As one might admire a many-faceted gem, turning it over and over to reveal still greater brilliance, each mystery of our Catholic Faith shines forth with exquisite beauty. The Fifth Glorious Mystery—the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth—is one such mystery I’ve turned over and over again while praying the rosary. In doing so, I’ve often pondered the question, “What does it mean for Mary to be Queen?”
In the first place, we can profit from considering what Mary is, in fact, queen of. The Litany of Loreto (otherwise known as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary) sheds considerable light on the extent of Mary’s dominion, which ascribes the following titles to her patronage: Queen of angels, Queen of patriarchs, Queen of prophets, Queen of apostles, Queen of martyrs, Queen of confessors, Queen of virgins, Queen of all saints, Queen of the Holy Rosary, Queen of families, and Queen of peace. She is, without equivocation, Queen of Heaven and Earth.
We can also profit from considering the relationship between Mary’s roles as Queen and as Mother. Mary’s queenship derives first and foremost from her identity as Mother of God. We can better understand this idea through the ancient role of the queen mother in Israelite society. When a king ascended the throne, it was not his wife who became queen and sat at his right, but his mother. We see this take place with Solomon and his mother, Bathsheba, in the Old Testament:
So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. The king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right.
(1 Kings 2:19)
Like Bathsheba, Mary is the mother of a king—the King of kings—and is made the Queen. As Queen, she is able to intercede on our behalf, and it is through her mediation that the riches of the King are distributed to us, the people. And how does Mary mediate these riches to the people? All graces flow through Jesus Christ, but God makes use of human instruments to distribute his bountiful graces. Preeminent among human beings is the Blessed Virgin Mary through whom all such graces first flow (CCC 967). It is Mary, always united to Christ, who directs these graces to the rest of the Body of Christ (CCC 969). Regarding this image, St. Bernardine of Siena describes Mary as “the neck of our head, by which he communicates to his mystical body all spiritual gifts.”
Finally, we can consider the Memorare in light of Mary’s queenship:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
The Memorare highlights that Mary is always both Queen and Mother. On the one hand, she is our Mother and so is approachable by us, her children, who do not fear to run to her even in our sin and sorrow. On the other hand, as Queen sharing in the reign of her Son, we have confidence in her power to answer the prayers we bring: “Never was it known that anyone…was left unaided.”