Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Fra Filippo Lippi
QUEEN of  HEAVEN is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Christians mainly of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam,issued by Pope Pius XII. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ, is the king of Israel and 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. 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.

The word "Queen" appears about the sixth century, and is common thereafter. 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.

Book of Hours- 1500

Pope Pius XII explained the theological reasons for her title of Queen in a radio message to Fatima of May 13, 1946:

    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 points out 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.".

Master of St. Lucy Legend
At present we are singing the "Regina Caeli", one of the four seasonal Marian hymns, prescribed to be sung  after Compline  (The last prayer of the day). The Regina Coeli is sung during the Easter season, from Holy Saturday through the Saturday after Pentecost.

While the authorship of the Regina Caeli is unknown, the hymn has been traced back to the twelfth century. According to Catholic Tradition, St Gregory the Great heard angels chanting the first three lines one Easter morning in Rome, while following barefoot in a great religious procession of the icon of the Virgin painted by Luke the Evangelist. He was thereupon inspired to add the fourth line.

Detail of Fra Filipo Lippi

    Regina cæli, lætare, alleluia:
    Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
    Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia,
    Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
    Gaude et lætare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
    Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia.
Has risen, as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

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