Titles of Our Lady from the Litany of Loreto

Queen of Confessors

Most of Our Lady's titles, as we have seen, are two-fold in their application. They concern Her and those who model their lives after Her. So in the present instance the title "Queen of Confessors" first of all proclaims Her as the greatest of all confessors, and secondly the Queen, Patroness, Model of all confessors of the Faith, especially the canonized heroes.

The name "Confessor" has through the ages varied somewhat in meaning, though remaining substantially the same. It was employed in the early ages for a particular body of Christians—those, who though not actually martyrs by shedding their blood, were really martyrs in spirit. There were many persecuted Christians who were not punished with death. Haled before the magistrates on the charge of worshiping Christ and refusing to worship the pagan gods, they were, if they persisted in their adherence to the new Faith, convicted of treason and condemned to punishment. They were tortured within an inch of their lives, their property was confiscated, they were banished into exile, they were confined in prison dungeons, they were chained and forced to work in the mines. To many of them death would have been welcome, quick relief. But they were deprived of death. Life was a long, lingering martyrdom, like to that of Our Lady Herself. Thus the Church honored, next to the martyrs, these heroes of the Faith, who persevered to the end in their sufferings entailed by their confession, or profession, of Faith in Jesus Christ.

When such persecutions ceased, the confession of the Faith, however, did not cease. There were many who carried the cross in heroic virtue, who were true apostles of the Kingdom of God, spending their lives in the desert doing penance, preaching on the missions, writing books in their monasteries, the Anthonys, the Patricks, the Benedicts. The people revered these holy men, knew them to be saints, and honored their memories by building chapels and invoking their intercession.

Queen of ConfessorsThe meaning of the name has not much changed since then. Now it is more specific, and is confined to those heroes of the Faith whose sanctity has been manifested by miracles and who have been canonized by the Church.

Taking the word in the sense of one who has professed Christ heroically, it is plain that Mary, apart from Her martyrdom, is the greatest of all confessors, the very Queen of Confessors. It began with Her beginning. In all these considerations we never lose sight of the prerogatives of Her Immaculate Conception and Her infused knowledge, Her use of reason, Her supremacy of sanctity from the beginning. She was a Confessor of Faith in God even then. The Church seems to indicate that, by saying to Her, in the office of the Feast of the Presentation— "Blessed art Thou, Mary, who hast believed." Her baby feet were taking their first steps on the missionary way.

The test of faith, and all that was entailed by the profession of that faith, came when Mary was asked to be the Mother of God on Annunciation Day. It was a tremendous decision, such as no one before or since was ever asked to make, but Mary was a true Confessor. Even the Calvary of Her Son looming in the distance did not shake Her confidence. Hers was the supreme confession of faith in all the world— "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord; be it done to Me according to thy word." There was the real beginning of all confessions of faith in Christ, the raising of the standard which all Martyrs and Confessors and Virgins were thenceforth to follow. There was agony entailed by Her confession of faith. The doubt, or rather reverence, which determined St. Joseph to put Her away was an almost unendurable pain. We think little of that moment of martyrdom, but it was not the least of the pains which association in the Redemption caused Her.

The glorious canonization of Mary's faith in those first days of the Incarnation came with Her confession of faith in the outbursts of the Magnificat. "He has regarded the humility of His Handmaid... He Who is mighty has done great things to Me and Holy is His Name... His mercy is from generation unto generation to those who fear Him... He has given help to Israel, His servant." Every word of that inspired poem seals Mary as Queen of Confessors.

It was to be a confession of faith repeated over and over. When She brought Him forth on Christmas night and laid Him in the manger, Her eyes were the first of any creature to flood adoration upon Him. It was the first profession of faith in His Divinity, the Creed of Bethlehem, so to speak. When the shepherds came to adore Him, it was Her hands that drew the straw away that they might see "this Word that is come to pass." Again, it was a manifestation of Her faith.

It was Her hands that placed in the arms of old Simeon in the temple the "Salvation" from God. It was in the light of faith that glowed in Her eyes, the confession of faith, that Simeon made his confession in the "Light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." Mary, the Morning-Star, brought light wherever She went. The stars left their courses to follow Her. When the light of the star showed the Wise Men the Divine Object of their quest, it was in the arms of His Mother that they found Him. She was the instrument for the manifestation of God. Jesus was not to be found save in the arms of Mary. He could not be found unless She showed Him forth. Where is Christ, the Magi and others might ask, and only Mary could vouch for Him in Her confession of faith—"This is He, this is the Christ, this is the Son of God." An exile in Egypt on account of Her profession of faith in Jesus, and exile in Nazareth—for evidently the Holy Family had intended to return to Judea—hiding the Child for fear of Herod. Every decision of those days was motivated by Her faith, Her profession to the world that Her Son was the Son of God.

The miracle at Cana, where water was changed into wine, was the first miracle wrought by Jesus. For that reason it is of tremendous importance. But Mary's importance in it has always been recognized. The miracle was done at Her suggestion. It was before all the wedding guests—the confession of Her faith in His power, in His Divinity. It was so later on, when Jesus paid His tribute to Her steadfastness in the faith—"Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it." That was His declaration of Her eminence as Queen of Confessors.

Stabat MaterCalvary, however, was the real pulpit of Her confession of faith. The darkness had descended, the Apostles, all but John, had run away, all the world had abandoned its Creator. Mary was being martyred, but still She stood by the Cross. She who later was to destroy all heresies, even now professed Her loyalty to Jesus, Her belief in the fundamental truth that this Her Son was the Son of God. One might pursue this thought further, and consider Her faith in the Resurrection and the subsequent mysteries, Her part in strengthening the faith of the Apostles and all the other members of the infant Church. Before them all, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, She stood as the great beacon-light of faith. With a supremacy of holiness, She had a supremacy of faith. She was, and is always, the Queen of Confessors.

In Herself She was the greatest of all professors of the faith, hence Queen; but She also has that title from the fact that all Confessors of the Faith regard Her as their model, their inspiration, truly their Queen. To go into that thoroughly, would necessitate a meditation on every Saint in the calendar. In the Benedictine Abbey of Solesmes there are sculptured four busts—of St. Bernard, St. Peter Damian, St. Anselm, and St. Bonaventure, as the four Doctors of the Church who did most to write Her praises (they predate the time of St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori). But the number of those who have drawn from Her the inspiration to be great Confessors of the Faith is legion.

The Magnificat has made Her Queen of Poets. What a vacuum would be left if the poetry, the painting, the architecture, the spiritual books, the theological works, all inspired by Her as the great Confessor of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, were eliminated from the world. Our whole civilization, its beauty, its gentleness, is bound up with Her. She is not only Queen of Ireland, that beautiful title which Pope Pius XI gave Her at the Eucharistic Congress in 1932, but at one time or another She has been crowned Queen of every land under the sun—an inspiration to all peoples to confess the Faith that She confessed.

She is our inspiration, too. Our faith in Jesus is firmer because of Mary. We have kept Jesus because we have kept Mary, since it is She who has destroyed all heresies in the world. We, by the grace of God, are confessors because we are the loyal subjects of the Queen of Confessors.

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