This guest post is by Isaiah Hoogendyk, Biblical Languages Engineer at Faithlife Corporation.
The Salve, Regina, or “Hail, Holy Queen!” is typically used as a concluding prayer to the five decades of the Rosary. Why do we do address the Blessed Virgin Mary this way? Let us first take a look back at the mysteries we have already written about.
If the Joyous Mysteries tell of the beginning of our salvation, the joy of knowing that Christ is coming to dwell among us and show the way to everlasting life; and the Sorrowful Mysteries tell of how He suffered for our sake and for our sin, in order that we may have life eternal; then the Glorious Mysteries tell of Christ’s triumph and its promise for the Church, Christ’s Body, victorious upon earth and in heaven.
The Glorious Mysteries begin with Christ’s promised Resurrection from the dead and His glorious Ascension, which together look forward to what awaits those who fall asleep in God’s grace. The third mystery, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, recalls the birth of the Church, and is a fulfillment of Christ’s promise that the Paraclete, the Comforter, would be sent after He Himself went to be with the Father. The fourth mystery parallels the first mystery: Mary’s Assumption into heaven proves Christ’s promise for His faithful Church.
What, then, is the parallel to the second mystery and what is the triumphant end of this progression of gloriously fulfilled promises? It is what is celebrated on the Octave of the Assumption, a feast established in 1954 by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (“To the Queen of Heaven”): the Coronation of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth. If her Assumption marks the completion of her life on earth, then there must be something even greater awaiting her in the new creation. Indeed, it is the very same thing that awaits Christ’s chosen and faithful servants. For in the end, we too will receive our crown. Not only are we God’s handiwork and the pinnacle of His beautiful creation, but we are co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17) who will reign with Him in His everlasting kingdom (2 Tim. 2:12).
We can look to Ad Caeli Reginam for excellent support of Mary’s exalted status and title, wherein the Pope appeals to Holy Tradition and the Church Fathers:
So it is that St. Ephrem, burning with poetic inspiration, represents her as speaking in this way: “Let Heaven sustain me in its embrace, because I am honored above it. For heaven was not Thy mother, but Thou hast made it Thy throne. How much more honorable and venerable than the throne of a king is her mother.” … St. Gregory Nazianzen calls Mary “the Mother of the King of the universe,” and the “Virgin Mother who brought forth the King of the whole world,” while Prudentius asserts that the Mother marvels “that she has brought forth God as man, and even as Supreme King.” (Ad Caeli Reginam 10, 11)
Who is mother of the King of the Universe but a mother of royal lineage herself? Therefore we can rightly call her Queen. We can also look to Holy Scripture to find prophecy of Mary’s role as Queen; namely, the final book of the New Testament, St. John’s Apocalypse. In one of the readings used for Mass at the Solemnity of the Assumption, we read:
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.
And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Rev. 11:19-12:2, 10 RSV2CE)
Mary, who is called the First Apostle, the Mother of God, and the Star of the Sea, is also the Queen. But as queen, should we fear her as we would a great and powerful leader or monarch? In fact, we can take consolation, writes Alphonsus Liguori, Saint and Doctor of the Church. In his excellent devotional writing The Glories of Mary, he writes an extensive commentary on the Salve, Regina. In regards to Mary’s queenship, he states that “she is a mild and merciful queen, desiring the good of us poor sinners. Hence the holy Church bids us salute her in this prayer, and name her the Queen of Mercy. The very name of queen signifies, as blessed Albertus Magnus remarks, compassion, and provision for the poor.” (The Glories of Mary, 27-28)
In view of her compassion, let us fly to her aid and her comfort. In recognition of our being “poor, banished children of Eve,” let us ask humbly that she turn her eyes of mercy toward us and show unto us her Son, Our Lord Jesus, when we meet in Heaven on that Glorious Day, after a fight well fought, and a race well run.