Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate
by Mark I Miravale, S.T.D.
It is all in conformity with Divine Revelation, in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, in the Tradition of the Church from the times of the Apostles, and in the solemn and ordinary Magisterium of the Church, up to and including Pope John Paul II in his encyclical, Redemptoris Mater.
I had the great honor to be the professor of Mariology to the Polish student Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), when he attended the Pontifical Athenaeneum International "Angelicum" in Rome, for his license and doctorate in Theology (1947-1948).
The doctrine of St. Albert the Great (now thought to be Pseudo-Albert) and of St. Thomas Aquinas about the maternal participation of the Virgin Mother in the Redemption as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate had a great influence in the Church.
I share the hope of Dr. Mark Miravalle:
"With the profound contribution of our present Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, to the understanding
of the mediating mystery of Mary with Christ and the Church ... there is only one final action that remains in
bringing the Marian roles of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate ... into the fullest acknowledgement and ecclesial
life of the People of God: that our Holy Father, in his office as Vicar of Christ on earth and guided by the Spirit
of Truth, define and proclaim the Marian roles of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate for the People
of God as Christian dogma revealed by God, in rightful
veneration of the Mother of Jesus, and for the good of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ."
Luigi Cardinal Ciappi, O.P.
It is true that in the divine drama of how God makes himself and his will known to humanity, certain doctrinal truths are only more fully penetrated after the Church has ages of human history in which to ponder and reflect upon the divine seeds of these truths which are contained in the Word of God, both written and handed down. If God has reserved a greater and more complete understanding of certain revealed seeds of faith regarding Mary, the Mother of Jesus, until our own recent centuries, then such a greater understanding granted by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, should not be met with a potentially stagnant incredulity on this fact alone. Rather, it should evoke a fresh appreciation for the ever-dynamic designs of God in leading the pilgrim People of God towards their eternal home, and for the Holy Spirit, who blows where he wills (cf. Jn. 3:8).
I believe such to be the case about the roles of Mary, Mother of Jesus, as the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate for the People of God. This in no way infers a new public revelation about the Mother of Jesus; but rather a new and more developed penetration into the already revealed truths about Mary and the intimate "union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation" (Lumen Gentium, n. 57).
May our minds and hearts be one with the Lord and his words at the Last Supper, in openness to and trust in the Holy Spirit, the Counselor of the People of God and Divine Spouse of Mary, in leading us to the deepest possible understanding about the revelation of God concerning the Mother of Jesus. May the Holy Spirit lead us to the whole truth about Mary:
Mark I. Miravalle, S.T.D.
It was the will of the heavenly Father that his Son, Jesus Christ, be sent into the world for the purpose of redeeming the human family (cf Jn 3:16, Phil 2:6-11). It was also the will of the Father that a woman be intimately involved in this wondrous plan of human redemption; for as John Paul II tells us, "the Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation."
In the rich Tradition of the Church founded by Christ, four divinely revealed doctrines about Mary, Mother of Jesus, have come forth from the inspired pages of Sacred Scripture, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, these Marian doctrines have been gradually brought to light by the living Church.
These words of the Second Vatican Council echo the Council of Ephesus where in 431 A.D. this early ecumenical council defined the first Marian doctrine which, the Motherhood of God, "Theotókos," proclaims that Mary is truly the Mother of God the Son made man: "the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God since according to the flesh she brought forth the Word of God made flesh."
A few centuries later, the living and praying Church, pondering the Scriptural revelation of Mary's virginity, defined the second Marian doctrine, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. At the Lateran Council in 649, Pope Martin I proclaimed the three-fold nature of the virginity of Mary:
The third Marian doctrine came to its most complete illumination by the Church more than a thousand years later.
The infallible statement by Pope Pius IX in 1854 which defined the Immaculate Conception of Mary confirmed centuries of Christian belief that she who was greeted by the angel as "full of grace"(Lk 1:28) entered into human existence without the stain of ' original sin.
In more recent times, the Assumption of Mary was the fourth Marian doctrine defined to be contained in God's revelation to humanity. "Mary, the immaculate perpetually Virgin Mother of God, after the completion of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into the glory of Heaven." The woman who intimately shared in the victory of Christ over the serpent (cf. Gen 3:15) could not suffer the effects of sin and death that came from the Evil one and his seed, with whom she was given complete enmity by Almighty God.
But at the same time we know that the Marian mystery in God's plan of salvation does not end with the earthly life of the Virgin of Nazareth and her departure. The Second Vatican Council reminds us: "Taken up in Heaven she did not lay aside this saving office, but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation."
The Council goes on to say: "Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix." These titles of Mary, such as Mediatnx and Advocate, refer to roles given to Mary by the heavenly Father and sustained by the Holy Spirit because of her intimate sharing in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
To understand, therefore, the roles of Mary as Mediatrix and Advocate which she now exercises with the aid of the Holy Spint from her rightful place in Heaven we must examine the meritorious foundation for these God-given roles during her earthly life as the "handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38).
Mary's intimate cooperation with the Redeemer began at the Annunciation, where she freely participated in the work of man's salvation through faith and obedience (cf. Lk 1:28).
But the cooperation of the Mother of the Redeemer in the work of redemption did not cease with her fiat to the angel.
These profound words of the Second Vatican Council describe the spiritual sufferings and intimate cooperation Mary experienced with the Redeemer at the foot of the cross (cf. Jn 19:26) in perfect maternal obedience to God's plan of salvation.
It is in light of Mary's unique and intimate cooperation with the Redeemer, both at the Incarnation (cf. Lk 1:28) and at the work of Redemption at Calvary (cf. Jn 19:26), that the Church has invoked Mary under the title, "Coredemptrix."
The prefix "co" does not mean equal, but comes from the Latin word, "cum," which means "with". The title of Coredemptrix applied to the Mother of Jesus never places Mary on a level of equality with Jesus Christ, the divine Lord of all, in the saving process of humanity's redemption. Rather, it denotes Mary's singular and unique sharing with her Son in the saving work of redemption for the human family. The Mother of Jesus participates in the redemptive work of her Saviour Son, who alone could reconcile humanity with the Father in his glorious divinity and humanity. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, redeems the human family, as the God-man. Mary, who is completely subordinate and dependent to her redeeming Son even for her own human redemption, participates in the redemptive act of her Son as his exalted human mother.
Because of her intimate and unparalleled sharing in the mysterious work with the divine Redeemer, Mary, human Mother of the Redeemer, has merited the Church title, "Coredemptrix" which literally means, "with the Redeemer."
Mary's other roles in the Church as Mediatrix and Advocate are in fact a flowing over of her role as Coredemptrix. Pope John Paul II tells us, "Mary's role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son."
There remains one final doctrinal pillar of the Marian mystery revealed by God that seems to call for the proclamation of clarity and truth that only the Church can provide in its crucial task of "giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God." It is the Christian revelation of Mary as Coredemptrix with the Redeemer, as well as the resulting roles of Mediatrix and Advocate for the People of God. For the People of God, as the Council tells us, "still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home."
Let us proceed to examine these Marian roles of Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, as they
manifest themselves in the rich revelation of the Word of God entrusted to the Church. Let us in a special way invoke the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
the Spirit of Truth, for "the Holy Spirit, through whom the living
voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church - and through her to the world - leads believers to the full truth,
and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness" (cf. Col 3: 16). Hence the Christian faithful will be able to listen attentively to what "the Spirit" is "saying
to the Churches" today about the "Handmaid
of the Lord" (cf. Rev 2:7,11,17; Lk l:38).
2 Cf. Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation), n. 9-10, as contained in Austin Flannery, O.P., ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New York, Costello Publishing Co., 1975 (all later Vatican II Conciliar references will be cited from this source by the document's Conciliar name).
3. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), n. 53.
4. Council of Ephesus, 431 A.D., as cited from Henricus Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, Definitionum et Declarationum De Rebus Fidei et Morum, Barcelona, ed., Herder, 1946, n. 113 (all later references from this source will be entered as "D" followed by the reference number).
5. Pope Martin I, Lateran Council, 649 A.D., D 256.
7. Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, 1950.
8 Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 62.
9. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n.62.
10. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, n.56
11. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, n.58.
12. For example, see Pope Pius XI, Radio message to Lourdes, 28 April 1935,
14. Cf. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 62.
15. Cf. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 62.
16. Pope John Paul II, Papal Address at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Alborada in Guayaquil, 31 January 1985, L'Osservatore Romano, 11 March 1985.
17.Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum (Dogmatic
Constitution on Divine Revelation), n.
18.Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 62.
19. Cf. Vatican Council it, Dei Verbum, n. 10.
20. Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum, n. 8.
21. Cf. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris Mater, n. 30.
Gen 3:15 - Old Testament Prophecy of the Coredemptrix
The first revelation of Mary's intimate cooperation with the Redeemer is contained in the first great prophecy of the redemption found in the "First Gospel" (Proto-evangelium), the book of Genesis.
The Second Vatican Council tells us:
The Mother of the Redeemer and her providential role in redemption is prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of the future Saviour revealed in the inspired book of Genesis.
Following the sin committed by our first parents in the garden, God addresses the serpent: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall crush your head and you shall lie in wait for his heel" (Gen 3:15).
The sacred text reveals a crucial struggle, singular and absolute, between the tempter Satan and the future redeemer, Jesus Christ. This revealed struggle will end in triumph for the "seed of the woman."
The "woman" foreshadows the mother of the redeemer, who intimately shares in the same struggle and same victory as the future redeemer against the serpent of evil. For it was God's manifest will that the Woman share in the same "enmity" between herself and the serpent as does her redeeming seed (cf. Gen. 3:15). This struggle and victory over the serpent foreshadows the great work of redemption effected by the Saviour of the world, as well as the Mother of the Redeemer's intimate cooperation in this saving act. Mary is indeed "prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after their fall into sin "
Pope Pius IX explained Mary's "intimate and indissoluble" union with Jesus Christ in his redemptive triumph over Satan which was prophesied in Genesis 3:15 in the apostolic letter which infallibly defined the Immaculate Conception:
Mary was eternally in complete and absolute opposition to Satan, for with and through her Son the Redeemer, the Woman was to intimately share in the complete redemptive triumph over Satan.
The early Church Fathers gave immediate confirmation to this scriptural prophecy of Mary's true sharing in the work of redemption by modeling the Mother of Jesus as the "New Eve"  In the mind of the early Fathers Mary was the New Eve who intimately participated with the "New Adam" Jesus Christ, in restoring the supernatural life of grace lost by Adam and Eve. Pius XII refers to this Patristic designation of Mary as New Eve and her intimate sharing in the redemptive victory of her Son (based on the Genesis passage) in his apostolic constitution infallibly defining the Assumption of Mary:
The intimate and unique coredemptive role of Mary, the Woman of the seed (cf. Gen 3: 15) with the Redeemer, the seed of victory over the serpent, is already prophetically revealed in the first inspired text of Sacred Scripture.
Isaiah 7:14 - Mother of the Suffering Servant
Another great Old Testament prophecy that foretells the coming of the saving messiah is the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. The Lord reveals to Ahaz a sign of salvation for the people of Israel: "Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (Is 7:14). Through this virgin-mother (the later Virgin Mother of Nazareth ) the Emmanuel, the "God with us," will enter the world to effect its salvation.
But what would be the price this messiah would have to pay to ransom the world (cf. Mt 10:45)? The same prophetic book of Isaiah describes the redeeming price that would be paid by the messiah, the "suffering servant" of God:
The Virgin Mother prophesied by Isaiah would indeed bring us the redeeming Messiah, the God-with-us. But since her Child was destined to buy back the world "at a price" (1 Cor 6:20), the Mother of the Suffering Servant was also, by nature of her maternal relation, destined to suffer. The future Mother of the Redeemer was predestined to suffer with her redeeming Son.
1k 1:38 - New Testament Beginning of Coredemptrix
"The Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ, is the center of the universe and human history."  It was the will of the Father that in the fullness of time (cf. Gal 4:4), the Son came into the world as the Redeemer of humanity, to perform the work of the redemption on the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25). But the eternal plan of the Heavenly Father to send his Son for the salvation of the world also included the predestined role of a woman. The Second Vatican Council tells us:
When the Father elected Mary  from among all women (cf. Lk 1:41) to be the Mother of the Redeemer, it was by virtue of this choice by God and the consent of the Handmaid that Mary began her coredemptive role of cooperation with the Redeemer.
"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Lk 1:28). The angel greets the Virgin of Nazareth under a new title, "full of grace", in the place of her earthly name, "Miriam" or Mary.  The Greek word for this new title, "kécharitôménê" is the perfect participle of the verb, which tells us that this profound event of grace ascribed to Mary is an action that has been completed in the past, before the announcement of the Angel,  and, thus, describes the present state, "full of grace."
It was Mary's Immaculate Conception that properly prepared her and made her worthy for the intimate and unique cooperation she was to have with the Redeemer made man in the work of salvation. Pope John Paul II states:
The sanctifying action Mary received at the first instant of her conception was enacted by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Divine Sanctifier, for Mary is the "only one who has become the dwelling place of all the graces of the Holy Spirit."  Here too at the Annunciation, it will be by the power of the Holy Spirit that Mary will become the Mother of the Redeemer (cf. Lk 1:35). It is the Holy Spirit, the Divine Spouse of Mary, who prepares and sustains Mary at each stage of her coredemptive role.
After Mary receives the word from the heavenly messenger that she in her virginity would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit to become the Mother of the Son of God (cf. Lk 1:34-35), this Daughter of Zion  gives her free response to the invitation sent by Yahweh, the Father: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). It is the providential union of the creative overshadowing of the Holy Spirit (cf Lk 1:35) and the consenting cooperation of Mary (cf. Lk 1:38) by which "the Word became flesh" (Jn 1:14) in the redemptive Incarnation.
With the freely given "yes" of Mary to the new plan of salvation offered by the Father, Mary willfully and physically enters into the heart of the new covenant established for the redemption of the human family. The Council confirms:
At the Annunciation, Mary begins her role as the Coredemptrix with the Redeemer. Her fiat mihi to the angel is a free "let it be done to me" to an intimate sharing in God's new plan of salvation revealed by the angel (cf. Lk 1:31-33). It is a free "let it be done to me" to the giving of a human body to the Redeemer, who would fulfill the saving messianic role referred to in Mary's own magnificat (Lk 1:46-55), which "rejoices in God my Saviour" (Lk 1:47). It is a free "let it be done to me" in cooperating with the Redeemer so intimately that Mary Coredemptrix gave to the Saviour the very instrument of Redemption - his human body - for "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb 10:10).
Early Church Fathers: Mary, the "New Eve"
Possibly the most ancient doctrinal image of Mary in the Early Church is that of the "New Eve." The early Fathers saw Mary (cf. Gen 3:15; Lk l :28) as having a free and uniquely integral role with Jesus Christ, the "New Adam" (cf. Rom 5:12; 1Cor 15:21), in the redemption of the human family, through the restoration of the supernatural life of grace.  As the virgin Eve, through her disobedience to the Father, interiorly cooperated with Adam in the sin that lost the saving life of grace for the human family (cf. Gen 3:6), the Virgin Mary, in her obedience to the Father (cf. Lk 1:38), interiorly cooperated with Jesus Christ, the New Adam, in the salvation of the human family through his redemption.
St. Irenaeus exemplifies the early Patnstic understanding of Eve's secondary though instrumental sharing in the "death" of the supernatural life for the world and Mary's parallel (though antithetical), intimate sharing in the salvation of the human race:
Mary's unequaled participation in the redemption of the human race as the New Eve was the universal Christian teaching in the Early Church. The Second Vatican Council notes the unquestionable acknowledgment by the Fathers of the Church of Mary's unique and free cooperation with the Redeemer in the work of man's salvation:
We can summarize the profound wisdom of the Fathers by saying that just as Eve had an active sharing with Adam in the loss of salvation for the human family (although a role secondary and subordinate to that of Adam), so Mary had an active sharing with Jesus Christ in the redemption of the human family (although a role completely secondary and subordinate to that of Jesus Christ). 
For the Fathers, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ into the world was the beginning of one unified divine act of redemption that saw its merciful climax in the passion and death of the Redeemer on the Cross. The Incarnation is the Redemption begun and anticipated, and Mary's moral and physical cooperation in the Redemptive Incarnation alone merits her Patristic titles of being, in her rightful subordinate manner, the "cause of our salvation,"  "the price of the redemption of captives," and she who "brought forth redemption for the human race."
Following then this Patristic parallel between Eve and Mary, Eve could rightly be seen as the Co-peccatrix ("with the Sinner"). For it was Eve who freely gave the "instrument" of the Fall, the "forbidden fruit," (cf. Gen 3:6) to Adam, the Peccator ("the Sinner") whose sin as father of the human race led to loss of grace for the human race.  It is through the instrumentality of the Co-peccatrix that the Peccator effected the death of the human race. 
Mary then can rightly be seen as the Coredemptrix (with the Redeemer). For it is Mary who freely gave the instrument of the Redemption, the human body to Jesus Christ. The Father no longer desired the sacrifices of the Old Law but prepared for his Saviour Son a body as the New Law instrument of Redemption."When Christ came into the world he said Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body has thou prepared for me." (Heb. 10:5).
"We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:10)." This body, the God-designated instrument of Redemption was freely given to the Redeemer at the Incarnation by Mary, the Coredemptrix.
Truly can it be said that Eve was the Co-peccatrix with the Peccator; Mary the Coredemptrix with the Redeemer.
But Mary's cooperation at the Annunciation is only the beginning of her faithful role as Coredemptrix.
The Son came into the world as the Redeemer of all nations, and the work of Redemption was climaxed at the Cross. Calvary, therefore, was also the event to which the coredeeming Mother was destined to go with her Redeemmg Son.
Lk 2:35 - Presentation Prophecy of Coredemptrix
The New Testament prophecy of the climax of Mary's role as Coredemptnx comes from the inspired words of Simeon at the presentation of the infant Lord to the Temple (cf. Lk 2:25-37).
It is again by the power and sustenance of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 2:26-27) that Mary receives the prophetic message of Simeon foretelling the climactic sharing by the Mother of Jesus in the price of Redemption.
"Inspired by the Spirit"(Lk 2:27), Simeon came into the temple and took the infant Redeemer in his arms, proclaiming,
Simeon's inspired words about the future Redeemer correspond to the meaning of the name given to him by the angel, "Jesus", which means "God is salvation". The redemptive mission of the child Jesus was also made known to the temple prophetess Anna, who "gave thanks to God and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem"(Lk 2:38).
The elderly prophet then addressed the Mother of the Redeemer.
And with particular attention to Mary, Simeon prophetically states: "and a sword will pierce through your own heart, too" (Lk 2:35).
This sorrowful annunciation to the Mother of the Saviour confirms that her intimate sharing in the redemptive work of her Son will be at the price of profound suffering, and will lead her in the obedience of faith to the side of the suffering Redeemer. John Paul II tells us:
Just as Mary anticipated her Son's stainless entry into the human family by her Immaculate Conception, so too did the Mother go before her Son in the order of suffering that would lead to the climax of Redemption on the Cross. The coredeeming Mother of the Saviour was eternally predestined  to sacrifice and suffering in her election by the Heavenly Father. And from the time of her joyful and sorrowful announcements (cf Lk 1:28, Lk 2:35), Mary anticipated her Son's redemptive suffering at Calvary in her motherly heart. "Where Mary is, Jesus will soon appear," and for the Child destined to suffer, the Mother must also precede. The Mother always went before the Son in the order of suffering.
Jn 19:26 - Climax of the Coredemptrix
The Work of Redemption
Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, is the Redeemer of all peoples and nations through his passion, death, and resurrection on the cross. Through the sacrifice at Calvary, the Son of Man reconciled humanity with the Father and ransomed us from the true burden of sin. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins" (Eph. 1:7). It is in the sacrifice of Calvary that "Christ has bought us back from the curse of the law" (Gal 3:13). "The Son of Man came ...to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt 20:28); and it is upon the cross that "a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant" (Heb. 9:15).
The Old Testament understanding of a "redeemer" (Hebrew, "go'el") often included the idea of a family member, kinsman, or close relative who was responsible for "ransoming back from bondage" another family member (cf. Lev 25:48; Jer. 32:7). Redemption also included the idea of a covenant relationship, where God would act as a "redeemer" in ransoming back Israel his "people" from Egypt because of his covenant with them:
The Old Testament foreshadows a redeemer of men who would be a "family redeemer", being the Son of Yahweh, and also a redeemer bringing forth a "new covenant of my blood" (Lk 22:19) through "a death" that "has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant" (Heb. 9:15).
But here too we see the wisdom of God in having Mary, Mother of the Saviour and Daughter of Zion, intimately involved in the family and covenant act of Redemption.
As Mother of the Saviour and spiritual "Mother of the Living," Mary rightly has, by maternal relation, an intimate sharing in the familial "ransoming back" of her human family with her Son, the Redeemer. As Daughter of Zion, Mary is the faithful and obedient Daughter of Israel who profoundly participates in the new and everlasting covenant between the Father and the new People of God. In both the familial and covenantal aspects of Redemption foreshadowed in the Old Testament, Mary as Mother of the Saviour and spiritual Mother of the Living, as well as the faithful Daughter of Zion, rightly participates in the heart of the New Covenant act of Redemption.
The Coredemptrix in the Work of Redemption
The term, "Woman" unites the Mother of the Saviour at the foot of the cross with the "Woman" of the seed of redemption in Genesis (cf Gen 3 15), who will work with the Redeemer in the triumph over Satan and his seed of sin and death. Mary, who previously was the Handmaid of the Lord at the Annunciation, becomes through the bitter suffering of Calvary the Woman with the Man of Redemption, the Mother with the Son of Salvation, the Lady (Domina) with the Lord (Dominus) of all peoples.
These sublime words of the Council Fathers summarize the rich fruits of the Church's prayerful pondering over nearly two millennia on the scriptural passage of Jn 19:26 and its inspired revelation of Mary's intimate coredemptive role with the Redeemer.
Papal Teaching on the Coredemptrix at Calvary
And with the profound Johannine passage, Jn 19:26, of the written word of God, the teaching office (Magisterium) of the Church has provided a rich and inspired interpretation which manifests the Marian mystery of Coredemptnx.
This deeper and fuller understanding of the inspired text of John 19:26 regarding Mary's role as Coredemptrix as taught by the Church is the rich fruit of a greater penetration into the Patristic understanding of Mary as the New Eve; as well by the contributions of Church Fathers, Doctors, Mystics, and Saints, including St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Bonaventure, St. Albert the Great, and John Tauler. These and numerous other Church writers, leading through the Middle Ages and up to the Modern period, represent aids to the teaching Church, which "at the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit...faithfully expounds"  the Word of God. All these ecclesial sources have contributed in their own way and collectively to a greater unraveling of Mary's role as the "Coredemptrix" as taught by the Church.
The modern papal commentary on Jn. 19:26 with regard to Mary's intimate cooperation with the Redeemer at Calvary in the work of Redemption provides a treasure of authoritative and theological insight in grasping the fullest meaning of this inspired text of Sacred Scripture. The fruitful combination of authoritative consistency, as well as individual theological contribution in development, make this series of papal statements a wellspring of the "authentic interpretation of the Word of God"  concerning Mary's coredemptive role at the foot of the cross.
In the Papal teaching of Leo XIII (1878-1903,  we see that Mary freely offered her dying Son in obedience to the justice of the Father, beginning at the temple and climaxing at the cross, where she intimately shared with the Redeemer by "dying with Him in her heart" in painfully atoning for the sins of humanity:
Pope Leo XIII further teaches the Christian faithful that Mary was the "cooperatrix" (the female cooperator or "co-worker" with Christ) in the Redemption of humanity, and therefore would likewise be the intimate cooperator in the distribution of the graces of Redemption: "...she who had been the cooperatrix in the sacrament of man's Redemption, would be likewise the cooperatrix in the dispensation of graces deriving from it." In this statement, Leo XIII establishes Mary's coredemptive role in the act of acquiring the graces of Redemption, as well as a consequential role with the Redeemer in the future conveying of these graces to the human family.
Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914) confirms the doctrine of Mary's coredemptive role, as well as adding greater specificity in regards to the merit of the Mother of the Redeemer for her cooperation in the redemption.
Apart from the papal references to the distribution of graces by Mary (which will be discussed in the following chapter), St. Pius X designates Mary as the chosen partner of Christ in the work of redemption, and due to her unified suffering and purpose with the Redeemer, Mary became the "reparatrix," the female restorer with Christ, of the world lost by sin.
St. Pius X further establishes that due to Mary's unique union with Christ in suffering and the
redemptive purpose, this chosen partner of Christ in the work of redemption merits graces for the human family
in the order of what is fitting or appropriate (de congruo)
that which our Lord merits for us in the order of justice (de condigno).
Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) not only confirms the doctrine of Mary's Coredemption as taught by the modern popes, but articulates this Marian truth with even greater clarity.
Mary intensely shared the price of ransom (cf. Mt 20:28) with the Redeemer, almost to the point of her own death. This is the chosen vocation of the coredeeming Mother of the Saviour in light of her motherly relation and union with the "Sacrifice" offered for our salvation. For "...taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Heb 9:13), Christ was the new covenant sacrifice offered for our salvation. And Mary, as Mother of the Victim, obediently offered her sublime motherly rights of nature and grace in relation to her Son to the heavenly Father in performing her subordinate role with Christ in appeasing the infinite justice of the Father (cf. 1Cor 1:30). Mary freely and obediently offered Jesus as Mother  to the heavenly Father for the salvation of her spiritual sons and daughters (cf. Jn 19:26).
Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) continues the rich teaching of the Magisterium on the doctrine of Mary's Coredemption. Pius XI repeatedly referred to Mary under the title of "Coredemptrix," and here invokes the Coredemptnx who suffered with the Redeemer to preserve in us the spiritual fruits of the Lord's redemption and Mary's compassion ("suffering with"):
Again, Pius XI states:
Pius Xl's papal repetition manifests the coredeeming Mother's meritorious offering of her Son the "victim" as the price for our redemption (cf. 1Cor 6:20). But Pius XI also refers to the "altogether singular grace" Mary received from the Redeemer to be the female restorer at the side of the New Adam. The Coredemptrix received the altogether singular grace to cooperate uniquely with the Redeemer from the Redeemer, to whom the Coredemptrix was always subordinate to and dependent upon.
Pope Pius XI clearly establishes the just invocation of Mary under the title of Coredemptrix for her coredeeming role with her Saviour Son:
Pius XII (1939-1958) generously continues the papal teaching on the doctrine of Mary's Coredemptive role at Calvary in several teachings of the Church's Magisterium. Pius XII profoundly integrates the Patristic understanding of Mary as the New Eve with her climaxing Coredemptive role at the foot of the cross.
The New Eve intimately shared and suffered with the New Adam in the saving sacrifice of Calvary,
which constitutes the climax of the work of redemption on behalf of us, the "children
of Adam." The New Eve of the Fathers reaches her fullness as the Coredemptrix at
Calvary, suffers with the Redeemer in her motherly heart, and offers her Son's bitter passion along with her own
Pius XII continues at another place:
Pius XII specifies the role of Mary, the New Eve at the "tree of the cross" (cf. Jn 19:26) for the purpose of making "satisfaction" for the guilt of humanity. The sublime association between the Coredemptrix and the Redeemer in the mystery of Redemption is attested to by Pius XII in these words:
The Second Vatican Council, under the pontificates of John XXIII (1958-1962) and Paul VI (1963-1978) gave conciliar strength and confirmation to the consistent ordinary Magisterial teachings of the modern popes regarding the coredemptive role of Mary.
In clear confirmation of the Jn. 19:26 interpretation of the modern papal predecessors (as manifested both in text and footnotes ), the Second Vatican Council teaches Mary's coredemptive suffering and offering with the Redeemer at the foot of the cross in section 58 of Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church). Mary "faithfully persevered in union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan." Mary's coredemptive cooperation at Calvary was in obedience to the will of God, who desired a New Eve along side of the New Adam.
The Council further teaches in section 58 that it was Mary who was "enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering." The Coredemptnx suffered with the Redeemer, enduring with her Son almost to the point of death  the intensity of the price of ransom (cf Mt 10:45). She "associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her." This conciliar teaching echoes the papal teaching of Benedict XV and Pius XII  in ascribing to Mary at Calvary a profound sharing in the redemptive sacrifice in her motherly heart. And as Mother, Mary offered her Son as saving victim to the Father to satisfy God's infinite justice.
"Finally, she was given by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross as a mother to his disciple, with these words: 'Woman, behold your son' (Jn 19:26-27)." The last words of the dying Christ to the Woman announces the near end of her coredemptive suffering on Calvary, as well as the fruit of this climax of her association with the Redeemer. The Coredemptrix who "shared in her Son's sufferings as he died on the cross..." and who in a wholly singular way "cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the work of the Saviour in restoring supernatural life to souls," was rightfully rewarded by the Redeemer before leaving the cross and returning to the Father as the "mother to us in the order of grace."
John Paul II and in 19:26 - "The Coredemptrix"
Pope John Paul II has made contemporary in certain and generous fashion the consistent Magisterial teaching on the role and doctrine of the "Coredemptrix."
The Holy Father points out that the suffering of Mary at Calvary, which "reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view" was truly efficacious and grace-giving for our Redemption. The Coredemptrix participated in a "special sort of sharing in the redeeming death" of the Redeemer.
John Paul II teaches in another place:
We have in these words of John Paul II a monumental exposition of Jn 19:26 and the ineffable sharing of the Coredemptrix in the suffering of Calvary. By Mary's witness to Christ's passion and by her own compassion ( cum passio, "suffering with"), the Coredemptrix suffered not only in her motherly heart, but also in her body with the Redeemer. By "embodying in anticipation," the expression of St. Paul, the Coredemptrix truly "has a special title to be able to claim that she 'completes in her flesh' - as already in her heart - 'what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ'"(cf. Col. 1:24).
In the sufferings of Calvary, both spiritually and bodily, the Lady (Domina) shared with the Lord (Dominus) of Redemption.
The Holy Father further specifies Mary's complete coredemptive abandonment at Calvary:
In the above quoted passage from his Marian encyclical entitled, "Mother of the Redeemer" (Redemptoris Mater), John Paul II also properly acknowledged the role of the Holy Spirit, the Divine Spouse of Mary, whose grace and power have sustained Mary throughout her coredemptive function with the Redeemer. It is by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit that Mary was conceived immaculate (cf. Gen 3:15, Lk 1 :28) so as to give the Redeemer a selfsame immaculate nature; that she was made fruitful in conceiving the Redeemer in her womb by the overshadowing of her Heavenly Spouse (cf. Lk 1:35); and that she was foretold of the climax of her role as Coredemptrix with the sword piercing her own heart (cf. Lk 2:35) by the prophetic power of the Spirit of Truth (cf. Lk 2:26-27).
So too at the foot of the Cross, it is the "influence of the Holy Spirit in his light and power" that is "all-pervading" in the soul of Mary that sustains and fills the Sorrowful Virgin with the grace to follow the divine plan for her as the Coredemptrix with the Redeemer.
John Paul also incorporates the Canticle of Kenosis (Phil 2:5-11) in describing the self-emptying at Calvary for the Mother of Jesus as
Moreover, John Paul refers to the "spiritual crucifixion" of Mary in her coredemptive role at Calvary:
It was indeed a "spiritual crucifixion" for the Woman at the foot of the cross. It is right, therefore, that in light of this most intimate suffering with the Redeemer at Calvary, that the Coredemptrix would also be rewarded with the full gift of spiritual motherhood to the People of God whom she "redeemed together with Christ." 
It is in fact the profound continuation after Calvary of the role of Mary Coredemptrix as "Mediatrix" and "Advocate"  for the People of God that Pope John Paul II refers to when he
declares that "Mary's role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son." 
As gift to the Coredemptrix for her sharing with the Redeemer in the redemption of the human
family, Mary also becomes Mediatrix and Advocate for her children in the order of grace. Pope John Paul II concludes,
"Mary's role as Coredemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son."
23. Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Ineffabilis Deus, 8 December 1854; cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptor Hominis, 1979, n. 8.
24. Vatican Council II Lumen Gentium n 55
25. Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 8 December 1854.
26. Cf. St. Justin Martyr, Dialogus cum Tryphone, ch. 100; Migne, Patrologia Graeca (later references PG )PG 6 709-712 St Irenaeus Adversus Haereses, III c 32, 1, PG, 7, 958-959 V,c. 19, I, PG 7, 1175- 1176.
27. Pope Pius XII. Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November
28. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 55.
29. Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 7.
30. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis, n. 1.
31. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 56.
32. For "Predestination of Mary", cf. St. John Damascene, Hom, in Nativitatem, 7; 10: Sources Chrétiennes, Lyons, (later S. Ch.) 80, 65;73; Hom. in Dormitionem 1,3:5. Ch. 80,85.
33. Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 8.
34. For an extended contemporary commentary on kécharitôrnénê, cf. Ignace de la Poterie, S.J., Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, translated into English from the original Flemish work, Het Mariamysterie in het Nieuwe Testament (1985) by Bertrand Buby, SM, New York, Alba House, 1992.
35. Pope John Paul II, Mary Immaculate the First Marvel of Redemption, Papal Address at General Audience, 7 December 1 983, L' Osservatore Rornano, Issue n. 50, 1983, p.1.
36. Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus,
38 Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium,
40. St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, I, 3, c. 22, n. 4; PG 7, 958-959.
41.Cf. Footnote 15 for general Patristic references as well as theological references
43. For a more developed treatment of this theological conclusion, cf. G. Roschini, O.S.M., Mariologia, v. 3, Rome, 1947, p. 300.
44. Cf. J. Lebon, Comment je conçois, I' établis et
je defends Ia doctrine de la
45."Incarnatio Redemptio inchoativa" ("the redemptive Incarnation is the Redemption begun"), see Footnote 20.
46. St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, I, c. 22, n. 4; PG 7, 958-959.
47. St. Ephraem, Assemani, ed., Opera Omnia, vol. 3, Rome, 1832, p. 528.
48. St. Ambrose, De Mysteriis, c. 3, n. 13; PL 16, 410.
49. Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia, I-II, Q. 81, a. 5. Adam's sin as Father of the human race is the formal cause for the loss of grace for the human race. Had Adam not sinned, we would not suffer the effects of Original Sin.
50. Cf. Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler. Maria: Mitterloserin. Salzburg. 12.9.90, Informationsblatt der Priesterbruderschaft St. Petrus, n. 12,Wigratzbad, Jahrgang,
51. Vatican Council II Lumen Gentium n 57
52. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 58.
53. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 16.
54. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, n. 16. Note: Certainly Mary's knowledge of the Suffering Servant of Is. 53, coupled with the words of the angel and Simeon regarding her messiah-son and his mission, made the Mother of Jesus keenly aware of her joint call with her Son in a salvific effort that would be immersed in profound suflering.
55. Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater,
57. For extended commentary on "redeemer" (g'l, go'el) in the Old Testament, Cf. Ringgren, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, v.2, Eerdman, Grand Rapids, p351; Cf Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged Volume, Michigan, 1985, p. 328.
58. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 56.
59. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 58.
60. Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution, Dei Verbum, n. 10.
61. Cf. St. Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153), Hom. II super Missus est, PL 183,62; Sermo III de Purificatione Beatae Mariae; PL 183, 370; Sermo II in Festo Pentecostes; PL 183, 328. Note: Although St. Bernard's commentary was not specifically directed to the Jn 19:26 passage, his contribution regarding Mary's "offering of the Victim to the Father" rightly includes St. Bernard in the development of the understanding of Mary's coredemptive role at the cross.
62. Cf. St. Bonaventure (d. 1274), Collatio 6 de donis Spiritus Sancti, n. 5, n. 15, n. 16, n. 17; Opera Omnia, (Ad Claras Aquas), v. 5, p. 486; Sermo 3 de Assumptione, Opera Omnia, v.9, p. 695; III Sent., dist. 4, a. 3, qu. 3, concl.; Opera
Omnia, v. 3, p. 115. For example: "Just
as they [Adam and Eve] were the destroyers of the human race, so these [Jesus and Mary] were its repairers..." (Sermo 3): "She [Mary] also merited reconciliation
for the entire human race ..."(III Sent); "She paid the price [of Redemption] as a woman brave and
loving - namely, when Christ suffered on the cross to pay that price in order to purge and wash and redeem us,
the Blessed Virgin was present, accepting and agreeing with the divine will" (n.
64. Cf. John Tauler (d. 1361), Sermo pro festo Purificationis Beatae Mariae Virginis; Oeûvres complètes, vol.6, Paris, 1911, ed., E. P. Noel, p. 253,-255; p. 256, p. 259. For example: "God accepted her oblation [on Calvary] as a pleasing sacrifice for the utility and salvation of the whole human race..."(p. 253); "He foretold to thee [Mary] all thy passion whereby He would make thee a sharer of all of His merits and afflictions, and thou would co-operate with Him in the restoration of men to salvation..."(p. 256).
65. For a more comprehensive treatment of Mary's Coredemptive role at Calvary trom the post-Patristic period through the Middle Ages and up to the Modern Period, see Roschini, Maria Santissima Nella Storia Della Salvezza, p. 179; J. B. Carol, De Corredemptione Beatae Virginis Mariae, p. 151.
66. Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum, n. 10.
67. Apart from the numerous references to Mary's Coredemptive role with Christ before this time (see Footnotes 40 and 41), the first recorded use of the title, "Coredemptrix" appears to date back to the fourteenth century, for example, in the liturgical book found in St. Peter's in Salzburg, with the verses:
Cf. Oratione of St. Peter's in Salzburg, in Dreves-Blume, Analecta hymnica medii aevi, v. 46, n. 79, p. 126; Cf. PLanctus oratius...ad B. Virginem Filium de cruce depositum sinu tenentem, in R. Laurentin, Le tître de Coredemptrice, Etude
historique in Marianum, 13, 1951, p. 429.
68. Cf Vatican Council II Dei Verbum n 10
69. Note Pope Pius IX more generally begins the papal references to Mary's ~
71. Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter, Adjutricem populi, 1895, ASS. v. 28, p. 130.
72. Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical LetterAd diem illum, 1904, ASS., v.36, 1903-1904, p. 453.
73. Meritum de condigno (condign merit) ex toto rigore justitiae (equality between the meritorious action and its reward, as well as between the persons giving and receiving the reward) is a type of merit ("a right to a reward") that can be obtained only by Jesus Christ in light of his divine nature. The redemptive act by Jesus Christ on the cross was both satisfactory (removing the relationship of guilt between the human race and God) and meritorious (establishing a right to a reward from Almighty God, which is always at the same time presupposing a gift of grace from God). Cf. Council of Trent, D 799, D 809,810; J. B. Carol, O.F.M., "Our Lady's Coredemption" in Mariology, Bruce Pub., 1957, v. 2, p. 410.
74.Meritum de congruo (congruous merit) is a right to a reward based on its appropriateness or fittingness, along with the generosity of the person granting the reward. In light of Mary's unique participation with Christ in Redemption and the graciousness of the Father, such de congruo merit is rightfully attributed by St. Pius X to Mary.
75. For Church references to the title "Coredemptrix" under the pontificate of St. Pius X, see Sacred Congregation of Rites, 13 May 1908, AAS 41,1908, p. 408; Holy
76. The Magisterial statement by Pope St. Pius X regarding Mary's merit de
congruo should serve as an authoritative aurea media
in veritate (golden mean in truth) in the debates over the nature and degree of Mary's
merit as Coredemptrix. Without saying the last word on whether or not Mary also merited de
digno, de supercongruo.
or de condigno ex mera condignitate. (just as the dogma of the Assumntion did not say the last word concerning the debate over the "Death"
of Mary), St. Pius X's statement should serve as an authoritative confirmation that Mary at
least merited de congruo
as Christ merited de condigno, and as such represents
a unified doctrinal statement regarding the question of Mary's coredemptive merit.
78. Mary's offering of Jesus at the foot of the cross should be understood fundamentally as an offering in virtue of her singularly graced motherhood, and in virtue of her priesthood of the laity which is shared by all those baptised in faith and grace. The reference here to Mary's offering should not be construed to refer to Mary's individual offering of sacrifice in a true and proper sense, as understood in the reality of ordained priesthood.
79. Pope Pius XI, Prayer of the Solemn Closing of the Redemption Jubilee, April 28,
81. Cf. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium,
83. Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis, 1943, AAS 35, 1943, p. 247.
85. St. Jerome, Epist. 22, 21; PL 22, p. 408.
86. Pope Pius XII, L'Osservatore Romano, 22 April 1940.
87. Pope Pius XII, Radio Broadcast to Pilgrims at Fatima, 13 May 1946, AAS 38,
88 Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 56, n. 57.
89. The footnote to ii. 58 of the Lumen Gentium, the "Coredemptive" paragraph of the document, refers to the Pius XII exposition of Mary's coredemptive role as previously cited in this work from Mystici Corporis, 1943.
90. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 58. All other conciliar quotes contained in this paragraph are from the same n. 58.
91. Cf. Pope Benedict XV, Inter Solidicia,
95. Pope John Paul II, Papal Address at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Alborada in Guayaquil, 31
January 1985, L'Osservatore Romano, 11 March 1985.
97. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, n. 25.
98. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris Mater, n. 18.
90. Pope John Paul II, Papal Address at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Alborada in Guayaquil, 31
January 1985, L'Osservatore Romano, 11 March 1985.
92. Pope Benedict XV, Inter Solidicia, 1918.
93. Cf. Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943.
94. Cf. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 61.
95. Pope John Paul II, Papal Address at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Alborada in Guayaquil, 31 January 1985, L'Osservatore Romano, 11 March 1985.
96. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, n. 25.
97. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Doloris, n. 25.
98. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris Mater, n. 18.
99. Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris Mater, n. 18.
100. Pope John Paul II, Papal Address at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Alborada in Guayaquil, 31 January 1985, L'OsservatoreRomano, 11 March 1985.
101. Pope Benedict XV, Inter Solidicia, 1918.
102. Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 62.
103. Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 62.
104. Pope John Paul II, Papal Address at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Alborada in Guayaquil, 31 January 1985, L'Osservatore Romano, 11 March 1985.
105. John Paul II, Papal Address at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Alborada in Guayaquil, 31 January 1985, L'Osservatore Romano, 11 March 1985.
106. Orationale of St. Peter's in Salzburg, in Dreves-Blume, Analecta
hymnica medii aevi, v. 46, n. 79, p. 126.; Cf. Planctus
oratius...ad B. Virginem Filium de cruce depositum sinu tenentem, in R. Laurentin,
Le tître de Coredemptrice, Etude historique in
Marianum, 13, 1951, p. 429. For original Latin, cf. footnote
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