What is the biblical basis for Mary being given immense authority in heaven?
In St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s (31 January 1673 – 28 April 1716) True Devotion to Mary, a manuscript written in the Early 1700’s, is found the following quote:
... in heaven and on earth everything, even to God Himself, is subject to the Blessed Virgin, they mean to say that the authority which God has been well pleased to give her is so great, that it seems as if she has the same power as God, and that her prayers and petitions are so powerful with God, that they always pass for commandments with His Majesty, who never resists the prayer of His dear Mother, because she is always humble and conformed to His Will.
Jesus was born of a woman called Mary and He was subject to her while on earth; thus it stands to reason He would listen to her in Heaven, that is all St. Louis was trying to saying. Jesus within his humanity and divinity was like us in all things except sin. As such he honoured both his Father in heaven and his mother. After all he set the example of obeying all the commandments including the fourth one: Honour thy father and thy mother" (Hebrew: כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ).
There are several potential problems with the above text in question that I would like to tackle here briefly. Clarity is always a good starting point when dealing with Catholic doctrine, especially undefined areas in faith.
First of all, I am not a theologian, but I do have a interest in this subject area! My great-great-great uncle was the Cardinal Désiré-Félicien-François-Joseph Mercier who was one of the first forerunners to petition the Holy See to define and declare Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces. Thus my interest in this domain.
Potential problems with the quote are as follows:
- Devotional manuscript and not a doctrinal manuscript.
- Poor English translation of a 18th century document.
- Manuscript is not complete.
- Lack of biblical support.
St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary was somehow discovered 150 years after his death and was written as a devotion text and not as a doctrinal thesis. He, nevertheless, did predict that it would be lost and rediscovered after his death.
St. Louis penned these prophetic words:
“I clearly foresee that raging beasts will come in fury to tear to pieces with their diabolical teeth this little book and the one the Holy Spirit made use of to write it, or they will cause it at least to lie hidden in the darkness and silence of a chest and so prevent it from seeing the light of day.
“They will even attack and persecute those who read it and put into practice what it contains. But no matter! So much the better!
“It even gives me encouragement to hope for great success at the prospect of a mighty legion of brave and valiant soldiers of Jesus and Mary, both men and women, who will fight the devil, the world, and corrupt nature in the perilous times that are sure to come.” (True Devotion to Mary, n. 114). - The Miraculous Discovery of St. Louis De Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary, Hidden for 150 Years
Once again St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote in a style of French that existed in the 18th century and may have been poorly translated into modern English in several areas. This is a question ultimately the the Catholic Church will have to face, when and if she desires to define Mary’s title of Mediatrix of All Graces. Theologians are serious divided on this issue and this manuscript directly touches this subject matter. How St. Louis Marie interpreted his thoughts are expressed in his manuscripts.
This is new ground for the Church and even Pope Francis is not in favour of such things. Once again, Pope Francis says Mary is not the ‘co-redemptrix’
This brings into another problem. The texts in question is incomplete, that is to say, lost to history. In other words some of the “book” is missing and thus incomplete. This makes it more of a challenge to understand St. Louis Marie’s thoughts. The whole first chapter is missing and we do not even know the original title. The book True Devotion to Mary is known by other titles including Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
The book is written as a devotional guide and not as a doctrinal dissertation. St. Louis Marie was not a professor of a school of higher education, but rather a missionary by profession. He has equally not been declared a Doctor of the Church by any Sovereign Pontiff. Perhaps on day, it may happen, but I do not think it will be anytime soon as it would require an immense amount research by many theologians.
As for the question of biblical support, there is not an abundance of Sacred Texts that the Church May call upon for support. But that does not mean that Scriptures are devoid of it either.
If Mary has an immense authority in heaven, it must surely be in connection to her Divine Mother as the Mother of Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ and is seen as the Queen Mother and Mediatrix of All Graces. Please note these subjects are yet not completely defined, although many papal documents do speak about it.
Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Virgin Mary, by Christians mainly of the Catholic Church and, to a lesser extent, in Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and Eastern Orthodoxy. The title is a consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, in which Mary was proclaimed Theotokos in Greek, a title rendered in Latin as Deipara or Mater Dei, in English "Mother of God".
The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII in 1954. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ, is the king of Israel and the heavenly king of the universe; indeed, the Davidic tradition of Israel recognized the mother of the king as the Queen Mother of Israel.
The title "Queen of Heaven" has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.
Queen of Heaven is one of many Queen titles used of Mary, mother of Jesus. The title derived in part from the ancient Catholic teaching that Mary, at the end of her earthly life, was bodily and spiritually assumed into heaven, and that she is there honored as Queen.
Pius XII explained on the theological reasons for her title of Queen in a radio message to Fatima of May 13, 1946, Bendito seja:
He, the Son of God, reflects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Martyrs in the ... work of human Redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice [of the Father].
In his 1954 encyclical Ad caeli reginam ("To the Queen of Heaven"), Pius XII asserts that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus' redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power. Ad caeli reginam states that the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is her Divine Motherhood. ... So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: "When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature."
In the Hebrew Bible, under some Davidic kings, the gebirah, the "Great Lady", usually the Mother of the King, held great power as advocate with the king. In 1 Kings 2:20, Solomon said to his Mother Bathsheba, seated on a throne at his right, "Make your request, Mother, for I will not refuse you." William G. Most sees here a sort of type of Mary.
In the New Testament, the title has several biblical sources. At the Annunciation, the archangel Gabriel announces that [Jesus] "... will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end."(Luke 1:32) The biblical precedent in ancient Israel is that the mother of the king becomes the queen mother. Mary's queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship.
The Catholic Church views Mary as the woman clothed with the sun in Revelation 12:1–3: "A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads." The Church accepts Revelation 12 as a reference to Mary, Israel, and the Church as a three-fold symbolism through the Book of Isaiah and affirms Mary as the mother of Jesus as the prophetic fulfilment described in Revelation 12 (cf. Isaiah 7:14, 26:17, 54:1, 66:7).
In the Hebrew Bible, the term "queen of heaven" appears in a context unrelated to Mary. The prophet Jeremiah, writing c. 628 BC, refers to a "queen of heaven" in chapters 7 and 44 of the Book of Jeremiah when he scolds the people for having "sinned against the Lord" due to their idolatrous practices of burning incense, making cakes, and pouring out drink offerings to her. This title was probably given to Asherah, a Canaanite idol and goddess worshipped in ancient Israel and Judah.
In the fourth century, St. Ephrem called Mary "Lady" and "Queen". Later Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. A text probably coming from Origen (died c. 254) gives her the title domina, the feminine form of Latin dominus, Lord. That same title also appears in many other early writers, e.g., Jerome, and Peter Chrysologus. The first Mariological definition and basis for the title of Mary Queen of Heaven developed at the Council of Ephesus, where Mary was defined to be the Mother of God. The Council fathers specifically approved this version against the opinion, that Mary is "only" the mother of Jesus. Nobody had participated in the life of her son more, than Mary, who gave birth to the Son of God.
The word "Queen" is common during and after the sixth century. Hymns of the 11th to 13th centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown, as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany, celebrate her queenship. For centuries she has been invoked as the Queen of Heaven.
At the Wedding at Cana, the Will of the Father whom Jesus followed was changed, though the intercession of a Queen.
Let us remember that Mary is constantly pointing others to Jesus:
His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. - John 2:5
Many are the secrets that Mary must have guarded in her heart and were not revealed.
For a Catholic definition of what constitutes adoration, I recommend reading the lengthy article published in the Catholic Encyclopedia on the subject matter.