The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
May 24, 2021
“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son.”
~ John 19:26
On Pentecost Sunday, Catholics celebrate the birthday of the Church. On the Monday after Pentecost, Catholics celebrate the fact that Mary, the mother of Christ, is linked to the Church as her mother. This distinction commemorates, among other scripture passages, that Mary was present with the disciples on Pentecost, praying with them as the Holy Spirit descended. Since that moment, Mary has continued to take motherly care of the Church on earth.
In 2018, Pope Francis added the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to our Church calendar. This was merely a formality, as for over two millennia in the history of the Church, Mary has been the protector and mother of the faithful, taking motherly care of the pilgrim church on earth. Additionally, Pope Francis regularly shows special devotion to Our Lady Salus Populi Romani. He visits her icon on major Marian feast days. In 593, Pope St. Gregory the Great carried the icon in procession to stop a plague, and in 1837, Pope Gregory XVI prayed for her intercession to put an end to a cholera epidemic. On March 27, 2020, Pope Francis made a special Urbi et Orbi blessing to pray for an end to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in the presence of the icon.
In today’s Gospel (John 19:25-34), Jesus calls from the Cross, entrusting Mary to his disciple John as his mother and entrusting his disciple to Mary as her son. Pope St. John Paul II tells us that through this Scripture passage, we understand that “Mary is present in the Church as the Mother of Christ, in the mystery of Redemption, gave to humanity in the person of the Apostle John.” Mary is our mother too – Mother of the Church and mother to us personally. Mary prayed with the first Christian community, awaiting the Holy Spirit for all believers. Mary prayed with them as the Holy Spirit descended. And Mary, our dear Mother, continues to pray for us.
Let us not be afraid to ask her prayers for ourselves and for the whole Church:
O Mary, Mother of Christ, and Mother of the Church, pray for us that we might be made worthy of the promises of you Son!”