Mediatrix of all Graces

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There are five traditional Catholic beliefs about Mary:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)that she is the Mother of God;
littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)that she was Ever-Virgin;
littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)that she was immaculately conceived;
littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)that she was assumed into Heaven and crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth; and
littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)that she is Mediatrix of all Graces, Co-Redemptrix and Advocate for the People of God.

The first four of these have been defined as dogmas of the faith (ie, they have been infallibly defined by the Pope or by an Ecumenical Council). There is considerable impetus at the moment for the Holy Father to make an ex cathedra declaration of the infallible truth of the fifth and final Marian dogma.

There is a lay movement called Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici promoting this doctrine and setting in train the processes to bring about this proclamation. With the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, the procedure was that following theological foundations of the doctrines and episcopal support, there had to be a manifestation of the sensum fidelium, ie, that the faithful believed it to be true. Eight million of the faithful petitioned the Holy Father over 95 years for the definition of the Assumption. So far, in just four years, four million signatures have been gathered for the definition of Our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces.

The doctrine, essentially, is that as a special privilege and reward for her perfection, all Graces that "Jesus, as the one Mediator between the Father and Man," obtains for us, are dispensed by and through the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven.


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

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



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

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

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

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

William Most comments:

{in Most, ibid., p. 25}

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

St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 339-397):

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

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

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

Hilda Graef comments:

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

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

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

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

St. Jerome (c.343-420)

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

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

St. Augustine (354-430) wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting on this text, John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote:

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

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

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

Fr. Bertrand de Margerie comments:

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 30}


II. The Witness of Early Eastern Christian Tradition

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

{in Miravelle, ibid., pp. 20-21}

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

{in Most, ibid., p. 48}

St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330-c. 395):

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

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407)

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

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

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

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 12}

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

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

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

Theodotus of Ancyra (d. c. 445), a prominent Father at the Council of Ephesus, called her "dispensatrix of good things."

{in Most, ibid., p. 48}

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

{see Miravelle, ibid., pp. 134-135}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


III. Eastern Liturgies

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

{in Miravelle, ibid., pp. 26-28}

Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

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

{see Miravelle, ibid., pp. 133-134}


IV. Medieval Catholic Theologians and Doctors

St. Peter Damien (1007-1072)

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

St. Anselm (c. 1033-1109)

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

{Or. VII; in Graef, ibid., p. 213}

Eadmer (c. 1060-c.1128)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Albert the Great (c. 1200-1280)

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

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

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

St. Bonaventure (c. 1217-1274)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

{Sermo pro festo Purificationis Beatĉ Mariĉ Virginis, in Miravelle, ibid., p. 259}

First Recorded Use of Co-Redemptrix

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

{in Miravelle, ibid., p. 260}

St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444)

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

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


V. Orthodox Theologians of the 14th Century

St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359)

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

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

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

Nicholas Cabasilas (d.c. 1390)

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

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

Isidore Glabas (d. 1397)

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

Theophanes of Nicaea (d. 1381)

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

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

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

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


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

St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597)

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

Francisco de Suarez, Jesuit theologian (1548-1617)

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

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

St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)

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

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

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

St. Alphonsus de Liguori (1696-1787)

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

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


VII. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

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


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

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

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

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