THE VIRGIN MARY AS CO-REDEMPTRIX, MEDIATRIX AND ADVOCATE
Current status of Mary:
Although the virgin Mary is rarely mentioned in the Bible, and although
Protestant churches consider her to be a relatively minor biblical character,
the Roman Catholic Church has long assigned her an elevated status.
The Roman Catholic Church has historically taught two basic dogmas about
||1. Mary is the Mother of God.
||2. Perpetual Virginity: Mary was a virgin when Yeshua (Jesus)
was conceived; this state continued throughout her life.
Two additional dogmas about Mary were infallibly proclaimed by two popes
during the 19th and 20th centuries:
||3. Immaculate Conception: Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception of Mary on 1854-DEC-8. Many Roman Catholics believe that this refers
to Jesus' conception circa 5 to 7 BCE. In fact,
it means that Mary herself was conceived free of sin before her birth
circa 20 BCE.
||4. Assumption of Mary: Pope Pius XII, in his
Munificentissimus Deus (1950-NOV-1), defined that Mary, "after
the completion of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into the
glory of Heaven." That is, she was "taken
up body and soul into heaven," at the time of her death. She
is there "exalted as Queen of the Universe." 1
In addition, various popes and church councils have referred to Mary as
co-redemptrix, mediatrix, and advocate:
||In ancient times:
||St. Antonius (circa 250 - 350): "All graces that
have ever been bestowed on men, all came through Mary."
||St. Bernard (1090 - 1153): "[Mary is called] the
gate of heaven, because no one can enter that blessed kingdom
without passing through her."
||St. Bonaventure (1221 - 1274): "As the moon,
which stands between the sun and the earth, transmits to this
latter whatever it receives from the former, so does Mary pour out
upon us who are in this world the heavenly graces that she
receives from the divine sun of justice." 1
||1750: Alphonsus Mary de Liguori, canonized as Saint Alphonsus
in 1839, wrote a book "The Glories of Mary." It
continues to be published today, under various church imprimaturs.
Various chapters in the book are titled: "Mary our Help,"
"Mary our Mediatress," "Mary our Advocate,"
||1935: Pope Pius XI gave the title co-redemptrix to Mary
during a radio broadcast. 1|
||1964-NOV-21: The Chapter 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution of
the Church, passed by the Vatican Council II, and "Solemnly
promulgated by Holiness Pope Paul VI" states, in
||"Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as
passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of
manís salvation through faith and obedience. For as St. Irenaeus
says, she being obedient, became the cause of salvation for
herself and for the whole human race. Hence not a few of the early
Fathers gladly assert with him in their preaching ...'death
through Eve, life through Mary.' This union of the mother with the
son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christís
virginal conception up to his death" 2
||"Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside
this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to
bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity,
she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth
surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into
their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the
church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and
"...the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the
titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This,
however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor
adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one
"For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the
Incarnate Word and Redeemer. Just as the priesthood of Christ is
shared in various ways both by the ministers and by the faithful, and
as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to
His creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not
exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a
sharing in this one source." (Footnotes deleted) 7
||1985: Pope John Paul II recognized Mary as co-redemptrix"
during a speech in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He said, in part, "Having
suffered for the Church, Mary deserved to become the Mother of all the
disciples of her Son, the Mother of their unity...In fact Maryís
role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son."
||1987-MAR-25: In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Pope
John Paul II "referred to Mary as 'Mediatrix' three times, and as
'Advocate' twice." 1|
||1997-APR-9: During an audience Pope John-Paul II referred to
the role of Mary during the crucifixion of Jesus: "Mary
Ö co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother;
thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christís saving work.
She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice
that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in
submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of
salvation for all humanity...In Godís plan, Mary is the Ďwomaní
(cf. John 2:4; John 19:26), the New Eve, united to the New Adam in
restoring humanity to its original dignity. Her cooperation with her
Son continues for all time in the universal motherhood which she
enjoys in the order of grace. Trusting in this maternal cooperation,
let us turn to Mary, imploring her help in all our needs." 1|
Although Mary has been referred to on numerous occasions as co-redemptrix,
mediatrix, and advocate, none have the force of an infallible papal
Petition drive to promote an infallible statement:
Professor Mark Miravalle of Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH,
initiated a formal petition drive in 1993 during a Marian conference at that
university. It asks the Pope to make infallible statement that would
officially elevate Mary, the mother of Jesus, to the status of
co-redeemer. More than six million signatures from 148 countries have reached
the Vatican as of the end of the year 2000, asking that Pope John Paul II
declare a new dogma: "That the Virgin Mary is a co-redeemer with Jesus
and co-operates fully with her son in the redemption of humanity." If
this were done, "she would be a vastly more powerful figure,
something close to the fourth member of the Holy Trinity and the primary
female face through which Christians experience the divine." 3
Miravalle's petition has received support from Mother Theresa, 550 bishops, Cardinal John
O'Connor and 41 other cardinals (including at least 12 cardinals in Rome). If the dogma is
declared infallibly, it would pronounce
Mary as "Co-Redemptrix [co-redeemer], Mediatrix [mediator] of All
Graces, and Advocate for the People of God." It would require all Roman
Catholics to believe that:
||Mary is co-redemptrix with Jesus. She participates in people's redemption.
||Mary is mediatrix and has the power to grant all graces.
||Mary is the advocate for the people of God and has the authority to
influence God's judgments.
If the dogma is infallibly declared, many feel that, in the words of Father Rene
Laurentin, it would be the equivalent of launching "bombs" at
Protestants. Father Laurentin is a French monk and the world's leading Mary
scholar. He believes that: "Mary is
the model of our faith but she is not divine. There is no mediation or
co-redemption except in Christ. He alone is God." Raising the status of
Mary would further acerbate the split between the Roman Catholic and Eastern
Orthodox churches. Ecumenical activity would be negatively affected. There is
speculation that a schism might develop over the issue within the Roman Catholic
church. There may be a renewed debate
over the role of the pope's power in the church. 5,6
"Rome says Mary is Co-redeemer, mediator, advocate," Way
of Life, at: http://www.whidbey.net/~dcloud/fbns/marycoredeemer.htm
Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution of the Church,"
Chapter 8, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of god in the mystery of
Christ and the Church, II, 56, Pages 380 & 381. Online at:
- Ibid II, 62, Pages 382 & 383.
"Inside the Vatican," 1997-JUL, Page 23; as cited in
J.J. Russell, "Millions petition pontiff to give Mary new status,"
The Toronto Star, 2000-DEC-23, Page A20.
"The meaning of Mary: A struggle over her role grows within the
church," Newsweek cover story, 1997-AUG-25.
Vatican II, "Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution of the Church,"
Chapter 8, "The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of god in the mystery of Christ
and the Church," III, 62. See:
Copyright © 2000 to 2002 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2000-DEC-25
Latest update: 2002-FEB-9
Author: B.A. Robinson