Mary is Queen Mother and Queen of Heaven

“The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” (Lumen Gentium 59)

Fra Angelico, “The Coronation of Mary,” c. 1440
Fra Angelico, “The Coronation of Mary,” c. 1440 (photo: Public Domain)

The standard Catholic apologetics argument in defense of Mary as the queen mother and Queen of Heaven is based on the analogy of the practice of the ancient kings of Judah, who made their mothers, rather than their wives, queens. Thus, Solomon, the son of David, had his mother (Bathsheba) as queen, and she even had a throne next to his, at his right hand (1 Kings 2:19), and wore a crown (Jer 13:18). And as the queen mother, she could make requests of him.

By analogy, we argue that Mary, as the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, can be sought in intercession, in order to ask her Son a request; and that her requests have great power because of her exalted position in the kingdom (James 5:16).

It’s an analogy, but (as many are) an imperfect one, because Bathsheba (being a sinner like the rest of us, and once an adulteress) would not always ask for the right thing, whereas Mary (being sinless and perfected in heaven and rather unique and exalted among creatures) would. The analogy is to the office.

It’s like arguing for the office of the papacy by the original example of Peter and the prototype that he provided in the Bible. The office of the papacy is not in the slightest undermined because Peter betrayed Jesus, or because he was once rebuked by Jesus, who said, “Get behind me, Satan” (Matt. 16:23) or because Paul rebuked him for hypocrisy. Nor does this undermine papal infallibility, which is a limited charism, and not directly connected with whether the particular pope involved is a sinner.

Likewise, biblical inspiration is not undermined because God used sinners to write his inspired Bible (murderers such as Moses, David, and Paul, and betrayers and wimps such as Peter; former despised tax collectors such as Matthew). The “office” of Scripture writer, in other words, was not rendered null and void because sinners occupied it.

Another similar imperfect analogy would be King David (the adulterer and murderer) as a type, shadow, or forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus. This is a clear scriptural motif in the prophets (Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5-6; 30:9; Ezek. 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Zech. 12:8; cf. Luke 1:31-33, 68-69). His sin did not render the covenant God made with him null and void (provided that he sincerely repented: as he in fact did). He (a great sinner) remained the prototype for the Messiah.

By the same token, Bathsheba could be a prototype for and analogy of Mary as queen mother, even though a sinner herself (as we all are).

Revelation 12:1-6, 13, 17 (RSV) 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 another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. . . . And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child. . . . Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

The woman’s son is described as “one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne” (Rev. 12:5). Can it be plausibly denied that this is Jesus? If it isn’t Jesus, who is it? And if it is, then how can anyone deny that his mother is Mary? Catholics believe that there is a double application here to the Church and to Mary, Queen of Heaven (common in Scripture). To deny the application to Mary altogether runs into exegetical absurdities. Here are relevant cross-references:

Psalm 2:7-9: I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Revelation 19:13-15: He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

Protestant commentators agree as well. Baptist A. T. Robertson says of Rev. 12:5: “There is here, of course, direct reference to the birth of Jesus from Mary.” Eerdmans Bible Commentary likewise states: “The ‘catching up’ is sufficiently similar to the victorious ascension of Jesus to make plain its real meaning in this context.”

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary states: “rod of iron . . . ch. 2:27; Psalm 2:9, which passages prove the Lord Jesus to be meant.”