Mary and the Church: Figure and Model of the Church©

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Mary, Figure and Model of the Church. These teachings of the Catholic Church may prove useful to include in talks, in homilies or for research. For the full title and document data, click on the abbreviation code (for example, BYM leads you to the document, Behold Your Mother). This will also lead you to the complete document on this website or assist you in locating it elsewhere.

For an index of the documents used in the study see: List of Magisterial Documents
Previous Theme Next Theme

Documents IV. Mary and the Church
2. Figure and Model of the Church (symbol and mirror)
Lumen Gentium, 1964
  • its type and outstanding model in faith and charity 53
  • The Mother of God is a type of the Church in the order of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ. [St. Ambrose, Expos. Lc. II. 7] 63
  • lofty type 65
  • the Virgin...a model of that motherly love...for the regeneration of mankind 65
  • model of virtues 65
  • in eminent and singular fashion as exemplar both of virgin and mother [cf. Pseudo Peter Damien, Serm. 63: PL 144...] 63
  • imitation of her virtues 67
  • the Church indeed contemplating her hidden sanctity and imitating her charity 64
  • Mary, in a way, unites in her person and re-echoes the most important doctrines of the faith. 65
  • image and beginning of the Church...to come 68
  • the Church...in her apostolic work...rightly looks to her... 65 the faithful must in the first place reverence the memory [of Mary] 52 [Canon of the Roman Mass]
  • a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God 68
Signum Magnum, 1967
  • Mary is the Mother of the Church - not only because she is the mother of Jesus Christ...but also because she "shines as the model of virtues for the whole community of the elect." [LG 65, see also 63] 6
  • [Mary] benefits redeemed individuals...by her example 14
  • The gentle attractiveness of Mary's outstanding virtues exerts a wondrous hold on souls, drawing them to imitate their divine model, Jesus Christ, whom she mirrored so closely. 15
  • fully perfected figure of the Church 21
  • She stands out among men as the shining and most appropriate example of the perfect obedience we should freely and lovingly give to the dictates of our eternal Father. 24
  • Christ's Church proposes Mary as a model to be imitated. Following her example, we shall be more worthy to receive the Word of God into our own hearts. 26
  • Following Mary's example, the faithful will also be able to fulfill their God-given role in this life.... 27
  • Jesus gave us Mary as our Mother, and proposed her as a model to be imitated. 31
  • May the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary shine forth to all Christians as the model for perfect love of God and neighbor. 36
General Catechetical Directory, 1971
  • "a model of the Church" (LG, 63) 68
  • the type of the virginity and motherhood of the total Church (cf. LG 63-65) 68
  • the sign of a secure hope and solace for the pilgrim People of God (cf. LG 69) 68
  • Mary "in a certain way unites and mirrors within herself the central truths of the faith," (LG 65) 68
Basic Teaching for Catholic Education (USA), 1973
  • Included in the article: MOTHER AND MODEL OF THE CHURCH 24
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973
  • We try to imitate her virtues of faith, purity, humility and conformity to the will of God... 8 For St. Luke, Mary is the perfect example of awaiting the Messiah with a pure and humble spirit. 17
  • The significance of Mary is also richly ecclesial. At first, Mary is the figure of the synagogue ... But when she says to the waiters, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5), she becomes the figure of the new People of God.... Mary is present as figure of the Church, Bride of Christ. 36
  • Mary on Calvary symbolizes the "woman" who is mother Church 37
  • The Church saw herself symbolized in the Virgin Mary. The story of Mary, as the Church has come to see her, is at the same time the record of the Church's own self-discovery. 38 [See also 106 ]
  • The Second Vatican Council quoted St. Ambrose (d. 397): "The Mother of God is a model of the Church in the matter of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ." (LG 63) "As the Church's model and excellent exemplar in faith and charity," (LG 53) 38
  • As the Virgin Mary conceived and brought forth Jesus, so the Church, virgin in purity of faith, brings forth His brethren at the baptismal font. 38
  • Mary's virginal conception of Jesus, and her life-long virginal vocation, were taken as the model of the Church's virginal faith. 39
  • Mary's initial holiness, a totally unmerited gift of God, is a sign of the love of Christ for His Bride the Church, which, though composed of sinners, is still "holy Church." 56
  • a figure of the spotless bride of Christ, which is the Church 56
  • She shines forth "as a sign of sure hope and solace for the pilgrim People of God." (LG 68) 59
  • In her Assumption, Mary manifests the fullness of redemption, and appears as the "spotless image" of the Church. 59
  • Word of God-faith-birth of Christ: this is the pattern for the maternity of Mary and the maternity of the Church. 79
  • In imitation of the Mother of her Lord, by the power of His Spirit, the Church maintains an integral faith, a firm hope and a sincere charity. (LG 64) 80 [See also 81]
  • model of prayer 106
  • [why she may be called Mother of the Church] the Mother of Jesus "shines as the model of virtues for the whole community of the elect." (LG 65) As Pope Paul put it, "Jesus gave us Mary as our Mother, and proposed her as a model to be imitated." (SM 13 May 1967, 31) 117 [Also 146]
  • The Mother of Jesus exemplified in her own life the beatitudes preached by her Son, and so the Church, in and through the many activities of its various members and vocations, rightly regards Mary, Mother of the Church, as the perfect model of the imitation of Christ. (Paul VI  Nov  21,1964) 117
  • [as woman of faith and faithfulness, Mary is model for priests] 122
  • Mary is Mother and model of religious men and women [model of prayer and apostolate, of poverty, chastity and obedience, of loving faith, and model of the various professions and callings of women religious] 123-128
  • model of all real feminine freedom 142
  • Mary is model also for women who live a single life in the world. 145

    Mary and Family Life 129-142

  • The Mother of Jesus is the great exemplar to the whole Church; but she is model also to each individual in the Church, at every stage of human life and in every particular Christian vocation. No one ever followed Jesus so well as Mary His Mother. No one can help us more, by her example and by her intercession. 131
  • Parents and children will find renewed strength in the grace of Christ and in the example and assistance of the Blessed Virgin, model of perfect purity and of self-surrender to God and neighbor. 134
  • Mary is Queen of the home. 137
  • Family love builds on the fourth Commandment, and in Jesus, Mary and Joseph, parents and children have a powerful example of obedience to the will of God. 138
Marialis Cultus, 1974
  • The Church's reflection today on the mystery of Christ and on her own nature has led her to find at the root of the former and as a culmination of the latter the same figure of a woman: the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ and the Mother of the Church. (In)
  • placed within His family (the Church), as in every home, the figure of a Woman, who in a hidden manner and in a spirit of service watches over that family [the Church] "and carefully looks after it until the glorious day of the Lord." (Votive Mass of BVM, Preface) (In)
  • ... Advent, by thinking about the inexpressible love with which the Virgin Mother awaited her Son, (Advent Preface) are invited to take her as a model and to prepare themselves to meet the Savior who is to come. 4
  • Presentation of the Lord (February 2), [BV] the model for the new People of God, which is ever being tested in its faith and hope by suffering and persecution (cf. Lk. 2:21-35) 7
  • ... aspect of the relationship between Mary and the liturgy ... Mary as a model of the spiritual attitude with which the Church celebrates and lives the divine mysteries. That the Blessed Virgin is an exemplar in this field derives from the fact that she is recognized as a most excellent exemplar of the Church in the order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ, (LG 63) that is, of that interior disposition with which the Church, the beloved spouse, closely associated with her Lord, invokes Christ and through Him worships the eternal Father. (SC 7) 16

    [the following are aspects of Mary's exemplarity]

  • - the attentive Virgin, who receives the word of God with faith 17
    - the Virgin in prayer 18
    - the Virgin-Mother- she who "believing and obeying ... brought forth on earth the Father's Son. This she did, not knowing man but overshadowed by the Holy Spirit." (LG 63) 19
    - the Virgin presenting offerings [in the Temple-continuity of history of salvation, on Calvary] 20
  • [Mary's] was a miraculous motherhood, set up by God as the type and exemplar of the fruitfulness of the Virgin-Church, which "becomes herself a mother.... For by her preaching and by baptism she brings forth to a new and immortal life children who are conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of God." (LG 63) The ancient Fathers rightly taught that the Church prolongs in the sacrament of Baptism the virginal motherhood of Mary. [quotes from Leo the Great, Illatio - Mozarabic liturgy) 19
  • But Mary is above all the example of that worship that consists in making one's life an offering to God. This is an ancient and ever new doctrine that each individual can hear again by heeding the Church's teaching, but also by heeding the very voice of the Virgin as she, anticipating in herself the wonderful petition of the Lord's Prayer - "Your will be done" (Mt. 6:10) - replied to God's messenger: "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me." (Lk. 1:38) 21
  • a faultless model, that which she herself wholly desires and hopes to be (SC 103) 22
  • ... different generations of Christians, looking on her as the New Woman and perfect Christian, found in her as a virgin, wife and mother the outstanding type of womanhood and the pre-eminent exemplar of life lived in accordance with the Gospels and summing up the most characteristic situations in the life of a woman. 36
  • [but the Church] does not bind herself to any particular expression of an individual cultural epoch or to the particular, anthropological ideas underlying such expressions. The Church understands that certain outward religious expressions, while perfectly valid in themselves, may be less suitable to men and women of different ages and cultures. 36
  • a shining example 56
Gaudete in Domino, 1975
  • She is the perfect model of the Church both on earth and in glory.
Sharing the Light of Faith (USA), 1979 Included in title of article:
MOTHER AND MODEL OF THE CHURCH [title] 106
  • Singularly blessed, Mary speaks significantly to our lives and needs in the sinlessness of her total love 106
  • its "model and excellent exemplar in faith and charity" [ftn 47: cf. Church LG 53] 106 Catechesis calls particular attention to the role of self-control, self-discipline, prayer, the reception of the sacraments, and devotion to the Blessed Mother, model of chastity, as elements in developing a Christian approach to sexuality. 191
Redemptor Hominis, 1979
  • The Church, which looks to her with altogether special love and hope, wishes to make this mystery [the mystery of the closeness of Mary as mother to the Redemption] her own in an ever deeper manner. For in this the Church also recognizes the way for her daily life, which is each person.
  • Through her maternal presence the Church acquires certainty that she is truly living the life of her Master and Lord and that she is living the mystery of the Redemption in all its life-giving profundity and fullness. Likewise the Church, which has struck root in many varied fields of the life of the whole of present-day humanity, also acquires the certainty and, one could say, the experience of being close to man, to each person, of being each person's Church, the Church of the People of God. Final paragraph
Dives in Misericordia, 1980
  • May the Church which, following the example of Mary, also seeks to be the spiritual mother of mankind, express in this prayer her maternal solicitude and at the same time her confident love, that love from which is born the most burning need for prayer. 15
Redemptoris Mater, 1987
  • this "fullness" designates the hidden beginning of the Church's journey. ... in the Incarnation she encounters Christ and Mary, indissolubly joined: he who is the Church's Lord and Head and she who, uttering the first fiat of the New Covenant, prefigures the Church's condition as spouse and mother. 1
  • [Church follows Mary's pilgrimage of faith] 2
  • [Church] venerates [Mother of Christ] as her model of faith 2
  • Mary "has gone before," becoming "a model of the Church in the matter of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ." (LG 63) This "going before" as a figure or model is in reference to the intimate mystery of the Church, as she actuates and accomplishes her own saving mission by uniting in herself - as Mary did - the qualities of mother and virgin. 5 [See also 42 where "model" in the quote above is substituted with "figure"]
  • [understanding Church as virgin and mother, see 5, 42; Mary's role as virgin and mother in 39, (LG 63),42]
  • "Mary figured profoundly in the history of salvation and in a certain way unites and mirrors within herself the central truths of the faith." (LG 65) Among all believers she is like a "mirror" in which are reflected in the most profound and limpid way "the mighty works of God" (Acts 2:11). 25
  • The Church, which from the beginning has modeled her earthly joumey on that of the Mother of God, constantly repeats after her the words of the Magnificat. 37

    [Articles discussing Mary as figure, model 42-47, summarized briefly here]

  • - figure of the Church [See above "model"] (LG 63] 42
    - she is present in the midst of the pilgrim Church from generation to generation through faith and as the model of the hope which does not disappoint (cf. Rom. 5:5). 42

  • [mother] from Mary the Church also learns her own motherhood: she recognizes the maternal dimension of her vocation, which is essentially bound to her sacramental nature, in "contemplating Mary's mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father's will." (LG 64)... If the Church is the sign and instrument of intimate union with God, she is so by reason of her motherhood, because, receiving life from the Spirit, she "generates" sons and daughters of the human race to a new life in Christ. For, just as Mary is at the service of the mystery of the Incarnation, so the Church is always at the service of the mystery of adoption to sonship through grace. 43
  • [virgin] Likewise, following the example of Mary, the Church remains the virgin faithful to her spouse: "The Church herself is a virgin, who keeps whole and pure the fidelity she has pledged to her Spouse." (LG 64) ... Precisely such virginity, after the example of the Virgin of Nazareth, is the source of a special spiritual fruitfulness: it is the source of motherhood in the Holy Spirit. 43
  • [one who preserves the faith] Following the example of Mary, who kept and pondered in her heart everything relating to her divine Son (cf. Lk. 2:19, 51 ), the Church is committed to preserving the word of God and investigating its riches with discernment and prudence, in order to bear faithful witness to it before all mankind in every age. (DV 8) 43
  • Given Mary's relationship to the Church as an exemplar, the Church is close to her and seeks to become like her: "Imitating the Mother of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she preserves with virginal purity an integral faith, a firm hope, and a sincere charity." (LG 64) Mary is thus present in the mystery of the Church as a model. 43

    [link to spiritual motherhood now drawn]

  • 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.
    In this sense Mary, Mother of the Church, is also the Church's model. Indeed, as Paul VI hopes and asks, the Church must draw "from the Virgin Mother of God the most authentic form of perfect imitation of Christ." (Nov. 21, 1964) 47
Ephesus, 1550th Anniversary, 1981
  • "a type of the Church in the order of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ." [LG 63] 11
Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, 1988
  • The Council sees the Church's motherhood, which is modeled on Mary's, in the fact that the Church "brings forth to a new and immortal life children who are conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God." Here we find echoed St. Paul's words about "the children with whom I am again in travail" (cf. Gal 4:19), in the same way as a mother gives birth. When, in the Letter to the Ephesians, we read about Christ as the Spouse who "nourishes and cherishes" the Church as his body (cf. 5:29), we cannot fail to link this spousal solicitude on the part of Christ above all with the gift of Eucharistic food, similar to the many maternal concerns associated with "nourishing and cherishing" a child. 4
  • It is worth recalling these scriptural references, so that the truth about the Church's motherhood, founded on the example of the Mother of God, may become more and more a part of our priestly consciousness. If each of us lives the equivalent of this spiritual motherhood in a manly way, namely, as a "spiritual fatherhood," then Mary, as a "figure" of the Church, has a part to play in this experience of ours. The passages quoted show how profoundly this role is inscribed at the very center of our priestly and pastoral service. 4
  • By reason of this model - yes, of the prototype which the Church finds in Mary - it is necessary that our priestly choice of celibacy for the whole of our lives should also be placed within her heart. We must have recourse to this Virgin Mother when we meet difficulties along our chosen path. 5
  • In the Book of Revelation we see her, on the one hand, as the exalted woman in the midst of visible creation, and on the other, as the one who continues to take part in the spiritual battle for the victory of good over evil. This is the combat waged by the Church in union with the Mother of God, her "model," "against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness," as we read in the Letter to the Ephesians (6:12). 7
  • ...spiritual combat which, according to the Books of Genesis and Revelation, is linked with the "woman." In this battle she is entirely united with the Redeemer. And therefore our priestly ministry too unites us with her: with her who is the Mother of the Redeemer and the "model" of the Church. 7
  • Mary is the Virgin Mother, and when the Church turns to Mary, figure of the Church, she recognizes herself in Mary because the Church too is "called mother and virgin." The Church is virgin, because "she guards whole and pure the faith given to the Spouse." Christ, according to the teaching contained in the Letter to the Ephesians (cf. 5:32), is the Spouse of the Church. The nuptial meaning of redemption impels each of us to guard our fidelity to this vocation, by means of which we are made sharers of the saving mission of Christ, priest, prophet and king. The analogy between the Church and the Virgin Mother has a special eloquence for us, who link our priestly vocation to celibacy, that is, to "making ourselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." 5
  • Meeting today, on Holy Thursday, at the birthplace of our priesthood, we desire to read its fullest meaning through the prism of the Council teaching about the Church and her mission. The figure of the Mother of God belongs to this teaching in its entirety, as do the reflections of the present meditation. 6
  • As St. Ambrose taught, the Mother of God is a 'type' of the Church in the matter of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ. For in the mystery of the Church, herself rightly called mother and virgin, the Blessed Virgin stands out in eminent and singular fashion as exemplar of both virginity and motherhood." (LG 63) 4
The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988
  • figure of the Church, being virgin, spouse and mother, for the Church is virgin because its fidelity is whole and pure, spouse by its union with Christ, mother of the innumerable children of God (cf. LG 64) 9
  • virtuous model of the Church, which is inspired by her in the exercise of faith, hope and charity (cf. LG 53,63,65), and in apostolic work (cf. LG 65) 9
  • the Virgin was actively present in the life of the Church
  • ... of exemplarity in the following of Christ 17
  • For the disciples of the Lord the Virgin is a great symbol: a person who achieves the most intimate aspirations of her intellect, of her will and of her heart, being open through Christ in the Spirit to the transcendence of God in filial dedication, taking root in history through hardworking service of others. 21
  • "Among all believers she is like a 'mirror' in which are reflected in the most profound and limpid way 'the mighty works of God'," (Acts 2:11) (RM 25), which theology has the task of illustrating. 22
To All Consecrated Persons, Marian Year, 1988
  • In this period, we are seeking to follow the teaching of the Second Vatican Council which, in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, designated the Mother of God as the one who "precedes" the People of God in the pilgrimage of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ. (LG 58, 63) Because of this fact, the whole Church finds a perfect "model" in Mary. 1
  • [what is affirmed] about the Church as the universal community of the People of God has to be mediated upon ... in the light of the vocation of each individual 1
  • many of you ... are trying during the Marian Year to renew your awareness of the link between the Mother of God and your own specific vocation in the Church. 2
  • Since the Mother of God is constantly present in the life of the Church by reason of the part that she has in the mystery of Christ, your vocation and service are like a reflection of her presence. So we have to ask ourselves what relationship exists between this "model" and the vocation of the consecrate persons who ... strive to live their gift of self to Christ. 2
  • Through an increased resolve on your part to live your consecration to the full, taking Mary the Mother of Jesus and of the Church as the sublime model of perfect consecration to God, your evangelical witness will grow in effectiveness and lead to a greater fruitfulness of pastoral work for vocations. 34
Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988
  • the "woman" is the representative and the archetype of the whole human race .... 4
  • Mary is the "figure" of the Church [LG 63] "For in the mystery of the Church, herself rightly called mother and virgin, the Blessed Virgin came first as an eminent and singular exemplar of both virginity and motherhood .... (LG 63) 22
  • "The Church herself is a virgin, who keeps whole and pure the fidelity she has pledged to her Spouse." (LG 64) This is most perfectly fulfilled in Mary. The Church, therefore, "imitating the Mother of the Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, ... preserves with virginal purity an integral faith, a firm hope, and a sincere charity." (LG 64) 22
  • The Council has confirmed that, unless one looks to the Mother of God, it is impossible to understand the mystery of the Church, her reality, her essential vitality. Indirectly we find here a reference to the biblical exemplar of the "woman." 22
  • in the hierarchy of holiness it is precisely the "woman," Mary of Nazareth, who is the "figure" of the Church. 27
  • Meditating on the biblical mystery of the "woman," the Church prays that in this mystery all women may discover themselves and their "supreme vocation."
  • May Mary, who "is a model of the Church in the matter of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ," (LG 63) obtain for all of us this same "grace," in the Year which we have dedicated to her as we approach the third millennium of the coming of Christ. 31
Redemptoris Custos, St. Joseph, 1989
  • the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model. 1
Veritatis Splendor, 1993
  • In particular, the life of holiness which is resplendent in so many members of the people of God, humble and often unseen, constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God's love, and the value of unconditional fidelity to all the demands of the Lord's law, even in the most difficult situations. For this reason, the church, as a wise teacher of morality, has always invited believers to seek and to find in the saints, and above all in the virgin mother of God "full of grace" and "all-holy," the model, the strength and the joy needed to live a life in accordance with God's commandments and the Beatitudes of the Gospel. 106
  • Mary is the radiant sign and inviting model of the moral life. As St. Ambrose put it, "The life of this one person can serve as a model for everyone," (De Virginibus) and while speaking specifically to virgins but within a context open to all, he affirmed: "The first stimulus to learning is the nobility of the teacher. Who can be more noble than the mother of God? Who can be more glorious than the one chosen by glory itself?" (Ibid.) 120
  • Mary experiences, in perfect docility to the Spirit, the richness and the universality of God's love, which opens her heart and enables it to embrace the entire human race. Thus Mary becomes mother of each and every one of us, the mother who obtains for us divine mercy. 120
  • By accepting and pondering in her heart events which she did not always understand (cf. Lk 2:19), she became the model of all those who hear the word of God and keep it (cf. Lk 11:28), and merited the title of seat of wisdom. This wisdom is Jesus Christ himself, the eternal Word of God, who perfectly reveals and accomplishes the will of the Father (cf. Heb 10:5-10). Mary invites everyone to accept this wisdom. 120
Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994
  • Mary ... is a radiant model for those who entrust themselves with all theirs hearts to the promises of God. 48
  • Mary Most Holy, the highly favored daughter of the Father, will appear before the eyes of believers as the perfect model of love towards both God and neighbor. 54
Evangelium Vitae, 1995
  • Mary's experience as the incomparable model of how life should be welcomed and cared for. 102
  • [Theotokos] Thus Mary becomes the model of the Church, called to be the "new Eve," the mother of believers, the mother of the "living." (cf. Gen 3:20) 103
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
Fidei Depositum, 1992
507 At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: "the Church indeed...by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse." (LG 64; cf. 63)

773 In the Church this communion of men with God, in the "love [that] never ends," is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world. (1 Cor 13:8; cf LG 48) [The Church's] "structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ's members. And holiness is measured according to the 'great mystery' in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom." (John Paul II, MD 27) Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church's mystery as "the bride without spot or wrinkle." (Eph 5:27) This is why the "Marian" dimension of the Church precedes the "Petrine." (Cf. John Paul II, MD 27)

829 "But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. And so they turn their eyes to Mary": (LG 65; cf. Ehp 5:26-27) in her, the Church is already the "all-holy."

867 The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one made up of sinners." Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.

967 By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity. Thus she is a "preeminent and...wholly unique member of the Church"; indeed, she is the "exemplary realization" (typus) (LG 53; 63) of the Church.

972 After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary. In her we contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on her own "pilgrimage of faith," and what she will be in the homeland at the end of her journey. There, "in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity," "in the communion of all the saints,"( LG 69) the Church is awaited by the one she venerates as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother.

In the meantime the Mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God. (LG 68; cf. 2 Pet 3:10)

[Note: Image/Icon of Mary: prologue between pp. 12-13]
476, 972, 1161, 1172, 1192, 2502, 2674 [BB]

1717 The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity. They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ's disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.

2030 It is in the Church, in communion with all the baptized, that the Christian fulfills his vocation. From the Church he receives the Word of God containing the teachings of "the law of Christ." (Gal 6:2) From the Church he receives the grace of the sacraments that sustains him on the "way." From the Church he learns the example of holiness and recognizes its model and source in the all-holy Virgin Mary; he discerns it in the authentic witness of those who live it; he discovers it in the spiritual tradition and long history of the saints who have gone before him and whom the liturgy celebrates in the rhythms of the sanctoral cycle.

Orientale Lumen, 1995
Ut Unum Sint, 1995
  • Her figure is not only the mother who waits for us, but the most pure, who - the fulfillment of so many Old Testament prefigurations - is an icon of the church, the symbol and anticipation of humanity transfigured by grace, the model and the unfailing hope for all those who direct their steps toward the heavenly Jerusalem. OL 6
Letter to Women, Beijing Conference, 1995
  • The church sees in Mary the highest expression of the "feminine genius," and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. 10
  • These role distinctions should not be viewed in accordance with the criteria of functionality typical in human societies. Rather they must be understood according to the particular criteria of the sacramental economy, i.e., the economy of "signs" which God freely chooses in order to become present in the midst of humanity.  Furthermore, precisely in line with this economy of signs, even if apart from the sacramental sphere, there is great significance to that "womanhood" which was lived in such a sublime way by Mary. In fact, there is present in the "womanhood" of a woman who believes...a powerfully evocative symbolism, a highly significant "iconic character," which finds its full realization in Mary and which also aptly expresses the very essence of the church as a community consecrated with the integrity of a "virgin" heart to become the "bride" of Christ and "mother" of believers. When we consider the "iconic" complementarity of male and female roles, two of the church's essential dimensions are seen in a clearer light: the "Marian" principle and the apostolic Petrine principle. 11
Vita Consecrata, 1996
  • The practice of the evangelical counsels is also a particularly profound and fruitful way of sharing in Christ's mission, in imitation of the example of Mary of Nazareth. 18
  • Mary in fact is the sublime example of perfect consecration, since she belongs completely to God and is totally devoted to him. Chosen by the Lord, who wished to accomplish in her the mystery of the incarnation, she reminds consecrated persons of the primacy of God's initiative. At the same time, having given her assent to the divine Word made flesh in her, Mary is the model of the acceptance of grace by human creatures. 28
  • Consecrated life looks to her as the sublime model of consecration to the Father, union with the Son and openness to the Spirit, in the knowledge that acceptance of the "virginal and humble life" (LG 46) of Christ also means imitation of Mary's way of life. 28
  • Following in the footsteps of Mary, the new Eve, consecrated persons express their spiritual fruitfulness by becoming receptive to the word, in order to contribute to the growth of a new humanity by their unconditional dedication and their living witness. Thus the church fully reveals her motherhood both in the communication of divine grace entrusted to Peter and in the responsible acceptance of God's gift, exemplified by Mary. 34
  • Mary, image of the church 112
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002
  • "Just as two friends, frequently in each other's company, tend to develop similar habits, so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection." (Bartolo Longo) 15
  • Mary is the perfect icon of the motherhood of the Church. 15
Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2003
  • If we wish to rediscover in all its richness the profound relationship between the Church and the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, Mother and model of the Church 53
  • But in addition to her sharing in the Eucharistic banquet, an indirect picture of Mary's relationship with the Eucharist can be had, beginning with her interior disposition. Mary is a "woman of the Eucharist" in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery. 53

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.

Return to the top of this document

Return to the Resources/Documents: List of Themes

Return to The Mary Page

This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by M. Jean Frisk , was last modified Tuesday, 08/24/2010 16:01:42 EDT by Ramya Jairam . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.