Steubenville Funds New John Paul II Chair of Mariology

Franciscan University of Steubenville was founded in 1946 by the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular, for whom Marian devotion is paramount.

(photo: Register Files)

Franciscan University of Steubenville has awarded its newly-minted St. John Paul II Chair of Mariology to Dr. Mark Miravalle in recognition of his expertise in Mariology―the academic study and spiritual devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Dr. Miravalle has been a theology professor at Franciscan University since 1986. His most popular class is his Mariology class which enrolls 50 to 60 students per semester. He’s been teaching this course for most of the 32 years he’s been at Franciscan. “The total number of students I’ve had the privilege to teach the truths of the Church regarding Our Lady exceeds 5000,” he said.

It could be legitimately asked as to how anyone can become a credentialed and internationally recognized Mariologist. The short answer is, Prof. Miravalle is uniquely and eminently qualified to fill the St. John Paul II Chair at Franciscan University. He has a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (i.e., Angelicum) in Rome. His doctoral thesis was on the validity of the message contents of the Medjugorje apparitions in light of Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the documents of Vatican II and their continuity with the Marian Apparitions at Lourdes and Fatima. 

In addition, Prof. Miravalle has written 15 books in the field of Mariology, and countless articles, both scholarly and popular. He is also the Senior Editor of Ecce Mater Tua, an international journal of Mariology; President of the International Marian Association, (i.e.,, and also President of Vox Populi Mariae Medaitrici, an international Catholic movement seeking the solemn definition of Our Lady as Spiritual Mother of all Humanity, inclusive of her maternal roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate. 

Or, as Prof. Miravalle would explain in his own words, “I would consider myself an ongoing student of Mariology, as the truths concerning the Mother of Jesus are sublime, mysterious and profound. I believe Jesus wants his Mother known by every human being, as it was his great gift from the cross: Behold, your mother” (John 19:27). As a Mariologist, I see my task as spreading the ‘whole truth about Mary’ as St. John Paul II used to say, in any way I can in service and in fidelity to the Church.”

The St. John Paul II Chair of Mariology will enable Prof. Miravalle to continue his academic pursuits in Mariology including attending and speaking at theological conferences as he continues to teach at Franciscan University. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity to work in union with bishops, theologians and other Marian devotion leaders around the world to further devotion to Mary,” said Miravalle.

The St. John Paul II Chair of Mariology is financed for an initial four-year period by the Zita and James Gavin Foundation, which supports Catholic and Marian-related activities worldwide.

Prof. Miravalle has been interviewed in almost 800 television and radio shows on Marian subjects. He has served as theological and historical consultant to Marian documentaries and discussions on NBC, PBS, National Geographic Channel, BBC, FOX News, EWTN and the National Catholic Register.

The growing interest in Marian theology has prompted Franciscan University to become a national center for Mariological study. The university now offers a Marian concentration in the MA Theology Program. Further, Brother Daniel Maria Klimek, tor, another Mariologist will begin to teach full-time at the University since Fall, 2018.

The chair is named after Pope St. John Paul II, who was thoroughly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"The Mariological genius of St. John Paul II provides us with a depth and breadth of theological insights regarding Our Lady, which the Church will be pondering for decades to come, and beyond. His papal motto, Totus Tuus, which refers to his total devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which comes from the St. Louis de Monfort consecration prayer to Mary, conveys the quintessential unity of truth and love of Our Lady in an intimate, devotional way and of how Mary leads us to her son, Jesus," said Miravalle.

“Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mother has always been central to Franciscan spirituality,” explained Dr. Daniel Kempton, Franciscan University’s Chief Academic Officer. "It’s very fitting and even vital that Franciscan University continue to honor Mary, Our Mother, and to express this affection for Mary in its scholarly and teaching missions. Certainly, this chair was motivated by the donor's and the University's jointly held commitment to the study of Mary, and our shared respect for Dr. Miravalle's prominence and importance as one of the world's leading Mariologists."

Franciscan University of Steubenville was founded in 1946 by the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular, for whom Marian devotion is paramount.

The new theology chair builds on other academic advancements that are making Franciscan University a national center for Mariological study.