Titles of Our Lady from the Litany of Loreto

Queen of Prophets

Mary ImmaculateThe truth is not sufficiently grasped that Mary belongs to the Old Testament as well as to the New. The whole history of the Jews, the chosen people, is bound up with Her. If you read the Scriptures with that thought in mind, they become startlingly clear. The whole raison d'être of God's setting apart the Jews from the other nations of the world was the promised Redeemer, the Messias. That was the life stream of Jewish religion, Jewish culture, Jewish patriotism. At times it was but an undercurrent, generally forgotten or ignored, but it was there nonetheless, as unobtrusive as the bloodstream, but just as necessary to existence.

The promised Messias was the central point of Jewish life, and as a necessary concomitant to the Messias was the Woman who would be His Mother. For there was to be a Woman who would be of tremendous importance to the Redemption of man. After the Fall, God declared to the evil one, "I will put enmities between thee and the Woman, and thy seed and Her Seed: She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for Her heel" (Gen. 4: 15). Whether it is the Woman who will crush the head or the Woman's Seed, is an immaterial reading. The point is that a Woman was to bring forth the One Who would conquer Satan and redeem man. You must realize that the Jews understood all that quite as well as we, in fact better, because their whole system was build upon it. That "Woman" was a certainty. They did not know what name She would bear, other than the promised Woman. They did not know when She would come. But She would come in God's good time. There was nothing hazy about Her. She was an actual promise, the Woman of hope, who would henceforth be a dominant factor in the history of the world. There are many titles in our Litany which may well have been thought of in the early days of the expectation of the "Woman"—"Mother of Christ, or Messias," "Cause of Our Joy," "Vessel of Honor" and so on, for the Woman who would bring forth the Messias would be all these things.

So that in that first prophecy at the Gate of the Garden of Eden, Mary is by right of title just as much the Queen-Mother, the Queen of Prophets, as in the fulfillment thousands of years later when She was the Queen-Mother of Bethlehem. The first Prophet was God; Mary is the Mother of God. What a tremendous significance that gives to Her title, "Queen of Prophets."

Years passed by, ages rolled on, the people fell away from God, most of them were destroyed, a remnant remained faithful to the promise, the ark of Noah reared above the waters, saving its treasures—and among those treasures was the vision they kept in their hearts of a star of hope, the Woman who would bring forth the Redeemer. Empires rose and fell, Abraham came to the land of Chanaan, the "Woman" became more definite. She was coming nearer, for God had designated the chosen people from whom She would come—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his seed forever.

A short time, and the prophecy narrows to one of Jacob's twelve sons, to the tribe of Juda. "The scepter shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till He comes that is to be sent, and He shall be the Expectation of nations" (Gen. 49: 10). Now could the daughters of Juda alone ask that question among themselves—which of us is the "Woman," which of us is beginning the line that will produce the Woman who will be the Mother of the Christ? Nearer the Woman comes. She is to be a daughter of David, for the Lord had said to him, "Of the fruit of thy womb I will set upon thy throne" (Ps. 131: 11). It was no far distant ancestress of Mary who asked herself if it were possible she would be Mother of the Messias, some woman who spoke the same tongue as Mary, possibly even looked like Her. All that whole line of women down the ages had been in a sense prophetesses, since they were giving, mother to daughter, the good news of the prophecy about the Woman who would bear the Christ. They regarded that unnamed Woman as their Queen—Queen of Prophetesses.

It would take too long to consider in detail all the prophetic texts about the Messias, and consequently about the "Woman" who was to bear Him. Again, we must not lose sight of the "Woman" idea all through the thought of the Jewish people. As Cardinal Newman puts it—"At the end of many centuries, it was further revealed to the Jews that the great Messias, or Christ... should be born of their race, and of one particular tribe... From that time every woman of the tribe hoped to have the privilege of herself being the Mother of the Messias, or Christ; for it stood to reason, since He was so great, the Mother must be great and blessed too. Hence it was, among other reasons, that they thought so highly of the married state, because, not knowing the mystery of the miraculous conception of the Christ when He was actually to come, they thought that the marriage rite was the ordinance necessary for His coming." That Mother to be was the Queen of all Jewish women, the most blessed of all women, so that, apart from the new inspiration of the Holy Ghost, it was no new thought for Elizabeth to call Our Lady "Blessed among women."

Queen of ProphetsBut while Mary is Queen of all the Prophets, She, as Virgin Mother, is especially Queen of the Prophets Isaias and Jeremias. Isaias was the first Gabriel, glorifying the annunciation to virginity. "Behold," he said to the unworthy King Achaz, "a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel" (Is. 7: 14). Holy man that Isaias was, he must have reverenced in that moment the Virgin of whom he was the first one to speak. Did he in the glow of prophecy visualize that maiden-mother? We feel that he did, and that he was the first to pay his homage to Her who was the Queen of Prophets, greater than all the prophets, Mother of the Prophet, Mother of the Child. "For a Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us, and the government is upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God the Mighty, the Father of the World to Come, the Prince of Peace" (Is. 9: 6).

And when Jeremias gave forth his prophecy—"the Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth. A Woman shall compass a man" (Jer. 31: 22), meaning that a Woman would bear in Her womb a grown man—he, too, beheld the "Woman" foretold in Genesis. He, too, undoubtedly was blessed to visualize in some way the Virgin Mary, who was to bring forth the seed to crush the serpent's head. He, too, knew Her to be his Queen, the Queen of all prophets, the Queen of the universe, as Her Son was King of the universe. It is a striking thing that all of Mary's close associates at the beginning of the Mystery of the Incarnation were filled with the prophetic spirit. Zachary, with his glorious Benedictus; Elizabeth, with her "Whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?"; John the Baptist, leaping in the womb; the shepherds and their Angel; the Magi and their star; Simeon, with his Nunc Dimittis; Anna, the prophetess: all, of course, glorified the God Whom Mary bore, but they reverenced, too, Her whose greatness and blessedness their prophetic souls discerned. They reverenced Her as their Queen.

Mary is Queen of Prophets not only because the prophets foretold Her, and in fore-telling Her reverenced Her for the great office for which She was destined—that of "the Woman" of the Redemption—but also because She was a prophetess Herself, the greatest of all the prophets: "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior—for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." The Magnificat proclaims Her a prophet without a peer. She fulfills prophecy as She stands at the door of Elizabeth, looking back to the "Woman" of Genesis who was to crush the serpent's head, and looking forward to the Apocalypse, to the Woman Clothed with the Sun, the Woman called Blessed by all generations, not only the generation of time, but the generation of eternity.

Truly then, this title, Queen of Prophets, though not made much of generally, is one of the most tremendous in the Litany, the one that as a golden thread runs all through the Scriptures from first to last. And there is one final thought about Mary the Prophet. It is that She is a prophet for us. Many times since Her Assumption She has come back to earth to give a message to mankind, to preach penance, to promise blessings. We ourselves shall never have the vision of Her till, by the grace of God, we come to Paradise, but all our lives She has been prophesying to our souls, illuminating the way, showing us how we may come to Her and Her Divine Son. Blessed are we if we heed this Queen of Prophets.

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