice and loving consent to the immolation of this victim.”  The Council clearly justifies our referring to her sufferings as coredemptive:

 

This union of the Mother with the Son in the work of salvation was manifested from the time of Christ’s virginal conception up to His death....Finally, 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....There [now on Calvary] she united herself with a maternal heart to His sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim.[45]

 

The Council Fathers further teach that Mary’s cooperation was utterly unique, bringing with it a maternal reward as “mother to us in the order of Grace.”  “This saving role” of the Mother of Jesus, and now Spiritual Mother of all humanity, continues to manifest itself in her ongoing mediating role in the work of salvation:

 

In an utterly singular way she cooperated...in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls....This maternity of Mary in the order of grace...will last without interruption....She did not lay aside this saving role, but by her manifold acts of intercession continues to win for us the gifts of eternal salvation....Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix [Helper], Adjutrix [Aide], and Mediatrix.[46]

 

Because Mary is intimately united with her Redeemer Son, she is also intimately bound to the Church, mediating seeds of “new and immortal life” to the faithful:

 

Mary is united with [unitur] her Son, the Redeemer, and with His singular graces and offices.  By these, the Blessed Virgin is also intimately bound [intime coniungitur] to the Church....In [our] birth and development she cooperate [cooperatur] with a maternal love....She brings forth to a new and immortal life children who are conceived of the Holy Spirit.[47]

 

We note that the four titles ascribed to Mary by the Council show an unprecedented concern for her social role.  Previously, critics complained that some of the Virgin Mary’s titles (Mother of God, Virgin, Immaculate Conception and Assumption) seemed strictly personal to her, without sufficient relevancy to “the social Church.”  Also, for the first time an Ecumenical Council endorsed the appropriateness of the term “Mediatrix.”  For two reasons we may conjecture that the proponents of the Coredemption were deterred from presenting a motion to add “Coredemptrix” to her other acceptable titles.  First, considering the vigorous debate at the Council concerning her title “Mediatrix,” they seem to have rested content when that title emerged as acceptable.  Secondly, the Council was a pastoral Council, which, as it said, “does not have it in mind to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which have not yet been fully illuminated by the work of theologians.”[48]  The Council approved Lumen Gentium in its entirety, including the celebrated Marian chapter 8 from which we have been quoting, by a vote of 2,151 to five.

In echo of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI (1963–1978) adds greater force to these titles by invoking the Mother of the Church as “our Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.”  He further continues the long-standing Magisterial teaching of the Blessed Virgin’s intimate and perpetual union with the Redeemer in the divine drama of salvation:

 

Mary, the Mother of God and of our Redeemer, has been united [unitam] with Christ in a tight and indissoluble bond.  To her has been granted a most exceptional responsibility in the mystery of the Incarnate Word and the Mystical Body, that is, in God’s plan of salvation.  In this regard we behold the Virgin Mother of God, who was present in the mysteries of Christ, but also as the mother of the Church....For us she is preeminent as our “Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.”[49]

 

The Church celebrates in her liturgy these salvific events in which Mary freely cooperates with her Saviour Son.  Pope Paul VI singles out a few of those commemorative triumphs:

 

The liturgy of the Incarnation celebrates “the Blessed Virgin’s free consent and cooperation in the plan of redemption” (pg. 2, no. 6).  The Nativity of Mary, the Visitation, and the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, “commemorate salvific events in which the Blessed Virgin was closely associated with her Son” (pg. 2, no. 7).  The Presentation “is the celebration of a mystery of salvation...with which the Blessed Virgin was intimately associated as the Mother of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh” (pg. 2, no. 7).[50]

 

Present throughout all these salvific moments in the life of Mary is the Holy Spirit who sustains and strengthens her in the work of redemption, producing “results ever more advantageous.”  Paul VI here highlights the critical spousal collaboration of the Holy Spirit and Mary in the “work of human redemption”:

 

Most holy bonds that bound and still bind the Virgin Mary to the Holy Spirit in the work of human redemption will produce results ever more advantageous...[51]

It was the Holy Spirit who strengthened the soul of the Mother of Jesus, who was present at the foot of the cross...inspiring her, as He did in the sacrifice of the Son for the redemption of the human race....She continues to be spiritually present in the redemption of all her children....She continues to be invoked as Advocate [Avvocata], Helper [Ausiliatrice], Aide [Soccorritrice], and Mediatrix [Mediatrice].[52]

 

In view of Pope Paul VI’s consistent Magisterial teaching we can say that he repeats his insistence on 1) the unique bond between Mary and our Redeemer and His Church, now calling her our “Mediatrix”; 2) Mary’s “intimate association with the mystery of salvation”; 3) the Holy Spirit inspiring Mary “to want to be associated as a mother in the sacrifice of the Son for the redemption of the human race”; and 4) Mary’s “spiritual presence in the redemption of all her children.” 

True to his motto Totus Tuus Maria, Pope John Paul II’s writings and public statements represent an outstanding contribution to Mariology, and continues the rich ordinary Magisterial teaching on Mary’s coredemptive role, expressing with even greater clarity the doctrines of the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate already present in the Second Vatican Council’s Lumen Gentium.  The excerpts below, which include the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, are a concatenation of his references to the direct and immediate cooperation of Mary in Christ’s redemptive sufferings.

  Mary, Mother of the Redemption, was prepared in advance so that she could fulfill perfectly her God-given mission with her Son in the redemptive liberation.  Advancing Pope Paul VI’s teaching that “Most holy bonds bound and still bind the Virgin Mary to the Holy Spirit in the work of human redemption,” producing fruits “ever more advantageous,” John Paul II reminds us at a General Audience in 1983 that it is Mary filled with grace that allowed for and gave “maximum value” to her participation in the work of redemption: “The fullness of grace allowed [Mary] to fulfill perfectly her mission of collaboration with the work of salvation; it gave the maximum value to her cooperation in the sacrifice.”[53]  It is the Holy Spirit present at every moment of Mary’s life who gives the greatest possible value to her salvific work with the Redeemer.  The foundation of Mary’s coredemptive activity is her fullness of grace.  She is the “Coredemptrix” because she was first the “Immaculate Conception.”

Coredemption reached a profound, personal kenosis for Mary at Calvary.  It was there that she offered both herself and her Son to divine justice, freely uniting herself to his Sacrifice for the salvation of the human family.  Thus the coredeeming Mother constitutes an active, not passive,  part in the redemptive Sacrifice of Calvary.  The Holy Father makes this clear in a 1983 Angelus address:

 

In that one Sacrifice [of the Cross], Mary, the first redeemed, the Mother of the Church, had an active part.  She stood near the Crucified, suffering deeply with her Firstborn; with a motherly heart she associated herself with his Sacrifice; with love she consented to his immolation (cf. “Lumen Gentium,” 58; “Marialis Cultus,” 20); she offered him and she offered herself to the Father.[54]

 

This active participation in suffering with the Redeemer reached its culmination at Calvary.  In his 1984 apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris, John Paul points our gaze to the foot of the Cross, the climax in the work of redemption where Mary’s ascent of Calvary with her redeeming Son reached “an intensity” beyond human comprehension, bearing fruit for the salvation of the world:

 

It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view...which was mysterious and supernaturally fruitful for the redemption of the world.  Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the Cross together with the Beloved Disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son [pg. 6, no. 25].[55]

 

Hence Mary not only had an active participation in the redemptive victory but it was fruitful as well, in light of her “special sort of sharing” in the suffering and death of her redeeming Son.  And as a gift for this sacrificial act of great love with the Redeemer, the coredeeming Mother received from her dying Son the providential gift of a “new kind of motherhood.”  Mary, “Mother of the human race,” continues to bring the graces of redemption to the human family:

 

As though by a continuation of that motherhood which by the power of the Holy Spirit had given him life, the dying Christ conferred upon the ever Virgin Mary a new kind of motherhood [emphasis given] - spiritual and universal — toward all human beings [pg. 7, no. 26].[56]

 

In his address in Ecuador a year later, the Holy Father continued his commentary on the “particularly important moment” at the foot of the Cross.  Mary’s coredemptive journey led her to that excruciating moment where she accepted and assisted in the sacrifice of her Son, the very moment that the Church and all humanity was entrusted to her maternal care by her crucified Son:

 

The silent journey that begins with her Immaculate Conception...finds on Calvary a particularly important moment.  There also, accepting and assisting at the sacrifice of her Son, Mary is the dawn of Redemption; and there her Son entrusts her to us as our Mother....Crucified spiritually with her crucified Son (cf. Gal. 2:20), she contemplated with heroic love the death of her God, she “lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth” (Lumen Gentium, 58)...At Calvary she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son that led to the foundation of the Church [pg. 7, no. 5].[57]

 

Mary, “the dawn of redemption,” willingly united herself with the one redeeming Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Spiritually crucified with him, she offered both herself with her victim Son.  The Holy Father makes it unequivocally certain that Mary’s contribution to the work of redemption was an active, real, and effective collaboration in the reconciliation between man of God: 

 

Mary is not the dawn of our redemption in the manner of an invert, passive instrument....Mary’s participation was real and effective.  In giving her consent to the message of the Angel, Mary agreed to collaborate in the entire work of mankind’s reconciliation with God [Pg. 7, no. 4].[58]

 

And further in his address in Ecuador, not only is Mary’s coredemptive role made explicit by Pope John Paul II under the particular title “Coredemptrix,” but he also tells us that this role did not cease after our Lord’s glorification:

 

As she was in a special way close to the Cross of her Son, she also had to have a privileged experience of His Resurrection.  In fact, Mary’s role as co-redemptrix [corredentor] did not cease with the glorification of her Son [pg. 7, no. 6].[59]

 

And again, two months later during his 1985 Palm Sunday Angelus address, the Holy Father sanctions the appropriate invocation of Mary under this title in her ongoing role as Spiritual Mother: 

 

May Mary our Protectress, the Co-redemptrix [la Corredentrice], to whom we offer our prayer with great outpouring, make our desire generously correspond to the desire of the Redeemer.[60]

 

In the first two pages of his 1987 encyclical letter Redemptoris Mater, John Paul II begins by stating that God “associated this hidden ‘daughter of Zion’ with the plan of salvation embracing the whole history of humanity” (pp. 1-2, no. 3).[61]  The Holy Father continues to explore this coredemptive kenosis wherein Mary entirely “abandons herself” to the providential will of God, pre-eminently sharing in the very death of her redeeming Son:  “How completely she ‘abandons herself to God’ without reserve, ‘offering the full assent of her intellect and will’ to him whose ‘ways are inscrutable’ (cf. Rom 11:33)!...Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death” (pg. 5, no. 18).[62]  This coredemptive sharing in the redeeming death of her Son further confirms Mary’s most eminent and unique association with the Redeemer in restoring life to souls.  In echo of the Second Vatican Council’s Lumen Gentium (nos. 61-62), John Paul affirms this Magisterial teaching: 

 

Mary became “an associate of unique nobility, and the Lord’s humble handmaid,” who “cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the Saviour’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls” [pp. 6-7, no. 22].[63]

 

Redemptoris Mater further cites Vatican II when it restates the Council’s teaching that “Mary figured profoundly in the history of salvation and in a certain way unites and mirrors within herself the central truths of the faith” (pg. 7, no. 25, citing Lumen Gentium, n. 65).[64]

The Holy Father tells us that in Mary’s “pilgrimage to the foot of the Cross there was simultaneously accomplished her maternal cooperation with the Saviour’s whole mission through her actions and sufferings” (p. 11, no. 39).[65]  John Paul’s Mother of the Redeemer continues the Magisterial teachings of Mary’s ongoing presence in the mysteries of redemption.  His Holiness looks to the Gospel of John to express the profound implications of Mary’s “new motherhood,” as “mother to us in the order of grace” (cf. Lumen Gentium, no.61). It is salvific and universal, a maternal mediation where the Mother of the redemption brings the needs of humanity within reach of her redeeming Son’s saving power:

 

[The Gospel narrative in John 2] clearly outlines the new dimension, the new meaning of Mary’s motherhood....This “motherhood”...is to be in the dimension of the Kingdom of God, in the salvific radius of God’s fatherhood...bringing those needs [of the wedding feast] within the radius of Christ’s messianic mission and salvific power.  Thus there is a mediation... [pg. 2, no. 21].[66]

 

Our Mother’s maternal mediation does not diminish Christ’s universal primacy as the one Mediator between God and Man (cf. 1 Tim 2:5), as it is a sharing in the one unique source that is the mediation of Christ himself. It remains wholly secondary, subordinate and dependent upon the one Mediator, Jesus Christ, while at the same time constituting “a real dimension of her presence” in her Son’s saving mystery.  Citing  Lumen Gentium, nos. 61–62, the Holy Father repeats this teaching of the Council: 

 

The teaching of the Second Vatican Council presents the truth of Mary’s mediation as “a sharing in the one unique source that is the mediation of Christ himself.”  Thus we read:  “The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary” [citing Lumen Gentium, no. 61]....This role constitutes a real dimension of her presence in the saving mystery of Christ and the Church [pg. 7, no. 38].[67]

 

In sum, the contribution of John Paul’s encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, further advances the doctrinal development concerning the revealed truth about the Mother of redemption.  It offers a dynamic representation of the coredeeming Mother’s personal kenosis with the redeeming death of her Son.  It further elucidates the ongoing presence of Mary in the mysteries of redemption, manifested in her universal maternal mediation.  Redemptoris Mater also reiterates the Second Vatican Council’s teaching that “Mary figured profoundly” in God’s plan of restoring life to souls, “an associate of unique nobility” who offered herself with her Saviour Son for the salvation of the human family.  Clearly, we see in this 1987 encyclical of John Paul II the continuation of the doctrines of Coredemptrix and Mediatrix in Magisterial teaching.

Two years later in a 1989 address in Italy, His Holiness refers to Mary specifically under the title “mediatrix of grace” as she reflects all the more her Son’s salvific power:  “Enlightened by the fullness of Christ’s light, Mary, mediatrix of grace, reflects him.”[68]  And in a 1991 Angelus address, the Holy Father again, for a third time, advocates the use of the title “Coredemptrix” when he cites with approval the invocation of Mary under this title by St. Birgitta : “[St. Birgitta]...invoked [Mary] as the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Co-redemptrix.”[69]

John Paul continued to promulgate Mary’s coredemptive role on different occasions in 1993.  For example, in an address to youth in Sicily, he stated:  “The Virgin of Nazareth...offered herself with Christ for the redemption of all humanity,”[70] and four months later in a homily at the shrine of Our Lady of Siluva, the Holy Father spoke of Mary’s coredemptive “self-offering” with her Redeeming Son:  “The true ‘Daughter of Zion’...offered herself with him in an excruciating act of faith on Calvary.”[71]  This consistent theme of Mary’s coredemptive suffering is again referred to in these 1993 papal words:  “The Stabat Mater...is the figure of Mary at the foot of the cross, witness of faith in the Redeemer and sharer in his sufferings for the salvation of the world.”[72]  And in the 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor, John Paul further alludes to Mary’s coredemptive participation as she exercised her freedom by giving herself to God who gives Himself to the world:  “[Mary]...accompanied [the Son of God] in that supreme act of freedom which is the complete sacrifice of his own life.”[73]

These quotations become tessera of a mosaic of Mary, Coredemptrix, with a portrait complete in each part and in the whole, as the soul animates the whole body and exists entirely in every cell.  They continue with ever greater clarity the ordinary Magisterial teachings of Mary’s intimate cooperation with the Redeemer in the work of redemption.   They represent the mind of the Holy Father and his predecessors on the life and work of the “hidden daughter of Zion,” prepared and sustained by the Holy Spirit from the moment of her Immaculate Conception to “her ascent of Calvary,” where she freely “accepted and assisted” at the Sacrifice of her Son and was entrusted with the maternal care of the Church and all humanity.  The Holy Father speaks with particular empathy for Mary’s profound sufferings at the cross of her Son where she “offered herself with him in an excruciating act of faith,” her suffering reaching “an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view” and “was mysterious and supernaturally fruitful for the redemption of the world.”  Because Mary’s meritorious participation in the redemption was “active, real and effective” which “figured profoundly in the history of salvation” (cf. Lumen Gentium, no. 65), the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, continuing the rich teachings of his predecessors, speaks and writes prolifically of Mary’s maternal mediation and of her coredemptive role from which it comes.  John Paul II therefore does not hesitate to invoke the “dawn of redemption” under the title “Coredemptrix” as he has on three separate occasions.[74]

 

Catechism of the Catholic Church[75]

 

The universal Catechism contains nothing new on the subject of Mary’s coredemption and mediation as new development  is not the intention of the Catechism, but rather an authoritative synthesis of what the Church teaches, particularly in light of the documents of the Second Vatican Council.  The universal Catechism continues to teach the doctrine of Mary’s redemptive cooperation with Jesus Christ, and has quoted with a particular completeness the coredemption and mediation paragraphs of Lumen Gentium, chapter 8, nos. 58 and 61-62 respectively.

Referring back to the book of Genesis, the Protoevangelium, the Catechism again sounds the theme of the “new Eve” which certainly prepared and advanced the coredemptive doctrine promulgated in modern Magisterial teaching.  Paragraph 410-411 states:

 

This passage in Genesis [3:15] is called the Protoevangelium (“first gospel”): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of hers....Many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve” [pg. 104].

 

The Catechism first states that Genesis 3:15 pertains to our Redemption, which involves a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and the final victory of her descendants.  Then the Catechism identifies Mary as the Woman.  Since the battle and the triumph pertain to the Redeemer and his mother, we may legitimately call Mary’s role coredemptive.

“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 the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life” (488, pg. 123, quoting Lumen Gentium, no.56).  Here the Catechism quotes verbatim  Lumen Gentium, Vatican II’s document on Mary, and appends footnote number 127, which cites not only “LG 56” but also “cf. LG 61,” which in turn says:  “She...was united with Him in suffering as He died on the cross.  In an utterly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls.”  Therefore, through its double reference to Lumen Gentium, the Catechism proffers a self-commentary on Mary’s role as Coredemptrix.  See also number 964 below.

Paragraph 502 states:  “...the welcome Mary gave that mission [of Christ] on behalf of all men” (pg. 127).  This allusion - vague though it may seem - to the “welcome” that Mary gave to the mission of Christ seems to imply not only that Mary’s and Christ’s lives overlapped, but that their roles, too, overlapped in our redemption.

We might not easily grasp the depth of this simple sentence contained in paragraph 529:  “The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary [cf. Lk. 2:35] announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross” (pg. 134).  If Mary’s sword of sorrow had done nothing more than “announce Christ’s oblation,” that announcement would already implicate her as a Coredemptrix, because the message that is announced is of our Redemption.

The Catechism’s paragraph 964 goes one step further than Lumen Gentium by saying that Mary’s union with Christ is “made more manifest at the hour of His passion” and goes on to quote in its entirety the paragraph of Lumen Gentium, chapter 8, dedicated to Mary’s coredemption, number 58:

 

Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it.  “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” [quoting Lumen Gentium, no. 57]; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:  “Thus the blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross.  There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her:  to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words:  ‘Woman, behold your son’” (pg. 251, quoting Lumen Gentium, no. 58, and citing John 19:26-27).

 

In number 529 the Catechism uses two descriptive phrases:  one Christological, the other Mariological.  So too in number 964 the Catechism does exactly the same.  In number 529 we saw that Jesus’ “unique oblation on the cross” warrants our calling Jesus our Redeemer and Mary our Coredemptrix.  In number 964 the Catechism implicitly sanctions all the more our calling her “Coredemptrix” because of the multiple examples that are given.

Number 973 is the Catechism’s own “In Brief” of the previous section, which includes number 964:  “She is mother wherever he is Savior and Head of the Mystical Body” (pg. 254).

Paragraph 410 (cited earlier) described the Eve-Mary parallel (or rather antithesis) as coredemptive on Mary’s part; so too, now in its last pages (number 2618), the Catechism not only repeats the same Eve-Mary parallel but extends Mary’s coredemptive role to its ultimate significance:  “Mary, the New Eve, the true Mother of the living.”  Number 2618 states:  “It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross, that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true ‘Mother of the living’” (pg. 630).

In sum, the theology of Mary’s coredemption and mediation is well-presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Apart from Christ our Redeemer, Mary is the only person mentioned in this book as a collaborator in the redemptive mission of Christ.  With the possible exception of the Catechism’s references to Mary’s virginity, no other Marian concept receives the emphasis given to Mary’s direct and immediate cooperation in Christ’s suffering and death for our Redemption.

 

Conclusion

 

Beyond the consistent ordinary Magisterial teaching of Mary’s coredemption and mediation in providential service of her Saviour Son, we also see the Magisterium’s direct usage of the term “Coredemptrix”.

As cited earlier in the text, the Magisterium under Pope St. Pius X used the term “Coredemptrix” three times:  May 13, 1908 (Congregation of Rites); June 26, 1913 (Holy Office); and January 22, 1914 (Holy Office).

Pius XI employed the term five times on three separate occasions (also cited in the text):  November 30, 1933 in a papal audience with a pilgrimage from Vicenza; March 24, 1934 in a papal audience with pilgrims from Spain; and April 28, 1935 in a radio message to Lourdes.

John Paul II has also confirmed the appropriate use of this term on three separate occasions:  January 31, 1985 in his address in Guayaquil, Ecuador; March 31, 1985 in his Palm Sunday Angelus address; and in citing with approval the invocation of Mary by St. Birgitta under this term on October 6, 1991 in his Angelus address. 

Prior to Vatican II, the four Marian definitions (her divine Maternity, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception and Assumption) do not of themselves betoken any conspicuously ecclesial or “social” role of Mary.[76]  But during the Council we witnessed a “subtle shift” when Pope Paul proclaimed Mary as “Mother of the Church.”[77]  His words were no novelty, but they received a unique standing ovation.  Then the Council annunciated in its own name Mary as “Mediatrix” — again, a title that by definition is more than strictly personal to her.

Significant also is the Council’s decision to include its tract on Mary in its “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” (Lumen Gentium), rather than issuing it as an independent document or including it in any of the other fifteen documents.

In the foregoing study we have been reviewing the acceptance by the Magisterium of the concept of Coredemption, sometimes with the use of the term “Coredemption” or “Coredemptrix.”  Mary’s titles “Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix” have passed the Council’s own litmus test of “the signs of the times.”  So too has her title “Coredemptrix.” 

The preceding article assures us that the ordinary Magisterium of the Church — in substance and in word — portrays Mary as a direct, immediate, effective cooperator with her Son in His redemptive sufferings - a Marian role that is fittingly called “Coredemption”, with Mary fittingly called our “Coredemptrix.”  We believe that a papal definition  of the Marian titles Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate will mark the fitting completion of authentic Marian dogma revealed by God for the spiritual and perpetual benefit of the People of God.

 

 



[1]      Says Father Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M.: "What does the word `Co‑redemptrix'    mean?  For some theologians, it refers to Mary's cooperation in the                Redemption in the sense that she knowingly and willingly gave birth to the           Redeemer (indirect, remote cooperation), and that she dispenses to us the              fruits (graces) of the Redemption already accomplished by Christ alone (technically: cooperation in the subjective Redemption).  The majority,           however, believes that, besides the two types of cooperation just mentioned,         Mary also contributed to the Redemption itself, i.e., to the redemptive             action of Christ which was consummated on Calvary (called objective   Redemption)."  In Dictionary of Mary, 29 authors, Catholic Book             Publishing Co. (New York, 1985), s.v. "Co‑redemptrix," pg. 57.  See also     Father Carol's brief bibliography at the end of his article. See also his       monumental De Corredemptione B.V.M.(Vatican, 1950).

[2]      Documents of Vatican II: All Sixteen Official Texts Promulgated by the         Ecumenical Council, 1963–1965, ed. Walter M. Abbott, S.J.; transl.:            Msgr. Joseph Gallagher, America Press (New York, 1966); "Lumen           Gentium," no. 62, pg. 91, hereafter cited as LG.  In this article all English          quotations will be from this source, reprinted with permission of America               Press, Inc., 106 W. 56th Street, New York, NY 10019 © 1966, all rights             reserved.  For Latin of Lumen Gentium see Acta Apostolicae Sedis 57     (January 30, 1965), chap. 8, pp. 58–67, hereafter cited as AAS. 

[3]      `Objective' Redemption is the price Jesus paid for our forgiveness and grace.                `Subjective' Redemption is God's distribution of grace to us.  Mary's             cooperation in our objective Redemption is either `immediate' (she shared in          some way with Jesus in His payment of the price for our forgiveness and                 grace), or it is `remote' (she merely gave us Jesus, who paid the price for our         Redemption).  Mary's cooperation in our subjective Redemption is either        `immediate' (as an instrument, like the Sacraments) or `remote' (she merely             intercedes for grace).  There is a primary need for theologians to clarify the            interdependence of Mary's titles: Coredemptrix and Mediatrix.

[4]      Leverett’s Lexicon of the Latin Language, J.B. Lippincott Co (Philadelphia,     1850).

[5]      Says Father Carol, O.F.M., in Dictionary of Mary, s.v. "Mediatrix,", pg.           226: "A `mediator' is one who stands between two persons or groups               of persons either to facilitate an exchnge of favors or, more often, to        reconcile parties at variance.  As applied to Mary, the title `Mediatrix' dates    back to the 6th century in the East, and to the 9th century in the West.   Since the 17th century it has been widely used by Catholics everywhere....      Our Lady may be styled `Mediatrix' either (a) because, as worthy Mother of           God and full of grace, she occupies a `middle' position between God and His                creatures; or (b) because, together with Christ and under Him, she cooperated            in the reconciliation of God and humankind while she was still on earth; or             (c) because she distributes the graces which God bestows on His children.                For a chronicle of the battle of words during the Second Vatican Council,               see Michael O'Carroll, C.S.Sp., Theotokos: A  Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Michael Glazier (Wilmington, 1982), s.v.         "Mediation, Mary Mediatress," pp. 242–245, hereafter cited as Theotokos.

[6]      Mark I. Miravalle, Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, Queenship      Publishing (Santa Barbara, 1993), pg. 14, n. 67. See idem, pg. 36, n. 151.        See also Carol, O.F.M., Dictionary of Mary, s.v. "Co‑redemptrix," pg. 57.                See also O'Carroll, Theotokos, s.v. "Antipater of Bosra," pg. 36, and      "Proclus of Constantinople," pp. 296–297.

[7]      Gloriosae Dominae (September 27, 1748), Benedicti et Domini nostri              Domini Benedicti divina providentia Papae XIV: Litterae Apostolicae, Typis              Reverendae Camerae Apostolicae (Rome, 1748), pp. 5–6).

[8]      See Ampliatio privilegiorum ecclesiae B.M. Virginis ab angelo salutatae in                coenobio Fratrum Ordinis Servorum B.M.V. Florentiae, in Miravalle,      Mary, pg. 40, n. 180, citing J. Bourasse, Summa aurea..., v. 7, Paris,          1862, col. 546. 

[9]      Apostolic Constitution of Pius IX: Ineffabilis Deus, Defining the Dogma of   the Immaculate Conception, issued December 8, 1854, pg. 13, St. Paul             Books & Media (Boston), no date. For the Latin of the words of the         definition, see DS, Enchiridion, pp.561–562, no. 2803. For the complete        Latin encyclical see Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta, pars 1A, pp. 597–619,                Bonarum Artium, no city or date.

[10]    Ibid. pp. 15-16

[11]    Surprisingly, chapter eight of Lumen Gentium does not cite Ineffabilis            Deus among the references in n. 278 (pg. 91) to Mary's titles.  The only    reference to Pius IX is in n. 273, pg. 90, regarding her Immaculate              Conception.

[12]    Ineffabilis Deus, pp. 21-23.

[13]    Jucunda semper, September 8, 1894, Acta Sanctae Sedis 27 (1894–   1895):178, hereafter cited as ASS.

[14]    Adiutricem populi, September 5, 1895, ASS 28 (1895–1896): 130-131.

[15]    Documents of Vatican II, LG no. 62, pg. 91, n. 278.

[16]    Diuturni temporis spatium, September 5, 1898, ASS 31 (1898–1899):147.

[17]    Parta humano generi, September 8, 1901, ASS 34 (1901–1902): 194‑195.

[18]    Ad diem illum, February 2, 1904, ASS 36 (1903–1904):453–454.

[19]    Ibid., ASS 36 (1903–1904):454.

[20]    Congregation of Rites, May 13,1908, ASS 41 (1908):409.

[21]    Holy Office (Section on Indulgences), June 26, 1913, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 5 (1913):364–365, hereafter cited as AAS.

[22]    Ibid., January 22, 1914, AAS 6 (1914):108.

[23]    Note the very title of Pope John Paul II's encyclical Salvifici Doloris (The      Salvific Value of Suffering). See ORE no. 882 (Feb. 20, 1984).

[24]    Inter sodalicia, March 22, 1918, AAS 10 (May 1, 1918):182.

[25]    See Miravalle, Mary, pg. 43, n. 193.  See also O'Carroll,        Theotokos, s.v. "Mercier, Désiré Joseph, Cardinal," pg. 255, col. 2.

[26]    Miserentissimus Redemptor, May 8, 1928, AAS 20 (June 1, 1928): 178.

[27]    See n. 15 above.

[28]    “The Papal Audience with a Piligrimage from Vicenza: The Glories of               Mary, Coredemptrix of the Human Race.”  L’Osservatore Romano (Italian) (Dec. 1, 1933), no. 281, #123, 344, pg. 3, col. 1.  A comment is      in order on the topography of this article. We have enclosed the words of the Pope in quotation marks; the newspaper did not. However, because of the             tight reportorial style of the article, we did not hesitate to cite them as a    direct quotation.  The paragraph that immediately precedes it begins — without any quotation marks:  Ecco, iniziava il Suo dire l’Augusto Pontefice, ecco di nuovo Vicenza a Roma.  When we translate this sentence         into English, for accuracy and intelligibility we are constrained to punctuate                 sentence thusly:  “Look!”  said the August pontiff as he began to speak.    “Look!”  “Vicenza [has come] again to Rome.”  The Vatican reporter had no      need to introduce the following paragraph  (the one we have cited) with the               words: “The Holy Father continued...”  Therefore, we are certainly justified            in taking the paragraph that we have cited as a direct quotation of the Holy     Father and to punctuate it as such.

[29]    Ibid.

[30]    Papal Audience with pilgrims from Spain, L’Osservatore Romano (March       25, 1934), no. 69, #22, 437, pg. 1, col. 2. Because of the non-use of     quotation marks in L’Osservatore Romano, we here face the same problem             that we have discussed in our preceding reference:  Which words are a direct                quotation of the Pope?  In this case, the answer is not as clear as before.                Here the two paragraphs are obviously the words of the reporter.  But we      think it is equally obvious that the reporter did not himself choose the three         most highly important words of his report: “Corredenzione”,              “Corredentrice”, and “coredentori”.  Hence we may rightly attribute these      three words to the Holy Father himself.

[31]    Radio Message to Lourdes, April 28, 1935, L'Osservatore Romano (April        29‑‑30, 1935):1.

[32]    Mystici Corporis Christi, June 29, 1943, AAS 35 (1943): 247–248.

[33]    Munificentissimus Deus, Nov. 1, 1950, AAS 42 (Nov. 4, 1950): 768).

[34]    Ad Caeli Reginam, Oct. 11, 1954, AAS 46 (1954):634‑‑635.

[35]    Radio Message to Fatima, May 13, 1946, AAS 38 (July 6, 1946): 266.

[36]    Interestingly, in this radio address we do not find any of the four titles to       which Lumen Gentium is referring in footnote 278.  One might think that    the Council's reference is irrelevant.  We may possibly explain this reference          by saying that the Council saw in the radio address the concepts that        underlie these four titles, although the Holy Father did not use them.  If my            conjecture is correct, and granting that the radio address does implicitly       describe Mary's office as Coredemptrix, we may rightly conclude that the         Council has endorsed, at least implicitly, intentionally or not, the concept       of Mary being our Coredemptrix.  Certainly the same could be said about        Lumen Gentium n. 58 and the title, “Coredemptrix”.

[37]    See O'Carroll, Theotokos, s.v. "Mediation, Mary Mediatress," pg. 242, col.     1, and pg. 244, col. 2.  See also ibid., s.v. "Pius XII," pg. 290, col. 1–2.

[38]    Meiator Dei, November 20, 1947, AAS 39 (Dec. 2, 1947):582.

[39]    Alma Socia Christi, Proceedings of Rome International Mariological           Congress, 1950, 234.

[40]    See Theotokos, s.v. "John XXIII, Pope," pg. 206.

[41]    Homily for the Canonization of St. Peter Julian Eymard, December 9,                 1962, AAS 55 (Jan. 30, 1963):10.

[42]    In Theotokos (s.v. "Benedict XIV," pg. 74, col. 2) Father O'Carroll sees            "part" of Benedict XIV's encyclical Gloriosae Dominae "written into LG   53."  However, the single official footnote in LG, no. 53, cites only St.      Augustine.

[43]    Documents of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, chapter 8, nos. 53–54. See               footnote n. 2 above.

[44]    Ibid. nos. 55-56.

[45]    Ibid. nos. 57-59.

[46]    Ibid. nos. 61-62. Some might translate Auxiliatrix as `Helper', and Adiutrix        as `Aide'.

[47]    Ibid. nos. 63-65.

[48]    Ibid. no. 54.

[49]    Signum magnum, May 13, 1967, quoting Lumen Gentium, no. 62, AAS.            59 (June 28, 1967):466‑‑468.

[50]    Marialis Cultus, Feb. 2, 1974, L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no.     314 (April 4, 1974), hereafter cited as ORE.

[51]    Letter to Cardinal Suenens, May 13, 1975, AAS 67 (June 30, 1975):354–             355.

[52]    Ibid., AAS:356-357.

[53]    General Audience, December 7, 1983, ORE no. 813 (Dec. 12, 1983):1, no.          3.

[54]    Angelus Address on June 5, 1983, ORE no. 788 (June 13, 1983):2.

[55]    Salvifici Doloris, February 11, 1984, ORE no. 822 (Feb. 20, 1984).

[56]    Ibid.

[57]    Address at Alborada, Guayaquil, Ecuador, January 31, 1985, ORE no. 876       (March 11, 1985).

[58]    Ibid.

[59]    Ibid.

[60]    Palm Sunday Angelus address, March 31, 1985, ORE no. 880 (April 9,              1985):12, no. 2.

[61]    Redemptoris Mater, March 25, 1987.

[62]    Ibid.

[63]    Ibid.

[64]    Ibid.

[65]    Ibid.

[66]    Ibid.

[67]    Ibid.

[68]    Address at Orte, Italy, September 17, 1989, ORE no. 1109 (Oct. 2,      1989):3, no. 3.

[69]    Angelus Address, October 6, 1991, ORE. no. 1211 (Oct. 14, 1991):4, no.           2.

[70]    Address to Youth in Agrigento, Sicily, May 9, 1993, ORE no. 1292 (May         26, 1993):7, no. 6.

[71]    Homily at Shrine of Our Lady of Siluva, Lithuania, September 7,        1993, ORE no. 1307 (September 15, 1993):6, no. 4.

[72]    Remarks at Concert Celebrating His Anniversary of His Election, October       16, 1993, ORE no. 1313 (October 27, 1993):12.

[73]    Veritatis Splendor, August 6, 1993, ORE no. 1310 (October 6, 1993):XIX,        no. 120.

[74]    As cited in the text:  Address at Alborada, Guayaquil, Ecuador, January 31,    1985, ORE no. 876 (March 11, 1985); Palm Sunday Angelus address,                 March 31, 1985, ORE no. 880 (April 9, 1985): 12, no. 2; and in citing           with approval the invocation of Mary by St. Birgitta under this term in   Angelus Address, October 6, 1991, ORE no. 1211 (Oct. 14, 1991):4, no.    2).

[75]    English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, United States   of America, © 1944, the United States Catholic Conference —Libreria              Editrice Vaticana, used with permission.  This translation is subject to     revision according to the official Latin typical edition when it is published.              On Oct. 11, 1994, the Vatican Press said that they expect a Latin edition "in            about a year."

[76]    Note the reason for the petition of the First International Mariological             Congress to Pope Pius XII: "Since the principal, personal attributes of the   Blessed Virgin Mary have already been defined [italics added], it is the wish        of the faithful that it should also be dogmatically defined that the Blessed             Virgin Mary was intimately associated with Christ the Saviour in effecting              human salvation, and, accordingly, she is a true collaborator in the work of         redemption, spiritual Mother of all men, intercessor and dispenser of graces,   in a word universal Mediatress of God and men."  In O'Carroll, Theotokos,             s.v. "Mediation, Mary Mediatress," pg. 242, col. 2.  For the same criticism          by contemporary theologians see John A. Schug, Cap., Mary, Mother, St.              Francis Chapel Press (Springfield, MA, 1992), pp. 204–205.  Notice, in            contrast, the leitmotiv of the entire 1993 issue of Marian Studies.  Even the         article "Our Lady of Guadalupe" has as its subtitle: "A Sign of Ecclesial          Unity" (pp. 88–105).

[77]    For a historical survey and bibliography, see O'Carroll, Theotokos, s.v.           "Mother of the Church," pp. 251‑‑253.




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