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Papers on Proposed 5th Marian Dogma

Mary Coredemptrix In Sacred Scripture

Part 1

by Rev. Stefano Maria Manelli, F.F.I.

Fr. Manelli is Founder and Minister General of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. He is well known in Italy as a distinguished preacher and writer. His biblical Mariology has recently appeared in English under the title: "All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed."


Every truth of our faith has its origin in divine Revelation, whose two primary sources are Sacred Scripture and Tradition. Both sources are guaranteed by the Magisterium of the Church whose duty it is to guard the deposit of faith and "confirm" believers in their faith according to the word of Jesus (cf. Lk 22:32).

Thus, the truth of the "maternal Mediation" of Mary, to use the happy phrase of Pope John Paul II, [1] has its origin in Sacred Scripture, and is then developed in Tradition, sustained and guaranteed by the living Magisterium of the Church, nourished by the "lex orandi, lex credendi" of the Liturgy, and by the sensus fidelium ever present in the holy people of God. [2]

In this contribution toward an organic synthesis of the theology of Marian Mediation we focus our attention only on the biblical data. Our aim is to gather and organize all the elements which Sacred Scripture offers us to understand the truth about Mary's mediation as "Coredemptrix of the human family," as Pope John Paul II [3] calls her expressly, or with an even more radical and extensive title, such as "universal Coredemptrix."


Three Aspects


The mystery of Mary's Mediation can be analyzed under three aspects which are constitutive of it and which interpenetrate one another ab intus in a kind of dynamic reciprocity.

These three aspects, which are presented to us in Sacred Scripture, are Coredemptrix (or Mediatrix of redemption), Mediatrix of all graces (or Dispensatrix of graces), and Advocate of the People of God (or Mediatrix of defense, Auxiliatrix—Help of Christians, and Comforter of the Afflicted) according to the terminology adopted in Lumen Gentium, 62.

In effect, the Blessed Virgin Mary is a maternal Mediatrix, in so far as she is Mother of the Word Incarnate and our Mother, constituted Mediatrix of the redemption, or Coredemptrix of the human race; constituted Mediatrix of grace, or Dispensatrix of every grace; Mediatrix of defense and of comfort, or Advocate, protectress of her children.

Distinguishing these three aspects of Marian Mediation permits us to study the even subtler and more hidden details of this ineffable Marian mystery, pertinent to each and all, although not everyone perhaps is sufficiently aware of its primary importance.

In a more basic sense, the mystery of the maternal Mediation of Mary on behalf of mankind has only two dimensions, the Coredemption and the Mediation of grace, the immediate object of our research. However, the latter quite naturally embraces protection and defense by the "Advocate" of the People of God, truly "Advocate" of the members of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Mary Most Holy, "Advocate" of the redeemed, expresses the dynamic of maternal Mediation of grace as it affects most concretely the people, viz., in its existential aspects of struggle and sorrow which men must confront day by day along the way of salvation. [4]

One might say that the title of the Blessed Virgin Mary as "Advocate," stands in relation to Mary Mediatrix of all graces, as operation follows on and reduplicates being. The argumentation is direct and conclusive: because she is the Mediatrix of graces, the Blessed Virgin Mary works as maternal "Advocate of grace" of the redeemed people.


Root of her Mediation


At this point, however, we can and must also discover where from within the essence of her Mediation of all graces, which makes of Mary Most Holy Advocate of all mankind, is rooted in depth. Why is Mary, one may ask, the Mediatrix of every grace? In virtue of what factor, of which title, is she constituted Mediatrix of that grace of which men have need during the inevitable sorrows and tribulations of their existence?

The possible answers to these questions are many. Some say that Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces because she is the Immaculate, or the "full of grace" (Lk 1:28), and from that "fullness" of grace flows our every grace, as it were, an aqueduct full of water which is the source of distribution for all. Others answer that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces because she is spouse of the Holy Spirit, to Whom she is indissolubly united in the administration and dispensation of the entire contents of the treasury of grace. Still others affirm that Mary Most Holy is Mediatrix of all graces because she is universal Mother who takes care of all her children, distributing graces according to their spiritual and material needs.

It goes without saying that these replies all enjoy a certain validity. It is not our intention to expound them in detail or assess their importance for illustrating the mystery of the maternal Mediation of Mary. Indeed, acceptance of these insights will contribute greatly to living one's faith in Mary Mediatrix of all graces in accord with the sensus fidelium.

What we want to add to these answers, instead, is the discovery of that titulus exigitivus, as the old scholastics would have called it, on the basis of which Mary, at root, is constituted de iure, and not only in facto esse, Mediatrix of all graces.

What, then, is that most radical titulus exigitivus of the universal Mediation of graces in the Virgin Mary? The best reply is the following: the titulus exigitivus is the Coredemption. In fact, cooperating directly in the universal redemption with her unspeakable sufferings, united to those of her Redeemer Son and in total dependence on Him, the Blessed Virgin Mary is thereby constituted Mediatrix of all graces as well.

More simply still, one might say that in Mary Most Holy the origin of the right to possess and to distribute every grace derives from offering and merit of offering those sufferings whereby she cooperated in the very acquiring of the graces of universal Redemption to be distributed to each and every soul to be saved. United and subordinated wholly to the Redeemer, the Virgin Mary suffered by cooperating directly and immediately in bringing the universal Redemption into existence. This constitutes the titulus exigitivus for the universal Mediation of all graces.

Mary as Mediatrix did not merely receive graces from her Son to distribute to men, but became herself the Mediatrix of all graces because she acquiredin Christ, with Christ and through Christ the Redeemer—the graces of universal salvation and sanctification by her maternal sufferings associated with those of her Son in effecting the Redemption of poor mankind sitting "in the shadow of death" (Lk 1:79). [5]

The Coredemption, therefore, is the most radical "titulus exigitivus" in virtue of which the Immaculate "full of grace" (Lk 1:28), the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of God, Mary, is the Mediatrix of all graces to be bestowed on the redeemed. Here one crystal clear text of the Pontifical Magisterium will confirm this truth. Pope St. Pius X, in the Encyclical Ad diem illum, teaches expressly the following:

"Ex hac autem Mariam inter et Christum communione dolorum ac voluntatis promeruit Illa ut Reparatrix perditi orbis dignissime fieret atque ideo universorum munerum dispensatrix." [6]

Here it is quite plain that Mary "Reparatrix" is linked to the Redemption in actu primo, in the very working of the Redemption, while Mary "Dispensatrix" is linked to the Redemption in actu secundo, or in the distribution or application of graces to each single man. The one and the other,—the "Reparatrix" and the "Dispensatrix"—stand in a relation of mutual causality to each other: if the Blessed Virgin Mary is "Reparatrix," it is precisely for this reason (atque ideo) that she is "Dispensatrix." The reparation, therefore, is the titulus exigitivus for the dispensation of all graces.


What is the Coredemption?


At this point it is only logical to ask in what, properly speaking, consists Marian Coredemption, and to answer by defining more exactly its constituent elements in terms easily understood by the general public. For we are dealing with a truth which affects everyone.

It is evident that for a treatment, at once organic and thorough, of the Coredemption one must refer to more scholarly studies [7] which go beyond the area of biblical study, the object of this paper. Nonetheless, a brief summary of this doctrine we believe to be a necessary prerequisite to understand the mind of God as this is recorded in written Revelation.

The term "coredemption" means redemption-with, as similarly the word "cooperation," connotes working-with, thus indicating a neat distinction between operator and cooperator, or between principal artisan of something and secondary and subordinated artisan of the same. The Coredemptrix, therefore, is she who has redeemed with her Son the Redeemer, or has become the secondary and subordinated artisan of the universal Redemption in relation to the principal and independent artisan, Jesus the Redeemer.

As the operator and cooperator work together and directly for the actuation of a determined project, but do not work in the same way, for the first is principal and independent cause, while the second is secondary and dependent cause, so the Redeemer and Coredemptrix work together and directly for the realization of the universal Redemption, but do not work in the same way, for the Redeemer is the independent and principal cause, while the Coredemptrix is a secondary and dependent co-cause.

We have said that the Redeemer and Coredemptrix work jointly and directly the universal Redemption. This means, according to the definition of the Redemption, that they work jointly and directly for the ransoming of mankind from the slavery and death of sin, paying with their suffering and death on Calvary the price of the ransom (the passion for Christ, the compassion for Mary), meriting in such wise the acquisition of redemptive grace for the entire human family, past, present and future. [8]

This salvific work, achieved by the Redeemer and Coredemptrix, is called precisely objective redemption, or more properly, Redemption in actu primo, that is, in the primary act of acquisition of redemptive grace, historically linked to the life, passion and death of Christ and of his Mother.

The subjective redemption, instead, or Redemption in actu secundo, is the application of the redemptive grace to individual souls, that is, is the Mediation of all graces to be distributed to each man who desires to be saved and to be made holy along the course of centuries and millennia, until the end of all times.

The Marian Coredemption, then, is based on and configured to the objective Redemption, historically linked to that brief period of time when Mary lived on earth together with her Redeemer Son. The Marian Mediation of graces, on the other hand, is based on and configured to the subjective Redemption embracing the entire history of mankind on earth. [9] The one and the other are inseparable, i.e., both the objective Redemption in relation to the Coredemption, and the subjective Redemption in relation to the Mediation of graces, just as the objective Redemption in respect to the subjective Redemption, and the objective Coredemption in respect to the Mediation of all graces are inseparable. One could say that the objective Redemption is the reason for being of the subjective Redemption, for the latter without the former would not subsist. So, too, the Coredemption is the reason for being of the Mediation of all graces, for the latter is actuated precisely in continuity with the acquisition of grace accomplished in the work of the Redemption-Coredemption.

That which constitutes essentially the reality of Marian Coredemption, then, is Mary's active and direct presence in the objective Redemption, present therein so as to be the raison d'être of the Mediation of grace which is a consequence of this and whereby the subjective Redemption is actuated. [10]


The one "Coredemptrix"


With the Coredemption Mary cooperated with Christ in our "regeneration," as "Mother of all the living" (Gen 3:20). Before the Redemption, in fact, we were all dead by reason of the sin of our first parents. It is since the Redemption, including the Coredemption, by the will of God, that we have been reborn to the life of grace. In this sense the Coredemption and the spiritual Maternity imply each other reciprocally, that is, Mary Most Holy is our Mother because she is Coredemptrix, and is Coredemptrix because she is our Mother.[11]

It suffices here to cite the clear text of Lumen Gentium, 61, where it is affirmed expressly that the divine Maternity of Mary was a redemptive Maternity, entirely aimed at "restoring supernatural life to souls," for which the Virgin Mary is our "Mother in the order of grace," viz., has begotten us to that true life—the life of grace—which makes us "living." [12]

From this it follows that properly speaking the Coredemption in fieri and in facto esse belongs to the Blessed Virgin Mary uniquely and exclusively, because historically, only she with her suffering immersed in that of her Son,—"under him and with him" says Lumen Gentium, n. 56—cooperated directly and immediately in the universal Redemption, that is, in the very acquisition of salvific grace for all creatures to be redeemed.

If the Coredemption, in fact, is directly linked to the Redemption in actu primo (or objectively), no one can properly be called "coredeemer or Coredemptrix," except Mary Most Holy. Only in an improper sense, then, can one employ the terms coredeemer or Coredemptrix in place of the more accurate term, "mediator or Mediatrix," in relation to the Redemption in actu secundo (or subjective), to which the Marian, maternal Mediation of grace is linked, viz., the application or distribution of all graces of salvation and sanctification. These are the graces already acquired by the Redeemer and Coredemptrix in actu primo. [13]

All the angels and saints in this sense are "mediators" or "intermediators" of grace, obtaining by their intercession the distribution of individual graces on behalf of souls who have had recourse to them. But no one of them can cooperate directly in the acquisition of grace accomplished universally by the work of Christ and Mary through the redemptive Incarnation and redemptive Maternity. Only Mary, then, is the true, one and only universal Coredemptrix under and united to the universal Redeemer.

Sometimes one hears it said that every man, by his suffering, is a "coredeemer," on the basis of the pauline saying: "fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the suffering of Christ" (Col 1:24). But this is inexact, because, strictly speaking, we, with our suffering and prayer, can only "mediate" the redemptive graces already acquired by Christ the Redeemer and by Mary Coredemptrix. "That which is lacking to the suffering of Christ," in fact,—in itself objectively all perfect—is the application or distribution of redemptive graces to each soul to be saved and sanctified. This, precisely, is the Redemption in actu secundo or subjective Redemption to which all, in different measure, are called to cooperate. [14]

Likewise, one should ponder how the Coredemption places the Blessed Virgin Mary, not between Christ and us—as happens with the Mediation of graces—but between God and us. By reason of the Coredemption, in fact, Mary is one with Christ the Redeemer who is found between God and us, just as Adam and Eve in the act of prevarication are found between God and us. The Redeemer and Coredemptrix are presented, then, as progenitors of our salvation, prefigured in Adam and Eve, progenitors of our ruin. These latter begot the death of sin separating us from God. The former have begotten the life of grace reconciling us with God.

It is the Mediation-distribution of graces, instead, which places Mary between Christ and us, as a true maternal Mediatrix who has access to the treasury of the Redemption and distributes from it to men for their spiritual rebirth and for their growth unto "full measure of the manhood of Christ" (Eph 4:13).

"Mother of the living" (Gen 3:20): with the Coredemption, Mary Most Holy is presented, in fact, as Mother of divine grace, as the Church invokes her, namely, as the Dispensatrix of every grace of redemption, for it is the duty of the Mother to take care of the children she has begotten, giving to each whatever is necessary for their growth into adulthood, until they enjoy eternal salvation.

To this maternal universal mediation of Mary, and in dependence on it, are correlated all other mediations of grace on the part of the Angels and saints, of our Patrons and Protectors in heaven and of all the saints on earth, of victims, of martyrs, of intercessors and of penitents (in particular, those consecrated to Mary with the vow of total consecration, according to the teaching of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe.[15]

The fundamental difference between the maternal Mediation of Mary and every other participated mediation on the part of other creatures, heavenly and earthly, consists in the fact that while all other mediations are limited in time and space, the Mediation of Mary instead extends to all creation, heavenly and earthly, and touches all ages, until the final end of creation.

It is Sacred Scripture itself which presents this grandiose vision of history linked to Christ and Mary, both in a fixed relation to each other the "alpha and omega" of the divine plan, initiated in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, chapter three, and concluded in the last book, the Apocalypse, chapter 12.

The "Woman" who with her Son crushes the head of the serpent (cf. Gen 3:15) and the "Woman" pregnant with Child, clothed with the sun and crowned by the stars: is always the Blessed Virgin Mary, unseparated and inseparable from her Son in the work of universal creation for the supreme glory of God, one and triune.

At this point we pass directly to the examination of the biblical texts of the Old and New Testaments which refer, directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly, to the truth of the maternal Mediation of the Virgin Mary—mediation coredemptive and distributive—as it has been described summarily in this introduction.





The first, and fundamental biblical text from the Old Testament which reveals the Virgin Mary prophetically to us is the verse of Genesis 3:15: "I will place enmity between you and the woman, between her Seed and your brood: she will crush your head."

Immediately after the fall of our first parents, seduced and tricked by the serpent from hell (cf. Gen 3:1-7), these words, pronounced by God in judgment upon the serpent, constitute the greatest prophecy of hope given the human family and the entire visible and invisible creation. This is the hope in a Messiah linked to the appearance of a woman who is, precisely, the mother of the Savior Messiah.

This prophecy of Genesis is centered in fact on the woman and on her offspring (her seed) engaged in struggle against the enemy—the serpent and his brood—whose head is to be crushed with their total victory. One might also say that against the serpent who bragged about his victory over Eve and over Adam God poses another Eve and another Adam who, instead of capitulating, struggle and achieve definitive victory over the serpent by crushing his head.

Biblical exegesis of this prophecy of Genesis in professing its mariological and messianic content, viz., identifying the Blessed Virgin Mary with the woman and Jesus Christ with her offspring, sheds abundant light on the truth of Marian coredemption.[16]

Without doubt this prophecy by itself is in brief a short mariology containing every Marian truth explicitly and implicitly revealed. The messianic maternity, the virginal maternity, the Immaculate Conception, the Coredemption, the Assumption and Queenship, are all truths concerning the mystery of Mary which can be discerned, at least in outline, in this biblical passage, however brief.[17]

We want to concentrate our attention on the truth of the Coredemption, but we cannot do so without some consideration of the truth standing at the basis of the Coredemption and without which it is impossible to speak about that truth in Gen 3:15. This is the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

The Supreme Pontiff Pius IX when defining solemnly the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus, states that the primary biblical foundation for the truth of the Immaculate Conception is found precisely in this prophecy of Genesis, where, together with the Redeemer Jesus Christ, is "clearly and plainly" revealed Mary the Virgin, his Mother, in opposition to and in victorious warfare against the serpent. Mary Most Holy, in fact, was never, even for an instant, under the power of the hellish enemy, was never dishonored by sin. Quite the contrary, she, pre-redeemed, and therefore clothed by grace from the first moment of her conception, was able to fight with her Son in order to crush the head of the serpent enemy.

Precisely because Immaculate, then, viz., pre-redeemed—which means conceived without sin and full of grace—, Mary Most Holy could be associated with the Redeemer in the struggle with the enemy and so cooperate in the universal Redemption as universal Coredemptrix. No other reading is possible.[18]

The analysis of the text, in fact, confirms these two truths, particularly placing in center stage the Coredemption effected by the Blessed Virgin Mary in closest association with her Redeemer Son. With Him she shares the enmity entailed in the struggle against the serpent to rescue mankind from sin and from eternal death.


"I will place enmity"


The first key-phrase of this text of Genesis in relation to the Coredemption is the expression "I will place enmity," to be referred equally to the Woman and to her Offspring vis-a-vis Satan and his brood.

This phrase is revelatory of the preestablished plan of God himself to save mankind burdened by the mortal fall of its first parents. In his mercy God decided on this redemptive plan in which mankind would not be left to eternal damnation as its destiny, but would be rescued through a victory over Satan's power at the price of struggle and blood entrusted to a new Eve and a new Adam.

The salvific plan of God is here projected on the future (I will place), and so cannot designate other than a future "Woman" and her Son, that is, the new Eve with the new Adam, to whom will be entrusted the mission of reparation for the fall of the first Eve and first Adam, thus rescuing mankind from sin and death.

The word enmity—one and the same for both Mother and Son—connotes in itself, even if in the form of a negation—the double reality of the Immaculate Purity and of the Redemption, referred equally to the Woman and to her Offspring. Immaculate Purity entails radical exclusion of and opposition to sin both by the Woman (Immaculate Conception) and by her Offspring (Divine Son of the Immaculate Woman). The Redemption entails struggle and sacrifice to pay the price of ransom, both by the Woman and by her Offspring. Mother and Son are revealed as the reparators of the sin of our first parents, even if in distinct manners, just as the joint responsibility for the fall on the part of the first Eve and first Adam was shared distinctly by each.

It is in this enmity, therefore, that we find indicated the "Coredemption" of Mary. She, in fact, was associated with God the Son in undertaking the struggles and sacrifices required by the Redemption of the human race. Redemptive Incarnation and redemptive Maternity are revealed, in fact, united and inseparable in the prophecy of Gen 3:15. Certainly Mary might not have been so associated with the Son in this work of ransom and salvation. But so God willed it. This is the predetermined plan, revealed "clearly and plainly" in the text of Genesis, to cite once again the very words of Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus.


"She will crush your head"


Another key-phrase of this prophetic passage is the expression "she will crush your head." This phrase reveals the result of the enmity between the Woman and the serpent, between the Offspring of the Woman and that of the serpent: the result is complete victory over the serpent whose head is crushed.

A first point to ponder is the fact that in the text, in view of the contrast between the parties at loggerheads by reason of this "enmity," the Woman is the one who must struggle directly against the serpent, while the Offspring of the Woman must struggle directly against the offspring of the serpent. In accord with the dynamic of the parties directly opposed, it follows that the crushing of the head of the serpent cannot be other than the work of the Woman, deliberately so placed by God in the battle against the serpent.

Thus, the plan of redemption is shown to be in continuity with the original dynamic of human history upset by original sin, where the first Eve was directly seduced and conquered by the serpent, while the first Adam committed original sin only with the assistance of Eve, as immediately afterwards he revealed in blaming her before God ("It was the woman you gave me as helpmate who offered me the fruit of the tree, and I ate of it": Gen 3:13).

In the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, instead, the Woman is seen to be fighting directly, by contrast with Eve, against the serpent as "enemy," whose head she will crush "with her immaculate foot," as Pius IX wrote directly in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus, in virtue of the power of her "Seed," the new Adam, to whom is always due the primacy, as head of the new humanity. [19]

In fact, the primacy of the Redeemer, the new Adam, remains intact and unquestioned in this reading, just as the primary responsibility of the first Adam, true head of the human race, is unaffected by the fact that Eve alone was first seduced by the serpent. Plainly, Mary's role, even if she directly crushes the serpent's head—the Latin of the Vulgate uses the feminine "ipsa" for you, remains that of cooperation, in no wise detracting from the primary and independent part played by the Redeemer, from whom she receives the strength to conquer the serpent.

In view of this Roschini could write:

One observes, finally, that such is the intimacy and directness of the association of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the struggle and victory over the hellish serpent (that is, the association in the work of redemption) that in the Vulgate (to be received as "authentic" by Catholics in resolving theological issues) the very victory (the crushing of the head of the hellish serpent, viz., the objective redemption) is attributed immediately to Mary: "She will crush your head" (naturally through Him, her Son).[20]

But even in the critical versions commonly used for purposes of biblical exegesis today—those based on the oldest codices at our disposition—where the crushing of the serpent's head is ascribed to her "Offspring," the direct and immediate cooperation of Mary in the work of redemption in virtue of that identical "enmity," engaging equally and directly Mother and Son in victory over the serpent, remains perfectly clear. In every version of Sacred Scripture this singular and exclusive role of the Blessed Virgin in the preestablished plan of God as Coredemptrix in effecting the universal Redemption, inseparably united with and subordinated to her Son Redeemer, is always evident.[21]

A short reflection, finally, on the last phrase of the prophecy of Genesis: "And you shall lie in wait for her heel." This brief expression gives us to understand that the reaction of the serpent to the enmity of the Woman is a powerless reaction, a passing reaction, for the death of Jesus on the cross and the compassion and transfixing of the Mother at the foot of the cross, which might superficially seem a victorious strategem of the serpent, are in reality his total defeat, the crushing of his infernal head.


Antithesis: Eve-Mary, Adam-Christ


In confirmation and as guarantee of our exegesis of this passage of Genesis we have the great commentary of the oldest and most authoritative patristic era, the apostolic, beginning with Sts. Justin and Irenaeus, followed thereafter down the centuries by the most important Fathers and ecclesiastical writers. Therein the divine prophecy of Genesis is explained in terms of the antithesis between Eve-Mary and Adam-Christ.

Viewed in its entirety the explanation rests on a clear and simple exegetical argumentation, concretely articulated about a double event: the event of original sin, whose protagonists were the first Adam and the first Eve; the event of Redemption, whose protagonists were the new Adam (Christ) and the new Eve (Mary).

These two events—the first about a disgrace, the second about grace—stand in evident antithesis, in direct opposition. They suggest a double plan: that of Satan, on the one hand, which governs the ruin of the entire human family, to be set in motion by the first Adam and the first Eve; and that of God, on the other hand, which brings to pass the redemption of the human family, to be set in motion by a new Adam and a new Eve. [22] Salvation, in effect, writes Cignelli,

"is a divine-human work paralleling the tragic unfolding of the fall: with the fated couple Adam-Eve is contrasted the salvific couple Christ-Mary. The first couple cooperated with Satan in the ruin, the second with God in the redemption." [23]

The plan of God also came to be known in the terminology of the Fathers as the plan of "recycling," of "vindication," or of "recirculation," because God, to work the universal redemption, wished to make use of the very same means which Satan had employed to effect the ruin of the human family.[24]

That which in fact the first Adam and the first Eve had jointly ruined, the second Adam and the second Eve jointly restored. Adam and Eve, Christ and Mary, constitute the one moral cause, respectively, of sin and of the redemption. Adam had Eve as co-cause of sin. Christ had Mary as co-cause of the redemption. Eve was co-cause or secondary cause of sin in relation to Adam, who was the principal, complete cause, qua head of the human race.[25]

We observed above how in the garden of Eden it was Adam himself who provides the evidence expressly proving the active role of Eve as co-cause of his sin.

"It was the woman whom you gave me as helpmate, who offered me the fruit of the tree, and I ate of it" (Gen 3:13).

And so God himself asked Eve: "What have you done?" (Gen 3:13). Eve admitted that she had been tricked by the serpent into eating the forbidden fruit. Immediately thereon God punished Eve, precisely because she had been co-cause of the sin of Adam, so identifying her as the origin of the death of the entire human race. Hence, the terrible affirmation of Sirach: "From the woman sin has its origin and through her fault all die" (Sir 25:24).[26]

Now, in direct contrast with Eve the Blessed Virgin Mary was also a co-cause, or secondary cause of Redemption in relation to Christ, who is the principal and complete cause, as absolute Redeemer of the human race. As Eve was the origin of death, Mary is the principle of life, as it has been so nicely summarized in that lapidary saying of St. Jerome: "Per Evam mors, per Mariam vita" (Through Eve death, through Mary life).[27]

The plan of God, therefore, reversed the plan of Satan, so as to save the human race. Satan made use of a man (Adam) and of a woman (Eve), setting them against God to ruin mankind. God also made use of a man (Christ) and of a woman (Mary), setting them against Satan to redeem mankind.[28] In both plans the man (Adam-Christ) is the primary cause because head and so primarily responsible, respectively, for the prevarication (Adam), for the redemption (Christ), while the woman is associated as secondary and relative cause, respectively, of the prevarication (Eve), and of the redemption (Mary). For the rest, it is obvious that the dependence of the New Eve on the New Adam is superior to that of Eve on Adam.[29]

As has been correctly remarked, if Eve was, so to say, the Co-peccatrix (Co-sinner) in relation to Adam, the Peccator (the Sinner) as the ruin of mankind came to pass, Mary was the Co-redemptrix in relation to Jesus, the Redeemer, in effecting the ransom of mankind.[30] This is also true in the anthropological sense, as Cignelli notes, writing that Mary "as Mother and helpmate of the New Adam, integrates the human element into the objective redemption".[31]

Perhaps the most complete and authoritative synthesis of the mystery of Mary Coredemptrix contained in the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 is that written by Pope Pius XII in the dogmatic Bull Munificentissimus Deus, that defining the Assumption of Mary, soul and body into heaven:

The Fathers, since the second century, present Mary as the new Eve most closely united, even if subordinately, to the new Adam in the struggle against the infernal serpent. In that struggle, as the Protoevangelium affirms, she would achieve the completest of victories over sin and death, two things ever inseparable in the writings of the Apostle of the gentiles. [32]

Part 2


1. Cf. the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, n. 38 (abbrev. RM).

2. An eloquent example of this rich and complex dynamic which characterizes any truth of faith as it comes to be manifested, developed, and eventually given expression in the form of a dogmatic definition, is that of the Immaculate Conception. It is well known how this truth was always present in the Church, though it was much disputed in the Middle Ages because of speculative difficulty in reconciling it with other truths (the contraction of original sin and the universal Redemption), up to the moment when Bl. John Duns Scotus, supported thereafter by the entire Franciscan school, resolved the objections and thereby opened the road to an eventual definition (cf. R. Rosin, Mariologia del beato Giovanni Duns Scoto, Castelpetroso 1995, pp. 74-100). when a is a question of a truth of faith, nothing can impede its march toward dogmatic definition.

3. Cf. Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V/3 (1982).Vatican City. p. 404.

4. Sufficient evidence in proof are the innumerable ex voto testimonials preserved in nearly every Marian sanctuary, as an expression of thanks to the maternal "Advocate of grace," as the Church prays in the Preface of the Mass "Mary, Queen of All Creation." Cf. Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, New York 1992, p. 134.

5. The pauline text asserting the unicity of the Mediator: "Unus est Mediator inter Deum et homines" (there is one Mediator of God and men) (I Tim 2:5), does not constitute an objection to the cooperation of Mary Most Holy in effecting the universal Redemption with Christ, anymore than analogously the unicity of the Priesthood of Christ is an objection to the ministerial priesthood of the ordained in sacris and to the common priesthood of the faithful, distinct not only in degree, but by nature (cf LG 62). In this regard one should read also the reply in depth, rich with biblical-patristic references, of L. Cignelli, Maria Nuova Eva, Assisi 1966, pp. 238-240.

6. Encyclical "Ad diem ilium," AAS 36 (1903-1904) p 454.

7. One should consult first of all the ample and accurate bibliographies published regularly by the journal Marianum. Besides the standard history of the doctrine of J.B.Carol, De Corredemptione Beatae Virginis Mariae, Vatican City 1950, for more recent studies, with an abundant specialized bibliography, cf. Mary Coredemptrix Mediatrix Advocate. Theological Foundations, Santa Barbara CA 1995; R. Javelet, Marie la Femme Médiatrice, Paris 1984; R. Javelet, L'unique Médiateur Jesus et Marie, Paris 1985; G. Roschini, Problematica sulla Corredenzione, Rome 1969; G. Roschini, "Il mistero della salvezza e Maria Mater Salvatoris," in Miles Immaculatae 10 (1974) 211-231; J. Galot, "Maria Corredentrice," in La Civiltà Cattolica 145 (1994) 213-225.

8. To the difficulty that Mary, as a descendant of Adam, herself has need of Redemption, and so cannot be universal Coredemptrix, because otherwise she would be Coredemptrix of herself, one can easily reply distinguishing that Mary Most Holy, in so far as "preredeemed" and "full of grace," could associate herself with Christ in the redemptive Incarnation. She has been made "full of grace," precisely in order to be Coredemptrix with the Redeemer of all others. Here we discover the truth about how Mary has become Coredemptrix precisely because Immaculate, or full of grace (Lk 1:28). On this point see G. Roschini, Problematica sulla Corredenzione, Rome 1969, pp. 140­141, and L. Cignelli, Maria Nuova Eva, Assisi 1966, pp. 240-245. We would like to clarify here that the title "full of grace" is a dispositive title in relation to the Coredemption and Mediation of all graces, not an exigitive title as is the Coredemption in relation to the Mediation.

9. In regard to specific terms, in order to avoid useless terminological confusion, we recommend use of the precise "preconciliar nomenclature, which with the term Coredemption indicated the contribution of Mary to the life and historical work of the Redeemer, and with the term Mediation the action, intercessory and distributive of graces on Mary's part after her assumption into heaven" S. Meo, "La Mediazione materna nell Enciclica Redemptoris Mater," in Redemptoris Mater, Rome 1988, p. 315.

10. Mann writes simply and clearly: "The coredemption is related to the objective Redemption, while the distribution of all graces by Mary is a secondary aspect of the subjective Redemption." A.R.Marin, La Virgen Maria, Madrid 1968, p. 142.

11. In the order of final causality, as Garcia Garces correctly explains, Mary is the Coredemptrix because she is our Mother, while in the order of efficient causality Mary is our Mother, because she is Coredemptrix: cf. Garcia Garces, "Mater Corredemptrix," in Marianum.

12. "Mary," as Lumen Gentium, 61 states so concisely, "in conceiving Christ, in begetting him, in nourishing him, in presenting him to the Father in the Temple, in suffering with her Son dying on the cross, cooperated in a manner absolutely unique in the work of the Savior... to restore supernatural life to souls. For this reason she has become for us mother in the order of grace."

13. This analytic explanation of the terms necessarily follows, once the ontological and chronological distinctions of the Redemption (objective, subjective, in actu primo, in actu secundo) are set forth. If, instead, one were to speak only of Redemption as a general plan of salvation stretching from the Incarnation to the end of time, then the term Coredemption as predicated of the Blessed Virgin Mary would also embrace all times to the very end, and all christians who actively cooperate in this plan could be called minor "coredemptors" filling  up in their flesh what is still lacking to the final achievement of the universal Redemption, as the Apostle says (cf. Col 1:24).

14. Once the sense and implications of the terms have been explained, one can also understand how the term "coredemptor" can be used, in an accommodated sense, as a title, especially for martyrs and victim souls. The term "coredemptor," in fact, best expresses the value of suffering in reparation for sin, the value most efficacious for obtaining the graces which save and sanctify.

15. On this point cf. in particular S.M. Manelli, Il Voto Mariano, Benevento 1993

16. On this text, Gen 3:15, one can profitably consult the wide ranging exegetical synthesis of S.M.Manelli, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed. Biblical Mariology, New Bedford (MA) 1995, pp 21-33. For the mariological sense of Gen 3:15, the most complete study remains that of T. Gallus, Die "Frau" in Gn 3,15, Klagenfurt 1979.

17. Cf. J. Gamberoni, "Il Protovangelo testimone della fede nella salvezza," in La Parola per 1'assemblea festiva, Brescia 1972, n. 63, p. 34.

18. Mary Most Holy "could not have been 'associated' with the Redeemer as Coredemptrix without being the Immaculate and the Assumed": so states Roschini summarizing the teaching of the Magisterium contained in the two dogmatic Bulls for the Immaculate Conception (Ineffabilis Deus) and for the Assumption (Munifcentissimus Deus). Roschini sets in relief how arguing directly on the basis of Gen 3:15 Pope Pius IX demonstrates the victory of Mary over sin (the Immaculate), while Pope Pius XII demonstrates the triumph of Mary over death as well. Cf. G. Roschini, Problematica sulla Corredenzione, Rome 1969, pp. 96-97,99.

19. Significant in this regard is depiction of Gen 3:15 in a film for catechetical use where the Mother is shown with her foot on the crushed head of the serpent, while on the foot of the Mother is that of the Child Jesus, who confers on the immaculate foot of His Mother the power which so effectively crushes the serpent's head.

20. G. Roschini, op. cit., p. 95.

21. A not unimportant observation, confirming that Catholic exegesis which discovers the Coredemption in the text of Genesis 3:15, comes from the studies of Lutheran scholars, who, to deny the Immaculate Conception of Mary, deny that the Woman mentioned in this text is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Otherwise, they say, she would be "Coredemptrix," which is impossible, because Mary, like every other child of Adam has contracted original sin and has need of the Redeemer. Cf. T.Gallus, in Ephemerides Mariologicae (as cited by Roschini, op. cit., p. 98).

22.. Cf. A. Dubarle, "Les fondements bibliques du titre: Marie la Nouvelle Eve," in Recherches de Science Religeuse 39 (1951) 49-64.

23. L. Cignelli, op. cit., p. 233.

24. Cf. Ibid., pp. 4 ss.

25. On the concept of co-cause or secondary cause, cf. the precise analysis of St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 43, art. 1, ad 3. It is necessary to stress once again with Cignelli that if there exists a close bond between Adam and Eve in virtue of the espousals uniting them, the parallel bond uniting the new Eve (Mary) to the new Adam (Jesus) is even closer. Mary, in fact, "as new Eve is found inserted into the mystery of the new Adam in virtue of a double title: as mother and as spouse. Hence, she is joined to Christ more intimately than Eve to Adam. This double bond, maternal and spousal, expresses at once the Virgin's resemblance to and her association with the New Adam Redeemer". Op. cit., p. 226.

26. On the text of Sirach cf. the solid exegetical study of T. Gallus, "A muliere initium peccati et per illam omnes morimur (Sir 25,24)," in Verbum Domini 23 (1943) 272-277.

27. PL 22, 408.

28. In a profound and lucid synthesis Cignelli writes: "As mankind had cooperated with Satan in bringing about its own fall, so it would cooperate with God in its own Redemption. And given that both sexes were actively involved in the ruin, both must be actively involved in the salvation. Thus, the antithesis fall/ Redemption has its genetic cause in the two opposed triads: Satan-Adam­Eve/God-Christ-Mary." Op. cit. p. 228.

29. Cf. J. Nicolas, "Introduction théologique à des études sur la Nouvelle Eve," in Etudes Mariales 12 (1945) p. 5. See also J. Galot,"La mission della donna nella Chiesa," in La Civilta Cattolica II, p. 23; L. Cignelli, op. cit., p. 235.

30. Cf. M. Miravalle, Maria Corredentrice Mediatrice Avvocata, Rome 1993, pp.7-8

31. Op. cit., p. 235.

32. AAS 41 (1950) p. 768. We think it useful to add here the opinion of J. Lebon, who, in the concluding synthesis of an accurate study of the Holy Fathers on the antithesis Eve-Mary, states that Mary is shown completely united to Christ, by the will of God, so as to form a single, total principle of salvation and of life, just as Eve is shown united to Adam, head of mankind, in a total principle of ruin and death. Cf. J. Lebon, "Comment je conçois, j'établis et je défends la doctrine de la médiation mariale," in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, (1939) pp. 655-674.

Part 2

The above paper first appeared in Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D., (ed.), Mary Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate, Theological Foundations II: Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1997)

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