Titles of Our Lady from the Litany of Loreto

Queen of Angels

Origin of the Regina CoeliWe read in the Bible (Eccli. 45: 14) that when Aaron was consecrated to the priesthood, a crown of gold was placed upon his miter. The crown had a second fillet of blue lace, a color chosen as the type of Heaven, "an ornament of honor, a work of power, and delightful to the eyes for its beauty." Over this crown was a golden diadem, with the inscription, "Holiness to the Lord." The diadem, a fillet of silk, was two inches wide, sometimes white, sometimes blue, sewn with pearls or other gems and enriched with gold. It may be noted that the diadem, not the crown, was the real insignia of royalty. How applicable to Mary, the Queen of Heaven, is this diadem with its blue fillet, Her own color, the color of the firmament.

One of the loveliest and truest titles of Mary is that of Queen—Mary, by the grace of God is Queen and Empress of the universe. St. Athanasius says: "If the Son is a King, the Mother who begot Him is rightly and truly considered a Queen and Sovereign." And St. Bernardine of Siena: "No sooner had Mary consented to be Mother of the Eternal Word, than She merited by this consent to be made Queen of the world and all creatures." Holy Mother Church has guaranteed that royal title to Her. In the Mass of the Seven Dolors She sings: "Holy Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Mistress of the world, stood by the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ full of sadness;" and in the Communion Verse of the Mass of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: "Most noble Queen of the world, Mary, ever Virgin." Three of the four great Antiphons of Our Lady salute Her as Queen, the Regina Coeli, the Ave Regina Coelorum and the Salve Regina—"Hail, Queen of Heaven, Hail Mistress of Angels!"

So are applied to Her the words of the Psalmist (Ps. 44: 10), "The Queen stood on Thy right hand in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety."

There is a beautiful story about the Regina Coeli. In the year 596, at Easter Time, a terrible pestilence was raging in Rome. Pope St. Gregory urged the people to do penance, and arranged for a procession (see image at right). At dawn he went to the Church of Ara Coeli, and taking a picture of Our Lady, believed to have been painted by St. Luke, he led the procession to St. Peter's followed by the clergy and a great crowd. When the procession was passing the tomb of Hadrian he heard heavenly voices singing the Regina Coeli, and he added to their praises the invocation, Ora pro nobis, Alleluia! At that, an Angel was seen putting his sword back into its scabbard. The plague had ceased. Thenceforth the Castle of Hadrian was known as the Castle of the Holy Angel (Castel Sant'Angelo), and the Image of Our Lady became known as the Salvation of the Roman People (Salus Populi Romani). Being Queen of Heaven, the first title of Her royal prerogatives is "Queen of Angels," an astounding title as we consider the unspeakable beauty and majesty of these sublime creations of God.

Angel means "one going" or "one sent," hence a messenger. The Angels are God's instruments to tell His Will to men, but their essential function is to serve at the throne of God. Daniel (c. 7) gives a magnificent picture of them: "I beheld till thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days sat: His garment was white as snow and the hair of His head like clean wool; His throne like flames of fire: the wheels of it like burning fire: a swift stream of fire issued forth before Him; thousands of thousands ministered to Him and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him; the judgment sat and the books were opened." St. Thomas divides the Angels into three hierarchies of three orders each: first, the Seraphim, the Cherubim and the Thrones; second, the Dominations, the Virtues and the Powers; third, the Principalities, the Archangels and the Angels. We cannot go into a detailed study of the Angels—it is enough to say that they were created before man, and that they are a superior creation to man: "Thou hast made him (man) a little less than the angels" (Ps. 8, 6).

Queen of AngelsThe tremendous thought is that Mary is the Queen of Angels; that She, who by nature is inferior to them, is in dignity superior to them, due to the fact that She has the supreme dignity—that of Mother of God. Her close association with Jesus in the Incarnation made Her an associate of the Angels. It was God's way of manifesting His Will to Her. The great messenger of the Annunciation was St. Gabriel. He saluted Her, as the one inferior salutes the one superior. Even St. Gabriel was awed at the beauty of Mary's soul and the dignity which no angel could even hope for. St. Gabriel, "the strength of God," had appeared to the Prophet Daniel, he had appeared to Zachary; they were holy men and pleasing to God, but She was "full of grace," and he knew that while in that little house of Nazareth he was in the very vestibule of Heaven, the very first one to salute the Queen of Angels. We still have that feeling of St. Gabriel's awe every time we repeat his Ave, a feeling like to that of the boy St. Aloysius or little St. Catherine of Siena, climbing the stairs and saying an Ave at every step, or St. Louis of France adding to his other prayers fifty Aves and genuflecting at every one. Say Ave Maria, and you still hear the flutter of St. Gabriel's wings and smell the flowers from the fields of Paradise. But St. Gabriel was not the only angelic visitor to Mary. There were hosts of Angels to wait upon Her, ready to do Her slightest bidding, hovering about Her, in admiration of Her, and in adoration of Her Child. It is not a bit of merely poetic sentiment that makes the artists surround Her with Angels. Where else would they be but with the King of Angels and the Queen of Angels?

But there was one Angel in particular that guarded Mary. It was St. Michael the Archangel. When the powers of Satan, in the person of Herod, sought to destroy the Child Jesus, and Mary and Joseph were forced to flee with Him into Egypt, St. Michael went with Them. "Michael and his angels fought with the dragon... and that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan..." (Apoc. 12: 7, 9) The Woman clothed with the sun conquered by the aid of St. Michael. He never left Her. It is the accepted belief that it was he who came to Mary at the end to announce to Her that She was going to die. We can well believe that he stood guard over that holy body till it was reunited with Her soul, and that he blazed the way with his golden wings to glorify Her path to Heaven. St. Michael had driven Lucifer from Heaven; what must have been his happiness to accompany Mary to Her throne there!

"Thy throne the wings of Angels!" (1910 Raccolta, N. 211) Our poor minds cannot grasp the rejoicing of the Angelic hosts at the Assumption of their Queen. "Mary is assumed into Heaven," sings Holy Church, "the Angel hosts rejoice." That is the thought over and over again in many of the Feasts of Our Lady and the Angels—that the Angels rejoice to have Her as their Queen.

There is an old legend that St. Mauritius (431 A.D.) instituted the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, due to the fact that on the night of September 8, a man heard the Angels singing in Heaven, expressing their joy on the birthday of their Queen. The Copts call that day the Feast of the Seed of Jacob, reminding us of Jacob's Vision, the ladder of Heaven with Angels ascending and descending.

"Salve Regina! on the grass and flowers
Here chanting, I beheld those spirits sit." —Dante

Angels transport the Holy House of Loreto

It is not hard to accept the story that Angels carried the Holy House of Nazareth to Loreto. They loved that dwelling-place of God and Mary who had dwelt there many a year. It was the palace of their Queen.

It was so even while She was on earth; more so, when She was glorified in Heaven. St. Anselm has a beautiful passage on Her Assumption. "No longer is She solicitous how to serve Him as a Child, for all the hierarchies of Angels serve Him as their Lord. No longer is She troubled flying with Him into Egypt from the face of Herod; for He has ascended into Heaven, and Herod has gone down into Hell before His face. No longer is She disturbed on account of the many things the Jews did against Him; for all things now are subject unto Him. And now Mary Herself is exalted above the choirs of Angels; now all Her desire is fulfilled, She sees God face to face, as He is, and rejoices with Her Son forever."

The truth of this, that Mary is the Queen of Angels, is of tremendous importance to us. Every one of Her titles means something to us, is of practical importance to us. The great thought is this—that since She is set above the Angels, since She is the nearest being to God, and since She is also our Mother, our advocate, our mercy, our life, our sweetness, our hope, there can be no limit to the confidence we place in Her intercession.

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