Mary Page News

April 14, 1998

Mary Page is a link to a variety of information. The items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the myriad ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.

Raphael's Madonnas on Stamps
Easter and the Blessed Virgin Mary
Passion Plays
Apocalyptic Messages
Appeal on Behalf of Women
Summary of Reports of Concerning a Possible New Dogma

Raphael's Madonnas on Stamps

Have you noticed that the masthead of our home page features a new Madonna painting by Raphael every week? Click on the image and you will be given a short commentary on the weekly Raphael Madonna. Raphael's Madonnas on Stamps

The Paschal Triduum and Easter Season with Mary

Mary was intimately united with her divine Son, Jesus Christ, during his suffering and death. Scriptures tell of Mary standing under the cross (Jn 19:25-27>. Mary Page offers a review the history of Marian devotion during the Paschal Triduum and then explores the Catholic Church's tradition regarding Mary and her possible involvement in the Easter and post-Easter experience.

You will find the information at: The Paschal Triduum and Easter Season with Mary

Passion Plays

Passion plays are related to medieval mysteries and highlight the events of the Easter triduum, usually from the last supper to the resurrection.

Variations of Passion plays were known all over Europe but this literary genre is not only a matter of the past. The passion is still re-enacted regularly in many locations all over the world. In the USA, according to Fr. J. Kelly, a scholar on Passion plays, there may be as many as forty different plays. The most famous of all Passion plays is that of Oberammergau (Bavaria).

To learn more about Fr. Kelly's research, visit: Passion Plays

Apocalyptic Messages

How should we react to apocalyptic messages of warning, punishment and impending doom?

Our attitude toward those messages should be one of faith, hope and charity. We should listen to them with the knowledge that Christ's message is both incarnational and eschatological, meaning that it is a message both for the transformation of this world and its ultimate fulfillment in eternity. But are we to believe them?

Mary Page offers a response. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions: Apocalyse.

Summary of Reports of Concerning a Possible New Dogma

During the summer of 1997, both the secular and religious press reported that the papal definition of a new Marian dogma was imminent. The reports first appeared in the May and June 1997 issues of Inside the Vatican (New Hope, Kentucky). The glossy cover of the May issue stated, "Evidence is accumulating that Pope John Paul II may exercise the charism of papal infallibility, perhaps May 31 next year, to declare the third Marian dogma." and in the June issue, Patrick Coffin (media relations coordinator at the Franciscan University of Steubenville) wrote on the "new Marian doctrine." Both Inside the Vatican articles were centered on Dr. Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D., on his books and the movement he founded (Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici). The purpose of the movement is to petition the Holy Father "to define and proclaim the Blessed Virgin Mary as Cordemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate for the People of God."

Perhaps in response to these reports about a papal definition, Osservatore Romano published, June 4, 1997, the results of a consultation on the topic which had occurred ten months earlier at the International Mariological Congress, at Czestochowa, Poland, in August, 1996. There, some thirty theologians were unanimous in recommending that the titles not be defined. The titles, they stated, were in need of further theological clarification, and a definition would not be consistent with the directions established by Vatican Council II.

In August, Newsweek's cover and feature story was on the new Marian dogma, "The Meaning of Mary: A Struggle Over Her Role Grows within the Church." National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor also featured the reports. The story from the Catholic News Service ran in Catholic newspapers in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Seattle, Miami, Dallas, Orland, Phoenix, Boston, and many other cities. The number of these reports was the occasion for the reply of the Vatican spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, "This [a new Marian dogma] is not under study by the Holy Father nor by any Vatican congregation or commission. This is crystal clear" (CNS, August 18, 1997.

In June, Osservatore Romano carried two articles which explained the Czestochowa declaration; one of the articles was signed by Salvatore M. Perrella (consultant on the encyclical Redemptoris Mater as well as the pope's ongoing weekly conferences on Mary).

The following is a summary of the comments from Osservatore Romano, 25-26 June, 1997:

The response of the International Mariological Commission at Czestochowa, 18-24, 1996, about the proposed declaration of a papal definition of Mary as "Corredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate" was unanimous, precise, and deliberately brief: 1) the terms are in need of theological clarification; 2) it is not opportune to abandon the path marked out by the Vatican Council II and proceed to the definition of new dogma.

1) The current movement for a definition is not in line with the direction of Vatican II, neither in respect to the request for a new Marian dogma, nor for the content that is proposed for such a dogma. The Marian teaching of Vatican II is contained in chapter 8 of Lumen gentium, which, in the mind of Paul VI, constituted the most extensive synthesis of the Catholic doctrine on the Blessed Virgin Mary ever proposed by an ecumenical council.

Before the opening of Vatican II, 313 bishops had asked for that Mary's universal mediation be defined. The Constitution Lumen gentium, which by deliberate choice does not contain a dogmatic definition of mediation, was approved by 2,151 votes out of 2,156--a morally unanimous approbation. Presumably, the 313 bishops were persuaded at the council to take a different course. On such an important issue as a doctrinal definition, the position taken at Vatican II on the issue must be considered.

2) The Declaration of Czestochowa said that "the titles as proposed are ambiguous, as they can be understood in very different ways."

a) The title Mediatrix has been understood through the centuries and is presently understood in notably different ways. It is enough to check recent books on Mariology--from 1987 to the present some 20 manuals have been published--to note that the mediation of the Blessed Virgin is treated in contrasting ways--in terms of its doctrinal evaluation, the determination of the area in which it is exercised, and in comparison with the mediation of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

b) The title Coredemptirx, the Declaration of Czestochowa notes, has not been used by the papal magisterium in its significant documents from the time of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958). This is another significant fact that cannot be overlooked: the request is for a dogmatic definition of a title about which the magisterium has reservations and which it systematically avoids.

c) Vatican II used many titles to describe Mary's relation to Christ's saving work--New Eve, Helper, Associate of the Redeemer. However, the three titles--Cordemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate--have been avoided or little used by the magisterium over the last 50 years. It is probably because these titles are no longer suitable for expressing the content to which they refer. What is needed is "further study" of all the titles, "in a renewed Trinitarian, ecclesiological and anthropolgical perspective."

The principal points of Vatican II's teaching on Mary's relation to Christ's saving redemption are the following:

1) Vatican II repeatedly affirmed Mary's cooperation in the work of salvation (LG 53, 56, 61, 63). Cooperation, the word used by St. Augustine, is the term without negative reactions in theological circles.

2) Mary's cooperation which is "unique and utterly singular" (LG 61) has two facets: it is maternal and salvific. It extends to all the disciples of Christ and all people (LG 53, 54, 55, 56, 58, 61, 63, 65, 69). Paul VI held that Mary's cooperation continued in her spiritual maternity and was a truth of faith: the Blessed Virgin "continues now from heaven to exercise her motherly function of cooperation in the birth and development of divine life in the individual souls of the redeemed."

John Paul II has deepened the conciliar teaching by speaking of Mary's cooperation which is "intimately linked with her motherhood" (RM 38). John Paul II also uses from time to time the word mediation to which he adds "maternal" and "participated." This re-appreciation does not signify a regression but a reclassification of different participated mediations which "acquire meaning and value only from Christ's own mediation and cannot be understood as parallel or complementary" (RM 38).

Vox Populi Mediatricis Mariae

In 1993, Dr. Miravalle wrote a booklet Mary, Corredemptix, Advocate, and Mediatrix (Queenship Publishing Co., Santa Barbara, CA). The book contained four postcards to be signed and forwarded to the pope by those favoring a papal definition of the Blessed Virgin Mary as "Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate for the People of God. Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, which identifies itself as a lay organization, claims to have 4,000,000 adherents, including 500 bishops, 55 cardinals from 150 countries.

In 1995, Dr. Miravalle edited Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations; I: Towards a Papal Definition, containing essays by Bertrand de Margerie, Arthur Calkins, Michael O'Carroll, Ignace de la Potterie and John Schug. In 1996, he edited a second book, Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate: Theological Foundations; II: Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical, with essays by Stefano Manelli, Bertrand de Margerie, Arthur Calkins, Joseph Siefert, Vladimir Zelinsky, John MacQuarrie, Peter Damian Fehlner, with a forward by Edward Cardinal Gagnon.

The key words in the Vox Populi petition appear to have been taken from an Ida Peerdman, who died June 17, 1995 in Amsterdam. Peerdman claimed to have received communications (beginning in 1951) requesting that three Marian titles be defined: Advocate, Coredemptrix, and Mediatrix. Miravalle's work changes the order to Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate.

The complete reply of Dr. Miravalle to the Declaration of Czestochowa is contained in the web page Two points are emphasized in Miravalle's reply:

1) Although Vatican II did not define any Marian doctrines, it did not rule out the possibility of further definitions. Church history and precedence teach us that the decision of a given ecumenical council not to make a solemn definition does not preclude a solemn definition coming in an ex cathedra fashion in the future.

2) "It must be strongly underscored that our present Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has used explicitly the title 'Coredemptrix' on at least five occasions in papal teachings during his present pontificate." [One example is given: the 1985 address of Pope John Paul in Guayquil, Ecuador.]

Appeal on Behalf on Women

On March 8, 1998, Pope John Paul II spoke the following message prior to the Angelus:

1. Today "Woman's Day" is being celebrated in many countries of the world. It ... invites us to reflect on women's role in society and, even prior to that, in God's plan. Recognition of this role has encountered numerous obstacles in history. Even today it cannot be said that all resistance has been overcome.

I gladly take this opportunity to express the hope that woman's equal dignity will at last be fully recognized and her particular gifts adequately appreciated. Man and woman complement each other not only physically and psychologically at the level of behavior, but more profoundly at the level of being. Everyone knows Catholic doctrine on this subject, which I have often had occasion to recall, especially in my apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem and the "Letter to Women."

2. We are unfortunately heirs to a history of enormous conditioning that has hindered the progress of women: Their dignity is sometimes ignored, their special qualities misrepresented and they themselves are frequently marginalized. This has prevented them from being truly themselves and has deprived the whole human race of authentic spiritual riches.

How many women have been and are still valued more for their physical appearance than for their personal qualities, professional competence, intellectual work, the richness of their sensitivity and, finally, for the very dignity of their being!

And what can be said then of the obstacles that in so many parts of the world still prevent women from being fully involved in social, political and economic life? In this regard, while recalling that the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being celebrated this year, I wish to make an appeal on behalf of women whose basic rights are still denied today by the political regimes of their countries: women who are segregated, forbidden to study or to exercise a profession or even to express their thoguhts in public. May international solidarity hasten the due recognition of their rights.

3. May Mary, the model of a fulfilled woman, help everyone, especially all women, to understand the "feminine genius," not only to carry out God's precise plan, but also to make more room for women in the various areas of social life.

May Mary present to the Lord the expectations and prayers, the commitment and sufferings of all the women of the world, and may she show her motherly concern to every man and woman on the path of life.

Our Lady of Nigeria

On Sunday, March 22, 1998, during the Holy Father's visit to Onitsha, Nigeria, he spoke to the people and asked for Mary's intercession after Mass when he prayed the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Having offered the holy and acceptable Sacrifice...and having been nourished with the Lord's own Body and Blood, we turn in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary as we recite together the Angelus.

Mary most holy, Mother of the Redeemer, we are preparing to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the coming on earth of your Son Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God-with-us. Thus we are reminded that God does not abandon his people. No matter what problems or difficulties we may encounter, you teach us to place our trust and hope firmly in the Lord. In him we have the courage and the strength not only to persevere in adverse situations, but also to work actively so that such situations might be overcome and made right again.

Blessed Virgin, Mother of the redeemed, we commend to you the sons and daughters of the Church, which is "the Family of the Father, the Brotherhood of the Son, the Image of the Trinity: (Ecclesia in Africa, n. 144). We entrust to your maternal care the sick and the lonely, the poor and the hungry, the refugee, the prisoner, the old whose dreams have not been realized, the young whose aspirations are in danger of not being fulfilled. To you, Queen of Nigeria, we commend every citizen of this land who hungers and thirsts for justice.

Source: L'Osservatore Romano, 11 March 1998

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