Motherly Mediation

Abstract from the original German talks given at the German Mariological Consortium on Influece of Mary on Pope John Paul II, provided by Sister M. Danielle Peters.

– Manfred Hauke[1]

The foundation for John Paul II’s Mariology is Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort and Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium (LG). Important for John Paul II is the connection between Christo-centric and ecclesio-typical aspects of Mariology highlighted in LG VIII.

Hauke refers briefly to the aptness of two Marian titles, Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix. During Vatican II both invocations were avoided in view of ecumenical considerations and doctrinal lacunae. Instead the Council preferred “the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.” (LG 62) LG spoke of “maternal duty of Mary,” (LG 60) of the “maternity of Mary in the order of grace.” (LG 62) and of a participation in the “efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.” (LG 62) Her cooperation bears fruit in “giving back supernatural life to souls.” (LG 61)

John Paul II’s position while faithful to the Council’s teaching[2] was less apprehensive about diplomatic considerations. For him it was vital to highlight the central role of Mary’s mediation. Hauke concentrates on Redemptoris Mater (RM) and the Pope’s Marian catecheses[3] in order to present John Paul II’s notion of Mary’s maternal mediation.

According to R. Laurentin, John Paul II wrote RM himself and in Polish; he submitted it to several dicasteries but used their recommendations only scarcely.[4] According to F. Courth there is no other magisterial document that speaks more detailed about Mary’s mediation than RM.[5] A. Amato calls RM the core of John Paul II’s Mariology and indicated the attention it received from scholars.[6]

Hauke points out that the term Mediation in Christ seemingly goes back to the protestant theologian Hans Asmussen, who speaks of the mediation or cooperation of all Christians including Mary “in Christ,” in distinction to mediation next to Christ.[7] Mary’s divine maternity is “the first and fundamental dimension” of Mary’s mediation. From this divine maternity emerges her spiritual maternity (cf. RM 38d). Mary is not only Mother but also Christ’s “generous associate.” (Theotókos 187) Her mission as mother and associate is the fruit of her perpetual virginity (RM 39). John Paul II reflects that Mary’s consecrated virginity “is the source of a special spiritual fruitfulness: it is the source of motherhood in the Holy Spirit.” (RM 43) Hauke observes in John Paul II’s christo-centric Mariology a close affinity to Scheeben’s personal character of Mary which is expressed in her spousal surrender and motherhood.[8]  Mary as the New Eve is in view of Christ, the New Adam, adiutorium simile sibi (cf. Gen 2:18) and (in view of the Church) she is mater omnium viventium (cf. Gen 3:20). Mary’s help as Spouse signals her exemplary receptivity in view of a person’s vocation to surrender to God. Mary’s being as image and likeness of God s is reflected in her maternity (151).

Mary’s Immaculate Conception, her freedom from sin and her exalted holiness, i.e. her pre-redemption, happened in view of her future cooperation in the work of redemption (cf. RM 39c; Theotókos 9/30/96). Mary’s fullness of grace is experienced in her total availability/surrender as the handmaid of the Lord. (RM 39; Theotókos 60). Likewise, through Mary’s Assumption into heaven “there were definitively accomplished in Mary all the effects of the one mediation of Christ the Redeemer of the world and Risen Lord..” (RM 41; Also see RM 40, LG 62) Mary’s position as Queen of the Universe is rooted in her service in the economy of salvation (see RM 41c. Theotókos 203-205). With St. Bernard John Paul II characterized Mary’s service of mediation as Mediatrix to the mediator[9]  in as far as "the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise among creatures to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this unique source.” (RM 38; LG 60)

Bishop Woytjla’s Mariological concern at Vatican II was to highlight Mary’s spiritual maternity as paradigm to the church’s motherly function so that the latter would be known as a community with a mother rather than a community of teachings only (cf. Acta Synodalia Sacrosanctu Concilii Oecumenici Vaticanum II. Typis polyglottis Vaticanis, Volume III, periodus III, pars II, 1971, Nr 82, 598f.) The ecclesial dimension of Mary’s mediation is set in motion at Pentecost (RM 26a. Cf. CCC 511). Mary is exemplar of the church in her “singular witness to the years of Jesus.” (RM 26) She is icon (Urbild) of the church’s motherhood and virginity. (RM 42f. MD 25-27) and she is above all mother of the daughters and sons of the church. In this function she cooperates in their birth and education. (RM 44f;. LG 63) John Paul II adds a special characteristic of Mary’s maternal mediation in RM 47: “Thus, in her new motherhood in the Spirit, Mary embraces each and every one in the Church, and embraces each and every one through the Church.” This statement invites to ecumenical dialog.



[1] Mariologische Studien. Volume XVIII: Totus Tuus – Maria in Leben und Lehre Johannes Pauls II. Edited by Anton Ziegenaus. Regensburg 2004, 125-175.

[2] Cited more than one hundred times in Redemptorsi Mater. Cf. Fiores, Stefano de. Maria nella teologia contemporanea. Rome 1001, 555.

[3] Cf. John Paul II. Theotókos: Woman, Mother, Disciple. A Catechesis on Mary, Mother of God. Boston 2000. Henceforth cited Theotókos.

[4] Laurentin, R. Un anno di grazia con Maria. Brescia 1987, 174.

[5] Courth, Franz. Ökumensiche Impulse der Enzyklika Redemptoris Mater. In: Lebendiges Zeugnis 43 1988, 12.

[6] Cf. Amato, Angelo. L’Enciclica mariana ‘Redemptoris Mater’ di Giovanni Paolo II. Problemi e interpretazioni. In: Salesianum 49, 1987, 827-830; Pozo, C. La mediación maternal de la Sierva del Senor en el ámbitode la única mediación de María. In: Seminarium 27 1987, 560-574; Galot, J. Mediazione mariana: Una luce sul cammino dell’uomo. Per una lettura della Redemptoris Mater. OR 1987 84-88. Scheffczyk Leo. Maria auf dem Pilgerweg des Glaubens: Johannes PaulII, Enzyklika ‘Die Mutter des Erlösers.’ Istein am Rhein 1987, 68079; Koehler, Th. Redemptoris Mater dans la refléxion doctrinale sur la maternité spirituelle de Marie. In: Études Mariales 51 1994, 59-84; Calkins, A. B. Totus tuus. John Paul II’ s Program of Marian consecration and Entrustment. New Bedford 1992, 178-188; 205-217; 275-277; Nachef, A. Mary’s Pope. John Paul II, Mary and the Church since Vatican II. Franklin 2000, 141-185.

[7] Cf. Asmussen, Hans. Maria, die Muttergottes. Stuttgart 1960, 50f. See also: De Fiores, Stefano. Maria nella teologia contemporanea. Roma 1991, 91-93. Dittrich, A. Protestantische Mariologie-Kritik. Historische Entwicklung bis 1997 un ddogmatische Analyse. Mariologische Studien XI. Regensburg 1998, 75-79.

[8] Cf. Ziegenaus A. Maria in der Heilsgeschichte. Mariologie. In: Katholische Dogmatik V. Aachen 1998, 346-48.

[9] See RM 38 footnote 96: “The formula of mediatrix "ad Mediatorem" of Saint Bernard, "In Dominica infra oct. Assumptionis Sermo," 2: "S. Bernardi Opera," V, 1968, 263. Mary as a pure mirror sends back to her Son all the glory and honor which she receives: Id., "In Nativitate B. Mariae Sermo--De Aquaeductu," 12: ed. cit., 283.”

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